Late Night Watch…

Good Evening and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend!

Today’s post is, obviously, being published much later in the day than usual- and for good reason. I pulled a (near) all-nighter last night that was simply sensational and worth the current groggy, foggy feeling I’ve got going on. I’m going to sleep beautifully tonight!

After dodging some late-afternoon/early-evening thunderstorms and micro-bursts in the Valley yesterday on my way home from my office- it was off to another delicious and beautiful meal with Troy at Galaxy in Easthampton– which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to hang out and stuff my face.

And, I won’t lie- I got a little tipsy-topsy on the most delicious rum and coconut cocktail ever. I’m going to miss all the Summer-themed drinks come September/October!

Hours later, long after I sobered up and well past midnight- I headed around the corner from my apartment to drop by and visit friends who were hosting an all-night art/photography exhibit in Bank Row in Greenfield.

Over the weekend, someone(s) ripped down and destroyed stunning portraits that were hanging downtown of local legend, drag queen- and absolutely wonderful and talented human being- Joe Dulude II. The portraits were bright, fun, and livened up the area- and their destruction caused a lot of distress to those who know/knew Joe and are familiar with the work he does for, and the joy he brings to the community.

Last night, as a sign of resilience- multiple portraits of Joe in drag (all done by the same incredible photographer who had taken the ones that had been vandalized) were projected on the side of the former First National Bank where the originals had once hung. The impromptu art installation lasted all night- wrapping up this morning- and when I stopped by at nearly 1 a.m. the party was still going strong.

It was wonderful to see everyone, talk, laugh, admire the photos- and say hello to other night owls that were passing by. It was such a positive outcome for such a negative and destructive act.

Next week on the blog, I’m talking Summer Slam, makeup, and recapping an upcoming visit to one of my favorite New England stops during the Summer!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend ahead. I’ll see you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

“If you leave the light on- then I’ll leave the light on…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We did it! The week is pretty much over!

Have you ever had a day/night that was so perfect- just a whirlwind of excitement, unexpected moments, picturesque scenery, incredible company and, if you’re lucky- a fantastic soundtrack to back all of it up- that when the night is over you can’t sleep because you just don’t want any of it to end?

I’ve had a few nights like that throughout my life- but this past Tuesday night was definitely one of them and a really wonderful way to wrap up July.

I’ve never been to MASS MoCA before- which is now a good 45 minutes away from me as opposed to the 2+ hours away it was before I moved. So, when Troy extended an invitation last week for me to come see Maggie Rogers perform there this past Tuesday night- I jumped at the chance. The weather was going to be beautiful (I’ll get to that momentarily) and there’s really nothing quite like spending a beautiful Summer night listening to good music in a new place and with someone you absolutely cherish who can make you laugh ’til it hurts. It’s magic.

The drive to MASS MoCA took us through a portion of the Mohawk Trail- which was absolutely incredible. I’m pretty sure I stayed glued to my window like someone who had never seen rocks and trees before but it was breathtaking and exploring more of it is definitely on my “Summer 2019 Bucket List” now.

The stage/show itself was set in an outdoor courtyard looking area of the museum- between a series of wings of contemporary art. It was a really unique setup that provided great surround sound as we settled in and watched the opening band. It *also* provided a pretty good few of a storm that was starting to roll in from the distance.

By the time Maggie took the stage, we had what looked like a heat lightning storm looming overhead. It didn’t look/feel dangerous- almost like fireworks- but we had been warned that if things started to take a turn for the worse, the show would be delayed until everyone got the okay to return to their designated seating/standing areas.

Sure enough- the storm got worse mid-set, and we were told we’d have to take refuge in the museum until it blew over. We were ushered into one of the wings just as the torrential downpour started- with way more severe lightning.

But, we’re not quitters- we never have been- and we used the time to walk around the wing of the museum we were being kept in (so I essentially got to see some art for free- always appreciated!) before the Powers That Be deemed it was safe enough to go back outside. Maggie, bless her heart- was a trooper and finished her set spectacularly even with some light drizzle and fog. It was incredible.

And even though I was feeling pretty tired while working from home on Wednesday morning- and certainly looked a little haggard pre-coffee- it was without question one of the best nights of 2019 thus far and I’m so, so thankful to Troy for bringing me along for the experience.

While I didn’t have my “professional” camera on me (it’s so heavy!) I did manage to snap some photos throughout the chaos with my phone. You know the drill- click on a photo to enlarge!

I’m thinking of heading to MASS MoCA on the next rainy day to see the rest of the museum since I was so captivated by the wing I had been hiding out during the storm. I’m itching to see what else there is to check out!

But for now- I’m off to get started on my work day. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be hosting my usual 12-4 show on Indie617 before I head on over to Salem for a performance and prepare for a little post-show pampering Sunday morning!

See you all again on Monday. Have a great weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

A Day at Green River Festival…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I’ve taken a personal day from work today. Originally, I had plans with some friends to head down to the Cape for the morning/afternoon- however our schedules and respective obligations caused a delay and the trip is now postponed until further notice.

Today also happens to be the anniversary of my dad’s passing- which is always a pretty difficult day to get through- so I’m opting to keep busy and spend the day with my mom so we don’t have to be alone in our memories and grief. We’re going to do some shopping and dining out in my neighborhood- which I’m excited for.

I’m also low-key recovering from stopping by the Green River Festival yesterday and roasting under the sun for a few hours. The festival, a 3-day music/art/cultural celebration- is only a couple of miles away from my new apartment- so parking and reaching the festival on foot were no problem at all. It was a beautiful and sunny Sunday afternoon- and while I’d heard of the festival in the past- I’ve never had to opportunity to go and enjoy it for myself until now.

