Happy New Year, dear readers, and welcome to a more seasonable winter.
Though it's tempting to want to weather the weather curled up in blankets on the couch or cozied up by a fireplace, there's also a lot happening around and about our Berkshire towns. Here's just a sampling of fun events that might just be worth braving the cold for:
• Held each January in the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance in Williamstown and directed by Matthew Gold, the annual I/O Festival of New Music immerses audiences in the full spectrum of today's most vital compositional trends. I/O Fest 2016 features new and adventurous music by composers including Steve Reich, Lois Vierk, Oscar Bettison, Anthony Cheung, and Anna Thorvaldsdottir. In addition to the scheduled concerts, I/O Fest will include events in and around the '62 Center throughout the festival. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. The performance schedule is as follows: Tonight, the I/O Ensemble performs at 8 p.m.
• January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, and Jiminy Peak is offering two special events. We're not endorsing anyone to play hookey, but if you happen to have the day off, Jiminy Peak is participating in the World's Largest Lesson campaign at 10 a.m. Friday. The ski area will join hundreds of other resorts in an attempt to set world records for the largest multi-venue ski lesson and the largest multi-venue snowboard lesson for the Guinness Book of World Records.
Then, on Sunday, try skiing or snowboarding at the resort. Based out of the GET Skiing/GET Riding center in the Doc Maynard building, you'll get everything you'll need for the day; rental equipment, a learning area lift ticket and tips from trained instructors, for those ages 8 and up. Instructors will be posted throughout the learning area from 1:30 to 3 p.m. to offer tips and advice. The learning area utilizes Terrain Based Learning, an innovative learning approach that sculpts the snow into features that control speed and direction. Space is limited for the first 75 skiers and 35 snowboarders, so call 413-738-5500, ext. 3002 to reserve your spot.
• Ski Butternut is also celebrating its official opening week. On Friday, newbies can take advantage of a "1st Timer Learn To Ski/Snowboard" package, which includes a beginner area lift ticket, a 90-minute first-timer group lesson and equipment rentals for use for the day. Call 413-528-2000, ext. 150 for more information.
Then from 5 to 8 p.m., also on Friday, check out the Inaugural Light-Up-The-Night Tubing Party, featuring glow sticks, glow necklaces and neon lights. There will be a fire pit for s'mores; hot chocolate and pizza for sale, and live entertainment with a deejay.
• The Down County Social Club, located beneath The Stagecoach Tavern on Route 41 in Sheffield, welcomes New York City stand-up comedian Greg Barris and Ree Ree Soko at 8 p.m. Barris has his own brand of psychedelic fringe comedy, while Soko is known for her raunchier, anything goes style. There's a suggested $10 donation for this and all club events. Info: rblodge.com/comedynightjanuary2016 or 413-229-2916.
• Thursday is the night to be at Bousquet Mountain in Pittsfield. From 3 to 9 p.m., the ski area offers a $10 Thursday Night Owl Special, starting this week. Every Thursday night from 6:30 to 9:30 during the winter season live music will also be offered in the Tamarack Lounge, with no cover. Call 413-442-8316 for more information.
• IS183 Art School's "Arts Nights Out" series returns at Citizens' Hall Studios in Stockbridge. From 7 to 9 p.m., Thad Kubis will lead a hands-on workshop, "Smartphone Photography." Explore the advanced camera and editing functions on mobile devices, learn how to make digital publications and cool ways of sharing your images. BYOB, snacks and friends or a date. The cost is $35 for this age 21 and up event. Registration is required and can be done by calling 413-298-5252, ext. 100 or online at is183.org.
• Less into making art and more into appreciating it? Pittsfield offers two opening receptions for new art shows.
From 4 to 6 p.m., the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts will fete its resident artists in "Out of the Studio 2016," on view through Jan. 30. Artists featured include: Mario Caluori, Peg Dotchin, Julio Granda, Jim Horsford, Sean McCusker, Nicole Rizzo, Michael Rousseau and Stefanie Weber.
From 5 to 7 p.m. at Dottie's Coffee Lounge, curator Carrie Wright presents, "Meaning of Contact: Works by Joseph Wilk & Bill Wright." Wilk is a graphic designer and photographer working in the fashion industry. Born in Pittsfield and residing in Brooklyn, N.Y., his work is inspired by and reflects the raw ideas and feeling of the punk scene. Born in Bridgeport, Conn., and residing in Pittsfield, Wright's new photography works, "Chasing the Light," capture the stationary elements of images in a ghostly air.
• Community members, families, and dancers of all ages are encouraged to audition for a community-oriented performance of Ronald K. Brown's, "On Earth Together," featuring choreography to the music of Stevie Wonder.
Auditions will be held as follows: Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield and from 6 to 8 p.m. at the XPress Gallery in North Adams; and on Saturday, Jan. 16, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Lichtenstein and 6 to 8 p.m. at XPress.
This iteration of the piece will feature community members of all walks of life sharing the stage with EVIDENCE, a professional dance company. This residency and performance are part of a larger community engagement project through The Center Series at the '62 Center for Theatre & Dance, the Mellon Foundation and the Lift Ev'ry Voice Festival.
"On Earth Together" will be performed along with the Berkshire debut of "The Subtle One," featuring the music of Jason Moran, at 8 p.m. Jan. 22 at on the '62 Center Main Stage in Williamstown. Learn more at facebook.com/LiftEvryVoice and 62center.williams.edu.
• Local rockers Mr. Doubtfire — aka Alden Grover, Brandon Grover, Casey O'Donnell and Rob Tatten — will play at 9 p.m. at The Tavern at The A at the G.E.A.A. in Pittsfield. There's a $5 cover for this event.
Triage, an improvisational jazz group will perform at 8 p.m. at Dottie's Coffee Lounge in Pittsfield, no cover. A special Sunday supper menu will also be offered. Call 413-443-1792 for dinner reservations.