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The Infamous Stringdusters Tap Drive-By Truckers, Sam Bush Band, & More For Their Festy Experience

first_imgThe Festy Experience ~ First Half of 2017 Lineup:The Infamous StringdustersDrive-By TruckersSam Bush BandThe Travelin’ McCourysJerry DouglasCabinetBilly StringsLove CanonCarl AndersonThe 8th Annual Garrettgrass Gospel HourMore TBA in June! The Infamous Stringdusters and their annual Festy Experience have confirmed plans for the 8th annual festival, happening October 5-8, 2017 in the Blue Ridge Bowl at Infinity Downs Farm in Arrington, Virginia. The lineup comprises a carefully curated blend of national and local roots music acts, featuring the Drive-By Truckers, Sam Bush Band, The Travelin’ McCourys, Jerry Douglas, Cabinet, Billy Strings, Love Canon, Carl Anderson, and The 8th Annual Garrettgrass Gospel Hour. And this is just half of the artist lineup. The next installment of artists is forthcoming!This will be The Festy Experience’s second year at Infinity Downs Farm, a 387-acre property in Arrington, VA, located in the Nelson County Preserve at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Central Virginia adjacent to the site of LOCKN’ Festival. The property features outdoor amphitheaters, open fields, campgrounds, hiking, and over 7 miles of biking trails. The Festy is fortunate that Infinity Downs Farm has been investing in extremely rare infrastructure (fencing, power, roads, water, internet) that will provide a sturdy foundation for The Festy Experience to continue its mission of long-term sustainability. It is conveniently located just 35 miles south of Charlottesville and 30 miles north of Lynchburg. This new location has proven itself the perfect place for the Festy Experience!Tickets are on sale here and there are plenty of camping options.last_img read more

Bluegrass Underground Announces Initial 2018 Lineup In Its New Home: The Caverns

first_imgThe world’s newest – and oldest – performance venue arrives on March 24, 2018, as The Caverns opens with a headliner-filled weekend taping for Season VIII of the 13-time EMMY-winning PBS series Bluegrass Underground. Artists booked for next season’s tapings include singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, legendary bluegrass and “newgrass” artist The Sam Bush Band, breakout bluegrass band Flatt Lonesome, eclectic Americana guitarslinger Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Tim O’Brien Bluegrass Band and Cuban roots-rockers Sweet Lizzy Project, the group introduced to American audiences by Mavericks leader Raul Malo in PBS Great Performances: Havana Time Machine.Bluegrass Underground Finds Permanent Home In Monteagle’s CavernsLocated at the foot of Monteagle Mountain in the rolling hills of Grundy County, Tennessee, The Caverns is just 10 minutes from Exit 127 on I-24. Packages and tickets for all events go on sale Saturday, Dec 9 here.“We’re really happy to announce the grand opening of The Caverns, the forever home of Bluegrass Underground and many other special musical moments that will bring folks together in a spectacular space like no other the world over. Or under,” says Caverns owner and Bluegrass Underground creator Todd Mayo in a press statement.As the permanent home of Bluegrass Underground, The Caverns’ annual PBS taping schedule will be more flexible, allowing for several taping weekends instead of a single once-a-year marathon, making available a broader range of artists.Go In-Depth With Bluegrass Underground As They Wrap Season VII Filming For PBSPBS tapings in April and May will include Carlile, The Sam Bush Band, Flatt Lonesome, The Turnpike Troubadours, Kathy Mattea, Lettuce, The Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, Mary Gauthier and Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper. For the complete list, see below.Other artists scheduled for The Caverns’ premiere year include John Anderson, The Del McCoury Band, Dailey & Vincent, a Piano-palooza with Davina & The Vagabonds and Jason D. Williams, Sierra Hull and a very special Halloween at The Caverns with Here Come the Mummies. Additional shows will be announced in the coming months.The Caverns is now offering patrons two new and improved travel packages that each provide high quality Tennessee experiences. Patrons can choose between the Monteagle Mountain Package and the Chattanooga Package. The Monteagle Mountain Package provides accommodations at a historic Tennessee lodge just minutes from the venue, surrounded by great hiking, local shopping and dining options. The Chattanooga Package provides accommodations in one of the South’s most breathtaking cities, with outdoor adventure, great restaurants and world class attractions all nearby. Both packages now include transportation to and from the venue and your very own package concierges to help get the most out of your weekend experience.“Every aspect of the patron experience has been improved and enhanced – a streamlined ticketing process, closer parking, nicer bathrooms, more comfortable seating, better sightlines and more. And the space itself is even grander and, dare I say…‘cavier’,” says The Caverns General Manager and Associate Producer Joe Lurgio. The Caverns is also excited to offer upgraded food and beverage concessions that will include a longtime request from patrons: beer.Season VIII PBS Bluegrass Underground TapingsMarch 24: Billy Strings and Sweet Lizzy ProjectMarch 25: The Sam Bush Band and Aaron Lee TasjanApril 20: Brandi CarlileApril 21: Kathy Mattea and The Tim O’Brien Bluegrass BandApril 22: Lettuce and The Rev. Osagyefo SekouMay 19: Flatt Lonesome and Turnpike TroubadoursMay 20: Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper and Mary GauthierBut wait, there’s moreThe Caverns PresentsApril 28, The Del McCoury Band with Sierra HullJune 8: Piano-palooza with Davina & The Vagabonds and Jason D WilliamsJune 16: Keller WilliamsJuly 21: Scott MillerAugust 11: Mountain HeartSeptember 8: John Anderson, Bobby Bare and James OttoOct. 31: Here Come The MummiesNov. 3: Dailey & VincentFor more information & tickets: read more

