Rural Intelligence: The Online Magazine for Eastern New York, Western Connecticut and the Southern Berkshires
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Search Archives:
Newsletters Signup
Close it
Get The New App!

Newsletters Signup
Close it

RI Archives: Community

View past News articles.

View all past Community articles.

RI on Facebook    RI on Instagram       

Robin Hood Radio

Litchfield App Filler Ad


Rural Intelligence

Ten 10x10 Activities You Should Consider

There’s really only one thing that’s not a ten about Pittsfield’s 10x10 Festival: this is the sixth year it’s been supplying locals with reasons to get out on a winter afternoon or evening. Taking our cue from the theme, we’re highlighting ten of the many performances, exhibits, fitness and other activities that bring light and fun to the area from February 16-26. The festival is organized by The City of Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development.

1. 10x10 New Play Festival at Barrington Stage Company Ten 10-minute plays by 10 different playwrights. Feb. 16–March 5.

2. Chair-ity Auction at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge Ten local artists have used their creative genius to recycle chairs no longer being used at the lounge. Bid on the chairs via a silent auction, with proceeds going to the Pittsfield Education Foundation. The public is invited to a reception for the artists on Feb. 17 from 5-8 p.m.

3. BIFF 10 Best of Fest Shorts at Beacon Cinema The Berkshire International Film Festival, in collaboration with the Beacon Cinema, presents some of the best shorts from the annual Festival. Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. & Feb. 19 at 2:30 p.m. Free.

4. WordXWord’s 10 New Voices at Berkshire Museum WordXWord introduces 10 fresh new voices in a fast-paced program of poetry and spoken word. Feb. 20, 7 p.m. Free.

5. 10x10 Yoga at Berkshire Yoga, Dance & Fitness Explore 10 poses to relieve stress. All levels welcome. Feb. 22, noon-1 p.m. Free.

6. 10 Minutes of Fireworks at the First Street Common Feb. 25, 5:45-6 p.m.

7. 10 Spot: 10 Photographs by 10 Artists Now–Feb. 25 at The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts; now through March 20 at Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Lenox.

8. Jacob’s Pillow Dance Presents Dance for Social Justice at the Boys & Girls Club Danza Organica of Boston leads a Dance for Social Justice Movement Workshop for all ages, followed by a lecture/demonstration performance. Feb. 24, 4-5:30 p.m. workshop; 6-7 p.m. performance.

9. 10 Flavors of Jazz at Flavours of Malaysia Berkshires Jazz presents The Matt DeChamplain Trio, with vocalist Alta De Champlain, performing 10 styles (or “flavors”) of jazz. Feb. 25, 8 p.m.

10. Berkshire Art Association’s Real Art Party at Berkshire Museum Artists from the Berkshires and beyond contribute 10x10-inch original work to be given away for $25 each. Feb. 23, preview party (free) at 6 p.m., auction begins at 7 p.m.

10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival in Downtown Pittsfield, MA
Feb. 16-26, 2017

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Lisa Green on 02/14/17 at 11:09 AM • Permalink

Hudson Sock Auction Brings Warmth At A Cold Time

By Jamie Larson

It’s hard these days, for Americans with the capacity for empathy, to know how to prioritize our not inexhaustible philanthropic energies and resources, beset as we are, on all fronts now, by animus and woe. When the whole nation seems to be falling quickly into a long cold darkness, how does one choose which piece of limited kindling would do the most good if lit first?

Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling anyway. So color me surprised when I found a supremely worthy cause in the form of the upcoming Hudson Neighborhood Knitters Sock Auction. The event, to be held Saturday, Feb. 18 at Verdigris Tea and Chocolate in Hudson (where the group meets to stitch and crochet regularly) will auction off dozens of handmade socks stuffed with prizes, including a $100 bill. The proceeds from the sale of the footwear will go towards the pre-assured purchase of 500 pairs of high-quality thermal socks, distributed by the Hudson Salvation Army to local folks in need this increasingly difficult winter.

Socks have always been the number one item requested by the homeless, and the founder of Hudson Neighborhood Knitters Claudia Krisniski says being able to make a meaningful personal impact in the community while doing something they love (and would be doing anyway) shows that every little bit counts.

“Knitters love to give back,” says Krisniski, owner of the Country Wool shop. “We live in turbulent times. I grew up in the 60s and it feels the same now. People need to ground themselves and take care of their neighbors.”

The auction will be first and foremost a really fun event. There will be refreshments, a wine bar and music.

“When we display the socks there are also fun facts, including how many hours they took to make,” says Krisniski. “One pair took ten episodes of Gun Smoke.

The power of knitting as a symbol of charity and support was on full display recently during the national and international women’s marches when hand-knit pink “cat” hats were imbued with a powerful meaning. When the opposition seems insurmountably monolithic, symbols become more important than ever. There will be a pair of pink socks with a set of cat ears up for auction.

“We have to take care of our neighbors now. I hope we will be fine,” says Krisniski, who supplied a lot of pink yarn through Country Wool for those revolutionary hats. “If we look out for each other locally, hopefully we can get through what the administration throws our way.”

Professional auctioneer Rupert Fennell has volunteered his time to auction off the socks. There will be at least 25 pairs up for grabs; they include some extremely intricate styles and designs for men, women and children. A few pairs are already on display at Verdigris, so if you didn’t already have an excuse to go there this week, you’re welcome.

“The knitters have always been a joy to have at Verdigris. They brighten up my day whenever they meet,” says Verdigris owner Kim Bach. “This is a great way to help the homeless and I think the plan is to do this every year. So far, the socks that we’re displaying are incredible. They are each really different and so many people are participating. It’s really impressive.”

Indeed. Knitting a gift of support, whether it’s pink hats for women’s rights, blankets for troops abroad or socks for the homeless, takes an implicit dedication of time, thought and care. It’s something hard to define about tradition, warmth, home and compassion. It seems more difficult each day to decode why we all must struggle so and what on earth we can do to help each other but I can tell you one thing I know that helps; socks. Socks help.

