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Things to do around Boston this weekend and beyond

Alvin Ailey (pictured in the 1950s with Misaye Kawasaki, Larry Maldonado, and Lelia Goldoni of the Lester Horton Dance Group) in a scene from the documentary "Ailey."Bob Willoughby/Courtesy of Neon


Pop & Rock

KANE BROWN Since the 2017 release of his breakthrough single, the lovelorn “Heaven,” this molasses-voiced crooner has been proving his (and country music songwriting’s) versatility; in the past year alone, he’s collaborated with soul powerhouse H.E.R., Mexican balladeers Rio Roma, and emo-pop guru blackbear while releasing a steady stream of solo singles. Jan. 14, 7 p.m. TD Garden. 617-624-1000, tdgarden.com

TENILLE TOWNES “Villain In Me,” the latest single from this Alberta singer-songwriter, is a bracing yet tuneful recollection of her inner monologue’s harshest moments. Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m. (doors). The Sinclair, Cambridge. 617-547-5200, sinclaircambridge.com



Folk, World & Country

CHRIS SMITHER It’ll probably be cold, it might be snowing, and the Patriots will be mid-game (and likely getting their butts kicked, I’m afraid). But is there ever a good reason not to leave the house and go hear the gravel-voiced singing and fingerpicking virtuosity of this icon of the folk-blues? Jan. 15, 8 p.m. $30. Bull Run Restaurant, 215 Great Road, Shirley. 978-425-4311, www.bullrunrestaurant.com

CHARLES WESLEY GODWIN The West Virginia native confirms he is a master storyteller with his sophomore album, “How the Mighty Fall.” He plays its gritty country-folk songs with a full band on Wednesday. Jan. 19, 8 p.m. $12. The Porch Southern, 175 Rivers Edge Drive, Medford. 781-874-9357, www.theporchsouthern.com

JOHN SMITH British folk singer Smith has this to say about his latest, “The Fray”: “A lot of these songs are about accepting that life is hard, but just holding on and trying to enjoy it anyway.” It sounds like a perfect record for the times we’re in. Jan. 19, 8 p.m. $20. Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Cambridge. 617-492-7679, www.passim.org


Jazz & Blues

VANESSA COLLIER The scorching saxophonist, singer, and songwriter is a Berklee alum (2013) and seven-time Blues Music Award nominee, winning twice for Horn Player of the Year. The native Texan’s music blends blues, soul, and funk influences. Jan. 14, 8 p.m. $22-$26. Bull Run Restaurant, 215 Great Road, Shirley. 978-425-4311, www.bullrunrestaurant.com. Jan. 15, 7:30 p.m. $20-$45. Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club, 135 Congress St. Portsmouth, N.H. 888-603-5299, www.jimmysoncongress.com


ALLAN CHASE The accomplished saxophonist, composer/arranger, and educator brings a septet of top local players to the ‘pad to perform jazz originals and pieces by Sun Ra, Benny Golson, Duke Pearson, and more. Jan. 16, 6 p.m. $10. The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge St., Cambridge. www.lilypadinman.com

GREGORY PORTER The acclaimed, Grammy-winning jazz singer-songwriter with the big, burnished baritone is steeped in the gospel music of his raising and deeply influenced by such singers as Nat “King” Cole, Donny Hathaway, and Bill Withers. Jan 20, 7:30 p.m. $54-$109. Emerson Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston St. 888-616-0272, www.emersoncolonialtheatre.com



GUERILLA OPERA The first production of this adventurous company’s virtual season pairs Guerilla’s newly released recording of Marti Epstein’s “Rumpelstiltskin” with shadow puppetry animations by Deniz Khateri. Premieres Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m. Streamable on demand afterward. www.guerillaopera.org

BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA This week at the BSO, Andris Nelsons conducts the American premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’s “Dance Foldings,” Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, and Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 featuring Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Jan. 15 and 16); next week, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra chief conductor Elim Chan makes her BSO debut with music by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Brian Raphael Nabors (Jan. 20-22). Symphony Hall. 617-266-1200, www.bso.org


DASHON BURTON Making his Celebrity Series solo debut, Roomful of Teeth founding bass-baritone Dashon Burton offers a thoughtful all-American program covering numerous time periods and styles. Due to the current COVID-19 surge, this program will only be available online. Streams live Jan. 19, 8 p.m. Streamable on demand until Jan. 25. 617-482-2595, www.celebrityseries.org




MR. PARENT Premiere of a solo play by Melinda Lopez that stars Maurice Emmanuel Parent and is based on Parent’s experiences as a teacher in the Boston Public Schools. Conceived with and directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. Through Feb. 6. Lyric Stage Company of Boston. 617-585-5678, www.lyricstage.com

WITNESS In 1939, more than 900 Jewish passengers fleeing Nazi Germany aboard the St. Louis were denied entry to Cuba, the United States, and Canada. From that shameful episode, director Igor Golyak builds an examination of antisemitism and Jewish migration in response to persecution. Golyak brings his abundant visual imagination to bear, utilizing a blend of live performance, film, audio, and green-screen technology. Online production only. Jan. 14-23. Presented by Arlekin Players Theatre’s (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab. Tickets at www.zerogravity.art or 617-942-0022. Hosted on zerogravity.art



AMERICAN MASTERS: AILEY PBS is airing a fascinating new documentary on the legendary choreographer told through Alvin Ailey’s own words, along with interviews involving those close to him. Heralded as a must-see at the Sundance Film Festival and a critic’s pick at Tribeca Film Festival, the documentary is also chock full of archival footage and rarely seen historic performances. Through Jan. 16. PBS (GBH channels).


