In Somerville, Massachusetts, artists and art enthusiasts have taken to the streets, restaurants, and pubs to experience a winter event series. Organized by ArtsUnion, an initiative designed to drive economic and artistic development in Union Square, the series offers a line-up of performances, tastings, and exhibits.
On February 21 and 23 from 6 to 8 p.m., Somerville’s Café Tango will play host to Constant Tango, a program of visual and performance art. Restaurant guests will select from a menu of Argentinean samplings while witnessing video installations by Amanda Brown and the rhythmic movements of live stage performances, and they will also have the opportunity to take tango lessons.
The following week, SCATV (Somerville Community Access Television) will invite guests to Traveling Troubadours, a night of film, discussion, and music. On February 28 from 7 to 9:30 p.m., Tom Weber, a “filmmaker and teacher with a passion for music”, will present a 35-minute preview of his feature-length documentary, Troubadour Blues. The film explores the life of a modern-day traveling musician who shares his stories and melodies in coffee shops, church basements, and local bars, outside the glittered world of pop culture. To conclude the event, singer/songwriter Thea Hopkins will perform music in the Americana folk tradition of the troubadours brought to life by Weber’s film.
On March 3 from 2 to 5 p.m., Session Planetaria will perform a show themed Travel Stories at Sally O’Brien’s. Speaking with lead musician and event producer Jenn Bliss during the group’s February 3rd show, she described the performance as a “multi-style, multi-groove, open jam” session. The audience will be invited to participate through improvisational spoken word, instrumental accompaniment, and original vocals.
On Saturday, March 16 from 8 to 11 p.m. at AirCraft Aerial Arts, there will be a mix of music, poodle skirts, and acrobatics when Circus Sock Hop takes over a “1960s era gymnasium” to create their dance experience. This marriage of an old-school sock hop and cirque inspired performance will be backed by the tunes of DJ Funke, and will invite guests to participate in a dance contest. The following Saturday night, at Somerville’s Bloc 11, host Daniel Gewertz will assemble a chorus of local writers for a two-part series, titled Storied Nights in Somerville—on March 23 and April 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. Participants will include memoirist Ethan Gilsdorf, novelist Elizabeth Searle, playwright Michael Mack, and storytellers Katie Liesener and Ben Cunningham, among others.
The opening event of the series was sold out for its second year in a row. During this year’s kickoff at PA’s Lounge on January 28, titled Ginger Explosion #4, event producer Aaron Cohen of EatBoston worked alongside ArtsUnion to raise funding for the Somerville Arts Council by serving the culinary arts of Somerville- and Boston-based restaurants and food trucks. Gregory Jenkins, executive director of the Somerville Arts Council, said that through the work of ArtsUnion, “we can bring more individuals and families into Union Square to experience our community through the arts”, and that through this, “we [can] benefit our local businesses and partnerships”.