Hudson Neighborhood Knitters Sock Auction
Saturday, Feb. 18, 7-9 p.m.
Vedigris Tea and Chocolate Bar
135 Warren St., Hudson, NY

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Jamie Larson on 01/30/17 at 09:24 AM • Permalink

Eye Candy Close To Home: A Social Media Guide

By Nichole Dupont

Cutting the junk out of your diet is a staple for New Year success (or so we all think). But before you hop off the social media train and vow never to “waste time” on Instagram again, maybe you should take a look at these eye-catching, clever sites from the Rural Intelligence region that cover the gamut; food, fashion, photography, even a little bit of philosophy. Artists, business owners and foodies are becoming (or have already become) connoisseurs of the quip, offering up tidbits of whimsy that could very well spark a kitchen remodel…or a tart…or a trip to the library. Call it politics-free browsing, with purpose.

Let’s begin with the creature comforts. Or, the only comfort. Despite the snarky memes about not posting what you’re having for dinner, we love pictures of food. And anything eats related. Harney & Sons Tea out of Millerton, New York has a gorgeous website, complete with blog and gallery pics, which will immediately inspire you to get out your only tray and serve up some biscuits and tea. A heartier, vegan feast for the eyes is found at the Zen-esque Instagram home of Elixir, a vegan café in Great Barrington, Mass. Morning light streams across a bowl of porridge stocked with pecans, pepitas and bananas, and you can’t help but want to recreate that healing fare for yourself.

Another food porn site — this one veers more towards vintage decadence — is the Insta-home of Pleasant and Main Café in Housatonic, Mass. Serving stands are piled high with fat muffins and croissants and sweet crepes are dusted with confectioner’s sugar, and all of the food is set in charming seasonal vignettes.

If you want to do a little more than just look and drool, A Raisin and a Porpoise is a blog worth visiting. The witty (and deep) musings of Berkshire-based writer, mother and sheep farmer Janet Elsbach are combined with recipes.  From delicate glazed madeleines to nettle and potato hash, the recipes — dotted with great photos of Elsbach’s expressive critters — are the epitome of country comfort, right down to the tablecloth pattern. But always with a twist.

More country charm awaits at Made in Ghent, the cyber home of Little Ghent Farm, a work-in-progress, diversified family farm and deli outlet in Ghent, New York. Green springscapes, gem-colored preserves, and even a muddy swine or two seem almost holy in their screen presence. (With such gorgeous photos, it comes as no surprise that co-owner Richard Beaven is a professional photographer.)

Speaking of piggies, Raven and Boar, a small Chatham, New York pig, poultry and produce farm, boasts a gorgeous gallery of everything that is essential and romantic about life on the farm. The irony of life is captured while scrolling through pictures of fat, whiskered pigs and thickly marbled cuts of meat. And it’s beautiful.

Real Estate
Everybody loves a good kitchen. Or bathtub. Or even balustrade (yeah, I wrote that). And we are all guilty of perusing and sighing over local real estate guides, poring over grainy pics of lakes and cathedral ceilings. Why not enjoy the view in color? is “living” website of real estate — including vacation and rental properties — on both sides of the Hudson River. The site is curated and provides new content daily. One can easily get lost in thought looking at enchanted cottages and lacy Victorians, many of which are affordable and just within reach.

A crazy-decadent real estate experience can be found on the William Pitt Sotheby’s Instagram home for Connecticut and Massachusetts. Style-drenched images of airy farmhouse kitchens, hidden gardens, and sophisticated libraries have provided this writer an escape from waiting room doldrums.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t toot our own horn when it comes to real estate; Rural Intelligence features real estate listings of some of the region’s most outstanding properties every week in our Real Estate pages. Just so you know.

The Stage
Sometimes a little snippet of performance is all that’s needed to get the creative juices flowing (or to inspire you to finally buy that season stage pass). If you have an hour, or several hours as will probably be the case, check out the mother lode of recorded performances and vintage photographs at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival archives page. The archives pay homage to many of the dancers who have graced the Pillow stage (including Mikhail Baryshnikov, whom yours truly got to see when she was 16 years old, total fangirl). Of course, founder Ted Shawn and the Men Dancers play predominantly in the mass content of the archives.

Old black and whites of gorgeous dancers find kinship with the nostalgic images put out by the Hudson Opera House (located on Warren Street). A collage of images include the long road of that building’s renovation as well as rich color shots of current exhibitions and performances and sepia-stained ephemera.

Art and Photography
Arguably, everything on social media (especially Instagram) is art. I’ll leave that to you and your tiny Polaroid carrying friends to suss that out, but in the meantime, real beautiful work is showing up on Imgrum from the likes of the very young, very talented Jake Borden, a Berkshires-based camera fella and assistant to NatGeo photographer John Stanmeyer. Borden boasts an Instagram account — jakebordenphoto — of gritty, haunting portraits and landscapes. Also in the photography frame is fashion designer Adam Lippes, who will occasionally post from his weekend getaway in Monterey, Mass., but mostly the page is suffused with gorgeous settings and stunning models in Lippes’ designs.
Artist and designer Ali Herrmann floods her Instagram account with bright bespoke images of her work. The mostly heavy-duty encaustic and oil paintings are available on Etsy as well, should the screen on your phone not suffice.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Nichole on 01/03/17 at 06:31 AM • Permalink

Your Holiday Guide: What To Do When Cabin Fever Strikes

It’s a time for list checking, so we’ve compiled one for you to make things easier when relatives or friends are visiting for the holidays and you want to (let’s be honest) get them out of the house for a few hours. Or maybe you have time to attend one of these events at last. The Rural Intelligence region is full of places and performances imbued with the holiday spirit. Which get your check mark?

