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Socializing After a Year of Isolation

June 18, 2021

To go out or not to go out? Many residents are choosing the first option since Massachusetts lifted the COVID-19 restrictions on May 29th – more than a year after they were put in pace in March 2020. Now that places are opening up and capacity limits have ended, Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan traveled to Southern Berkshire County and visited Egremont Village Inn and Barn and Moe’s Tavern to see how people are enjoying their newfound freedoms. 

To go out or not to go out? Many residents are choosing the first option since Massachusetts lifted the COVID-19 restrictions on May 29th – more than a year after they were put in pace in March 2020. Now that places are opening up

To go out or not to go out? Many residents are choosing the first option since Massachusetts lifted the COVID-19 restrictions on May 29th – more than a year after they were put in pace in March 2020. Now that places are opening up and capacity limits have ended, Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan traveled to Southern Berkshire County and visited Egremont Village Inn and Barn and Moe’s Tavern to see how people are enjoying their newfound freedoms. 

To go out or not to go out? Many residents are choosing the first option since Massachusetts lifted the COVID-19 restrictions on May 29th – more than a year after they were put in pace in March 2020. 

Now that places are opening up and capacity limits have ended, Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan traveled to Southern Berkshire County and visited Egremont Village Inn and Barn and Moe’s Tavern to see how people are enjoying their newfound freedoms. 

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: To go out or not to go out? Many residents are choosing the first option since May 29th when the state of Massachusetts lifted the restrictions that had been in place since early spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And now that places are opening up and capacity limits have ended, Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan traveled to a pair of venues in the southern Berkshires to see how people are enjoying their newfound freedoms.

Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: Fancy footwork on the stone driveway dance floor? Glasses raised as friends get together and discuss whatever it is that's happened since the last time they spoke? What year is this? 2019? No, this is June of 2021.

And like students rushing the door as the last buzzer rings before summer vacation, so too are many adults to their local public houses and outdoor dining and live music venues. They've been doing so in large numbers since May 29th, when the state of Massachusetts lifted most of its restrictions.

And the early returns are in at the Barn in Egremont. So far, things are looking good.

Jenny Rubin, Egremont Village Inn and Barn: People keep coming, and it kind of is like -- it's an exhilarating feeling, seeing all these people here.

Yeah, we set up for a few extra people and this year there's so many more and there's so many more tables. So, we keep adding them.

Nick Keene, Egremont Village Inn and Barn: The vibe is fantastic. The other night, it was one of the first shows of the season, people -- and we actually were inside because of rain -- and people are starting to dance. And it was like the birth cries of people beginning to dance, and there's everybody -- even the way they're dancing "Oh my God, I can dance again!"

Being able to bear witness to people begin to loosen up and to restore themselves, right? And give themselves permission to get the good medicine of community and music together is the is the whole reason that we do this.

Brian Sullivan: And if it's true for the outdoor experience here in Egremont, then the same can be said for those gathering indoors in the town of Lee.

Josh Cohen, Moe's Tavern: And there's a lot more smiling in the first two weeks. We'll see how much longer that lasts, but with me and everybody else.

But no, the customers -- they all just seem elated to just be out and about, to see each other's faces. There's no more "Oh, is that you?" they can see each other.

Brian Sullivan: For those turning off of Main Street onto Railroad Street in Lee for the first time to go to Moe's Tavern, the place probably just seems like a cool, tidy, and well-organized pint-sized pub with a lot of room to move and an impressive selection of beer and whiskey.

The regulars, however, are seeing the results of a structural overhaul that took place during a 14-month-long closure from March of 2020 to May 29th of 2021.

Josh Cohen: The people that have been here before, they're seeing a totally transformed space, a major transformation. It's more than a renovation. This was this was a major rebuild, reconfiguration. Nothing's in the same spot.

Brian Sullivan: But while Moe's was shut down for the past year to create a space that would better serve their customer base, the Barn stayed open while they could, by complying with the restrictions of 2020 that continued until the end of May of this year.

In doing so, they went from being an indoor venue to a primarily outdoor one by creating this seating area that still maintains the intimacy of being up close and personal with the artists. And as more and more people showed up, even I was able to soak in that experience from the outer edge of this green.

