3rd Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest
On Saturday, October 20, 2012 the “3rd Annual Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest” rhythmically provided spiritual nutrition for all that attended this now annual showcase for regional percussionists and dancers. The event, organized by self-employed cultural/environmental educator and musician Aimee Gelinas, was triumphantly held in Berkshire Community College‘s Boland Theater in the Koussevitzky Art Center, 1350 West Street, Pittsfield, MA.
The evening began with inspired, authentic instruction by talented educators that included Gelinas, Christopher Hairston, Chris Mattoon, Bill Chapman, Stefanie Weber, Josh Pisano, Satya Ferreira, Dino Lattanzi, Lara Gonzalez, Lisa Gonzalez-Howell, Yael Shacham, and Wayne White on several instruments in a casual workshop setting. After which, the program segued into the main event in the theater.
Satya Ferreira and Dino Lattanzi, a duo known as Chapungu Mbira, set the vibe proper with a Zimbabwean mbira and shona blessing of the space. Bill Chapman followed the pair with adroit jazz stylings on his drum kit. After Chapman, Fidel Moreno brought out the largest drum of the evening. Moreno and helpers took the auditorium several steps closer to Mother Earth with the healing tones of their water drum playing.
The high-octane energy of the Kripalu Drummers left the audience charged and wanting more. Organizer Gelinas kept the momentum going with a bit of audience participation during the next act. Christopher Hairston, drummer for the Blue Light Trio, showed why his group is one of the most in demand jazz acts in the area. Marafanyi Drum, Dance & Song played with spirit that transcended the limits of the stage.
Stefanie Weber’s students tapped and glided with panache that belied their years. Weber’s own number with blues singer/guitarist extraordinaire Robin O’Herin showed why she has become known as one of the most innovative dancers in the area. Josh Pisano followed with introspective playing on the Irish bodhran. Members of Gaia Roots and Berkshire Pulse combined forces and were a rhythm and dance force not to be denied. The photogenic Marie Georgefils was particularly delightful and engaging.
Kit drummer Chris Mattoon played with such spirit, the drums were literally bursting, as he showed the audience while walking off stage with his hand in his snare head. Jerome Edgerton brought Youth Alive! to the stage next with electrifying leadership. From the gymnastically acrobatic Jazmyn Majors to the off the hook bucket drumming reunion of Edgerton and former 5th grade classmate Garrett Caesar, the set was A-1, outstanding.
Tabla player Devesh Chandra’s calm, measured introductory statements taken out of context would have emphatically contrasted with the fiery finish to his performance. However, Chandra built with the steadied discretion of a true master. Sifer, an original hard rock metal band fronted by Gelinas, took the stage next. With a new bass player in the line-up, the ensemble was firing supercharged on all cylinders. Two members of the Red Knights Drum and Bugle Corps demonstrated traditional drum corps snare drumming with near uncanny precision and were a fine lead-in for the evening’s finale celebration.
Dance, dance, and more dance and Otha Day leading the audience through the joyful closer finished a great night out at the city’s college near the western border of town. Looking forward to next year’s event! Congratulations and bravo, Aimee Gelinas, and to all the wonderful performers and supporters!