Holiday Markets

Dec. 17, Great Barrington Berkshire Grown Holiday Farmers’ Market Local vegetables, apples, cheeses, meats, bread and crafts. Plus music, food and fun for kids. Monument Valley Middle School, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Dec. 18, Williamstown Berkshire Grown Holiday Farmers’ Market Local vegetables, apples, cheeses, meats, bread and crafts. Plus music, food and fun for kids. Williams College Towne Field House, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Dining Specials

December 15, Lee Chez Nous Manger! Boire! Eat! Drink! Discover Moldovan cuisine and wines, including traditional dishes such as layered vegetable and salmon salad; beef stew “Fripturica de vaca;” and crepe and cherry cake shaped like a hat. Reservations recommended. 6:30 p.m.

December 22, Lee Chez Nous Manger! Boire! Eat! Drink! A special holiday extravaganza menu, featuring a mushroom souffle, mushroom stuffed filet of Arctic char, and a very French creamy apple tart. Reservations recommended. 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 23 – 30, Lenox Table Six A special holiday week dinner includes warm “turkey stuffing” spoon bread, coq au vin and beef bourguignon and gingerbread cheesecake.

Take the Kids

December 17 & 18, North Adams Berkshire Scenic Railway Christmas Themed Family Train Rides: Take a one-hour, round-trip journey on the Tinseliner while enjoying 1950’s holiday music. Santa Claus will join the crew to visit with each family on the ride back. The train will make a stop for anyone wishing to purchase a Christmas tree from the nonprofit PopCares.

Holiday House Tours

Dec. 17 & 18; Dec. 26 & 27  Wilderstein Historic Site, Rhinebeck. Italianate villa of the Suckley family, including its last resident, Margaret (Daisy) Suckley, cousin and confidante of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Regular Tour Season: Thursdays through Sundays from May – October. See website for special events and holiday happenings. Holiday House Tours from 1–4 p.m.

Dec. 18, Germantown Clermont Christmas at Clermont Open House: Free admission to explore the decorated mansion at your leisure, with docents available to answer questions in each room. Cider and cookies will be available in the visitor’s center. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Dec. 29 & 30, Pittsfield Candlelight and Chocolate Tour at Arrowhead Experience the house as the Melvilles lived it, then enjoy a cider and chocolate reception. Tours at 7 p.m., $25. Reservations necessary.


Dec, 15-18, Lenox It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play The beloved holiday production returns to Shakespeare & Company, with its live sound effects and rapid character changes. Follow George Bailey as he discovers the value of this wonderful life, guided by “angel, second-class” Clarence, on his own quest to earn his wings. Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox.

Dec. 17, Spencertown Grant and Twain Stephen Lang (Avatar) stars as Ulysses S. Grant in this reading of a new play by Elizabeth Diggs. Held at (and a benefit for) The Spencertown Academy Arts Center, 4 p.m.

Dec. 18, Hudson Hedda Lettuce Holiday Spectacular Six-time “Drag Queen of the Year” award-winner Hedda Lettuce’s annual holiday cabaret, “Lettuce Rejoice!,” includes such favorites as “Here Comes Tranny Clause,” “Do You Hear What I Hear” rendered as “Do You Think That He’s Queer” and more. Helsinki Hudson, 7 p.m.

Now – Dec. 22, Pittsfield A Christmas Carol Celebrate the holidays with the whole family and revel in the joy and redemptive power of Christmas as told in the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the infamous miser who is shown the error of his ways and reformed by four spirits. Journey back to Victorian England and experience the classic story filled with carols and the wonderment of the season. Berkshire Theatre Group at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. Sensory-Friendly Performance: Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. (Photo by Travis G. Daly)

Dec. 23, Annandale-on-Hudson  Jazz darlings The Hot Sardines get into the big, brass-filled spirit of the season with “Holiday Stomp,” yuletide classics & lesser-known gems by Edith Piaf, Ella Fitzgerald & more. Bard College Fisher Center, 8 p.m.

Dec. 31, Great Barrington Berkshire Bach Society presents Bach at New Year’s. The Berkshire Bach Ensemble, under the direction of harpsichordist Kenneth Cooper for the final time, will perform the Brandenburg Concerti – all six of them. Great Barrington, 6 p.m.

Galleries and Museums

Now - Dec. 31, Pittsfield Berkshire Museum Now Playing: Festival of Trees 2016, an annual exhibition featuring 100+ decorated trees reflecting this year’s movie theme.

Through March 19, North Adams MASS MoCA Nick Cave: Until, a massive immersive installation where the artist uses the museum’s football field-sized space to create his largest installation to date, made up of thousands of found objects and millions of beads, which will make viewers feel as if they have entered a rich sensory tapestry.

Now - May 29, Stockbridge Norman Rockwell Museum Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning, the first museum exhibition on the world’s most successful animation partnership, creators of The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, The Smurfs and many more.

As always, you can check for more upcoming events in our various “Intel” sections:
Dining Intelligence (Listings of Food and Drink Events & Restaurant Features)
Local Shopping Listings
Music & Dance Listings
Visual Arts Listings
Books Listings
Theater Listings
Local Movies Listings

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Lisa Green on 12/12/16 at 01:44 PM • Permalink

Start A New Tradition This Thanksgiving Weekend

As you’re enjoying time with friends and family over the weekend, you might find yourself wondering what there is to do away from the dining room table. If getting a jump on holiday shopping is in your plans, then this Saturday, Nov. 26 is the perfect time. It’s Small Business Saturday, but you can “shop small” in our region on Friday and Sunday, too (and beyond) at local fairs, festivals and galleries. If you’d like a night out on the town, we’ve compiled a handful of concerts and performances for you. And our Play & Learn events are a fun way for kids and adults to share magical times together.

