Entertainment Highlights: Andrew Bird Brings a Big Catalog of American Roots to Spaulding Auditorium

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Entertainment Highlights: Andrew Bird Brings a Big Catalog of American Roots to Spaulding Auditorium

Posted on: July 10th, 2014 by tommyj

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Andrew Bird and The Hands of Glory perform tonight at Dartmouth College's Hopkins Center.
Andrew Bird and The Hands of Glory perform tonight at Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center.

Valley News Staff Writer

Thursday, July 10, 2014
(Published in print: Thursday, July 10, 2014)

Hanover — While singing, fiddling and whistling with his band Hands of Glory on an outdoor stage at the Ottawa Bluesfest in Canada last weekend, Andrew Bird couldn’t help noticing the vocal stylings of Lady Gaga straying over from the main stage. Nothing personal, but …

“You can hear everything clearly in a setting like that,” the veteran roots musician said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “It’s a little unnerving.”

Or at least distracting enough that he welcomed performing at a 1,000-seat indoor space in Montreal the next night. And, in the midst of a tour during which his group has performed at the massive Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee and, this past Tuesday night, on SummerStage in New York’s Central Park, Bird expects to enjoy playing the friendly confines of Spaulding Auditorium at Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center tonight.

“There’s less between you and the audience,” said Bird, who will turn 41 on Friday. “When you’re working with a relatively new band, and you’re on a big outdoor stage, it’s a delicate balance. It’s all about where you stand. In a smaller setting, it’s nice to be so close to each other. It feels way more musical.”

If the Chicago-bred Bird follows the pattern that he and Hands of Glory have established on the current tour, the Upper Valley audience tonight can expect him to introduce himself with a solo of three introductory songs with violin, electric guitar and looper. Then bandmates Jeremy Ylvisaker (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals), Alan Hampton (bass, guitar, vocals), Martin Dosh (drums, keyboard, percussion) and singer-guitarist Tift Merritt will join him to play some songs from his early career with the band Bowl of Fire, before downshifting to what he calls “an old-timey, Bill-Monroe-style stretch where we unplug everything and go around one microphone, then ramp it up at the end.”

“It seems almost bulletproof so far,” Bird said of the set structure. “Everyone’s very engaged and happy to be up there.

“I still like touring the best, because it’s the most concrete: People buying tickets for a seat,” Bird said. “The other things can be nice, but a lot of the publishing and recording side, it’s mostly out of your hands. The TV and film score work is hard to get, even if you have a reputiation, and if you get it, you might wish you hadn’t.”

That said, he’s picking his spots a bit more — 30 to 40 appearances in an “off-year” and 100 in an “on-year,” as opposed to the 160 to 200 he used to do before he became a father in 2011.

“I crossed a line a couple of years ago,” Bird recalled. “I was doing too much.”

Now he’s achieving a balance he could scarcely imagine when he started performing professionally 18 years ago.

“It’s at the point that if I want to play Railroad Bill tonight,” Bird said, “I’m going to do it.”

Andrew Bird and The Hands of Glory will perform tonight at Spaulding Auditorium in Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center for the Arts. Opening for the roots group, at 8 p.m., will be Jimbo Mathus, a former Bird colleague with the band Squirrel Nut Zippers, and Mathis’ current group Tri-State Coalition. Tickets cost $20-$40. For more information, call the box office at 646-2422 or visit hop.dartmouth.edu.

Best Bets

In collaboration with the social-service agency WISE, North Country Community Theatre will examine the dynamics of unhealthy relationships and domestic violence while staging the Rogers and Hammerstein musical Carousel at Lebanon Opera House over the next two weekends. The run begins Friday night with a 7:30 show, and continues Saturday with stagings at 2 and 7:30. After the 4 p.m. matinee on Sunday, the cast and the NCCT artistic staff will discuss with WISE program manager and educator Kate Rohdenburg, and with the audience, some of the issues that the musical — best known for a score that includes classics such as If I Loved You and June Is Bustin’ Out All Over — raises in its depiction of a carousel barker and a millworker who struggle in their marriage after they lose their jobs. Tickets cost $15-$18. For more information, visit ncct.org/carousel.

∎ Ken Burns will unveil another episode of his upcoming documentary series for public television — The Roosevelts, An Intimate History — on Saturday night at 7, at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium. A year ago, Burns previewed an episode from Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s pre-White House years, including Franklin’s 25-year battle with polio. This segment, which as usual Burns will discuss from the stage after the lights go up, explores how the Roosevelts guided the country through the Great Depression and World War II. PBS will broadcast the series this fall. Tickets for this preview (more than 150 remained as of Tuesday afternoon) cost $15. For reservations and more information, visit the box office or call 603-646-2422.

