Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 6, 2008

Bernice Lewis and Dar Williams

Mahaiwe, Great Barrington
October 3, 2008

by Eric Sutter

What a pleasant evening of fine melodic music was had in a quaint theatre nestled in the Berkshire Hills. In addition to the wonderful music, the setting offered peak foliage colors. The audience was revved up for both regional singer/songwriters. Bernice Lewis opened a capella with "Where the Rivers have No Name." This songwriting teacher from Williams College sang from a powerful women's perspective asking, "Where Did Our Country Go?" Her humor was evident with "Normal Is Just a Setting on a Washing Machine" while her acoustic guitar and voice worked wonders on the final song, "Somewhere Between Religion and Release."

The much anticipated appearance of Dar Williams brought a passionate response to the singer and what she stands for: i.e. a long-held connection to social and environmental issues that ring true to our collective human conscience. She began the evening with "Calling the Moon" from her 2000 CD "The Green World." Her refreshing folk pop was delivered in a clear sweet voiced, but witty and conversational style, that revealed universal truths in a confessional manner. She told interesting stories in relationship songs like "The Easy Way" and "The Promised Land." Williams; intelligent and thought-provoking lyrics fostered human connections in "The Babysitter's Here" and "The Beauty of the Rain." The toe-tapping folk-rocker hit about change, "It's Alright," buzzed the audience.

The singer's acoustic guitar was a delight on "Holly Tree" and the lyrics of "Christians and Pagans" were well received. She shifted to a gentle and resonant mode with the close to home, "The Hudson," -- where she resides in New York. "Mercy of the Fallen" was a favorite sing-a-long. She encored with "When I as a Boy" from her debut CD of 14 years ago. Her remembrances had a magical child-like Peter Pan memory and effect.