David Byrne Shares First New Solo Album In 14 Years

first_imgIn early January, David Byrne announced that he would release his first new solo album in fourteen years. American Utopia, officially due out March 9th via Todomundo/Nonesuch Records, marks the Talking Heads frontman’s first release since 2012’s St. Vincent collaboration, Love This Giant, and his first solo album since 2004’s Grown Backwards. Today, you can listen to American Utopia as a pre-release stream on NPR’s First Listen.American Utopia was recorded at David Byrne’s home studio, as well as XL Studios, Oscilloscope, and London’s Livingston Studio 1, among other places, and was produced by Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, King Krule, Savages). The album’s guest contributors include Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never), Jam City, St. Vincent producer Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman), and Jack Peñate. Several of the songs, including the lead single “Everybody’s Coming To My House”, were co-written by Byrne’s longtime collaborator Brian Eno.“The [album] title refers not to a specific utopia, but rather to our longing, frustration, aspirations, fears, and hopes regarding what could be possible, what else is possible,” Byrne said in a press statement. “The description, the discontent and the desire—I have a feeling that is what these songs touch on.”Listen to American Utopia here.In support of the new album, David Byrne will hit the road with a world tour. When the talk of the tour started last month, Byrne revealed that his plans for the tour will create “the most ambitious show I’ve done since the shows that were filmed for Stop Making Sense.” In addition to the previously-announced American music festivals like Coachella and Shaky Knees, David Byrne will hit several international fests including Lollapalooza Chile, Argentina, Brazil, as well as festivals in Prague, Bilbao, Barcelona, and more. See below for a full list of tour dates, and stay tuned for more. Head to David Byrne’s website for a full list of tour dates.last_img read more