View & Shop:

Nov. 25 – 27, Spencertown Spencertown Academy Arts Center The Handmade Holiday Craft & Gift Show is a high-end curated sale of jewelry, quilts, cards, toys, scarves, ceramics, handmade books, art, ornaments, wreaths, edibles and more. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. 

Nov. 25 & 26, Kent Champagne Stroll A weekend of shopping, dining and champagne sipping. Sample 30 champagnes and sparkling wines at 30 shops. Special promotions and appetizers will be offered town-wide. 4-8 p.m.

Nov. 25 – 27, Hudson Basilica Farm + Flea This alternative to “Black Friday” will feature quality products from a diverse group of about 125 regional makers, farmers, chefs and vintage collectors. Fridays hours are 2-9 p.m., with a Black Friday Cocktail Soiree from 5–9 p.m. Saturday hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. & Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Nov. 25 – 27, Poughkeepsie Hudson Valley Art Market at Locust Grove. Shop for fine art and hand-crafted, fairly traded gifts created by Hudson Valley makers. Hours are 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday. While you’re there, sign up for a holiday house tour of the historic mansion, which will be festively decorated and feature a special exhibit from the museum collection — antique toys and games. Tours are Friday through Sunday beginning at 10:15 a.m., with the last tour leaving at 3:15 p.m.   

Nov. 25 – 27+, Gaylordsville The Christmas Shoppe at the Merwinsville Hotel. Stop by the historic 1843 hotel to revel in the holiday decorations and enjoy a complimentary hot chocolate while you shop for holiday gifts created by local artisans. Also available for purchase: baked goods, Christmas trees, wreaths and other items. The shop will also be open Dec. 2–4 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. with extended hours on Fridays until 7 p.m. 

Nov. 25+, Great Barrington L’Atelier Berkshires The Gift is this new gallery’s 1st annual small works exhibition, where you can find unique and handmade art for holiday gift-giving.

Nov. 25+, West Stockbridge Diana Felber Gallery The gallery’s first-ever Holiday Show will feature paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics, fine woodwork, furniture, jewelry and other work by 25 different artists. Enjoy a 10-percent discount on everything in the store until Christmas. If you’re in town on Saturday night, stop by the gallery for live bossa nova music with Maya and Vitor from 7–9 p.m.

Nov. 25+, Lenox The Richmond-West Stockbridge Artist’s Guild announces its Holiday Fine Art Show, running from Nov. 25 – Dec. 10 at the Lenox Library’s Welles Gallery. The show will feature paintings, sculpture, pottery and other works by local artists, including many smaller paintings and unframed pieces. The show will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and stay open until 8 p.m. on Tuesday evenings. Attend the opening reception on Saturday, Nov. 26 from 2–5 p.m.

Nov. 25+, Washington Depot Washington Art Association The Holiday Gift Show will showcase unique gifts created by local fine artists and craftspeople, in a wide range of prices. Nov. 25 – Dec. 24.

Nov. 26 & 27+, Lagrangeville Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery The Annual Christmas Fair is your chance to shop the monastery’s organic artisanal vinegars which are the only ones produced in the Hudson Valley following an ancient method. There are currently eight vinegar varieties to choose from, including red wine, white wine, rosé, sherry and honey apple cider. Other products available at the fair include jams, tapenade, sauces, chutney, salsas, soups, dried culinary herbs, crèches from all over the world, Christmas cards and more. The fair continues the following weekend, Dec. 3 & 4. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Play & Learn:

Nov. 25, Millerton Black Friday Celebration The fun begins at 10 a.m. with a free screening of the holiday classic Home Alone, plus treats and giveaways, at The Moviehouse. The Farmers Market will run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Millerton Methodist Church, offering kids’ activities, crafts and face painting. The Northeast-Millerton Library will be handing out free books at Memorial Park from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. At noon, enjoy free horse & carriage rides through the village. Mayor Martin Markonic will light the tree at 5 p.m., and the Parade of Lights begins at 5:30 p.m. Afterwards, come to the holiday party with Santa at the Firehouse. Stores will be serving cider, hot chocolate, wine and cookies all day.

Nov. 25–27+, North Adams Berkshire Scenic Railway Christmas Themed Family Train Rides: Take a one-hour, round-trip journey on the Tinseliner while enjoying 1950’s holiday music. Santa Claus will join the crew to visit with each family on the ride back. The train will make a stop for anyone wishing to purchase a Christmas tree from the nonprofit PopCares. Train rides will also be offered on Dec. 3 & 4, 10 & 11 and 17 & 18.

Nov. 25+, Kent Kent Gingerbread Festival starts Nov. 25 and continues through December. Maps to find the houses can be picked up at participating businesses in town. A fun scavenger hunt through town leads to a sweet reward.

Nov. 25, Red Hook Pack Walk Red Hook Public Library hosts its first Black Friday Pack Walk, a family-friendly alternative to shopping. Start at the library and travel through the village. The Dutchess SPCA will bring adoptable dogs and accept donations of items needed at the shelter. Participants are invited to bring their four-legged family members and walk with the group. 11 a.m.

Nov. 25 & 26, Pittsfield Herman Melville’s Arrowhead Candlelight and Chocolate Tour: Experience the house as the Melville family lived it, then enjoy a cider and chocolate reception where you can ask questions to your heart’s content. Reservations required. 7 p.m.

Nov. 25–27+, Rhinebeck Wilderstein Holiday House Tours Florists and designers transform the mansion into a magical holiday wonderland. Tours are self-guided, with a docent in each room to share information and answer questions. Enjoy complimentary hot mulled cider and cookies when you visit.

Nov. 25+, Staatsburg Staatsburgh Gilded Age Christmas The mansion re-opens for the holiday season with tours from 12-4 p.m. (Last entry at 3:30 p.m.) Experience Christmas, Gilded Age style, and be sure to stop by the museum shop, which is full of holiday gifts. Nov. 27 Holiday Whodunit This one-hour, interactive “history mystery” for children and families will take you back over 100 years. Interview the guests and servants (costumed interpreters) in order to solve the mystery. 1-4 p.m. (Last entry at 3:30 p.m.)