AYODELE CASEL: CHASING MAGIC The fall production of this show, which featured a dynamite ensemble of tap dancers and musicians, marked the first live performances at American Repertory Theater’s Loeb Drama Center since the onset of the pandemic. Whether you missed it in person or just want to relive some of the dazzling creative magic, it’s worth checking out the on-demand video from the Joyce Theater presentation. Through Jan. 23. $25. www.joyce.org


Visual Arts

PAPER STORIES, LAYERED DREAMS: THE ART OF EKUA HOLMES Last chance for this, a significant survey of Holmes’s vibrant collage work for an array of children’s books over her long career. The Roxbury artist and activist has always been committed to Black imagery and narratives, and her illustrations from nearly 30 different books show it. Highlights include the recently released “Black Is a Rainbow Color” by Angela Joy. Through Jan. 23. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 617-267-9300, www.mfa.org

JEFFREY GIBSON: INFINITE INDIGENOUS QUEER LOVE Gibson’s career survey at the Brooklyn Museum in 2020 fell victim to on-again, off-again pandemic closures, so this admittedly much-smaller show is a timely second chance. Gibson, whose work blends the aesthetics and motifs of his Choctaw-Cherokee heritage with his identity as a queer man, champions resistance on both fronts, making space for his twice-marginalized self with provocative, often-spectacular pieces that span traditional fabric and textiles, sculpture, and video. Through March 13. DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln. 781-259-8355, thetrustees.org/place/decordova


2021 JAMES AND AUDREY FOSTER PRIZE EXHIBITION Three artists with broadly divergent priorities were the winners of the 2021 prize, awarded biennially to a group of Boston-area artists by the curators of the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston. Putting local artists on the museum’s international pedestal certainly helps broaden visibility for an underappreciated scene; more would be welcome. This year’s prize features discreet installations by three of the best: Dell Marie Hamilton, a curator and artist whose sophisticated installations unpack cultural history; Marlon Forrester, a painter whose work here recasts well-known Black figures from Barack Obama to George Floyd within Christian devotional motifs; and Eben Haines, whose disheveled rooms are filled with apparitions of a ruling culture in rapid fade to obsolescence. Through Jan. 30. Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive. 617-478-3100, www.icaboston.org


ROBERT FREEMAN: AMERICA’S PAST-TIME The Boston painter is best known for energetic depictions of Black people at black-tie affairs and other celebrations. Here, he confronts American racism in a new series prompted by the murder of George Floyd. In taut scenes that echo the nation’s violent history, Black people compete against white people in children’s games such as Blind Man’s Bluff and Capture the Flag. Through March 12. Childs Gallery, 168 Newbury St. 617-266-1108, www.childsgallery.com


Robert Freeman, "Capture the Flag," 2021.Courtesy the artist and Childs Gallery



THE SALEM COMEDY & SPIRITS FESTIVAL Mark Scalia hosts the in-person return of this celebration of comedy and cocktails with two shows — Friday with Casey McNeal, Chris Bazemore, Damien Speranza, and Sara Shea, and Saturday with Levi White, Mac O’Hara, Zach Travis, Will Purpura, and Quin Lamar. Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. $20. Deacon Giles Distillery, 75 Canal St., Salem. 617-466-6070, www.salemcomedyfestival.com

GREG FITZSIMMONS The host of “FitzDog Radio” and cohost of the “Sunday Papers” podcast is tired of the anxiety, waiting to get COVID. “I feel like the skinny kid in fourth grade playing dodgeball,” he says. “Somebody just hit me in the [expletive] leg so I can sit down, have a juice box, and cry for a little while.” Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. $29. Laugh Boston, 425 Summer St. 617-725-2844, www.laughboston.com

THE MENDOZA LINE Janet McNamara hosts this edition of the weekly Mendoza showcase featuring stand-up sets from Emily Ruskowski, Laura Severse, Emma Schmidt, Grady Pruitt, Liam McGurk, and Rob Crean. Jan. 15, 8:45 p.m. $10. The Dugout Café, 722 Commonwealth Ave. www.eventbrite.com



ALL ABOARD! TRAINS AT SCIENCE PARK Enjoy an expertly crafted winter model of Boston complete with miniature trains at this family experience. Admission comes free with a ticket to the Museum of Science, which includes access to numerous other exhibits. Through Jan. 17, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m.-9 p.m. $29 for adults, $24 for children 3-11, free for children under 3. Museum of Science, 1 Science Park. mos.org

GORE PLACE MANSION FAMILY NATURE WALK Spend your Saturday learning about the historic, 50-acre Gore Place mansion. Explore the grounds while learning about the various plants and animals from your educational tour guide. Jan. 15, 10-11 a.m. Free for adults, $11 for kids 6-16. Gore Place, 52 Gore St., Waltham. goreplace.org

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY OPEN HOUSE Take your Martin Luther King Jr. Day to learn about the civil rights leader at the Museum of Fine Arts. The event features take-home art kits and music from Dorchester native DJ WhySham. Jan. 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free for Massachusetts residents. Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 465 Huntington Ave. mfa.org