Vulfpeck, Kamasi Washington, & KNOWER To Play Red Rocks

first_imgVulfpeck has seen a quick rise to the top over the last two years, hitting some of the country’s most exciting music festivals and stages despite avoiding a traditional approach to touring. The Ann Arbor-bred funk quartet experienced the majority of their early fame on the Internet in response to their clever music videos and unusual digital marketing. Since breaking into the international live music scene, the band–comprised of multi-instrumentalist Jack Stratton, bassist Joe Dart, keyboardist Woody Goss, and drummer/guitarist/vocalist Theo Katzman–has sold out headlining concerts worldwide, including all their North American stops in 2017 plus shows in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Glasgow, London, and Dublin. To call Vulfpeck a phenomenon is a huge understatement, as they’ve captured the respect and attention of most living funk lords today.On Friday, April 27, Vulfpeck will make their headlining debut at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. The bill is brilliantly completed by saxophonist Kamasi Washington and KNOWER as supporting acts. Without a doubt, this night will be musical.The upcoming show will mark Vulfpeck’s third performance at the beloved venue, following their opening set for Trey Anastasio Band in the summer of 2017 and with The Motet the previous year. During last summer’s performance, two worlds collided when Phish frontman Trey Anastasio sat in with the funk group for a ripping version of “Rango”, which led into an impromptu Michael Jackson jam of “Will You Be There” (famously from the movie Free Willy). While Vulfpeck’s billing with Trey Anastasio Band seemed uncharacteristic to some, this year’s direction will presumably appeal to the greater Vulfpack audience.Modern jazz torch-bearer Kamasi Washington is currently riding the wave of his recent release, Harmony of Difference, and has quickly become one of the most respected musicians in the game. As he’s broken out of Los Angeles and into the great big world beyond it, Kamasi Washington has worked with a dizzying array of artists from the furthest opposing corners of the music world. From St. Vincent to Run The Jewels, Soulive and Thundercat to Herbie Hancock, from jamming on festival main stages with The String Cheese Incident to composing orchestrations for Kendrick Lamar‘s revered 2015 studio album, To Pimp A Butterfly. Kamasi Washington has become a staple addition to any eclectic lineup and will *hopefully* lend the saxophone part to some of Vulfpeck’s greatest compositions (“Outro”).Kamasi Washington – “The Rhythm Changes” – Pitchfork Music Festival 2016It’s time to get on the KNOWER train if you aren’t already on it. The Los Angeles-based group led by Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi is currently spear-heading a new musical movement and is known for their use of hard-hitting funk, cool chords, and deep melodies. Another career started on the Internet, specifically YouTube, the “indietronica” duo was featured on Snarky Puppy‘s Family Dinner Vol. 2 in 2015, expanded to a five-person live act in 2016, and opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in four major European cities in 2017. Positioned for enormous success in 2018, KNOWER is a band/sound/feeling that can’t be stopped. Members of Vulfpeck and KNOWER have a reliable history of collaboration, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed to see it happen again on the big stage.Knower – “Time Traveler” (Live Band Sesh) – 2017Tickets for Vulfpeck with Kamasi Washington and KNOWER are currently on-sale here. Head to the event’s Facebook page to stay up to date with show details here. Enter To Win A Pair Of VIP Tickets Below!<span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>last_img read more

Here’s A Video Of A Man Happily Chugging Sriracha At Ultra 2018

first_imgOver the weekend, Ultra Music Festival in Miami celebrated its 20th anniversary. The festival celebrated the landmark year by surprising attendees with the reunion of house music supergroup Swedish House Mafia, the group’s first performance since their farewell show at the festival almost exactly five years prior.However, as pointed out by Your EDM, one ecstatic man was in (debatably) proper form for the occasion, as he was caught celebrating by triumphantly chugging Sriracha hot sauce straight out of the bottle on the festival’s webcast. Ultra has the tendency to bring out the worst (best?) in its attendees: This new viral video is the latest in a string of infamous clips of fans doing weird shit at the EDM fest, including the truly bizarre and somewhat disturbing (hilarious?) video of a girl making sweet, passionate love to a palm tree at the event in 2012. However, this young man at Ultra is not the first to drink sriracha at a bass event—I guess the trend is a thing (???), so here’s a video of a guy drinking sriracha at Excision last year.last_img read more