Nov. 26, Hudson Olana Beesewax Candle Making: Megan Denver from Hudson Valley Bee Supply will demonstrate the art of making rolled and dipped beeswax candles. 10 a.m.

Watch & Listen:

Nov. 25+, Ghent The Turn of the Scrooge The Ghent Playhouse’s traditional British-American holiday Panto is back with all the familiar characters – and maybe a few new ones – as The Pantaloons put a zany spin on A Christmas Carol.

Nov. 25–27, Egremont The Barn at The Egremont Village Inn The Lucky 5 jazz band will get your feet stomping on Friday beginning at 8 p.m. On Saturday at 8 p.m. (the bar opens at 5 p.m.), you can cut loose again with live music from The Corner Store Antiques. On Sunday, yodel your heart out during karaoke night starting at 7 p.m.

Nov. 25, Pittsfield The Colonial Theatre Rev Tor Band & Friends will perform The Last Waltz Live, an all-star re-creation of The Band’s classic concert film. They’ll be joined by a full horn section and a dozen local, regional and national artists for this special community event. 8 p.m.

Nov. 26, Great Barrington Berkshire Bach Society presents Frank Nemhauser conducting a Handel’s Messiah Sing with The Berkshire Bach Players. Bring your own score, or borrow one at the door. First Congregational Church at 4 p.m.

Nov. 26, Hudson Club Helsinki A performance by Woodstock soul-rock artist Simi Stone, who plays violin, guitar and percussion, boasts a versatile voice, and commands the stage like a latter-day Tina Turner. 9 p.m.

Nov. 26, Poughkeepsie HUNG With Care The holiday burlesque spectacular returns to the Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center. This year’s show pays homage to the 12 Days of Xmas with a dozen festive (and feisty!) interpretations of the classic holiday carol performed by world-class burlesque stars. 8:30 p.m.

Nov. 26, Norfolk Infinity Hall Judy Collins, beloved folksinger, author and humanitarian, will perform songs from her impressive career that has spanned more than 50 years. 8 p.m. 

Nov. 27, Hudson Club Helsinki Wally’s Holiday Follies is a holiday-themed variety show featuring an all-star lineup of regional talent, including pianist Tony Kieraldo, country duo Oxbow Road, Helsinki open-mic co-hosts Cameron Melville and Ryder Cooley, and singer-comedian Heather Fisch, hosted by 87-year-old Walter V. Hughes. 6 p.m.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Amy Krzanik on 11/22/16 at 01:12 PM • Permalink

Masterson and Davidson Have Stories To Tell

Photo by Deborah Lopez

By Jamie Larson

When well-known actors/directors Mary Stuart Masterson and Jeremy Davidson moved to northern Dutchess County three years ago, they found a comfortable family home and a community they enjoy. Then they found a trove of local stories they wanted to tell. Storyhorse Documentary Theater, now in its sophomore season, was started by the couple to tell those true stories, steeped in local culture.

Their latest dramatic reading, The Kept Private, delves into the all-too-true history and legacy of slavery and racism in the Hudson Valley. Written by Davidson and starring accomplished actors including Masterson, who is relinquishing directing duties for the first time to Carl Cofield, the performance will be staged November 10 through 13 in a barn at Brook No Evil Farm in Red Hook, where the piece’s main character rests in a small cemetery.

Professor Brian McAdoo, Davidson and Masterson meet in preperation for The Kept Private. Photo by Deborah Lopez.

Masterson (Fried Green Tomatos, Benny & Joon, The Cake Eaters, and a recent guest starring role on NCIS) and Davidson (Salt, Windtalkers, and an impressive list of recognizable TV roles) moved to the area after the arrival of their fourth child.

“We knew we wanted to raise our kids in a rural setting and we also needed to be within striking distance of NYC,” Masterson said, adding that they first tried living in Westchester County. “But we couldn’t hack the suburban life, mostly because we work from home and, ‘home’ has to have its own center rather than be the place where the bed is while everything else revolves around the city.”

“[Here]I knew I could grow vegetables, have enough space for everyone to spread out and good schools for the kids, but what I didn’t know was that Jeremy and I would be smack in the middle of a cultural, intellectual Eden. Surrounded by interesting people living deliberate and conscious lives in an exquisite setting, it seemed to evolve naturally that our work would grow out of this place in which we want to grow deep roots. “

Lieutenant Walter Patrice with a picture of one of his ancestors in Poughkeepsie.

Davidson said they fell in love with the area while visiting friends and knew instantly it was the place to finally make a permanent home.

“We’ve always kind of been gypsies,” he said. “Our work creates this sort of disconnected, transient life where you’re always moving and you’re surrounded, usually, by like-minded people. Here there are people busting their butts for a living and everyone has different and important stories.”

Though they’re still relatively new to the area, they say the style of life in the upper Hudson Valley suits them well. You can’t really blame other local celebrities for wanting to have some incognito time when they come home to the RI region, but Masterson and Davidson seem to have a compulsion for community activity. In addition to everything else, Masterson has been working with Stockade Works in Kingston to help pass legislation to increase the tax credit for upstate film makers from 30 to 40 percent. The bill recently passed the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature.

The barn at Brook No Evil Farm.

“Oh gosh,” Masterson said, thinking up a list of her regular haunts. “There are so many good places to eat! I love Cinnamon and Samuel’s in Rhinebeck, Mercato in Red Hook, and literally everywhere I’ve been in Tivoli. I love Poet’s Walk and Montgomery Place for gentle hikes. Hearty Roots, Sawkill and Westwind are farms that are nice to visit.”

