Rainbow Seniors have a date with the fabulous Taylor Mac – artist, drag queen, entertainer, historian

Yes, finally a gay spectacle in the Berkshires!
Yes, finally a gay spectacle in the Berkshires!

Rainbow Seniors has picked a real winner for its first group outing,…the artist Taylor Mac who is creating a 24 decade review of American popular music from a drag queen’s vantage point. We are going to catch the first three decades (1776 – 1806) at the ’62 Center in Williamstown on Saturday, February 13, 2016 at 8pm. You can lock in your special discount tickets by bringing $3 per person (yes, an extraordinary discounted price) to our first meeting in Pittsfield on February 6, 2-4 pm at the Berkshire Athenaneum. Or call Ed to arrange your payment at 413-441-6006. Or email him at ed@rainbowseniors.org But don’t delay – reservations with our group close February 6.

Not sure it’s to your taste? Honey, this is no time to dilly-dally. Book your place now for a great evening with new friends!

Our first report from San Francisco reports that the show – which is in workshop there – opens with Taylor Mac wearing an elaborate hooped dress fashioned from brightly-colored foil ribbons and a voluminous wig that makes him look like Marie Antoinette had an accident in a Mexican bodega, as the artist begins an epic journey through 240 years of U.S. musical history that’s as timeless as it is prescient.

Taylor Mac in A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1776-1806. Photos by Jim Norrena
Taylor Mac in A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1776-1806. Photos by Jim Norrena

She makes crusty old tunes like “Yankee Doodle” and “Amazing Grace” sound like like they were written just in time for this year’s Grammys. The performances carry it too: Although the show is still being polished in San Francisco with Mac and his band still ironing out a few wonky transitions, by the time the team hits Williamstown there is little question that they will breathe new life into both well-known and obscure 18th century ditties. And it’s Mac’s mercurial tenor that anchors the experience: the drag queen’s voice is as colorful as his flamboyant sense of style. There’s crushed velvet and feathers in Mac’s mellifluous ballad singing and 8-inch spiked heels in his drinking song belt.

As colleague Chloe Veltman writes: “In addition to the gaudy get-up mentioned above, there’s an “architectural” dress involving a pair of enormous doric columns, each with a plastic doll’s head dangling from the bottom, and another costume topped with an amazing wig made of wine bottle corks and sheaths of barley.) The thematic through-line connecting the musical numbers also helps to take A 24-Decade History of Popular Music beyond regular drag cabaret.

“Mac underpins each decade of the musical journey with commentaries on broad social issues, which he spices with liberal amounts of scathing humor and personal anecdote. The first decade roughly and comically charts the founding principles of post-Revolutionary U.S.. In the second decade, Mac takes a piquant look at women’s lib. Part Three is all about booze, where the ripe innuendos of raucous drinking songs like “Nine Inch Will Please a Lady” clash against the stiff, bonneted warblings of a scandalized Temperance Choir.” (Read more here.)

And if you like this performance as much as we think you will, you may want to make plans to attend the Civil War years of Taylor Mac’s show – coming up at MASS MoCA with a (gasp! How does she do it!) six hour show on April 9, 4– 10pm.

And you thought Rainbow Seniors just sat around crocheting doilies? Honey, get a grip and put a little fun in your life!

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