In May or June of last year, the idea of having full crowds here again seemed like some kind of far-off dream. Fast forward a year and they have expanded their outdoor seating from this courtyard to the field over there to accommodate the overflow.

But just like last year when the state ended the temporary licenses granted to restaurants across the Commonwealth for outdoor dining in the early fall, they plan to rescind those licenses again this year. Only this time, it could be in August.

Nick Keene: Right in the middle of August, it's a hairy time to do it. And, you know, they haven't done it yet, but that was the last -- maybe they've snapped at him and said, "oh, wait a minute, maybe maybe we'll change and give them and give them option to extend through the summer and end in September."

And that's what we've requested of the town, is that we can have just another 30 days because to be pushed back inside, in the middle of August in the heat, all of a sudden, it's going to be interesting.

So, hopefully they hopefully they play ball and they let us stay outside for the rest of the summer.

Brian Sullivan: As for where things go for each of these places beyond the summer of 2021, the outlook appears to be one of confidence with a touch of trepidation.

Jenny Rubin: We feel like everything's great, but like "could something happen again?" You know, there that might be there for a while.

You know, I'm not even really over-negative about anything, but there's always that little worry in the back of our minds.

Josh Cohen: One year from now, Moe's should be rolling right along the way it is. I've always gotten myself in other projects unrelated to Moe's almost every two years. So, who knows what I'll be doing.

But, I will still be here and Moe's will still be here.

Nick Keene: I'm more convinced than ever that people need stuff like this and they've been starved, you know?

So, seeing people coming back to the fountain and drinking of it, only steels my resolve to make sure that we can continue to do it in the future.

To go out or not to go out? Many residents are choosing the first option since Massachusetts lifted the COVID-19 restrictions on May 29th – more than a year after they were put in pace in March 2020. Now that places are opening up and capacity limits have ended, Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan traveled to Southern Berkshire County and visited Egremont Village Inn and Barn and Moe’s Tavern to see how people are enjoying their newfound freedoms. 

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Out Now Supports Springfield-area LGBTQ+ Youth

June 18, 2021

As we celebrate Pride Month this June, we talk with a local youth organization dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community in the Greater Springfield area.   Originating in 1995, Out Now began as a weekly support group for queer youth and has since grown into a non-profit organization that gives young people a voice in speaking on social issues. Zydalis Bauer spoke with members of the organization to learn more about the resources and programs t

As we celebrate Pride Month this June, we talk with a local youth organization dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community in the Greater Springfield area.   Originating in 1995, Out Now began as a weekly support group for queer

As we celebrate Pride Month this June, we talk with a local youth organization dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community in the Greater Springfield area.   Originating in 1995, Out Now began as a weekly support group for queer youth and has since grown into a non-profit organization that gives young people a voice in speaking on social issues. Zydalis Bauer spoke with members of the organization to learn more about the resources and programs t

As we celebrate Pride Month this June, we talk with a local youth organization dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community in the Greater Springfield area.  

 Originating in 1995, Out Now began as a weekly support group for queer youth and has since grown into a non-profit organization that gives young people a voice in speaking on social issues. 

Zydalis Bauer spoke with members of the organization to learn more about the resources and programs that they offer, and how we can celebrate Pride year-round. 

As we celebrate Pride Month this June, we talk with a local youth organization dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community in the Greater Springfield area.   Originating in 1995, Out Now began as a weekly support group for queer youth and has since grown into a non-profit organization that gives young people a voice in speaking on social issues. Zydalis Bauer spoke with members of the organization to learn more about the resources and programs t

Play
Avery Sharpe’s “400: An African American Musical Portrait”

June 18, 2021

When a composer creates a new album, they call it a project—especially when the music is something more than that just notes and chords. Bassist Avery Sharpe refers to his new work 400: An African American Musical Portrait as a “serious project.” The album chronicles 400 years of slavery, starting in 1619 when the first enslaved Africans were brought to the United States. Sharpe recently performed 400 at his alma mater, the University of Massachu

When a composer creates a new album, they call it a project—especially when the music is something more than that just notes and chords. Bassist Avery Sharpe refers to his new work 400: An African American Musical Portrait as a “s

When a composer creates a new album, they call it a project—especially when the music is something more than that just notes and chords. Bassist Avery Sharpe refers to his new work 400: An African American Musical Portrait as a “serious project.” The album chronicles 400 years of slavery, starting in 1619 when the first enslaved Africans were brought to the United States. Sharpe recently performed 400 at his alma mater, the University of Massachu

When a composer creates a new album, they call it a project—especially when the music is something more than that just notes and chords. Bassist Avery Sharpe refers to his new work 400: An African American Musical Portrait as a “serious project.” The album chronicles 400 years of slavery, starting in 1619 when the first enslaved Africans were brought to the United States. Sharpe recently performed 400 at his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Producer Dave Fraser sat down with him after the performance and shares what inspires Sharpe’s music. 

