Basement Music Series returns

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BENNINGTON — The 16th season of the Vermont Arts Exchange's Basement Music Series returns this year with a range of national touring and local acts.

Because the Series' usual home, the Masonic Hall on Main Street in Bennington, is undergoing renovations, the first show will be held at the Bennington Brush Building at 190 North St., Bennington. "The larger venue will allow for more room to dance, which is contagious for the first show, Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra," said Matthew Perry, executive director of the VAE.

Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra, a 12-piece ensemble led by the Bronx-born bassist, will kick off the series on Jan. 11. Formed in 1980 in Amsterdam, N.Y., the orchestra melds Afro-Caribbean rhythms like salsa, merengue and bomba. The group first

performed as part of the

series in 2002 at Lake Paran, and most recently came to town this past summer as part of Bennington Arts Weekend. This will be the group's ninth performance for the series, which is produced with help from volunteers.

There will again be food served at the series' concerts, a new addition last year. Shanta Gosh, of Corner of India, will sell homemade Indian food from her catering menu at the events. Gosh, a resident of Bennington for more than 30 years, started cooking with her family as a girl. She'll join staff from Thyme Tables, a Shaftsbury-based catering business, at the bar.

For Valentine's Day weekend, Gypsy Lane Cabaret & Co. — a Berkshires-based burlesque troupe that takes its name from a pioneer of the craft, Gypsy Rose Lee, and describes itself as "dedicated to self-acceptance, body positivity and inclusivity" — will perform two shows, on Feb. 14 and 15, at Oldcastle Theatre. The shows are intended for a mature audience.

Eastbound Jesus, a rock group that comprises six friends from Greenwich, New York, will perform at the Masonic Hall on Feb. 29. The Sea The Sea, an acclaimed folk-pop duo from upstate New York, will perform at the same venue the following month, on March 28. The series will conclude on April 4 with a record release party for Beard & Glasses, a Bennington-based band that will debut its tentatively titled new album "Born at the Wrong Time."

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