The Hip Hop Nutcracker with Guest MC Kurtis Blow
Proctors / Schenectady, Tuesday, 12/6, 7:30 PM
Conceived in 2014 by violinist Mathew Silver and DJ Boo, with choreography by Jennifer Weber and a scene-stealing appearance by hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow, The Hip Hop Nutcracker has already become a holiday tradition. It’s thorough re-imagining of the classic tale with an encyclopedic array of hip-hop dance, yet it includes Tchaikovsky’s beloved music. The New York Times said, “The ensemble climaxes, with everyone windmilling on their backs, are as exciting as their balletic equivalents, and the hip-hop vocabulary, robot staccato or bravura with Russian borrowings, works even better for toys, the battle and several of the national divertissements.”
University Art Museum / Albany, Tuesday, 12/6, 4 PM
As we’re about to inaugurate a president who says climate change is a crock, it might be worthwhile to check out this lecture at UAlbany’s University Art Museum by Radley Horton, an associate research scientist at Columbia’s Center for Climate Systems Research. (The latter institution is affiliated with NASA; the president-elect has also said he’s going to get NASA out of the climate study biz.) Horton will discuss “climate change, heat waves, and the impacts on health” to us here in the Northeast. The lecture is presented as part of the museums’ Future Perfect exhibit, which ends Dec. 10.
Albany Symphony Orchestra: An Evening with Yo-Yo Ma
Palace Theatre / Albany, Thursday, 12/8, 7:30 PM
We don’t really need to tell you who Yo-Yo Ma is, do we? The world-renowned cellist will join maestro David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony for a program that will feature Ma on Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Wagner’s Prelude to “Die Meistersinger,” Dvorak’s Serenade For Strings and a world premiere work by Conor Brown. For tickets and info, call the Symphony at 465-4755.
Gannett Auditorium, Skidmore College / Saratoga Springs, Thursday, 12/8, 5:15 PM
FiveThirtyEight visualization specialist Reuben Fischer-Baum will give a lecture on how to visualize uncertainty. The topic takes on particular significance following the failure of most polling firms to properly predict Donald Trump’s victory. We’re not sure how wonky this statistics lecture–sponsored by the math department–will get, but we’re sure you’re smart enough to follow whatever Fischer-Baum presents.The Wet Ink Ensemble: Ipsa Dixit
EMPAC / Troy, Friday, 12/9, 8 PM
The New York City-based ensemble will be presenting the premiere of composer-vocalist (and member) Kate Soper’s six-movement work Ipsa Dixit. The phrase is Latin, meaning “he, himself, said it”—or in this particular case, “she, herself, said it.” According to the program notes, the work draws on “texts by a range of literary voices to skewer the treachery of language and the questionable authenticity of artistic expression.” The seven-piece ensemble has just finished an EMPAC production residency.
Dust Bowl Faeries
The Low Beat / Albany, Friday, 12/9, 8 PM
The Dust Bowl Faeries describe themselves as “an ethereal gothic folk ensemble with a dark cabaret twist.” Rarely has a musical cocktail been so well described. Led by Ryder Cooley—she of the haunted accordion and Hzael, the taxidermy sheep—the band released their first album earlier this year, and will no doubt cast their eerie spell on clubgoers at the Low Beat. Luis Mojica will open the show.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Home Made Theater, Spa Little Theater / Saratoga Springs, Opens Friday, 12/9, 7:30 PM
The 1965 classic television special will come to life in Eric Schaeffer’s stage adaptation of the cartoon Peanuts gang’s search for the true meaning of Christmas. When our pessimistic Charlie Brown is “good-griefing” about the commercialism of the holiday season, he finds himself responsible for orchestrating the school play in order to work through his issues that only seem to escalate with his the high expectations of his peers. Come for the classic songs and stay for the camaraderie between Charlie Brown and that tiny, broken little Christmas tree. The show continues through Dec. 18; check website for shows and times.
MASS MoCA / North Adams, Mass., Saturday, 12/10, 8 PM
By all rights Dinosaur Jr. shouldn’t exist anymore. The Massachusetts based band were influential but not particularly famous during MTV’s alt and grunge days. Perhaps you recall the Beavis and Butthead episode where the two cretin’s deliver golf pro commentary over the band’s golf themed “Feel the Pain” video. “On no, he’s in the water, that’s gonna cost him a stroke,” Butthead says. The tune, perhaps the band’s most famous, was far too frail and vulnerable for the big grunge era. Lead singer Jay Mascis made his guitar wail like a bluesman but his voice all cracked and ragged lacked the heroic, testosterone posturing that was the signature of bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. The band was wracked by infighting. Mascis eventually fired bassist Lou Barlow over creative differences but the band soldiered on. Eventually Mascis replaced original drummer Murph a few albums until the group finally disbanded in 1997. Barlow kept his name alive through a slew of projects like Sebadoh and Folk Implosion (Kids Soundtrack anyone?). But in 2005, with little fanfare the band reunited and their body of work since has been nothing short of miraculous. Having released 4 albums since 2005, many critics see their body of work released since their reunion as starting to surpass their 90’s work. Drummer Murph took a few minutes to talk to The Alt as the band arrived at Irving Plaza for sound check on Thursday. We asked how it is that they make being a reunited and reinvigorated band look so easy, after so many years of strife.
“It’s kind of this bizarre force of creativity,” explained Murph. “It’s like we’re getting these transmissions or something.” The band recently returned from Europe and are making their way through the East Coast. “We’re super lucky, we’ve been touring on this record and its done really well in Europe and the States. In some ways we’re stronger now than we were in the beginning.”
Murph said that the new material has gelled with the old material in a very organic way. “We incorporate it all and it’s amazing the uncanny thing Jay does through his writing and playing. We don’t think about it, we just play.”
We asked Murph if there are plans for another album in the near future. “We just released this one, It’s like I just got this new girlfriend and you’re asking me if I want to get a new one.” He said he and his bandmates are just playing because it works. “All of it has completely been a surprise. We’re just blown away by the reception. We’re not doing anything differently, we play, we rock and we put our best foot forward.”
John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center / Great Barrington, Mass., Sunday, 12/11, 7 PM
World-renowned guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli and Broadway veteran singer-songwriter Jessica Molaskey will surely be an unmissable performance. As Stephen Holden wrote in The New York Times, “They are as good as it gets in any entertainment medium. They are caviar in a world of canned tuna. Once you’ve acquired the taste, there is no substitute.” In their latest performance, the pair will be performing a show called Midnight McCartney, a compilation of the legendary singer-songwriter Sir Paul McCartney’s lesser-known songs as well as jazz standards.
The Egg / Albany, Saturday, 12/10, 7:30 PM
The rock and soul-singing vet brings her acoustic duo (with pianist Keith Cotton) to the Egg this weekend. It hardly seems possible that her smash hit “One of Us” was 20 years ago, but, well, time . . . you know. But she still has a powerful, emotionally compelling voice and a repertoire that runs the gamut from folk rock to electric bues—though we hear she’s been singing a lot of Dylan lately. Should be fun.
The Many Moods of Christmas
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall / Troy, Sunday, 12/11, 3 PM
Get into the holiday mood with the glorious choral sounds of Albany Pro Musica, backed by the instrumental muscle of Orchestra Pro Musica, this Sunday afternoon. The program features the program’s title work, Robert Shaw’s collection The Many Moods of Christmas, and Gustav Holst’s “choral fantasy on old carols.” The ringer here is internationally renowned young tenor Rafael Davila, featured guest soloist, who has, in the last year, performed Don Jose in Carmen with the Washington National Opera and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with the Opera de Puerto Rico.