recent history is any reliable indicator, we’re going to
have a difficult time explaining to our kids why the musicals
got such a bad rap when we were youngsters. All the corny
and overblown spectacles, all the sprawling and treacly
lame-o ballads, all that warmed-over operetta-esque “singing
from the diaphragm.” Ugh. But then came Rent and
the remake of Cabaret—suddenly musicals got gritty
and seedy, and moved a little bit farther downtown.
Then artists whom we would never previously associate with
the genre that gave us Naughty Marietta were cropping
up in the musical theater (yes, Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach
played Broadway, but that’s not who we were thinking of):
For example, artists such as comic-art genius Ben Katchor,
who teamed up with former Miracle Legion frontman Mark Mulcahy
to create the eccentric rock-opera The Slugbearers of
Kayroll Island, which was staged at MASS MoCA last season.
And now, MASS MoCA is hosting another such unlikely creative
team and their foray into the field: John Flansburgh of
They Might Be Giants, Maggie Moore of Hedwig and the
Angry Inch and David Driver of the aforementioned Rent
will proudly unveil their production People Are Wrong
at MASS MoCA on Saturday.
If the names behind it weren’t enough to suggest that this
production might be a little off the beaten path, here’s
a précis: “People Are Wrong spins a cautionary yarn
about a charismatic upstate cult leader who preys on country-house-owning
yuppies. Part Jesus Christ Superstar, part Green
Acres.” Now, everyone: The hills are alive with the
sound of the prophesies of a charismatic upstate cult leader
who preys on . . .
Are Wrong will be staged at MASS MoCA (1040 MASS MoCA
Way, North Adams, Mass.) on Saturday (June 21). Tickets
for the 8 PM show are $19.50 orchestra, $15.50 mezzanine.
For more information, call (413) 662-2111.
few years back, following the lead of bands like Uncle Tupelo,
a whole crop of young American bands raised on punk and
first-wave postpunk began infusing their work with a rootsy
strain. Rather than confronting bloated consumer-capitalist
institutions head on, the bands offered up oblique commentary
by drawing influence from pre-consumer economy acts, such
as the Carter Family (whose song “No Depression,” as covered
by Uncle Tupelo, gave name to a movement). The rest, as
they say, is history: Soon enough, you couldn’t swing a
secondhand mandolin without hitting a roots-revival act.
One of the better, if lesser-known, bands operating under
that expansive umbrella was Northampton’s Scud Mountain
Boys, led by Joe Pernice (who, under the tag the Pernice
Brothers, will play Valentine’s tonight).
The Boys gained a cult following in and around their hometown
by working in a slightly melancholy, intensely intimate
manner. For a while, they lugged a kitchen table around
with them on tour, to better reproduce what they themselves
most liked about the music they were playing: the worn and
familiar, familial feel of friends playing music together.
There was no rock-star pretense; back in 1997, a quietly
gorgeous opening slot at Saratoga Winners for the then-hard-rocking
Wilco perfectly illustrated just how much the Scud Mountain
Boys differed from their putative genremates.
Since then, Joe Pernice (with various collaborators, under
various monikers) has continued to put out albums of lush,
downbeat charm. The most recent Pernice Brothers release,
Yours, Mine and Ours, has all the hallmarks of vintage
Scud Mountain Boys: the literate and often heartsick lyrics;
the tight and clever arrangements that still remain warm
and organic-feeling; the delicate and fluid vocals of Joe
Pernice. But this album is, nonetheless, something of a
surprise. Pernice has always had a pop jones, and on Yours
he gives in to it fully. Traces of Brian Wilson are
here, as are hints of darkly fey British pop, à la the Cure
(and Pernice has been known to cover New Order). The result
is a fair-to-partly-cloudy day—the subtlety of which is
a great relief in the harsh and unvaried glare of most current
The Pernice Brothers will play tonight (Thursday, June 19)
at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany). Warren Zanes
(ex-Del Fuegos) and Jackaniny will open. Tickets for the
8 PM show are $8. For more information, 432-6572.
napkins, light bulbs, glass, and silk flowers—what do these
objects have in common? When New York City-based artist
Jim Hodges gets his hands on them, they become art. Hodges
takes ordinary household miscellany and creates unusual,
abstract pieces. Twenty of his mixed-media works, sculptures,
drawings, assemblages and installations comprise his new
exhibition at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Galley, called
Opener 4: Jim Hodges.
Hodges uses simple, tangible objects in his own unique way
to create a study of life, and often uses glass and mirrors
in his work because, he claims, it encourages an interaction
between the artist and the viewer. His installations, like
the plates of lightbulbs that make up Hodges’ 2000 work
Ahhh (pictured), invite the viewers to get closer
to have a more intimate inspection of the work.
Hodges’ art is labor-intensive, and his techniques vary
as widely as his media, which include weaving, sewing and
drawing, to name just a few. He shapes ordinary materials
into what he sees: like curtains sewn from cloth flowers,
or diaries written on paper napkins. His critics praise
his “embrace of beauty and evocative materials.”
And don’t think Hodges stops at mixed-media. His photography
exhibitions have also met with critical praise.
Hodges considers the physical aspects of the materials he
works with before developing his ideas further. Color is
one of the most important aspects of his work, as he considers
the use of it the purest form of expression.
4: Jim Hodges will open at the Tang Museum (Skidmore
College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs) on Saturday
and will run through Aug. 31. Suggested donation is $5 adults,
$3 children over 12 and $2 senior citizens; children under
12 are free. For more information, call 580-8080 or visit