This story originally aired on February 27, 2020.

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: This Saturday marks the celebration of Juneteenth, short for June 19th, which commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas in 1865 and by extension, the end of slavery in America.

And in honor of that, this evening, we're taking a look at the African-American experience through the work of local musician Avery Sharpe.

In music, when a composer creates an album, they call it a project, especially when the music is something more than just notes and chords. Bassist Avery Sharpe refers to his work, "400: An African American Musical Portrait" as a "serious project." That's because it chronicles 400 years of the African-American experience, starting in 1619, when the first enslaved Africans were brought to this country.

Sharpe first performed this album last year just prior to the pandemic, and producer Dave Fraser sat down with him to hear the story behind the music.

Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: Longtime bassist, composer, and recording artist Avery Sharpe released his latest work in 2019 entitled "400" An African-American Musical Portrait."

Avery Sharpe, Bassist & Composer: It was Dr. Shirley Whitaker, who's a kidney doctor, and I was at Whole Foods and I ran into her. And she goes, "2019."

And when you say that to a lot of Black folks who study a lot, I knew immediately what she meant: 400 years, 1619 to 2019. And I just kind of spaced. I just started hearing a whole bunch of music and she started smiling.

She goes, "You're not really listening to me." I said, "No, I'm just hearing all this music now."

How would I approach 400 years of Africans, African-Americans being in this country, you know, from a musical standpoint?  You know, and it's not a it's not a celebration, it's just an acknowledgment.

Singers: Come on. Come on, come on. Come on. You gotta wake up. Wake up. Rise Up.

Dave Fraser: The music tells a harrowing-yet-inspiring tale century by century. Joining Sharpe on stage are some heavy hitters in the jazz world, plus his extended family choir.

Avery Sharpe: Every artist has to have their motivation. My motivation has always been my family. JKNM. It's the first initial of my four kids, Jade, Keto, Nacossie, and Maya, and so I just honored them by name in the record label after them.

Dave Fraser: Much of the music that Sharpe composes and performs is music with a purpose. He has written pieces inspired by the stories of a number of noted African-American figures from Abolitionist Sojourner Truth, to star Olympic runner Jesse Owens, to Primus Mason, the 19th century Springfield philanthropist.

Avery Sharpe: You know, I was influenced by artists from the from the 60s. People said something when they saw some injustice, it's not like go along, get along or no, I'm just an artist. I don't get political.

You are political. I don't care what country, you're political. You may not want to be, but not saying anything makes you political, makes you silent, you just watch things as they happen as opposed to to getting into them. So, you are involved.

Dave Fraser: Sharpe was born in Georgia at a time when segregation was legal. His mother was the choir director in the Church of God in Christ and gave piano lessons to everyone in the family, including Avery, who was one of eight children.

Avery Sharpe: So, I went with my mother everywhere. She played for revivals. I was there, you know. So, she's my first musical influence.

Dave Fraser: By the time he was a teenager, Sharpe had discovered the electric and eventually the acoustic bass. His family would move to Springfield, Massachusetts, and in the early 1970s, he enrolled at the University of Massachusetts.

And it was there that he was exposed to the world of jazz.

Avery Sharpe: Max Roach was there, the father of bebop music. He wasn't just coming up from New York. He lived, he lived in Amherst.

Archie Ship, one of the great masters on saxophone who was a John Coltrane protege. He was at the University of Massachusetts.

Reggie Workman was my first bass teacher who used to play with John Coltrane, but he was coming up a couple of days a week from from Brooklyn.

But that was like, in the mid 70s, that was I mean, it's hard to get those people together in New York. And here, I had 'em on campus.

Dave Fraser: After graduating from UMass, Sharp would hit the road, playing hundreds of gigs worldwide. But it was fitting that he would return to the UMass campus with his quintet and the extended family choir, for their performance of "400."

