Looking for live music on Friday night? Maybe you want to tap into the energy and community downtown. Maybe you want to hang out with a friend and share Chingon tacos out in the courtyard Mass MoCA.

Our towns have a new energy growing, even in the changing ground since the pandemic — sometimes more because of it. On a Friday night I can wander into the Bookstore or the Bear and Bee Bookshop, Wild Soul River of the Berkshire Co-op … and wind up talking with the owners about pinhole cameras and world travel and rewilding the Hoosic River.

We share a sense of knowing who lives around us, like a neural network or an ecosystem. Walking home I see the folks who run the tea shop around the corner. They’re sitting on the steps on a summer night and talking with a friend in a well-loved local blues band, and I’ve heard her singing in the courtyard at WCMA, riffing on Don’t thing twice — it’s all right with an ironic mischief that turns that understatement into confidence.

What if ‘small town’ can mean ‘close enough to know each other’? We live here because we want to live in the country, we want earth under our feet — and we want to think. Stretch out and lean back, sit on the steps and talk.

New Orleans jazz and blues vocalist Samirah Evans, visiting artist at Williams College, performs with the late saxophonist Charles Neville — both nationally reknowned musicians who live and lived in the Berkshires. Photo courtesy of Pittsfield CityJazz. And children run on the shore of Onota Lake – Photo by Susan Geller.