Spotlight: a 90th birthday bash for legendary drummer Hal Blaine of Holyoke; Rosamond Purcell documentary in Northampton

  • Image from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Published: 2/22/2019 8:53:49 AM

You wreck me, baby

They were known as The Wrecking Crew, but what they actually did was just the opposite: providing the beat, rhythm and rich instrumentation behind hundreds of hit songs in the 1960s and early 1970s, from “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ” to “Good Vibrations.”

A key part of this seminal group of California session musicians was drummer Hal Blaine, a Holyoke native who turned 90 a few weeks ago. So on Wednesday, Feb. 27, Holyoke Community College and the MIFA Victory Theatre in Holyoke are teaming up to offer a birthday salute to Blaine and a screening of “The Wrecking Crew,” a documentary about the musicians who played for a who’s-who of 1960s and 1970s artists: The Beach Boys, the Monkees, The 5th Dimension, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, The Ronettes, The Mamas and the Papas and many more.

The “Birthday Bash” takes place at 7 p.m. at HCC’s Leslie Phillips Theater and will include cake, conversation and hopefully a message from Blaine himself (he lives in California) via either video or Skype.

The veteran drummer, born Harold Simon Belsky, was one of the first studio drummers elected (in 1990) to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; he’s also a member of a number of other organizations that honor musicians, and he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award last year. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Blaine played on 40 Number One singles during his career and 150 that cracked the Top Ten.  

The film “The Wrecking Crew” was directed by Denny Tedesco, son of the late guitarist Tommy Tedesco, another central player in the group. The documentary won numerous awards from film festivals when it debuted in 2008, and it features interviews with or archived footage of over 30 musicians, including Blaine, Frank Zappa, Roger McGuinn, Carol Kaye, and Al Jardine and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys (the Wrecking Crew were also depicted in the 2014 Brian Wilson biopic “Love & Mercy,” with Johnny Sneed playing Blaine).

Hal Blaine’s Birthday Bash is free, but reservations are required; they can be made at


Finding beauty in unusual places

Rather than looking for it in landscapes or close-up portraits of nature or people, Boston-based photographer Rosamund Purcell has found beauty in old objects — moldy books, birds eggs and nests, driftwood, animal skeletons — that she photographs to create intricate, sometimes unnerving tableaus of death, decay and metamorphosis. Much of her work seems to probe the boundary between art and science.

Over the years, Purcell’s photos have appeared in numerous books, in museums, and in magazines such as National Geographic. More recently, her work was showcased in “An Art that Nature Makes,” a documentary film produced by Alan Edelstein, a graduate of Northampton High School and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The film won a rave review from the New York Times in 2016, with critic A.O. Scott writing “Before seeing … [the] documentary, I had seen and admired some of Ms. Purcell’s art, but never taken the full measure of her accomplishment. Now it’s clear to me that she is without question our greatest living 17th-century photographer.”

“An Art That Nature Makes” screens Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at Historic Northampton, and both Purcell and Edelstein will be on hand to meet people at a 6 p.m. reception and to answer questions after the film.

Tickets range from $5 to $20, based on age and whether you want to attend the reception in addition to the film. Seating is limited; to pre-register, visit

— Steve Pfarrer 



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