Right now the couple are in crunch time, preparing for The Kept Private, opening only weeks after a successful run of their other show for the year, Good Dirt (based on the stories of local farmers and preformed at Bard’s Fisher Center in October). Davidson said the weight of the real lives behind these stories is what motivates him.

“When someone shares their story with you it’s a really courageous act,” Davidson said. “You hear the intimacy of their lives. I feel a responsibility to get it done right. These stories have some stakes involved. I know we’re not going to heal anything but we are having the conversation. Acknowledging that someone’s voice matters is really special.”

Susan Frazier, 1880.

The Kept Private was based on Professor Brian McAdoo’s Earth Science survey of African-American burial grounds in Rhinebeck, conversations about race in our community, historical documents, and the 1834 Revolutionary War pension application of a 93-year-old black farmer from Milan named Andrew Frazier. While Masterson usually directs, given the topic, they wanted to collaborate with artists of color, bringing on Cofield to guide the performances of the diverse cast and its designers. After the reading there will be an audience “talkback” with historians and Black Lives Matter activists to further contextualize the work.

“For the performance we wanted to weave together a tapestry of race and slavery. Doing it in a Dutch barn that contains that history is really relevant,” Davidson said. “But we knew this wasn’t just our story to tell.”

Storyhorse performances this season are even more deeply connected to a sense of place than last year’s. That connection feels like a testament to how fully Masterson and Davidson have opened themselves up to their new hometown. And it’s given them a chance to work together. It’s like a little mom and pop business…run by movie stars. One thing that’s really impressive about the pair is that they manage to make that seeming contradiction comfortably true.

“We love this work because it adds more meaning to our lives than it takes resources from our energy bank,” Masterson said. “I think we work very well together and complement each other’s strengths and weakness. We have always collaborated, so it is nothing new. It is just a progression for us.”

Storyhorse Documentary Theater
The Kept Private
The Barn at Brook No Evil Farm, Red Hook, NY
November 11 & 12 at 7:30 p.m.
$27.50 General, $10 Students
November 13 at 2 p.m.
Pay what you like

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Jamie Larson on 10/31/16 at 02:56 PM • Permalink

10 Things To Love About Clinton

Hummingbird Ranch

By Merida Welles

Formally settled in 1786, the picturesque Town of Clinton in Dutchess County offers stunning pastoral scenery, a profusion of winding country roads (many unpaved), and a number of architectural gems, no fewer than four on the National Register of Historic Places. The town (not to be confused with Clinton, Oneida County, the site of Hamilton College), is now comprised of seven historic hamlets just east of Rhinebeck and Hyde Park. It was named not for an ex-President’s family but after George Clinton, New York governor during the Revolutionary War. Clinton Corners, Clinton Hollow, Frost Mills, Schultzville, Hibernia and Bulls Head were all built up around thriving mills well before 1800. Pleasant Plains appears to have grown up around a handsome Presbyterian church, a local historical landmark. Having enjoyed our Clinton farmhouse for over 30 years now, I can recommend the following local highlights. 

1. Clinton Town Hall Campus

A good place to start is right around the Clinton Town Hall where the Masonic Hall and the Spooky Hollow Schoolhouse will delight architecture and history buffs. The Hall is an historic two-story wooden-frame building built in 1865 in the Italianate style with a central hexagonal cupola. The Clinton Library offers a quiet retreat and welcome Wi-Fi access while birdwatchers can enjoy the Clinton Nature Trail just outsidey. Try spotting hawks, flycatchers and cedar waxwings as you wander past groves of hickory and elm down to Little Wappinger Creek, one of my favorite local waterways.

2. Clinton Rec Park
Clinton residents can get a permission sticker from the Town Hall to swim at the delightful recreation center, more formally known as the Frances J. Mark Memorial Park, just 4 miles south of the Town Hall. Besides being a cooling watering hole and beach on steaming summer days, it also offers kids a welcome playground and ball fields. Indeed, my sons passed many a joyful afternoon here.

3. Meadlowland Farm
Lovers of organic fare should not miss Meadowland Farm, where grazing alpacas, sheep and donkeys lend a bucolic note of country charm. An original Dutchess County homestead dating from 1790, Meadowland is said to have been continuously run by a single family, and may have served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. The farm operates on the honor system: choose your grass-fed lamb and free range pork from the large glass-front freezer and the organic fruits and vegetables nearby, weigh them up and leave your cash in the box provided. Welcome to country life!

4. Jeanie Bean & Family
“Who has a bloody piano in a deli?” laughs Jeanie Bean, the effervescent English proprietress of an eponymous Clinton Corners icon with a black piano next to a life-sized papier mache cow. Ostensibly a country store, Jeanie Bean’s is the whimsical centerpiece of Clinton Corners. Jeanie and her husband David, who met while filming West Side Story decades ago in LA, resonate with energy and anecdotes. Their daughter Jennifer now runs the store, offering delicatessen delights and British-themed gifts in a room decorated with oil paintings, well-worn sofas and personal photos, under a vintage tin ceiling. “In an era of fast food, we cherish places of character and personality,” commented Gully Stamford, a retired theater executive enjoying breakfast here one Monday. Don’t miss “The Book Booth,” just outside and located in a classic red British telephone booth.

5. Harker House Wines and Spirits
Just across the street from Bean’s is the newly opened Harker House, run by Hal Harker Newell and his wife Tara. Harker House currently offers 150 global wines as well as a supply of New York produced spirits (7 vodkas, 8 bourbons, 9 whiskeys). Cider and cassis are also available. “We try to focus on affordable and boutique producers,“ says Hal, a former environmental engineer, standing with a geologic map of the United States behind him.