I saw some fantastic performances, ate some great food, and shopped some local vendors in-between ducking into the shade and snapping some photos.

If you’d like to see bigger versions, simply click!

My favorite find of the day came courtesy of Taproot Threads, based out of my town. All of the artwork featured on their pieces is hand-drawn, and printed on fair-trade garments with water-based ink. The material is soft, lightweight and cozy- and I’m wearing this t-shirt today when I go to spend time with my mom!

Look at how lovely the illustration is up-close!

It was such a great day, and next year I may try to go for all three days (Friday-Sunday. With my work schedule this year, yesterday was the only day I could pull off!)

With many local businesses now going into post-festival “recovery mode”- I anticipate it will be quiet day around the neighborhood. The perfect opportunity to rest and relax.

But I need coffee and I need it now- so I’m off! Here’s wishing you all a good start to your work-week. I’ll be back on Wednesday!

xx

– Ashley –

Immersive Theater: Sam’s Place…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

If anyone ever asked me what my earliest immersive theater experience was, I would immediately say “Sleep No More”– but not the obscenely priced incarnation that exists in New York City today- but the smaller, more intimate, more eager version that took place in an abandoned school in Brookline, Massachusetts circa 2009.

My best friend Sean was the one to discover “Sleep No More” that Fall when we were looking for new things to do around Halloween that didn’t involve tripping over children at haunted attractions or getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Salem. This discovery, in turn, served as my introduction to immersive theater. For those who have never experienced it before, immersive theater is a play/production that goes beyond the limitations of a single stage and allows the audience to participate and explore the performance spaces freely, interact with the actors, and sometimes change the outcome of the performance with the decisions they make along the way.

It’s a very unique style of performance art and has quickly become one of my favorites over the years. I am by no means an actress or a seasoned veteran of the arts- but if given the opportunity to perform in an immersive theater play- I would absolutely agree because it’s not a matter of learning lines or the repetition of motions. Everything is spontaneous, off-the-cuff- and depends entirely on the audience member you’re interacting with. It’s improv- and like improv- you have some basic guidelines to drive your character. The rest is completely up to you- and the crowd.

“Sleep No More” has become the pinnacle of immersive theater- with hundreds if not thousands of people flocking to see it at it’s current home within the McKittrick Hotel in NYC every year. I’ve been to many of their performances and parties over the years- and I’ve always had an incredible and memorable time- but the problem with “Sleep No More” is that it’s so big, so expansive, and so easy to get off track. If you wander the wrong way for even a moment- you risk missing huge parts of the play/story, if not the whole thing. Actors/Actresses move from room to room, they separate and head into different directions- and with four or five floors with multiple rooms, nooks and crannies to cover- it’s easy to get lost.

I’ve seen “Sleep No More” possibly seven or eight times- potentially more- and I have yet to see the full performance. Even following guidelines that have been laid out by other enthusiasts online to help those in similar situations has left me stuck- roaming from empty room to empty room in silence until a stage hand directs me to the big finale and that’s it.

I’ve kept my eye out for other companies doing similar work but on a smaller, more tightened and less sprawling/confusing scale. Last year, my dearest Troy invited me to see an immersive theater performance he had been involved in called “Deux Ex Machina” which was put on at the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls by Eggtooth Productions. I was blown away by the show- which encapsulated everything I loved about immersive theater but with a more reasonable price of admission and a venue that prevented audience members from getting lost and/or missing out on key elements and moments of the show. We were still allowed to roam freely- but there was always a cast or crew member to guide us back to the action if we were getting too far off track.

The sets, the costumes, the spooky, sort of otherworldliness of the story and the characters was spectacular- and I’ve since become a big fan of Eggtooth’s other works.

Since moving to the Valley, I’ve met a few people- friends of friends, etc.- who have been so kind, welcoming and enthusiastic about me being a part of the community now. Through Troy and my own curiosity, wonderful people affiliated with Eggtooth had encouraged me to come to their most recent event: Sam’s Place (which was also held at the Shea.)

The event spanned across three nights- with each night representing a different era in the club/bar scene. This past Thursday night’s performance was inspired by 1920s speakeasies. Friday night’s performance was a nod to 1960s folk clubs- and Saturday night- the event I went to, was a neon and Aquanet soaked throwback to 1984 and all it’s decadent glory. Although I didn’t really have a 1980s inspired outfit to wear- I did rock some teased hair and neon eyeliner- so at least I can say I tried.

I had an incredible time, and the multiple interactions I had with the cast in various areas of the theater were so wonderful. I left with a pocket full of mementos that were handed to me at various intervals (pictured above)– including a portrait of me that was done by one the actresses who never actually looked at the paper. She just stared at my face and drew. An uncanny likeness, if I do say so myself.

And closing out the night dancing to 80s club hits (I lost my mind at “Sheila” by Ready For The World) was a pretty perfect way to end an evening and wind down what had been a pretty long, tedious week.

Speaking of winding down- June is nearly done and over if you can all believe it- so the next few days will be spent recapping my favorite things from this past month as well as looking back at these past few weeks a whole in my “In A Nutshell” post (which will be up on Sunday!)

On Wednesday, though- I’m giving you all a glimpse into an incredible roadside Summer shack I discovered over the weekend. I’m still so full of lobster and fries as I write this!

Have a great start to your work week, everyone! Let’s see it through to Friday!

xx

– Ashley –