Have you ever wanted to share the stage with a musical act, but not in the doe-eyed, finger-snapping way Courteney Cox did in Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancin’ in the Dark” music video? The good people at Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center for the Arts are making participation possible with this summer’s new “Music Box in the Moore” series, where the worst seat in the house is a mere 14 feet from the talent.
The three very different performances will take place in the Moore Theater, a 480-seat venue now reduced to 100 onstage seats that surround the performers on three sides. Those who wish to get even closer can attend the free after-hours lounge following the 9 p.m. shows and mingle with the musicians.
“I think a lot of people feel that they roll up the sidewalks here in Hanover at 9 o’clock,” says HOP publicity coordinator Rebecca Bailey. “We’re sort of trying to offer people a little more nightlife.”
The intimate setting is perfect for the performers chosen by the Hop’s program director, Margaret Lawrence, who travels around the world making note of acts she wants to bring to the Upper Valley. This time, her list includes Nordic bluegrass, a comedic take on industrial techno and glam-punk, and a solo cellist invoking the open road.
The first show, on July 14, features QQQ, a quartet composed of two married couples who play the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, viola, acoustic guitar and drums. Their sound is an intriguing mix of classical strings layered over two- and four-beat rhythms, served up-tempo with improvisation and surprising changes of direction and tone. Think Bill Monroe crossed with a Norwegian wedding band and you begin to get the idea. “They have a really unique sound,” says Bailey.
You might say the second act, arriving July 23, is intentionally non-unique. It’s the brother-and-sister team of Die Roten Punkte, which in German means “The Red Dots” and is designed to remind you of Jack and Meg White of The White Stripes. Their music, however, is pure parody — of the driving, mechanistic sounds of Kraftwerk and the heavy-handed emo of The Cure. “They’ve been playing fringe festivals all over the place,” notes Bailey, “so they’re really used to interacting with an audience and shaking it up.”
The Hop may have saved the best for last: cellist Erik Friedlander on August 1. Friedlander will be debuting a multimedia performance that features songs from his Block Ice and Propane album synchronized with projections of his father’s photographs from a 1960s cross- country family road trip. The music is rich, resonant Americana, inspired by snapshots of the untrammeled beauty of the West.
But these aren’t dusty Kodachromes and a rickety slide projector; Erik is the son of celebrated photographer Lee Friedlander, recent subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, whose black-and-white images embody an unsympathetic realism similar to that of Diane Arbus. To improve on the no-frills show he introduced at Joe’s Pub in New York City, Friedlander teamed up with filmmaker Bill Morrison. Morrison will direct the show’s visual component, which he’ll fine-tune with Friedlander during the summer, perhaps adding a set and more images.
Whatever the two cook up, it’s sure to be more fun than a long trip in the back seat of the family station wagon.
“Music Box in the Moore” will offer two performances, at 7 and 9 p.m., on July 14 & 23 and August 1. $15. Info, 603-646-2422 or http://hop.dartmouth.edu.