|MCLA Hosts Annual Blues & Funk Festival|
|10:51AM / Thursday, January 26, 2012|
|Misty Blues appears at Public restaurant on Feb. 3 as part of the 4th annual Blues & Funk Festival.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The 7th annual MCLA Blues and Funk Festival will bring two nights of “soul-pumping music,” featuring the Berkshires' own Misty Blues and rising star Blitz the Ambassador on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3-4.
|Blitz the Ambassador|
According to Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, audiences can expect a little old school, a little new school, and an all-around weekend of great music and musicians.
"We kick it off old-school style with Gina Coleman and Misty Blues channeling the great women of the blues — from the great Etta James, whom we recently lost, to Bessie Smith," Secor said. "Gina and the band will bring their interpretations of the great women who have signified the blues."
Friday’s show begins at 9 p.m. Opening for Misty Blues will be the MCLA Student Jazz Band. Student Chantel Baptista will lend her unique voice to the evening, Secor said. This evening of blues will take place in the intimate setting of the newly opened Public Eat and Drink restaurant, 34 Holden St.
Saturday night at 7:30, the celebration will move to MCLA’s Venable Gymnasium to allow for plenty of room to dance as the college welcomes composer and producer Blitz the Ambassador. Opening for Blitz will be the college's jazz band and the Alegrettos, and MCLA favorite The Smokey Wambas.
Blitz is a Ghanaian-American hip-hop and visual artist based in Brooklyn, N.Y. In late 2009, he was selected as of one Beyond Race Magazine’s "50 Emerging Artists."
His music career began while studying business administration at Kent State University in Ohio. There, Blitz developed his skills as a live artist, performing at several live shows and opening for rappers such as Rakim. He recorded a self-released album, “Soul Rebel” in 2004. After graduation, Blitz moved to New York City and recorded another album, “Double Consciousness.” More recently, he released “ Stereotype,” a live, instrument-heavy musical exploration that draws on hip hop.
"He is truly an amazing performer,” Secor said. “With a lightning-fast mind, the political boldness of Chuck D and the sixth groove sense of Fela Kuti, Blitz the Ambassador calls on old-school hip hop and shifts between English, West African and Ethiopian jazz, never stumbling over his words and messages. You don’t want to miss this party."
Misty Blues will pay homage to the great female jazz singers of yesteryears on Friday. Its lead singer, Coleman, formed the group after she performed in a Williamstown Theatre Festival production of “Raisin in the Sun,” and actor Rubin Santiago-Hudson told her that her voice was made for singing classic female blues.
Coleman, a Williams alumna, performs the work of blues musicians such as Billie Holiday, Big Mama Thornton and Dinah Washington. The group includes guitarist/vocalist Jason Webster, bassist/vocalist Bill Patriquin, drummer Mike Basiliere, harmonica player Matthew Swanson and guitarist Jeff Dudziak.
Festival admission priced at $15 for both nights. Tickets for a single night are $10 for general admission, $8 for MCLA alumni, $5 for MCLA faculty and staff. Members and MCLA students are admitted for free.
Reserved 413-662-5204. For Friday's performance, Secor suggests calling the restaurant ahead for special dinner seating and reservations at 8 p.m. to get the best seats.
MCLA Presents! is a program of MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, a collaborative project with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the City of North Adams.