A New Guns N’ Roses Album Is In The Works, Band Members Confirm [Listen]

first_imgLast time Guns N’ Roses put out a new album—2008’s Chinese Democracy—it took them more than a decade, roughly $14 million in production costs, and several lineup changes to complete it. Now, it appears they’re shifting their sights to their next release, but all signs indicate that it will be a much smoother—and faster—process this time around.Earlier this month, the band wrapped up their three-year-long Not In This Lifetime Tour, which will go down as one of the highest-grossing concert tours ever. At the tour’s final stop in Hawaii, Axl Rose made a somewhat ambiguous announcement from the stage: “We can’t do what’s next until we finish this, right? Now that all that’s done, we can get on with things.”In a new interview with St. Louis, MO’s KSHE, guitarist Richard Fortus confirmed that the “next thing” to which Axl was referring is a new Guns N’ Roses album. When asked about Rose’s hint, Fortus responded, “We are going to try to do another record, get it out soon.”When the host noted that he didn’t see them “rushing to do this thing,” Fortus responded, “I think it will happen faster than you think… I sure hope it happens faster than you think [laughs].” The host pressed further, asking whether we could at least expect a single new Guns N’ Roses song in the coming year. Fortus replied, “It could definitely happen. … There might be stuff started.” Fortus also dashed the host’s faint skepticism about what 2018 Axl Rose might write about, noting “I think Axl’s got a lot to write about.”You can listen to the interview clip below:Richard Fortus Confirms Plans For New Guns N’ Roses Album[H/T Consequence of Sound]last_img read more

Phish Opens Mexico Fiesta With First “Spock’s Brain” Since 2003, Rarities From Halloweens Past [Photos/Pro-Shot Videos]

