Close your eyes and feel the music

Glad rhythms — how can I describe the sound for you? Eight marimbas are cascading tones like summer rain. Within a few beats, most of the audience is on their feet. We’re masked, and we’re keeping careful distance, but we’re dancing together.

The room is basking in the energy of college students cheering their friends at the solos. It’s a Friday night, dropping down from 20 degrees with a keen edge to the wind, and the Zambezi Marimba Band are playing live.

They’re surrounded by brass and jazz piano and drums. The band has more marimba players than marimbas, so at the begining of every song the musicians change over with a flexibility that feels casual. It’s been a long time since I felt this charge — performers handing the music back and forth in buoyant confidence, like old friends sharing inside jokes.

A young man and woman are singing jazz, trading lines at microphones across the room from each other. A violinist sends the descant overhead, high and fast and impossibly fluid. The bandeader, Tendai Muparutsa, is singing a contemporary song from Zimbabwe in his clear, carrying tenor. And for an hour the night is warm.

Tendai Muparutsa, leader of the Zambezi Marimba Band, is an internationally known performer, ethnomusicologist and bandleader, and he’s here, leading the band as an artist in residence at Williams College. These photos above are all press images courtesy of Williams College and the ’62 Center for Theater and Dance. All the pandemic precautions are in place, and Williams College events are only open to the college this semester for safety, students and faculty and staff, and because I’m putting in a few hours a week with oral histories here, I had the chance to hear them. And we have live music around us …

Concerts coming up …

A microphone waits in golden light. Creative Commons courtesy photo.
Jun 7 2023 @ 7:00 pm
The Egremont Barn welcomes all comers to perform on the tavern stage for a night of acoustic music in a friendly space.
Japanese British pop star Rina Sawayama stands in a white tank top against a blue background wtih her hair down around ehr shoulders. Press photo courtesy of Mass MoCA
Jun 9 2023 @ 8:00 pm
The Japanese-British pop savant Rina Sawayama has made an international name from Bonnaroo to Berlin with a sound, look, and spectacular live show.
The Met: Live in HD presents a new staging of Mozart's The Magic Flute. Photo courtesy of the Clark Art Institute
Jun 11 2023 @ 12:55 pm
The Met: Live in HD presents Mozart's whimsical fairy tale in its first new Met staging in 19 years — a vision by renowned English director Simon McBurney.
From the Stone Hill Center terrace, visitors look down into the lighted windows of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center at dusk.
Jun 11 2023 @ 5:00 pm
Belltower Records and the Clark bring free local music with folk guitarist Wes Buckley and blues guitarist Willie Lane, out on the terrace with a view from Stone Hill.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

If you’d like to see the website grow, you can join me for a few dollars a month, enough for a cup of coffee and a cider doughnut. Members get access to extra stories and multimedia, itineraries a bookmark tool. Let me know what you're looking for, and we’ll explore together.

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