6. Creek Meeting House
Just a thousand feet down the road from Harker House is a handsome two-story fieldstone building, built between 1777 and 1782. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Creek House is owned by The Clinton Historical Society, which retains archives of local country information, offers exhibits on summer weekends and monthly Friday night programs during the year. President Cynthia Koch, a historian and teacher, recommends visiting the Society’s Facebook page for further details and also welcomes volunteer archivists. This former Quaker meeting house is set opposite the Quaker Church and next to the historic Friends’ Cemetery, both also on the National Registry for Historic Places. Stroll among the mossy tombstones for a sense of historical perspective.

7. Clinton Vineyards and Wine Trail
Right about now, Hillary Clinton could probably use a bottle of 2012 “Victory White,” a seyval blanc sent to her in 2013 from the Clinton Vineyards to encourage her to run for President. Clearly, the gesture was effective! Founded 40 years ago by Phyllis Feder and her late husband Ben, Clinton Vineyards offers visitors an array of award-winning locally grown vintages, particularly champagnes and dessert wines. “A perfect place to bring a blanket and a picnic and lounge for hours,” commented a recent guest.

8. Schultzville General Store and Cafe
Taken over in April by two Wells brothers, this country store and cafe currently serves breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. Kameron, a former naturopathic doctor, and Kyle, an interior designer turned cook, are quick to point out that theirs is still a “work in progress” but they take pride in two signature dishes: “Cranberry Raisin French Toast Dusted with Roasted Pistachios and Cardamom Butter” and their “Schultzville Reuben” with its “cheese skirt.” Says Kyle, “Customers just love it!” Don’t forget to sign the guest book.
Open Tuesday – Sunday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Rhinebeck, NY,

9. Omega Institute for Holistic Studies
Those seeking spiritual enlightenment might be drawn to the Omega Institute. A non-profit educational retreat on a sprawling 200-acre campus, the institute offers workshops, professional trainings and conferences to more than 25,000 people a year. Its mission is to “provide hope and healing for individuals and society through innovative educational experiences that awaken the best in the human spirit.” Celebrated speakers from Al Gore and Christopher Reeve to Eckhart Tolle, Maya Angelou and Jane Goodall have presented here. At its award-winning glass-walled building, Eco Machine, visitors and students can learn about the center’s innovative Sustainable Living programs.

10. Hummingbird Ranch Country Store
Just over the Clinton Town border is a jewel of a shop tucked away next to the Salt Point Deli. Hummingbird Ranch focuses on homemade and locally produced goods. In this pint-sized boutique, founders Rich and Debbie Focht have established a beckoning array of local honeys, beeswax candles, jewelry, homemade candy, jigsaw puzzles, organic teas and even, on weekends, fresh-cut flowers. My personal favorite, which I devour by the spoonful, is Gourmet Honey & Pollen Blackberry Cashew Butter. Make sure to stop at the deli next door to see Sam (co-owner, Samir Patel) for one of his first-rate subs.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Lisa Green on 10/13/16 at 11:06 AM • Permalink

With Song, Our Voices May Help End Gun Violence

In 2007, Congress designated September as a day of remembrance for gun violence victims.  Yet the fact remains that since then, Congress hasn’t done much to alleviate the scourge of gun violence.

This year — an election year — activists will be uniting musicians to bring awareness and seek voter action against the gun violence epidemic in America. On Sunday, Great Barrington and Williamstown concerts will join the more than 350 venues producing versions of The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence. 

“If deaths by shooting were a disease, or any kind of illness that killed people in these numbers, we’d be all over it,” says Southfield resident Elise Richman [photo, left], who is organizing the Great Barrington concert. The landscape designer has a personal stake in the issue: 43 years ago her father was killed at a dinner party by a jealous ex-husband who came in the house to kill all the men. Having become an activist, Richman was also one of the original founders of the Million Mom March in Washington, DC in 2000.

Headlining the Great Barrington concert will be Grammy nominee Seth Glier, a western Massachusetts native, along with Bobby Sweet, David Reed, Terry a la Berry, David Grover, The Beeline Ramblers and The Matchstick Architects. In Williamstown, the performers will include Deb Burns, Norm Burdick, Long Journey, Jeb Barry, Rosin the Beaux, Sarah McNair, Jackie Sedlock, Thomas Marshall, poet Jessica Fisher and other area musicians. All are donating their performances, and proceeds from the concert and t-shirt sales at the Great Barrington concert will go to Stop Handgun Violence (SHV), a Massachusetts-based non-profit committed to the prevention of gun violence through education, public awareness, effective law enforcement and common sense gun laws.

Each of the concerts nationwide will be live-streamed. “We want to bombard YouTube, Facebook, Twitter — and Congress — with song,” says Richman.

The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence
Sunday, Sept. 25
Society of the Congregation Church
251 Main St., Great Barrington, MA
2-5 p.m.

First Congregational Church
906 Main St., Williamstown,
4-7 p.m.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Lisa Green on 09/19/16 at 11:25 AM • Permalink

Intersection Austerlitz: Fashion, Fabrics And Literary Materials

By Madaline Sparks

This weekend, in Austerlitz, New York, a passport is your ticket for a day of exploring costume, culture, and the art of hat making. And so much more it’s hard to believe it’s all happening in such a tiny radius.

Nestled in eastern Columbia County, Austerlitz is a village of rural beauty consisting of farms, mountains, valleys, streams and small hamlets, including Spencertown. With an area of less than 50 square miles and a population of well under 2,000 residents, it is extraordinary that three cultural non-profit institutions reside there. Annually, these three organizations, the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society at Steepletop, the Austerlitz Historical Society and the Spencertown Academy Arts Center, collaborate on Intersection Austerlitz featuring a different theme each year to highlight their respective offerings.

The umbrella theme this year is “Costume and Culture: Designs for Life.” Exhibits, programs and demonstrations focusing on the innovation, practicality, and creativity found in fashion and fabrics from artistic, historical and literary points of view will be scheduled throughout the day.

Vintage feather trim.

