PITTSFIELD -- It was a bountiful year for live pop music in the Berkshires.
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, the Mahaiwe Center for the Performing Arts in Great Barrington, Tanglewood in Lenox and Mass MoCA in North Adams were the premiere venues for national acts.
But also holding up well was the Lion's Den in Stockbridge, the Gypsy Joynt in Great Barrington, the GEAA in Pittsfield, Rumpy's in Lenox and the PNA in Adams, all of which offered a regular menu of live performances for local music lovers.
The Lion's Den remains the county's only seven-day-a-week music venue. While a few miles to the south, the Gypsy Joynt has become the epicenter for live, local music.
This was, on a number of levels, a pretty good year. One of the highlights of the season was Rock n' Roll Hall-Of-Famer Jackson Browne's Fourth of July show at Tanglewood.
Browne was filling in for The Shed's usual guest on the 4th, James Taylor, Browne rocks a little harder than Taylor and proved to be a more-than-adequate replacement.
And overall, "The Wood", as some locals call the Lenox venue, acquitted itself well. In addition to Browne, other pop and rock acts included fellow Hall-Of-Famers Joan Baez (with the Indigo Girls) and Steve Miller, as well as the upwardly mobile Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Melissa Etheridge.
One of the best shows at the Shed, or anywhere, was a merger of the Boston Pops and uber-guitarist Warren Haynes as they presented the music of another guitar virtuoso, Jerry Garcia. Very nice.
Other notable shows included the always-amazing Freshgrass Festival at MassMoCA, featuring an all-star lineup of blues and bluegrass stalwarts. When you can get Del McCoury, Dr. Ralph Stanley and California punk-bluegrass stars Devil Makes Three at the same venue, you've got something.
Earlier in the summer, MoCA gave us the third incarnation of the Solid Sound Festival, featuring Wilco, Yo La Tengo and Medeski, Martin and Wood.
MoCA also gave us hip-hop icon Talib Kueli and Cowboy musician extraordinaire Don Edwards.
The Colonial presented Three Dog Night, Dave Mason, Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt. The Mahaiwe gave us Darlene Love, Taj Mahal, Bela Fleck, Natalie Merchant and Mary Chapin Carpenter and Mark Cohn.
All these shows gave music fans a broad spectrum of musical styles. But one of the more heartening trends of the past few years has been the development of the local music scene.
There have been a few shakers and movers here, including Tor Krautter, Rob Sanzone, Mary Verdi and Todd Mack.
Verdi's Christmas show includes a host of local performers and Mack and Krautter combined for the local event of the season, a performance of The Band's iconic "The Last Waltz" at the Mahaiwe Center.
There was nothing that better showcased the eclectic, talented cadre of local musicians that abound in the Berkshires than "Waltz." Krautter and Mack selected their performers well. One (of many) highlights was a performance of "The Weight," featuring a number of young musicians from the non-profit organization Music In Common, harmonizing on the chorus.
One of the singers in the show admitted backstage beforehand that, "I didn't know much about The Band before this show, but now I love them!'
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