∎ Owner of three Grammy Awards and the mantle of Queen of the New Folk Movement, singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin brings her cathartic lyrics, precise guitar work and mesmerizing voice to The Flying Monkey Movie House and Performance Center in Plymouth, N.H., tonight. In her most recent album, All Fall Down, produced in Nashville by the ubiquitous Buddy Miller, she collaborated with a lineup that included Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Bill Frisell and Jakob Dylan. Opening act Anthony D’Amato takes the stage at 7:30. Tickets start at $39. For more information, visit flyingmonkeynh.com.

∎ The New London Barn Playhouse on Wednesday night will shift gears from 1950s baseball and the price of a soul (Damn Yankees) to the funny bone of the Dark Ages , with the first in a 14-show run of Spamalot, the musical that Eric Idle distilled from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Following Wednesday stagings at 2 and 7:30 p.m., the troupe over the opening week will spoof the Arthurian legend with 7:30 shows the nights of July 17, 18 and 19, a 5 o’clock matinee on July 20, and a 7:30 performance on July 22. For tickets ($19.50 to $40) and more information, visit nlbarn.org.

Damn Yankees, the musical based on Douglass Wallop’s baseball novel of the 1950s, runs through this weekend with 7:30 shows tonight, Friday night and Saturday night and a 5 p.m. performance on Sunday.

Looking Ahead

In anticipation of a 2014-2015 season that will bring six-time Tony Award-winning singer-actress Audra McDonald and Grammy-heavy musicians Wynton Marsalis and Pat Metheny to Dartmouth College, the Hopkins Center is inviting Upper Valley residents and visitors to a multi-media preview of the performances in the pipeline next Thursday, July 17. The session will take place in Alumni Hall, just down a second-floor corridor from the Top of the Hop, at 5:30 p.m. The general public can start buying tickets for next season’s shows on Aug. 8.

∎ Between July 18 and 27, the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph will host a series of plays, films and readings as part of the fourth Vermont Pride Theater Summer Festival. In addition to three plays on gay and lesbian themes — actor/director Richard Waterhouse of Newbury, Vt., will oversee two stagings of Douglas Carter Bean’s The Little Dog Laughed — the festival will feature a screening of a film version of playwright Moises Kaufman’s The Laramie Project, and a reading by area youths of poet Leslea Newman’s cycle October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard. For tickets and more information, visit chandler-arts.org.

∎ Classicopia pianist and artistic director Dan Weiser will join forces with violinist Yumi Okada and cellist Patrick Owen for three performances of “Russian Elegy,” a pair of piano trios that Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky composed as memorials. The first two concerts will take place at private homes, at 7 on the nights of July 18 in Hanover and July 19 in Grantham, at an admission price of $40 a person. And at 4 p.m. on July 20, a Sunday, the trio will perform at Lebanon’s First Congregational Church, with tickets costing between $10 and $20. To reserve tickets for the house concerts on July 18 and 19, and for more information, send e-mail to marcia@classicopia.org or call Marcia Colligan at 603-643-3337.

Theater/Performance Art

The Old Church Theater in Bradford, Vt., will stage the Paul Osborn comedy Morning’s at Seven over the next two weekends, starting Friday night at 7:30. Sheila Kaplow directs a cast of nine in this examination of a 1930s family that juggles humor and dysfunction. After Friday night, performances are scheduled for Saturday night at 7:30, Sunday afternoon at 4, July 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and July 20 at 4 p.m. For reservations, call 802-222-3322 or send e-mail to reservations@oldchurchtheater.org. More information is available at oldchurchtheater.org

Music

The acoustic band Va-et-vient will perform a set of French-Canadian songs and tunes at noon today on the green in Woodstock, in week two of the Pentangle Arts series of admission-free brown-bag concerts. If it rains, the concert will move into the nearby Town Hall Theatre.

∎ The Chad Hollister Band will play a set of pop rock on the Quechee Green tonight at 6:30, in week four of the Hartford Parks & Recreation Department’s series of summer concerts.

∎ The Thursdays in the Park series of summer concerts for families continues today at noon with a performance from Rick Goldin at Lebanon’s Colburn Park.

∎ PossumHaw will play a set of bluegrass and folk music at Colburn Park in Lebanon tonight at 7, in the second week of the Front Porch Concert Series of the Lebanon Department of Parks and Recreation.

∎ The Tall Granite Jazz Band swings into New London on Friday night to play a 6:30 concert on the Mary Haddad Bandstand, in the fifth of the summer series on the town green.

∎ The Norwich Women’s Club’s series of summer concerts on the Norwich Green resumes Friday night with a 7 p.m. performance from Still More Cats.

