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Spotlight: Rythea Lee’s one-woman show in Northampton; rising folk stars Lula Wiles come to Greenfield

Published: 5/9/2019 4:12:26 PM
Modified: 5/9/2019 4:12:15 PM

Laughing at mortality — dancing
and singing about it, too

Woody Allen made it a regular theme of many of his movies. And like the famous filmmaker, Rythea Las also spent a fair amount of time pondering what she calls “the undeniable reality of death.” And just like Allen, Lee, a Northampton dancer and performer, finds the best means for dealing with a fear of mortality, and the possible meaninglessness of life, is through humor and creativity.

In her one-woman show, “Impermanence is Exhausting,” which she’ll stage Saturday, May 11 at Northampton’s School for Contemporary Dance & Thought, Lee wears a number of hats: dancer, singer, storyteller and coach. Using monologues, choreography, poetry, original songs and a bit of audience participation, she aims to take viewers on a journey that celebrates creativity, humor, self-expression and love — all as a means of keeping existential angst at bay.

“I keep forgetting that life is temporary. Do you?” she says. “During long spans of denial about death, how do we cope? This is how I do it. I make art that makes me belly laugh, asks the big, annoying questions, and forces me into raw aliveness…. I’ve got tricks of the trade, some out-of-the-box shenanigans, dance, music, and serious tirades about WHAT IT TAKES TO SURVIVE WITH LOVE as a human.”

Tickets at the door for the 7 p.m. show, at 25 Main St., 4th floor, in Northampton, are $15 general admission, $10 students/seniors; online discount $12/$10., and (413) 570-4491.


What they are doing

Lula Wiles, the folk music trio of Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland, and Mali Obomsawin, first came together about five years ago when the three women were all students at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. And since releasing their eponymous first album in 2016, the three singers and musicians — on guitar, fiddle, banjo and cello — have been impressing many with their songwriting, tight harmonies and general panache.

As Paste Magazine says of the group, “Lula Wiles are provocateurs of the best kind, rabble-rousers with the purest intentions…. it seems like they’re hellbent on stirring up folk conventions for the better. [They] sing with distinctly American voices, but they’re not afraid to question every single thing it means to be just that.”

The group has a new album out, “What Will We Do,” on Smithsonian Folkways Records, that’s also attracting notice, with songs that are both personal and political and which mine traditional folk idioms while also bringing a more modern sensibility to the music.

The lilting “Good Old American Values,” for instance, which sounds at first like a cowboy ballad, takes aim at issues such as imperialism, whitewashed history and income inequality: “Trusty American tycoons / Kicking their feet up in Cancun / They're making us proud, making friends the whole world 'round / Those trusty American tycoons.”

The group, now touring nationwide and in Canada, has made a number of previous stops in the Valley, and they’ll have a return engagement on Sunday, May 12 at 7 p.m. at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield.  Tickets are $20 at the door, $15 in advance; visit

— Steve Pfarrer


















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