The morning activities start in the art galleries at the Spencertown Academy, with an exhibit called Hats, Hats, and More Hats! Millinery designer Victoria DiNardo will display a collection of hat making materials and all the trimmings to show the step-by-step process of making a custom hat from raw materials to finished product. There will be a selection of vintage hats to try on plus a variety of her new hats for sale. She will also give a hands-on workshop on making hat trims and everyone can make your own head band/mini-fascinator, all materials supplied.

Costumer Sarah Conly will be sharing her retrospective collection of millinery representing 30 years worth of operas produced at the Tanglewood Festival. Online entrepreneur Elizabeth Walters will display, and offer for sale, a large selection of her gorgeous vintage hat trims and feathers dating back to the 1900s.

The very fashionable Edna St. Vincent Millay.

On to Old Austerlitz, a few minutes away by car, where a gourmet box lunch is being served along with a program featuring Phyllis Chapman, who brings the story of noted American poet, abolitionist, and educator Lucy Larcom to life. Chapman illustrates and demonstrates the tasks involved in textile production, the development of mechanization, and the structure of a mill. There will also be demonstrations of the processing of flax into linen, wool carding and spinning, and exhibitions of wool and linen clothing, bedding, artifacts, hand-sewn miniature dresses, undergarments, and hats.

Next up, everyone drives a few minutes up the road to Steepletop for an illustrated lecture: “Publicity, Celebrity, Fashion: Photographing Edna St. Vincent Millay.” Sarah Parker, a Lecturer in English at Loughborough University in the UK, will speak about how Millay used fashion and photography to forge an iconic celebrity image. A reception will follow the lecture.

Intersection Austerlitz Presents “Costume and Culture: Designs for Life
Saturday, Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m
Passport $35, lunch included. Children under 12 are free and a lunch may be ordered in advance for $6.
Advance tickets are recommended in order to reserve a lunch. Day-of Passports will also be available at each venue; they include access to everything except boxed lunches.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Lisa Green on 09/12/16 at 08:24 PM • Permalink

Hillsdale’s Davis and Draves Think Locally and Act Globally

Draves and Davis

By Jamie Larson

Ken Davis and Kevin Draves run two traditional small-town businesses in Hillsdale, New York: an ice cream parlor and a “lifestyle boutique,” but their unique approach and style are anything but ordinary. The couple’s artistic taste and community mindedness are a big part of the reason the little village at the crossroads of the Berkshires and the Hudson Valley has become such a draw for people driving through.

For all the time they put in at Village Scoop and Passiflora, it’s a surprise that those businesses are not their day jobs. Draves, a costume supervisor for movies and television, and Davis, a photographer and a 20-year volunteer with GMHC and their Friends In Deed Groups, spend the weekdays in the city and weekends behind the counters of their businesses, adjacent to each other in the center of town.

“We always loved this area and knew the village square was sort of this hidden gem,” Draves says.

A milkshake special at Village Scoop.

Draves and Davis met 21 years ago in New York before buying their home in Copake in early 2001. After a few years of keeping to themselves they wanted to become a more involved part of the community, opening Passiflora and later renovating the abandoned, flame-covered tattoo parlor next door into their modern ice cream shop. They’re now a part of a pleasant business district that seems to be adding interesting and diverse new stores and eateries all the time. Just this summer Village Scoop boldly expanded its operation to include local cheese plates, salads and yogurts, and are making “mocktails” as the area’s first alcohol-free bar.

“In a village this size, we all have to support each other and that’s really important to us,” says Draves. “Anyone who comes in, we are constantly talking up the other places in town.”

“If Eyes Could Speak” by Ken Davis

Davis and Draves aren’t just trying to give back to Hillsdale but to their global community as well. The two first traveled to India and Nepal five years ago with friends and became involved with Himalayan Healthcare and Jeevankala, the charity’s shop through which indigenous women sell handmade items to support their families. Passiflora carries many of these goods, which are part of vital micro economies. Davis and Draves have since returned to the region twice, even helping Jeevankala design and set up a new shop in Katmandu. They’ll be returning again this fall. Many of the other intriguing items at Passiflora take on new meaning when you find out they go to support world charities and people in emerging markets.

“It’s what we were able to do to help support them. It’s not that hard for us to do and it means so much,” Davis says, adding that the store is packed with stuff they love and believe in. “But we also wanted to have a price point that’s for everyone. A lot of times we’re thinking about our friends and neighbors and what they like.”

While traveling, Davis embraced his passion for the people he met through his photography, taking photos of enchanting settings and the strangers-turned-friends along the way. His photos are now on display at the Roe Jan Community Library through September 11.

“It wasn’t difficult to communicate, even though we didn’t speak the same language,” Davis says of the people he met and photographed.

Draves exuberantly talks up Davis’ photos and the meaningful experiences behind them but is modest when discussing his career accomplishments. His filmography is impressive. He’s worked as costume supervisor on television shows and movies as diverse as they are acclaimed. He’s helped outfit stars in high style and period attire in Sex and the City, Taking Woodstock, Julie and Julia, and Boardwalk Empire and helped superheroes don leather and cape in The Dark Night Rises and Daredevil. He says he’s really excited to see the next release bearing his fingerprints, Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

It’s easy and enjoyable to peruse Passiflora or treat yourself at Village Scoop oblivious to the personal aspects — the compassionate world view and keen artistry — the owners bring to their small-town businesses. But their story gives you one more big reason to stop in Hillsdale and see what’s so special at the crossroads.

“People say, ‘this is one of our favorite places on our way to…’” says Draves. “We came up here to get away but then we met all these amazing people. Now we’re in a position where we’re able to give back to the community. That feels good. We are stronger together.”

2638 State Route 23, Hillsdale, NY
Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Village Scoop
2640 State Route 23, Hillsdale, NY
Fridays and Saturdays, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sundays, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Jamie Larson on 08/22/16 at 10:06 AM • Permalink