The Drums, the Dance, the Farms, the Shoes

Friday, October 16th was a red-letter day for the Berkshires, as a community converged for a very special common purpose.  The scene was the Boland Theater in the Koussevitzky Arts Center at Berkshire Community College.  The event was the “6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest.”

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

Often times organizations, with the best of intentions, start referring to an event as an “annual” happening; but staging its 6th one puts a group in an increasingly rarefied stratosphere, especially if the occasion is one of the scope and magnitude of the “Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest.”

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

These all-volunteer events bring together a cornucopia of musicians, dancers, performers, and supporters all united to benefit the Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center, a 32-acre non-profit conservation area and educational facility located in Windsor, MA adjacent to Notchview Reservation.

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

The 2015 edition was an all-star showcase of some of the top area (and beyond) entertainers working in percussion and percussion-related performing.  The broad gamut of entertainment comprised styles and tastes of a multitude of genres.

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

Performance acts included, in order of appearance:  The Berkshire Rhythm Keepers, Forefeather, Freedom Culture Youth Drummers & Dancers, Ayizan & Azouke Sanon, Berkshire Pulse, Gaia Roots, Christopher Hairston, Berkshire Yoga, Dance & Fitness, Tommy “Two-Step” Brown, Youth Alive, Robbins-Zust Marionettes, Iroko Neuvo, Mountain River Taiko, Beat Mob & Serenity Circles, and Ryan Blanchard.  The finale concluded the evening with a very cool onstage mass-roundup of most of the night’s performers.

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

Founded in 2007 by naturalist educator/musician Aimee Gelinas, M.Ed, and artist/musician Daniel Cohen, the Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center lies 2000 feet above sea level, and therefore features a very rare boreal forest ecosystem more commonly found at higher altitudes and more northerly latitudes.

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

Funds raised by the “Drum & Dance Fest” will go towards building a permanent structure to house some of the educational events at the Center, as well as maintaining trails and conserving this unique Berkshire property.

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

For more information concerning Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center and the programming offered please visit their website >>>HERE<<<.  Please also consider donating; this may be done >>>HERE<<< by scrolling down the page and clicking on the gold PayPal “Donate” button.  Thank you very much!

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

"6th Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest"

Although Saturday followed with a dip in temperatures and a stiff wind as well, the sun was shining gloriously around photogenic clouds, and the day felt ripe to visit the Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market.  Amidst an abundance of hats, gloves, and decidedly autumnal outerwear, our first visit to the new location on the Pittsfield Common was a nice stroll and mingle amongst the tents and tables filled with choice seasonal items for exploration and purchase.

Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market

Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market

Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market

As big fans of free-range, organic hen products, we of course came away with eggs, and with November tickling the air of October, it didn’t seem too early to order a bird for the penultimate turkey day quickly approaching.  Square Roots Farm of Lanesborough provided the eggs and will reserve a gobbler for us.

Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market

And of course what trip to the Market would be complete without chatting with the effervescent Donna Hanson?  Hanson and her husband are co-proprietors of Balderdash Cellars, a boutique winery producing luscious, ultra-premium products in the heart of Pittsfield.  Located in the rear of the building at 502 East Street, the establishment offers a broad range of wines, each with a unique story gleefully attached; wine as art…

Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market

Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market

Time is running short for the 2015 edition of the outdoor Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market; not too many Saturdays left (9AM-1PM) before October 31.  However, new this year, a limited run winter market will be held as well during the same times (9AM-1PM) at the Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club on second Saturdays of each month.

Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market

The last item I’d like to mention comes as a reminder of another benefit that includes a piece of my artwork.  As seen in the last arts indie post, “Soft Shoe Boom!” has been in effect for the month of October at the Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield.

"Soft Shoe Boom!"

After opening during the last “First Fridays Artswalk”, the visual arts show will be celebrated again with a multi-media evening of tap-oriented entertainment, refreshments that include Kenyan food and a cash bar, and a final auction of the artwork.  Funds raised support the “They Dance for Rain” programs in Nairobi, Kenya.

"Soft Shoe Boom!"

"Soft Shoe Boom!"

"Soft Shoe Boom!"

More information about “They Dance for Rain” may be found >>>HERE<<<.

"Soft Shoe Boom!"

Tickets for the event may be purchased >>>HERE<<<.

"Soft Shoe Boom!"

Artists showing work in the art show include:  Abida Blaze, Don DeAngelus, Gail Downey, Keith Emerling, Diane Firtell, Ogden Gigli, Colleen Surprise Jones, B.P. LeGault, Leo Mazzeo, Robin O’Herin, Monika Pizzichemi, Joanne Spies, Scott Taylor, Nick Thabit, Vikki True, and Michael Wolski.

Hope to see you there!

Article and photographs by Leo Mazzeo.