THEY CALL IT MELLOW CELLO: No they don’t, but it’s not easy coming up with cello puns. What they actually call it, or what singer-songwriter Kristen Miller calls it, anyhow, and she ought to know, seeing how she invented it, is “cellobrew” — a unique east-meets-west, classical-meets-rock musical hybrid that flowered on “Later that Day” and “Strange Little Valentine,” the Byfield musician’s first two albums. It’s tough to describe, the sound, combining hypnotic African rhythms and Eastern melodies with rock attitudes, vocabulary and gear. She will perform March 5 at the Actors Studio of Newburyport, The Tannery, 50 Water St., Mill #1, Suite #5, Newburyport. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors. The program kicks off the nonprofit’s Women’s History Month programming. More info: 978.465.1229 or newburyportacting.org.
WISHFUL THINKING? You know, the song “Happy Days Are Here Again” has its head screwed on right and everything, it’s all joyful and optimistic, but, seriously, the song was as delusional then — the beginning of the Great Depression — as it is now, at the precipice of the Worldwide Economic Failure, and “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” better describes the two periods. But, hey, let’s go with it. Like the famous song, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” the latest installment of New England Light Opera’s Great American Songbook series, is a pleasant distraction. ”Stormy Weather,” “Get Happy,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “All the Things You Are” ... these are great songs. And the show remains rooted in fact, using press accounts and quotes from famous figures to trace parallels between then and now. The show has been created and stage directed by NELO Artistic Director Mark Morgan, who also created their popular Cole Porter and George Gershwin revues. The show begins at 8 p.m. March 5 at the Firehouse. Tickets are $18 for members, $20 for everyone else. Info: 978.462.7336 or firehouse.org.
FATHER FUNKS BEST: They call it Dad Rock, although Father’s Funk might be a better description. They’re a bunch of old geezers ... No, no, no. It’s a bunch of otherwise respectable guys (Bill Fisher, Doug Hemlepp, Tom Maginnis, Ken Okaya, Tim Sturgeon, Dave Vye and Chris Webb) who are still tearing it up (and embarrassing their kids in the process) for the fun of it. They call themselves Das Pintos. They play oldies, disco, classic rock or funk. Think B-sides and British pop, think Gorillaz, think Stevie Wonder. Think the Meters. They draw on nearly a half-century of dance music and bounce from artist to artist. They only get out a couple of times a year and usually fill up the place, so you might way to think about getting out early. They play from 9 p.m. until past my bedtime March 6 at the Grog, 11 Middle St., Newburyport. There’s a $7 cover. Info: thegrog.com.
BEHIND THE (CLASSICAL) MUSIC: Probably no stories of redemption after a sudden rise to fame and hellish descent into addiction, like every tawdry, magical episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music,” but classical pianist Federick Moyer, who has performed as a soloist, well, pretty much everywhere, does talk turkey in his “Notes & Footnotes” program. But he’s smart enough to keep comments brief, relaxed, informal and focused. Music, he says, is the main thing. The chitchat is a kind of counter-melody to help listeners enjoy the historical significance and deeper meaning of the music. He’ll be doing exactly that, presumably while folks in the audience are enjoying a drop of the bubbly, during the Firehouse Home Music Series this month. The series takes the music out of the concert hall and puts it into a more intimate setting — this month in the Newbury home of Deirdre Girard and Stephen Faria. The performance takes place at 7:30 p.m. March 6. Something this nice doesn’t come cheap, of course. Tickets are $60 per person, $55 if you’re a member. Seating is limited to 50 people. More info: 978.462.7336, or firehouse.org.
THE THIRD B: Violinist Gabriela Diaz and pianist Lois Shapiro play the Rain Sonata during “Eloquent Expressivity: The Violin Sonatas of Johannes Brahms,” the final program of this year’s Jean C. Wilson Music Series at the Unitarian Universalist Church, which takes place this weekend. Diaz, a New England Conservatory-trained musician who acted as concertmistress under Pierre Boulez at the Lucerne Festival Academy, is noted for her polished technique. Shapiro is a founding member of the Triple Helix piano trio. Also on the program will be Brahms’ Sonata #2 in A Major, Sonatensatz in C minor and Sonata #3 in D minor. The concert takes place at 4 p.m. March 7 at the Unitarian Church, 26 Pleasant St., Newburyport. Tickets are $15, $10 for seniors. Children and students are free. Info: 978.465.0602 x401, frsuu.org.
YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, GEORGIE WINSTON: George Winston returns to the Firehouse with Snoopy, Charlie and the whole gang, including that insufferable Lucy van Pelt, next week ... well, that’s not entirely true, is it? Yes, Winston, a guy who virtually invented the idea of solo piano, will be in Newburyport, but the beloved Charles Schultz characters? Well, not exactly, but they will be there in spirit as Winston plays tunes from “Love Will Come,” his second album of music by Vince Guaraldi, best known for the music behind the Peanuts cartoons. The album includes ”Time For Love” from the episode “There’s No Time For Love Charlie Brown,” “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown,” and ... well, you’ll probably recognize them. The pianist will also play pieces from his season albums, as well as stuff for New Orleans and stride piano. He performs at 7:30 p.m. March 8 and 9 at the Firehouse. Tickets are $32. Knock three bucks off for SDAH members. They’ll be accepting donations of canned food for The Salvation Army— sadly, a sign of the times. Word of warning: Dude always sells out. If you’re interested, you may want to move on it soon.
SONG AND DANCE ROUTINE: You know what’s dead? Vaudeville! You know what killed it? The talking pictures. At least that’s how Johnny, the former tumbler and recurring Family Guy character (until Stewie finally grew weary of him and put him out of our misery) described it. And this, as far as we know, is the only modern-day reference to vaudeville, the old-time variety show consisting of unrelated acts like song, dance, comedy, acrobatics, serious lectures and novelties. Until R.W. Bacon got hold of it, that is. He’s an all-but-retired acrobatic juggler, comic dancer and banjo player. He’ll be talking about the technological and social forces that set the stage for the form, and will punch up the presentation with graphics, audio/video clips and a little song, a little dance and maybe, as Chuckles the Clown used to say, a little seltzer down the pants. It takes place at 2 p.m. March 10 at the Firehouse. We hear they’ll be serving dessert at the reception after the talk. Info: 978.462.7336, or firehouse.org.
ADDRESSING THE BLUES: It’s the name of an old Rolling Stones song (from the “12 X 5” album, trivia fans) and probably the most famous address in blues, the home base of Chess Records. But 2120 South Michigan Avenue is also the name of a five-piece blues band that draws its inspiration from the Chicago studio where Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter recorded the songs that form the core of its repertoire (although they play everything from “Fever” to “Great Balls of Fire”). They’ll be checking in with Curtis Jerome Haynes on March 14 for another edition of the Sunday Soul sessions at Glenn’s Galley, 44 Merrimac St., Newburyport. The music starts at 6 p.m. There’s no cover. But we’ve learned it’s best to arrive early if you want a good seat. Info: 978.465.3811.
LOOK *AND* TOUCH: Let’s just come clean and say it: Classical concerts can be pretty boring for the kids, all that sitting around and being quiet and not even being allowed to fidget without getting dirty looks. Well, Music at Eden’s Edge makes cultural life just a little bit easier for families with the next in its family concert series, which takes place at 3 p.m. March 21 at at the historic First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist Church, 26 Pleasant St., Newburyport. You’ll get an interesting musical program, plus a cleverly disguised learning opportunity during intermission — a chance to get up close and personal with the musicians and their instruments. Try a string instrument, meet a flute, and talk to the performers. And after the show, food and schmooze. Performers will be Orlando Cela, flute; Maria Benotti, violin; Mark Berger, viola; Neil Fairbairn, bassoon; and Sarah Freibert, cello. Tickets are $20, $15 for students, $60 for families. Info: 978.270.4463, edensedge.org.
ELEMENTAL, MY DEAR WATSON: Earth, Wind & Fire is a groundbreaking R&B band from way back in the day, winning six Grammys and an invitation into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Earth...Wind...Fire,” on the other hand, is an evening of clarinet trios by female composers performed by a female trio. The program will include works by Vally Weigl, an Austrian Jew brought to this country after the outbreak of World War II by the Quaker Society of Friends, and Nino Rota, perhaps best known for her scores of films by Fellini. The program brings together three very different instrumentalists with perspectives that have been shaped by different experiences — Mary Towse-Beck, pianist; Karen Luttik, clarinet; Dorothy Braker, cellist. The performance, part of the nonprofit’s Women’s History Month programming, tales place at 8 p.m. March 26 at the Actors Studio of Newburyport, The Tannery, 50 Water St., Mill #1, Suite #5, Newburyport. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors. Proceeds benefit the Actors Studio. Info: 978.465.1229 or newburyportacting.org. Order online at mktix.com.
BRAVE, BOLD, BLACK: A one-woman show by Valerie Tutso, “Brave Women, Bold Moves” tells the story of black women who took a stand for freedom — like Queen Nzinga of Angola, who kept the Portuguese from enslaving her people until her death, or Duchess Quamino, known as the Pastry Queen of Colonial Newport, who earned her freedom from slavery by baking, or Shayanne Webb, a young girl whose participation in the Civil Rights Movement set the direction for her life’s work. The show takes place at 8 p.m. March 6 and 3 p.m. March 7 at the Actors Studio of Newburyport at the Tannery, 50 Water St., Mill #1, Suite #5. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors. Info: 978.465.1229 or newburyportacting.org.