Throughout the concert, Sharpe uses the African-American music of each era to tell the epic, Fluid story of those descended from the original Africans, brought in bondage to America 400 years ago.

The album's penultimate track, "Ain't Going To Let Nobody Turn Me Around," is punctuated by Sharpe's niece Sophia Rivera's spoken word.

Sophia Rivera: America, land I love. Country that despises me in one breath, then praises me in the next. I am Black. I am American. I will not be dismayed.

I will not retreat. I will not back down. I will kneel. I will stand.

I will march. I will vote. I will run for office.

Never backward. Onward, forward.  There is no turning back now.

Dave Fraser: Sharpe's final song on the album is called "Five Hundred,"  a riveting and adventurous piece that points the way towards the future.

Avery Sharpe: It's a mystery. I don't know. But in terms of hoping, I would hope that the country looks and thinks a little different. And that people just let live and let live.

I'm always trying to give people some information, that's that's my political thing, I'm not trying to slap you across the head, I want to entertain you. But when you walk out, I want you to say, "Dang!" I want you to think. You know, I just don't want you to just say "I had a good time."

I want you to have a good time, a great time. But if, by the way, "Wow, I learned something." And for me, I think that's what we're here to do.

When a composer creates a new album, they call it a project—especially when the music is something more than that just notes and chords. Bassist Avery Sharpe refers to his new work 400: An African American Musical Portrait as a “serious project.” The album chronicles 400 years of slavery, starting in 1619 when the first enslaved Africans were brought to the United States. Sharpe recently performed 400 at his alma mater, the University of Massachu

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Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble

June 18, 2021

Since 1982, Spectrum in Motion has been fulfilling its core mission of offering equitable dance education for people from all walks of life and different levels of experience. The dance company, based out of Hartford, aims to reflect the faces in the community and unite and celebrate us all through the artform of dance.  Zydalis Bauer spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, Founder and Artistic Director, and Thulani Davis, Director of Programming, to lear

Since 1982, Spectrum in Motion has been fulfilling its core mission of offering equitable dance education for people from all walks of life and different levels of experience. The dance company, based out of Hartford, aims to refl

Since 1982, Spectrum in Motion has been fulfilling its core mission of offering equitable dance education for people from all walks of life and different levels of experience. The dance company, based out of Hartford, aims to reflect the faces in the community and unite and celebrate us all through the artform of dance.  Zydalis Bauer spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, Founder and Artistic Director, and Thulani Davis, Director of Programming, to lear

Since 1982, Spectrum in Motion has been fulfilling its core mission of offering equitable dance education for people from all walks of life and different levels of experience. The dance company, based out of Hartford, aims to reflect the faces in the community and unite and celebrate us all through the artform of dance.  

Zydalis Bauer spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, Founder and Artistic Director, and Thulani Davis, Director of Programming, to learn more about the programs Spectrum in Motion offers and hear about some of their most recent productions.  

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer: Since 1982, Spectrum in Motion has been fulfilling its core mission of offering equitable dance education for people from all walks of life and different levels of experience.

The dance company, based out of Hartford, aims to reflect the faces in the community and unite and celebrate us all through the art form of dance.

I spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, founder and artistic director, and Thulani Davis, director of programing, to learn more about the programs they offer and hear about some of their most recent productions.

Oliva Ilano-Davis, Spectrum in Motion: Everybody should be dancing. That's a core value.

Everybody should be dancing, dance is for everyone. And dance is one of those things, funny enough, that is a connecting point for all of us, in terms of humanity. So, that's always been a core value.

And what what do we mean by that, right? That sounds poetic. What we mean by that, is the actually, the telling of stories. So, we tell our stories. And we give room for everybody to see the story.

And me, choreographer,  for me, also records in my, through my years of experience of being with people, is hearing people's stories and hopefully incorporate those stories.

And then what we find is that those stories, again, are the ones that connects us, as people. There's more similarities then difference.

Zydalis Bauer: Now, one of your recent productions is a powerful piece titled "Pieces of a Man" and was choreographed by you, Olivia, and performed by Henry Set, Jr.

What is the inspiration and message behind this piece and how did it come about?

