Tanglewood Loosens Up

Crosby Stills & Nash, Herbie Hancock to Perform

By: - Apr 12, 2010

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A couple of summers ago when Wilco tore the roof off the Shed at Tanglewood the sticks in the mud, including the conservative Berkshire Eagle, vowed no mas. The hallowed grounds in Lenox must never again be fouled by hordes of the great unwashed.

But everyone knows that Tanglewood is in trouble this season. Big Time. A smashing four days of James Taylor bailed them out last year. Sweet Baby James, a Berkshire resident and generous patron, will open the season with his pal, singer/ songwriter, Carole King. The weekend opens with Pops on Friday night. The Saturday and Sunday, Fourth of July weekend concerts, sold out in the blink of an eye. Another show, now also sold out, was added for Monday.

For the past two weeks there has been media speculation of the fate of Tanglewood this season as James Levine, its artistic director, recovers from his second surgery this year. Two summers ago Levine bowed out after the opening weekend of Les Troyens by Berlioz. Surgery sidelined him for the season while administrators scrambled for conductors to fills his slots in the program.

It is the norm that top conductors are scheduled years in advance. With opening night just a couple of months away it is uncertain whether Levine will pick up the baton. And, if so, just how often. Add to that a recovering economy and the threat of the kind of bad weather that prevailed last summer and too often washed out the lawn. The Taylor/ King weekends are presold but most other concerts rely on walk-ups for lawn sales.

Those of us who attended and reported on the fabulous Wilco concert have clamored for more. How smart of Mass MoCA to snag one of the hottest rock acts for a mini festival. It will be the only Wilco East Coast performance this summer. It has been suggested that there were many rock and jazz artists who would make a perfect fit with Tanglewood. Diana Krall and Tony Bennett were simply marvelous last year. But how about taking it up a notch with Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan who have appeared with great success at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center?

In these hard times it seems that Mark Volpe and the BSO are finally ready to turn on, tune in, and drop out. Groovy.

While the season ending Tanglewood Jazz Festival is an unqualified success it has done so with smoke and mirrors. It has been conspicuously lacking in A list headliners. The kind of big name artists who are booked at SPAC, Newport, and the revived New York jazz festivals.

Be still dear heart we will enjoy one of the foremost jazz pianists of his generation, Herbie Hancock, on Monday, August 9. Far out. Since his days with Miles Davis he has continued to make new and challenging music.

Sure, it's been decades since Woodstock but Crosby, Stills and Nash lay down some of the most compelling harmonies in the history of rock. Just close your eyes and listen wafting back to the glorious sixties. They will appear on Wednesday, September 1.

Things just got a whole lot better for jazz and rock fans in the Berkshires. Now, how about Dylan and Springsteen?