GO, GO, GO LITTLE QUEENIE: A one-woman show written and performed by Eve Caballero and directed by Kim Crow, “Queenie” looks at a quirky and loveable homeless woman, who shares her strife and redemption. The show, a New England premiere, takes place at 8 p.m. March 20 and 3 p.m. March 21 at the Actors Studio of Newburyport at the Tannery, 50 Water St., Mill #1, Suite #5. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors. Info: 978.465.1229 or newburyportacting.org.
ELENA, ELEANOR: ... Eleanorum? Sounds like one of those irritating Latin declensions that ruined my life — or my grade point average, anyhow, in high school. But, no, we’re talking about Elena Dodd, who will be playing her almost-namesake Eleanor Roosevelt. Yes, she’s the same actor playing the same character as last year’s performance at the Actors Studio, but this time she’ll be talking about her life as wife, mother and First Lady. The show takes place at 8 p.m. March 27 and 3 p.m. March 28 at the Actors Studio of Newburyport at the Tannery, 50 Water St., Mill #1, Suite #5. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors. Info: 978.465.1229 or newburyportacting.org.
(HIP)HOPPING TO IT: Yeah, this is way beyond our area of expertise, so we’ll just pass it along without any supposedly clever comments. Jose Eric Cruz, also known as 3D, has been living, breathing and dancing hip-hop his whole life. He teaches popping, a theatrical style of street dancing inspired by robotic movement developed in Cali-Cali in the early ‘70s, and other associated dance styles in Boston. He’ll bring his dance program to the Firehouse at 8 p.m. March 6. Tickets are $18, $16 for members, students and seniors. Info: 978.462.7336, or firehouse.org.
THE NEXT GENERATION: “For the Next 7 Generations” is a documentary about the journey of 13 indigenous grandmothers traveling around the world to promote world peace and share their indigenous ways of healing. The film will be screened at the Actors Studio as part of its Women’s History Month programming. A post-screening discussion led by Carole Hart, the film’s director and producer, and Actors Studio founder Marc Clopton, who is also a shamanic practitioner, will follow. The film will be screened at 8 p.m. March 13 and 3 p.m. March 14 at the Actors Studio of Newburyport at the Tannery, 50 Water St., Mill #1, Suite #5. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors. A portion of the proceeds of this screening will go to the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. Info: 978.465.1229 or newburyportacting.org. and
QUIET IN FRONT: It rude to talk during the movies, but afterwards? Yeah, that’s fine. And that’s what they do when the last of the credits blow by at The Screening Room on the first Monday of every month. It’s an informal film club. There’s no pressure. Just sit and chat — or listen. The chat is hosted by the Newburyport Film Club — the folks behind the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival. And there should be plenty to talk about April 5, when they’ll talk about “A Single Man,” which grabbed three Golden Globe nominations. It’s about a closeted gay man mourning the death of his lover. He decides that by the end of the day he will kill himself. The next 24 hours are fateful. He teaches a class, sees his neighbors and kids, chows down with his best friend. It runs April 2-15. Info: 978.462.3456 or newburyportmovies.com
THE PRINTED WORD
BOOK ‘EM, DANO: Asking book-lovers to donate books, even for a good cause, can be problematic. So many value judgments, so little time. It seems easier to let the books pile up than to decide which to banish. But, over the years, we’ve come up with a solution: Grit your teeth and get rid of the ones you’ve finished and the ones you know you’ll never read, like “Critique of Pure Reason.” Donate them to, well, let’s say the Great Old Book Sale. Then get to the sale early and buy twice as many books. Doesn’t really help you much, but it does help the Friends of the Newburyport Library, which will be accepting donations from March 27 to 12 p.m. March 31, The sale opens with Members Night on March 31, and ends with $2 Bag Day on April 3.
ONLY YOUR HAIRDRESSER KNOWS FOR SURE: Hairdressers are like bartenders. Kinda. Because people tell them stuff they would never tell anyone else because they know about the code of honor they are required to take before clipping or tipping. That’s why Richard Nocera, a hairdresser for four decades, knows so much about vaginas. Well, actually, despite the name of his new book — “Women Own All the Vaginas” — he’s offering insight into male sexuality, including the most difficult question of all: Why are men such idiots? Or, as he puts it, why do men do what they do? The book untangles our illusions about manhood, marriage, and monogamy through an exploration of the drives and desires that motivate men. He’ll be talking dirty (not really) at 3 p.m. March 20 at The Book Rack, 52 State St., Newburyport. It’s free. Info: womenownallthevaginas.com.