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Sound Society showcases rising and established musicians with big productions

New acts get a chance to collaborate and create in a theatrical performance space.

Dietrich Strause at the Sound Society performance in September.

Clare Cheney

For Sound Society’s music series this winter, theatrical production value is key. Set at the American Repertory Theater’s Oberon, the one-night-only shows give musicians the chance to closely work with the theater’s extensive stage and lighting team. Sam Kassirer, a producer who has worked with Josh Ritter, Langhorne Slim and Lake Street Dive, is curating the Americana-oriented events.

“A lot of bands that aren’t touring at an extremely high level are for the first time able to have full production lighting designed just for their show,” says Kassirer. “That’s really an amazing thing.”

After kicking the series off with multi-instrumentalist Dietrich Strause in September, Kassirer has three different but equally enticing shows to come. Each of these is a specially curated, unique opportunity for a band to fashion their own elaborate musical production. Western Massachusetts-based alt-folk group Parsonsfield celebrated their album release with Sound Society just days after our chat with Kassirer.

“We’re even transforming the space a little bit [for them],” says Kassirer. “There’s going to be a giant burlap backdrop to have it feel like the band a little bit more. There’s going to be projections — not just on screens but on the band themselves to go along with some of the content of the songs.”


Next month, Kassirer has a special night planned featuring the members of locally bred soul rockers Lake Street Dive on Dec. 4. Called Side Project, three members of the band will each be performing other musical projects they’ve been working on. Expect renditions of ’30s and ’40s pop songs from Lake Street Dive lead singer Rachael Price (with collaborator Vilray) as well as new solo tunes from bassist Bridget Kearney (with Robin MacMillan) and the debut of an original project from drummer Mike Calabrese with college friend Lyle Brewer.

Last (but not least) for the season will be the Sweetback Sisters’ Country Christmas Singalong Spectacular on Dec. 15. Led by Emily Miller and Zara Bode (no blood relation), it’s the group’s eighth annual Christmas special, staged at the Oberon for the first time.

“It just seemed to be a no-brainer for me because I think Oberon is one of the first places they’ll do the show where they can really pull out all the stops,” explains Kassirer. “Whether it’s dropping snow from the ceiling or any kind of tools involving the audience, moving around the audience, it’s a perfect place for that.”

If you go

Side Project
Dec. 4 at 8 p.m.

The Sweetback Sisters
Dec. 15 at 8 p.m.

2 Arrow St., Cambridge
$25+, americanrepertorytheater.org

For the rest of the best entertainment in Boston during the holidays, visit our Winter Arts Guide.

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