first_imgLoad remaining images On Thursday evening at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, Phish kicked off their three-night Mexican run for the third time in four years. While this excursion isn’t officially considered a “Phish festival,” it is certainly in the running as one of the best ways to go see live music and take a vacation during the brutally cold winter months up north. The foursome from Vermont steadied their sea legs after a month and a half off and produced a performance most memorable for its big-time bust-outs.For the thousands of Phish fans that experienced the fear of missing out (or “FOMO”) prior to the resort party in Riviera Maya, the band dug the knife even deeper with a colossal “Spock’s Brain” throwback for the first time since 7/30/2003. Lyrically rubbing in the fact that “you didn’t pay them for the plane on time,” “Spock’s” was dusted off for the first attempt of the 3.0 era and was finally caught by country-hopping fans hunting it down for over 15 years.An early “Twist” found a spot in the opening half of the show for the first time since 2014 and quickly moved into “Free” before the band was able to explore any uncharted territory. For the third consecutive time, Phish opened the Mexican three-night run with a first-set “Free”, bringing smiles to faces during the “splashing in the sea” reference. An even bigger bust-out was launched in the fourth spot with the Velvet Underground’s “Who Loves the Sun?”, played for the first time since Halloween 1998, a gap of more than over 600 shows. 1998 was a huge year for Phish, and the Loaded Halloween costume was one of many highlights. While Lou Reed’s “Who Loves the Sun?” is lyrically pessimistic, the title works as the perfect headline for the band to announce future beach-front excursions and the light-hearted melody fits nicely with the resort theme.“Everything’s Right” got a lot of love in 2018, and during the first Phish show of 2019, it appears that this year will be no different. Five minutes into the Trey Anastasio– and Tom Marshall-written tune, Mike Gordon let his bass do the talking and instigated the first real jam of the evening. After a Kasvot Växt-heavy New Year’s run at Madison Square Garden, “We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains” came as no surprise in the sixth position of the scattered setlist. The band continued practicing new material with “Rise/Come Together” before whipping out an old-school cover with “Funky Bitch.” Beach dwellers at the Barcelo had been preparing for this event for months and were delighted to show off their new, fancy clothes during this Gordon-led dance party.To keep the funk alive, Anastasio added bubbling effects as the band eased into a Type I “Sand” jam. Gordon delivered a thick and chunky bass groove for the sand people on the beach anchored by a sturdy beat from Jon Fishman, who sported snappy new muumuu with neon green donuts for the occasion. Taking the geographically-relevant tune into darker waters, Page layered a swirling organ around Anastasio’s whaling guitar to close out the first set of randomly-placed fresh tunes and well-oiled antiques from yesteryear.Since the 2017-2018 NYE debut of “Soul Planet”, the sunshine-daydreamer has found itself lost in Type II territory a few times. When opening the second act on Thursday, the band may have been too focused on cramming more ocean-based love lyrics into the resort set rather than taking the composition anywhere exotic. Instead, Anastasio transitioned into Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon” for the first time since the 2010 Halloween Waiting for Columbus costume. Three songs in, the crowd was treated to the longest and jammiest “I Always Wanted It This Way” to date. Not to be confused with the Backstreet Boys pop hit with a similar title, this Page McConnell-penned Big Boat tune was the highlight of the second set. The synth-heavy sound transformed into a light and beachy 20-minute jam that gave all four members time in the spotlight. Fishman communicated to Trey with an ear-to-ear grin before McConnell teamed up with Gordon to create a boisterous clavinet/bass concoction. After a noteworthy “IAWITW”, the band clunkily melted into a slow-tempo “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long”. The bluesy Kasvot Växt original served as the fourth number of the evening from Halloweens past, and it was clear the quartet enjoys playing í rokk songs outside of their October celebration.While “2001” is not a rarity by any stretch of the imagination, hearing it started from scratch without a pre-buffer transition tune isn’t all that common. Thursday’s delivery contained an extended “DDHVL” tease that Trey fit comfortably with the faster tempo space jam. Patience was the name of the game during this 13-minute rendition as Fishman steered the sound into calmer waters before taking it full speed ahead. McConnell gave the interstellar score an extragalactic feel with a heavy synth that paired nicely with Anastasio’s echoing arcade-like effects.“We love to take a bath,” got extra roars during the light-weight “Bathtub Gin” before McConnell shut down the second set with an always welcomed “Squirming Coil” piano solo. The ballad-heavy encore contained a “Waste” and a Jimi Hendrix “Bold As Love” one-two punch before everyone made the short commute back to their beachfront residencies for the evening. Friday’s night’s show kicks off around 7:30 PM EST and the webcast can be purchased through LivePhish.Below, you can watch pro-shot videos from Phish’s first night in Mexico including the show-opening “Spock’s Brain” and, thanks to some technical issues with the pay per view webcast, a full video of set two. Thanks, LivePhish!You can also view a gallery of beautiful photos from night one courtesy of photographer Eric Fefferman.Phish – “Spock’s Brain”[Video: Phish]Phish – 2/21/19 – Set Two[Video: Phish]Setlist: Phish | Barceló May | Quintana Roo, Mexico | 2/21/19SET 1: Spock’s Brain, Twist, Free, Who Loves the Sun?, Everything’s Right, We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains, Rise/Come Together, Funky Bitch, SandSET 2: Soul Planet -> Spanish Moon, I Always Wanted It This Way > Death Don’t Hurt Very Long, Also Sprach Zarathustra, Bathtub Gin, The Squirming CoilENCORE: Waste, Bold As LovePhish | Riviera Maya, Mexico | 2/21/19 | Photos: Eric Feffermanlast_img read more

Bob Dylan To Open ‘Heaven’s Door’ Whiskey Distillery & Center For The Arts In Nashville In 2020