∎ ∎William Feasley will play guitars and the the orbo, a long-necked lute, and Sarah Weiner will perform with baroque oboe and recorders in “Occasional Music for Early Winds and Plucked Strings,” during the weekly concert Sunday afternoon at 2 at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish. All the concerts in the Saint-Gaudens summer series take place in the Little Studio next to Aspet, the main house. Admission is included in the price to enter the historic site. For more information, visit nps.gov/saga/planyourvisit/summer-concerts.htm.

∎ With guest Chas Eller (now with the Banderas Bay Jazz Allstars, previously of the Unknown Blues Band and Kilimanjaro) performing his wizardry at the keyboard, the Sensible Shoes Band will play its blend of folk and classic rock at Colburn Park in Lebanon on Monday night at 7.

∎ The Mill Band takes the stage at the green in Canaan at 7 on Tuesday night.

∎ The band Mo’Combo comes to Sunapee Harbor on Wednesday night at 7 to perform its blend of classic rhythm-and-blues, straight blues, and New Orleans bayou funk on the Ben Mere Bandstand.

∎ Acoustic songwriter Craig Bickhardt comes to Lyman Point Park in White River Junction at 6:30 on Wednesday night. Because of construction on the Hartford Municipal Building next door, parking is limited for this summer’s series. The rec office is advising late arrivers to park at the White River Junction Visitor Center downtown or at the White River Elementary School.

Film

Not enough action in your movie-viewing diet? The Hopkins Center at Dartmouth offers Indonesian gangsters at 7 Saturday night in Loew Auditorium: The Raid 2, director-screenwriter Gareth Evans’ sequel to his 2011 feature The Raid: Redemption. Tickets cost $5 to $8. For more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu.

∎ The Dartmouth Film Society continues its summer series “Film Noir: Embrace the Dark,” with a screening on Sunday afternoon at 4 of Detour, Edgar Ulmer’s 1945 cult classic about a ne’er-do-well nightclub performer (Tom Neal) who runs afoul of a femme fatale (Ann Savage) for the ages. Tickets cost $5 to $8. For more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu.

Dance

As far away as winter and mud season feel while we dig fans and air conditioners out of the attic, City Center Ballet is already looking ahead to its December performances of Clara’s Dream, A Nutcracker Story, and its April 2015 staging of Alice in Wonderland at Lebanon Opera House. Through Aug. 18, the company is offering season tickets at discount prices, covering both shows. Clara will run on Dec. 4 and 5 (a Thursday and a Friday) at 7 p.m. and on Dec. 6 (a Saturday) at 2 and 4 p.m. Before the Dec. 6 performances, the ballet company will host a Clara’s Tea party, where patrons can meet the cast and hear about the background of the production; separate from admission to the show, the tea party costs $12 a person. The dates and times for Alice are April 11 (a Saturday) at 7 p.m. and April 12 (Sunday) at 1 p.m. Season tickets range from $24 to $40, depending on the ages of the spectators.

Bar and Club Circuit

The bluegrass group Hot Mustard will spice up Friday night at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners, with a set that starts at 9.

∎ Nick’s Other Band brings party tunes, sing-alongs, and plenty of barroom rock ‘n roll to Salt hill Pub in Lebanon at 9 on Friday night. And 24 hours later, the rock and blues band Red House makes its first appearance at the venue.

∎ Pianist Randall Mullen leads the next week’s parade of performers through Hanover’s Canoe Club tonight at 7 with his deep repertoire of keyboard standards. Following him to the microphone with 7-to-10-p.m. sets are veteran northern New England singer-songwriter-chronicler Cormac McCarthy on Friday, pianist (and Dartmouth graduate) Dierre Upshaw on Saturday, the jazz trio of pianist Fred Haas, tenor-sax master George Rice and bass ace David Westphalen on Sunday, singer-guitarist David Greenfield roaming what he describes as “the emotional landscape from exuberance to despair” on Tuesday, and jazz-guitar whisperer and Dr. Burma guru Ted Mortimer on Wednesday. The one break in the stream of music: Marko the Magician will perform his weekly sleight-of-hand on Monday night between 5:30 and 8:30.

∎ The rock trio Found Down makes its first stop at Salt hill Pub in Newport at 9 on Friday night, followed on Saturday at the same hour by The Vagabonds.

∎ Peter Concilio’s jazz ensemble will play at Windsor Station at 9 on Saturday night. On Tuesday at 6, Em and Ed from the Party Crashers come calling.

∎ Turner Round will spend Friday night covering classic and modern rock at Salt hill Pub in Hanover at 9. At the same venue and time on Saturday, the hip-hop act The Lynguistic Civilians take the stage.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

∎ At Salt hill in Lebanon, Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host an open mic tonight starting at 8.

∎ Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock. It’s on Mondays, starting at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit hosts an open mic on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m.

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