Adams growing musical appeal

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ADAMS — Think of the Berkshires, and the town of Adams and its neighboring communities probably don't come to mind as a regional hub for music study and performance. But a team of advocates behind the Adams-Anthony Center are working to scale up their efforts to change that notion.

Coming up in this final stretch of summer the nonprofit collective will sponsor two signature programs: the second annual Berkshires' Summer Jazz Camp and the daylong Nashville in the Berkshires concert series.

The free jazz camp for middle and high school students runs daily sessions from 1 to 5 p.m., Aug. 19-23, at Hoosac Valley High School in Cheshire. The program will be directed by professional trumpeter Richard Boulger and Hoosac Valley Band Director Jacob Keplinger. Registration is open to any student in the Berkshires with some musical instrument experience.

The country and rock-tinged Nashville in the Berkshires event will take place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 7 at George Bowe Park Field at the Adams Agricultural Fair grounds. C.J. Field and his band will headline. Five other regional acts share the lineup on the pavilion stage, including: country artists Jessica Wilson, Hot Shot Hillbillies and Lindsay and the Four and One Trio, as well as Bennington, Vt.-based indie alt-rock darlings Immune Friction and Connecticut-based acoustic crooner Mike Leonard, who ranges between Neil Young and David Bowie-like vocals.

In addition to the return of food and crafts vendors, the event will feature new family-friendly additions, like a classic car show, farm animal petting area, pony rides and other amusements. The event continues this year to be held in honor of the late Eagle reporter, Derek Gentile, an Adams native, avid concert goer and reviewer. Admission is $10 in advance, $15 at the gate, free for youths ages 12 and younger, and on-site parking is $3 per vehicle. "We want to do, in some way, is bring arts to Northern Berkshire County," said Nashville in the Berkshires lead organizer Mike Mach.

Adams-Anthony Center President William "Bill" Kolis Jr. Esq. said that he's also committed to keeping these opportunities affordable and accessible to local folks, so long as there's the community support to help raise funds and awareness about the programs. Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire and some of the local banks have helped to support the efforts.

"One of the reasons to do Nashville in the Berkshires is to help supplement [the jazz camp]," said Kolis. "When you go to Nashville in the Berkshires you get your money's worth. By simply attending and enjoying yourself, you get the opportunity to help."

In addition to having Boulger and Keplinger at camp, a wealth of New York City-area talents will also be on hand to help teach teens new musical techniques. The camp roster includes: "Saturday Night Live" house band saxophonist Alex Foster; pianist, composer, arranger and percussionist Charles Blenzig; dynamic drummer and Culture-Versy band leader Victor Jones; Alex Blake, a post-bop double-bassist and electric bass guitarist, and Berklee College of Music professor, performer and recording artist David Gilmore.

"We're building on a very successful camp last year ... during which we were really able to help the kids cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time," said Boulger, himself a North Adams native and Hartt School of Music alumnus turned performer-composer-educator.

He said he's proud to see that one of the camp's alumni, "a young guitarist named Ethan," has really flourished and will be attending Boulger's alma mater.

While the camp focuses on improvising techniques for jazz, Boulger said those lessons can be applied to any genre of performance.

"I think what stands out is the unique way we approach music," he said. "A lot of times, people think of music rehearsal and they think music stands, books, papers, etc. [At camp], we take the music stands away from that. A musical instrument is just an amplifier for what you're hearing, thinking and ultimately feeling. In a short amount of time, the same kids who came in and said, "this is hard," are suddenly in the middle of the room improvising."

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Kolis said by bringing in like-minded young musicians from around the county to interact with jazz professionals and later perform for the community, leads to a lifelong interest in performing, seeing and hearing live music and appreciating different kinds of people and arts.

"What we hope to give to the town of Adams and Northern Berkshire is the start of this process, and the hope that it creates the nucleus for a dramatic change in this area," Kolis said.

Sign up ...

What: Berkshires' Summer Jazz CampWhen: Aug. 19-23, Monday through Friday, 1-5 p.m.

Where: Hoosac Valley High School, 125 Savoy Road, Cheshire.

Cost: Free for middle and high school instrumentalists.

Registration and info: adamsanthonycenter.com/jazzcamp

If you go ...

What: Nashville in the Berkshires, a family-friendly daylong concert series featuring C.J. Field and his band, Jessica Wilson, Immune Friction, Mike Leonard, Hot Shot Hillbillies, Lindsay and Four and One Trio. There will also be food and beverage vendors, merchants, a car show, farm animal petting area, pony rides and more.

When: Saturday, Sept. 7, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Bowe Field at Adams Agricultural Fair grounds, Route 8.

Tickets: $10 in advance at: Wood Brothers Music, Pittsfield; Berkshire Emporium, Empire Cafe, Sauve Guitars in North Adams; Adams-Anthony Center at the Firehouse Cafe, Adams.

Info: 413-776-7424 or adamsanthonycenter.com/nashville-in-the-berkshires


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