The Cultural To-Do List: January 2016

Your guide to this month’s events.


Photograph by Shawn Brackbill


for a quarter-century, world Music/CrashArts has brought the world’s best musicians and singers to venues like the ICA, Berklee, and the Sanders Theatre. Now the nonprofit promoter will feature 10 bands on three stages for one night at the House of Blues, enhanced by a rich assortment of international beers and street foods. The headliner is certainly Benin’s iconic Angélique Kidjo, who recently sold out Carnegie Hall, opened the U.N. General Assembly, and was named “Africa’s premier diva” by Time. She alone is worth the ticket, but she’ll be joined by British bhangra powerhouse drummers the Dhol Foundation, Colombian swing band Monsieur Periné, and indie dream-popper Kishi Bashi. Best of all, our own Debo Band (pictured above) is on the bill, their Ethiopian rock ’n’ soul proving that some of the globe’s most electrifying music can be found right here in Jamaica Plain.

January 24, House of Blues, 617-876-4275,

The Roots

Jimmy Fallon’s house band may be fun and loose, but in person these hip-hop legends are even fiercer and funkier, staging epic shows that combine compelling lyrics, stellar musicianship, and lots of crowd participation.

January 2, House of Blues, 888-693-2583,


Ottawa International Animation Film Festival/Sundance Film Festival Shorts

The ICA rings in the new year with two celebrations of celluloid concision: The Ottawa fest will feature the best in animation, and the Sundance Short Film Festival premieres six award-winning shorts, from a comedy about a single mom to a documentary about Ukrainian girls auditioning to play Olympic skater Oksana Baiul.

January 1–3, 8/January 21–23, Institute of Contemporary Art, 617-478-3100,


Photograph Courtesy of Gallery Naga

Robert Ferrandini/Louis Risoli

In this joint exhibit by two local veterans, artist Robert Ferrandini showcases gauzy, mysterious landscapes (above). Louis Risoli, meanwhile, uses thick paint to create swirls and blocks of abstract color (below). Gourmands may have noticed his work at L’Espalier, where he has a day job as fromager and maitre d’.

January 8–30, Gallery Naga, 617-267-9060,


Photograph Courtesy of Gallery Naga

The Dogs of Littlefield

When she’s not teaching creative writing at BC, Suzanne Berne is penning novels that probe the troubled waters beneath the calm surface of suburbia. Her latest concerns a fictional Bay State town that’s so idyllic it’s been named the sixth-best place to live in America. But soon a series of dog poisonings shakes up this blissful burg, all detailed in Berne’s incisive style.

Out January 12, Simon & Schuster, $25.

Sondheim on Sondheim

This Stephen Sondheim retrospective celebrates 19 musicals spanning more than 60 years, from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum to Into the Woods. Even more, the omnibus features videotaped commentary from the master himself.

January 15–February 21, The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 617-585-5678,

Milk Like Sugar

In 2008, Gloucester made national news when 18 girls allegedly agreed to get pregnant at the same time. Years later, Huntington Theatre playwriting fellow Kirsten Greenidge penned this Obie-winning play, which explores a similar pact—and one teen’s struggle with what the decision means for her future.

January 29–February 27, Huntington Theatre Company, 617-266-0800,