July 17-Sept. 26
The Barnstormers is an art collective from Brooklyn whose members love barns, particularly ones in Cameron, N.C., east of Raleigh. Led by North Carolina native David Ellis and his partner, Michael Houston, the ever-changing ensemble of artists, designers, and friends gives old barns, shacks, tractor-trailers, and farm equipment new life with bold, wild murals. No simple "Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco" styles for these folks. In an unusual museum installation, Barnstormers take the barn art indoors at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. After deconstructing a 20-by-30-foot tobacco barn, they move the parts to the museum and reconstruct the barn inside, then return every two weeks to paint an evolving mural. When the exhibit closes, the barn goes back to its original site with the new artwork intact. During the run, the Barnstormers also plan to transform an 18-wheel tractor-trailer and a 40-foot billboard. For Friday's opening reception for the Barnstormers and "The Saws of Jacob Kass" exhibit, the museum plans a down-home atmosphere with a DJ spinning an eclectic mix through found-object speakers such as tires and gourds.
750 Marguerite Drive. 336-725-1904. www.secca.org.
These folks have been pulling strings in Balboa Park since 1947. Today, the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater is home to the Balboa Puppet Guild's year-round performances by four resident companies and guest troupes. Puppet Express, Big Joe Productions, Lynn Trimble (Comic Ventriloquist), and Weaver's Tales rotate weeks, with summer shows presented three times a day Wednesday-Sunday. After Labor Day, the schedule is twice a day Wednesday-Friday and three times a day on weekends. The theater was named in 1988 in honor of San Diego puppeteer Marie Hitchcock, who, along with her sister Genevieve Engman, presented the first puppet show. Hitchcock continued performing until her death in 1996. In a telephone interview, Enid Bartnicki, creator of Puppet Express, said the audience is often three generations of theatergoers. "The grandparents like to tell us that they came here as kids," she said.
Off President's Way. 619-685-5990. www.balboaparkpuppets.com.
FRENCH MUSIC FEST
July 29-Aug. 7
About three weeks after the jazz festers leave town, the global musical community arrives for "Les FrancoFolies de Montreal." The 16th annual version stages 50 ticketed indoor concerts and 150 free outdoor performances by French-speaking musicians from around the world. The styles, among them Quebecois, electronic, hip-hop, jazz, cabaret, pop, and rock, are as diverse as the performers. As a headliner, Greek songstress Nana Mouskouri gives new meaning to crossover when she performs entirely in French. Among other performers are Henri Salvador, a fixture in the Parisian nightclub scene since the 1930s; Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Canadian sisters who thrive in folk, rock, and traditional styles; Algerian-born Rachid Taha, a singer known for techno-ethno fusion; and M of "Triplets of Belleville" soundtrack fame.
Various locations. 888-444-9114; 514-876-8989. www.francofolies.com.
It's up, up, and away at dawn and dusk at the South County Hot Air Balloon Festival. The Wakefield Rotary's 26th annual community fund-raiser expects 16 balloonists from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island to launch twice a day from the University of Rhode Island Athletic Fields. The festival lifts off Friday night with a concert by Jonathan Edwards and Kenny White. Opening night also lights up the sky with "The Glow," in which inflated balloons are tethered so they only rise a short distance. Among other weekend activities are displays of classic cars and antique tractors, crafts exhibitors, a professional kite ballet, and the Airborne Jugglers Clown Show.
URI Athletic Fields, off Route 138. 401-783-1770. www.wakefieldrotary.com.
At the 18th Lowell Folk Festival, Irish button accordionist Joe Derrane shows off the reason he's a national treasure. In September, the Boston native is to receive the prestigious $20,000 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in recognition of his talent. A resident of Randolph, Derrane stopped playing for 35 years until he picked up the instrument again for a 1994 Washington, D.C., concert. He is one of 17 performers in Lowell's global tapestry of music on six downtown stages Saturday and Sunday. The free festival opens on Friday evening with concerts on two stages. Among the other musicians are the Abyssinians (Jamaica roots reggae); Mark Halata & Texavia (Tex-Czech polka); the Bronx New Heaven Shout Band (gospel brass); Huun-Huur-Tu (Tuvan throat singers); J.D. Crowe & The New South (Kentucky bluegrass); Red Stick Ramblers (Louisiana); Ta Pethia (Greek); and Kevin Burke (Irish fiddle). Musical parades, 20 community groups selling traditional foods, and "Footprints," a shoe-making theme in the crafts area, round out the weekend. Various stages in and around Lowell National Park. 978-970-5000. www.lowellfolkfestival.org.
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