MCLA Presents! Gets Funky With the 8th Annual Blues And Funk Fest


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - MCLA Presents!, a performance series of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), hosts the eighth annual Blues and Funk Festival on Friday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Venable gymnasium on the MCLA campus.

The first night will kick off with R &B/hip hop artist Maya Azucena. The award-winning MCLA step team, NEXXUS, will open the show. Khris Royal and Dark Matters will headline the second night, with local blues group Arthur Holmes Band getting the evening started.

The festival will also feature food and drink for sale, as well as opportunities to connect with local organizations and MCLA clubs, according to Jonathan Secor, MCLA's director of special programs.  

In the spirit of keeping great performances affordable, a special festival ticket price will be offered this year - the $15 combo ticket. The two-night festival will be full of fun, local food, vendors, activities sponsored by on-campus clubs, and - above all - dancing, Secor said.

In addition, tickets to the Festival, which is being co-presented by New England Newspapers, Inc., will be available through give-away opportunities by the Berkshire Eagle and the North Adams Transcript.  Be sure to check your local newspaper for more information.

Having just performed to sold-out crowds at the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, singer and songwriter Azucena returns to MCLA for the second time, on the first night of the festival. As a cultural ambassador from Brooklyn, N.Y., she brings energy and a unique blend of hip-hop, soul, jazz, dance, and reggae, as she spreads her universal messages of love, survival and hope on Friday night, Secor said.

Both Billboard magazine and the Washington Post have heralded her performances, as well as the Village Voice, which said, "Armed with a powerfully compelling voice, Azucena just could be the most impressive of the current hip-hop/soul/r&b diva crop."

Azcena has been part of multiple collaborations, including a Grammy certificate win for a feature on Stephan Marley's CD "Mind Control." Her latest CD, "Cry Love," made the listing on Amazon's "Top Albums You May Have Missed."

Opening for Azucena will be MCLA's very own step team, NEXXUS. This student group creates complex beats and synchronized movement that captivate audiences, according to Secor.

Royal and Dark Matter will take the stage on Saturday, the final night of the festival. This New Orleans Funk band breaks new ground by combining high-energy, New Orleans funk with intricate and sophisticated jazz lines, Secor said.

Arts management students who attended the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April saw Royal and his band perform.

According to Shannon Costello '12, "Khris Royal and Dark Matter are awesome performers. You cannot help but dance when they are playing their funky beats.  It is great to see such amazing talent all on one stage."

According to, "Khris Royal and Dark Matter's soul-shaking funk grooves power a bone-rattling soulful rock sound."

Royal has played with various funk and hip-hop legends such as Bobby Brown, George Poster Jr., Mary J. Blige, Nelly, and The Game.  Royal's quick fingers on the alto sax and Dark Matter's heavy-handed drumming and baselines is what will give their MCLA performance a highly energetic flow perfect for dancing, Secor said.

The Arthur Holmes Blues Band also will join this year's festival. The locally based blues quartet, from Pittsfield, Mass., includes Holmes on guitar and vocals, John Worth on bass, Gary Smith on Hammond B-3 organ, and Bridget Wnukowski on drums.

The group performs blues and blues-based rock music in the tri-state area, and most recently opened for Popa Chubby and the legendary James Montgomery at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Mass.

Tickets to the Blues and Funk Festival are $15 for a two-night combo pass or $10 for general admission each night.  Non-MCLA student tickets are $5 each night. Tickets each night for MCLA alumni are $8, $5 for staff and faculty, and members and students are free. Tickets may be reserved by calling MCLA Presents! at (413) 662-5204. For more information, (413) 664-8718, or go to presents .

MCLA Presents! is a program of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), a collaborative project with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the City of North Adams. The BCRC provides professional development training, resources and support to the artists, art managers and creative workers of Berkshire County. Through its multiple programs and presentations, BCRC brings the best of performance and art to the Berkshires and showcases the best of the Berkshires to the world.