Oliva Ilano-Davis: My father has always told me to tell stories. You know, I remember even as a kid, he said to me, "We're immigrants in this country."

This country's made of immigrants. So, we all come from a different place, via good ways or bad ways. We all have a story to tell. And what would make us Americans better people, is to not be afraid of telling those stories.

With that said, "Pieces of Man" started with my dad.  And so, as I was trying to grasp what my story is -- which is basically the American experience from an immigrant's point of view -- Pieces of a Man came to me.

Zydalis Bauer: So, I really want to repeat the mantra at Spectrum in Motion, because I think it's it's worth saying more than once: everybody should be dancing regardless of race, class, gender, age, ability, or experience level.

What are some of the programing and events that you offer at Spectrum in Motion that really emphasizes this statement?

Thulani Davis, Spectrum in Motion: Our art is intended to be performed. And it's intended to be shared, as such. So, we have a plethora of annual performances that we do that celebrate, just that.

We do Dugo Alaala a lot, which means blood memories, which is our Black History Month performance, that show like -- blood memories, right? It's literally the roots of no matter where you come from, but the roots of our ancestors and honoring and celebrating them and bringing forth those stories the best way we know how.

Zydalis Bauer: I wanted to touch...you are mother and daughter working in this dance company together.

How has it been to carry this legacy with each other and provide this opportunity for the community together?

Thulani Davis: I really don't think people do what we do. And it's like, yes! But in reality, it's about like, the actual stories.

When people talk about being diverse and communal, right?   We think about still that black and white binary that still continues to separate us. But when we say "dedicated to people of color and the American experience," we are literally like, no, we what do you want to bring? What matters to you?

We want to bring forth what is best of you and that individual. Because we are the people. We are all people of color and we are the American experience.

Since 1982, Spectrum in Motion has been fulfilling its core mission of offering equitable dance education for people from all walks of life and different levels of experience. The dance company, based out of Hartford, aims to reflect the faces in the community and unite and celebrate us all through the artform of dance.  Zydalis Bauer spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, Founder and Artistic Director, and Thulani Davis, Director of Programming, to lear

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FULL EPISODE: June 18, 2021

June 18, 2021

Spectrum in Motion Celebrates the American Experience of People of Color Based in Hartford, CT, Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble's core mission is to provide equitable dance education for all. The company also aims to reflect the American experience of people of color through dance. Zydalis Bauer spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, Founder and Artistic Director, and Thulani Davis, Director of Programming, to learn more about the programs Spec

Spectrum in Motion Celebrates the American Experience of People of Color Based in Hartford, CT, Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble's core mission is to provide equitable dance education for all. The company also aims to ref

Spectrum in Motion Celebrates the American Experience of People of Color Based in Hartford, CT, Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble's core mission is to provide equitable dance education for all. The company also aims to reflect the American experience of people of color through dance. Zydalis Bauer spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, Founder and Artistic Director, and Thulani Davis, Director of Programming, to learn more about the programs Spec

Spectrum in Motion Celebrates the American Experience of People of Color 
Based in Hartford, CT, Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble's core mission is to provide equitable dance education for all. The company also aims to reflect the American experience of people of color through dance. 

Zydalis Bauer spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, Founder and Artistic Director, and Thulani Davis, Director of Programming, to learn more about the programs Spectrum in Motion offers and hear about some of their most recent productions. 
And more Western Mass stories tonight... 
Composer Avery Sharpe's 400: An African American Musical Portrait combines music with archival photographs to chronicle 400 years of slavery in the US. 

Then, after a year of staying at home, COVID-19 restrictions are finally being lifted across the Commonwealth. Visit Egremont Village Inn and Barn and Moe’s Tavern in Berkshire County to see how people are adjusting to going out in a post-pandemic world. 

Finally, Out Now is the only organization focused on supporting queer youth in the Springfield area.Members of the organization join us to talk about the resources and programs Out Now offers and talk about how we can celebrate Pride year-round. 

Spectrum in Motion Celebrates the American Experience of People of Color Based in Hartford, CT, Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble's core mission is to provide equitable dance education for all. The company also aims to reflect the American experience of people of color through dance. Zydalis Bauer spoke with Olivia Ilano-Davis, Founder and Artistic Director, and Thulani Davis, Director of Programming, to learn more about the programs Spec

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