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 …

Bruce Molsky on fiddle and Michael Daves on guitar perform on a summer day. Press photo courtesy of the artists
Dec 1 2022 @ 7:00 pm
Bruce Molsky, a revered ambassador for America’s old-time mountain music, and Georgia-born guitarist/singer Michael Daves will perform live.
Pianist George Li stands smiling beside a piano. Press photo courtesy of the artist
Dec 1 2022 @ 7:30 pm
The Williams College Department of Music presents pianist George Li in concert, free and open to the public.
A microphone gleams in the dark with points of light in the background. Creative Commons courtesy photo.
Dec 1 2022 @ 7:30 pm
The Ian Giles Trio performs in a blend of styles, from funk to jazz, blues, rock, soul, hip hop, and beyond.
North Adams holds a holiday downtown celebration with galleries and shops open late on first Fridays.
Dec 2 2022 @ 4:00 pm
North Adams holds a holiday downtown celebration with shops open late, a free carriage ride by McKay Farm, live music, s’mores and more.

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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