first_imgThis time last year, Bob Dylan announced his plans to launch a new whiskey company, Heaven’s Door Spirits. Dylan revealed new details about the upcoming new venture in a news release issued on Tuesday, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of his ninth studio album, 1969’s Nashville Skyline.According to the news release, the new distillery will open in Nashville, TN in 2020. Heaven’s Door Spirits will “transform the 160-year-old Elm Street Church into the Heaven’s Door Distillery and Center for the Arts, featuring the distillery, a whiskey library, a restaurant and a 360-seat live performance venue. … It will also feature Dylan’s paintings and metalwork sculptures.”The company is a partnership between Dylan and Marc Bushala, a lifelong fan and liquor entrepreneur. According to a 2018 feature in The New York Times announcing the venture, Heaven’s Door will sell a collection of three whiskeys including a straight rye, a straight bourbon and a “double-barreled” whiskey, retailing for $50 to $80 a bottle. Notes the Times, “They are Mr. Dylan’s entry into the booming celebrity-branded spirits market, the latest career twist for an artist who has spent five decades confounding expectations.”“We both wanted to create a collection of American whiskeys that, in their own way, tell a story,” Dylan told The New York Times. “I’ve been traveling for decades and I’ve been able to try some of the best spirits that the world of whiskey has to offer. This is great whiskey.”“Dylan has these qualities that actually work well for a whiskey,” Mr. Bushala said. “He has great authenticity. He is a quintessential American. He does things the way he wants to do them. I think these are good attributes for a super-premium whiskey as well.”The Times story went on to explain the characteristically Dylan-esque nature of Bob and Bushala’s partnership on Heaven’s Door:Mr. Bushala said that over four or five meetings — always at Mr. Dylan’s metalworking studio in Los Angeles — and a number of phone calls, he had learned that his partner has a sophisticated whiskey palate. … Yet communication was still a challenge. Mr. Bushala and Ryan Perry, the chief operating officer, struggled to interpret Mr. Dylan’s wishes. Often they came in the form of enigmatic comments or simply glances.“Sometimes you just get a long look,” Mr. Bushala said with a laugh, “and you’re not sure if that’s disgust or approval.” … He and Mr. Perry recalled Mr. Dylan’s tasting a sample of the double-barreled whiskey and saying that something was missing. “It should feel like being in a wood structure,” he said.Stay tuned for further updates on Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door Distillery and Center for the Arts in Nashville.[H/T AP News]last_img read more

A look inside: Winthrop House

first_img Talent, baby, talent Sarah Peprah ’13 (from left), Kayla Shelton ’13, and Rachel Byrd ’13, the Step Dancers, perform syncopation, a modern hip-hop style that draws from African roots. Winthrop’s House of Talent Floored Harvard Ballet Company members Kevin Shee ’11 (left) and Melanie Comeau ’13 (of Quincy House) perform “Reset” by Ricky Kuperman ’11 (not pictured). Smokin’ Tomomi Ibe of the Mainly Jazz Dance Comany performs “Le Jazz Hot,” a piece that features the glam, glitter, and fun of a 1930s Parisian nightclub. Reversal time Step dancers Rachel Byrd ’13 (from left), Kayla Shelton ’13, and Sarah Peprah ’13 can rest and enjoy the show now that their performance is over. Most talented Max Meyer ’12 was the 2005 winner of America’s Most Talented Kid. At the talent show, he served as master of ceremonies and performed a little on piano. Relaxed and enjoying Winthrop House Co-Masters Stephanie Robinson and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. sit back and enjoy the show with their son Trey. Saucy Michelle Seslar ’11 of Kirkland House and Lionel Perez ’11, who both have been members of Harvard’s Candela Salsa Dance Troupe, perform “Se Le Ve” by Andy Montanez. Captive audience The audience listens closely as Brandon Seah ’11 performs “Throat Singing.” Olé! Harvard Ballet Folklórico de Aztlán’s Marisol Romero ’12 and Keith Grubb ’13 (of Adams House) perform La Negra, a type of dance that originated from the Mexican state of Jalisco. Do that Bhangra Students from Harvard Bhangra perform an energetic dance that draws from Punjabi culture and rhythms. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer Winthrop House residents crowded into the House Junior Common Room on a recent Sunday night to attend the inaugural Winthrop Winter Showcase. An impressive array of performances ensued, with dance dominating the evening.Step dance inspired by African and hip-hop rhythms, jazz styling resembling a 1930s Parisian nightclub, traditional Mexican folk dance celebrating the state of Jalisco, salsa enlivened with the tempos of Cuba, bhangra dance sharing the energetic beats of the Punjabi culture, and Irish dance with its flurry of footwork were all featured. Students who have trained with premier dance companies, such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the San Francisco Ballet, also presented accomplished performances in modern dance and ballet.Pianists and vocalists joined the acts, including a self-taught throat singer. Master of ceremonies Max Meyer ’12 kept the show effortlessly flowing and managed to take a moment at the piano to dazzle the crowd with his own singing and playing.Housemasters Stephanie Robinson and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. made a family night out of the event, attending with their eldest son. Residents crowded onto cozy sofas and chairs or clustered together on the floor, sitting arm in arm to support their fellow students. Following the final act, Meyer led a chorus of cheers. Eyes of the crowd Winthrop residents watch their fellow Housemates’ performances. Corcairdhearg Moira Forberg ’11 (left) and Alana O’Brien ’11, co-founders of Corcairdhearg, the Harvard College Irish Dancers, perform.last_img read more

