Following up on last season’s “Good-bye, Sailor” and 2014’s “Rich and Strange,” we invite you to a third program of music and words produced for Twenty Summers by M.T. Anderson, National Book Award–winning author of Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad. Our theme this year is the role of the rustic and the rural in the American imagination. The Aurea Ensemble, praised by theHuffington Post for its “intensity, superb sound, precision, and musicality that makes everything soar,” will play fiddle-tunes, hymn-tunes, and modern pieces based on traditional Americana. Movements for string quartet—culminating in Ben Johnston’s deeply moving Quartet No. 4 (“Amazing Grace”)—will alternate with excerpts from works by Robert Frost, John James Audubon, S. J. Perelman, and others, to be read by M. T. Anderson and Twenty Summers cofounder Julia Glass.
Writer, illustrator, and photographer Garance Doré visited the barn on June 11, 2016, to discuss the current state of fashion, style, and her career with Twenty Summers co-founder Ricky Opaterny. Doré's eponymous blog reaches millions of readers, and the New York Times Magazine has called her the "guardian of all style." She has won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Eugenia Sheppard Media Award and is the author of the 2015 bestseller Love Style Life.
From New Orleans, jazz vocalist and songwriter John Boutté joins us for a conversation and performance. Boutté is a celebrated interpreter of the American songbook who rose to national attention when one of his own melodies became the theme to the HBO series “Treme.” His repertoire includes contemporary classics in popular music as well as traditional jazz and gospel. Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame producer Allen Toussaint called Boutté “one of the very best singers in New Orleans.” Over a twenty-year career, Boutté has performed across the U.S. and Europe and released a number of solo albums, including Jambalaya, Good Neighbor, and All About Everything. He has also recorded with Cubanismo! and the funk band Galactic.
Joining him will be Gwen Thompkins, NPR contributor and host of “Music Inside Out,” which airs on WWNO.
Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks will share the Barn’s stage with fellow New York Times bestseller Amy Bloom, in a conversation moderated by poet Gail Mazur. Geraldine Brooks is the author of five historical novels (including March and People of the Book), a memoir, and Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. Last year, Booklist praised The Secret Chord, Brooks’s fictional portrait of King David, as “a gorgeously written novel of ambition, courage, retribution, and triumph.” Amy Bloom’s catalogue of fiction and nonfiction ranges from Away and Where the God of Love Hangs Out to Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites With Attitude. According to the Washington Post, her latest, Lucky Us, is proof that “if America has a Victor Hugo, it is Amy Bloom, whose picaresque novels roam the world, plumb the human heart and send characters into wild roulettes of kismet and calamity.” Both women have lived rich and variegated lives beyond the page: Brooks as an environmentalist and foreign correspondent, Bloom as a psychotherapist and teacher. Gail Mazur, a Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emerson College and author of seven poetry collections, serves on the Writing Committee at Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work Center.
On May 28, 2016, Twenty Summers hosted a theatrical reading of 100 YEARS, a new book of sage literary quotations on every age from birth to one hundred. Compiled by Twenty Summers cofounder Joshua Prager and visualized by Milton Glaser, the legendary graphic designer who created the I ♥ NY logo, the book moves year by year through the words of our most beloved authors. A Century Onstage is performed by the actor Jim True-Frost, best known for his work on the HBO series “The Wire.”
Bill James, whose quantitative analysis of baseball revolutionized the sport, talks with baseball writer Rob Neyer about his life, his career, and the national pastime. James, who now serves as a senior advisor to the Boston Red Sox, began writing his annual Bill James Baseball Abstract in the 1970s. These books focused on what James later termed “sabermetrics”—the objective analysis of the game. His ideas reached a larger audience when Michael Lewis wrote about him in Moneyball, a book later made into a movie starring Brad Pitt. Neyer, a writer for FOX Sports and the author or coauthor of six books on baseball, spent fifteen years as a columnist for ESPN and has served as the baseball editor for SB Nation.
On May 21, 2016, we welcomed Nicole Atkins to the Barn. Her debut album, Neptune City, paid homage to her New Jersey hometown and won her a place on Rolling Stone’s list of “Top 10 Artists to Watch.” Since then, she has produced two more (Mondo Amore and Slow Phaser) and toured widely through the U.S. and Europe, both as a headliner and alongside bands such as Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Primal Scream, and the Avett Brothers. She has also performed on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Conan,” and “Later . . . with Jools Holland” and is a host on Sirius XM’s Spectrum channel.
Edith Windsor is one of the two plaintiffs whose joint victory before the Supreme Court led to last year’s landmark decision in favor of marriage equality. In 2009, after the death of her spouse and longtime partner, Thea Speyer, Windsor learned that because her marriage was not recognized by the federal government, she was required to pay more than $300,000 in estate taxes. Windsor fought back, in United States v. Windsor, all the way to the Supreme Court, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and winning a national following as a beloved and charismatic leader for human rights. Together with Speyer, Windsor is the focus of the documentary film Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement. Her many honors and awards include the Women’s Rights Award from the American Federation of Teachers and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Out magazine.
Onstage with Windsor, we welcome back actor, writer, and activist James Lecesne, whose hit Off Broadway one-man show The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey we are proud to have premiered in the Barn during Twenty Summers’ inaugural season. Lecesne is a cofounder of the Trevor Project, which was inspired by the Oscar-winning film for which he wrote the screenplay. He has appeared on Broadway, published YA novels, and is a frequent speaker at events focused on issues facing LGBT youth.
Musician, actor, author, publisher, and jack-of-all-trades Marshall Crenshaw launches Twenty Summers’ third season with an intimate acoustic solo performance. In a career now spanning four decades, Crenshaw has reached the Billboard Top 40 and been nominated for a Golden Globe Award. As a stage and film actor, he has portrayed other musicians, ranging from Buddy Holly to John Lennon. Since 2011, Crenshaw has served as the host of WFUV’s radio show “Bottomless Pit,” and he is a contributor to Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger’s HBO series “Vinyl.”