The timelessness of war

first_imgMembers of the American Repertory Theater’s (A.R.T.) current production of “Ajax” took to the stage for another version of the Greek drama, “Ajax and Philoctetes,” delivering a tale about warriors in ancient times for an audience largely made up of warriors in modern times.The production on Monday (March 7) was a collaboration between the A.R.T. and the arts group Theater of War on an innovative project that presents readings of the story of Ajax, the mythological Greek warrior ravaged by jealousy, violence, and shame who takes his own life. The production facilitates a town hall discussion to examine the challenges faced by veterans, service members, families, friends, and community members, all dealing with the psychological effects of war.“It has been suggested that ancient Greek drama was a form of storytelling, communal therapy, and ritual reintegration for combat veterans by combat veterans,” said the program notes. The event at the Loeb Drama Center bore that suggestion out, as themes of shame, fear, anxiety, honor, gratitude, anger, and resentment emerged during a discussion with the audience.A large number of military members and veterans attended the program, which included a panel of three veterans and an Army wife.Forty years ago this month, panelist Bill Donoghue returned from Vietnam. He spoke of the horrors he experienced while serving as a U.S. Marine and of his current fear for the safety of his son, a Marine officer in Afghanistan.“I identify with the line in the play [from Ajax’s wife Tecmessa] that says ‘twice the pain, twice the sorrow,’ ” said Donoghue, who described the “special letters” that only he receives from his son, detailing the death that he sees in combat.“He knows I know. …That’s how that phrase in the play resonates with me.”Panelist Gillian Sowden, a fourth-year student at Harvard Medical School, sat next to her husband Evan Bick, who was an infantry platoon leader in Iraq. Sowden described the difficulty of being separated from Bick for two years, the constant anxiety she felt, and how they had “grown in different ways while apart.”“We had two very different years,” she said. “I’ll never fully understand his experience, and part of me doesn’t want to know his experience, because that’s a side of me I can’t quite reconcile with the man that I married.”Many in the audience wondered how best to respond to members of the military whom they encounter in their communities. Veterans and current service members responded that what they appreciate most is sincerity and a willingness to engage.“One of the best things is building a relationship,” said one audience member on active duty. “No one is going to give detailed information to someone they barely know. So the best thing you can do is not just say ‘thank you,’ but look us in the eye, touch us, and build a relationship with us … take time, befriend us.”Members of the Marine Wing Support Squadron, based out of Chicopee, Mass., occupied two rows of seats near the back of the auditorium. Their commanding officer, Capt. William Lee, initially worried how they might react to the program, but his fears were put to rest when many raised their hands to take part in the discussion. It’s important to understand the perspective of the people we serve, for them to understand ours, and “to have a conversation in a setting like this,” said Lee.Donoghue offered pointed advice about what not to say to a service member who has seen active duty, saying, “The worst question in the world is: ‘Did you kill someone?’ ” Instead, Donoghue urged people to ask open-ended questions like “Tell me about your experience.”Ellen McLaughlin, who directed the evening’s reading and moderated the discussion, offered background for the audience. The playwright Sophocles was himself a military veteran. Athens, where the work premiered, was a military society, and the play would have been presented to a largely military crowd.“When we are talking about a classical Greek audience, we are talking about 17,000 people. It was basically the entire city of Athens seeing the premiere of this play.”last_img read more