After announcing its initial lineup in mid-December, DelFest has just announced a number of additions to its 2018 lineup. Additions to DelFest 2018, which will take place from May 24th through 27th at Cumberland, Maryland’s Allegany County Fairgrounds, include Greensky Bluegrass, The Dawg Trio with David Grisman, Danny Barnes, & Sam Grisman, Richard Thompson, The Infamous Stringdusters, Mandolin Orange, The California Honeydrops, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, The New Orleans Suspects, Grass Is Dead, and more.These artists join a bill with The Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCourys, The Bluegrass Congress (featuring The Del McCoury Band, David Grisman, Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Bryan Sutton, and Stuart Duncan), Old Crow Medicine Show, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Sam Bush, The Jerry Douglas Band, The Wood Brothers, Fruition, and others.You can take a look at the fully updated lineup below, and head over to the event’s website for more information and ticketing.
Fans have been eagerly awaiting a new studio album from Dave Matthews Band, and the official announcement has finally arrived. As noted by the band in a Facebook post, Dave Matthews Band has plans to release a new album titled Come Tomorrow on June 8th via RCA Records. Come Tomorrow will be Dave Matthews Band’s ninth studio release, serving as a follow up to 2012’s Away From The World, the critically and commercially successful hit that debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200.As noted in the post, the album was created in studios across the United States and with several different producers, including John Alagia, Mark Batson, Rob Cavallo and Rob Evans. The album, which was crafted in between tours, also features artwork from Béatrice Coron, “who creates narrative allegories in silhouette to render archetypal stories.”Once released, Come Tomorrow will be available in CD, digital, and cassette formats. The band also notes that they’ll release a limited-edition white-vinyl 4 LP set exclusively through the DMB and Warehouse Official stores. You can pre-order Dave Matthews Band’s new album, due out on June 8th, here.Dave Matthews Band is also currently gearing up for their extensive 2018 summer tour, which kicks off on May 18th at The Woodlands, Texas’ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. The tour follows which follows a year-long hiatus for the band in 2017, save for a few special performances. Back in February, longtime violinist Boyd Tinsley left the band and will not be a part of the tour, though his involvement on the album is still unknown.For those who have a chance to catch Dave Matthews Band on the road this summer, people who purchase tickets before May 17th will receive their choice of a CD or digital download of Come Tomorrow. You can head to Dave Matthews Band’s website for more information. DAVE MATTHEWS BAND – SUMMER 2018 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR5/18 The Woodlands, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion presented by Huntsman5/19 Dallas, TX Starplex Pavilion5/22 Austin, TX Austin360 Amphitheater5/26 Atlanta, GA Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood5/27 Orange Beach, AL The Wharf Amphitheater5/29 Brandon, MS Brandon Amphitheater5/30 Rogers, AR Walmart AMP – Arkansas Music Pavilion6/1 Burgettstown, PA KeyBank Pavilion6/2 Cuyahoga Falls, OH Blossom Music Center6/5 Syracuse, NY Lakeview Amphitheater6/6 Clarkston, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre6/7 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center6/9 Bristow, VA Jiffy Lube Live6/12 Gilford, NH Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion6/13 Gilford, NH Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion6/15 Camden, NJ BB&T Pavilion6/16 Camden, NJ BB&T Pavilion6/22 Mansfield, MA Xfinity Center6/23 Hartford, CT Xfinity Theatre6/27 Darien Center, NY Darien Lake Amphitheater6/29 Chicago, IL Huntington Bank Pavilion6/30 Chicago, IL Huntington Bank Pavilion7/1 Milwaukee, WI American Family Insurance Amphitheater7/6 Noblesville, IN Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center7/7 Noblesville, IN Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center7/10 Toronto, ON Budweiser Stage7/11 Ottawa, ON Ottawa Bluesfest7/13 Saratoga Springs, NY Saratoga Performing Arts Center7/14 Saratoga Springs, NY Saratoga Performing Arts Center7/17 Wantagh, NY Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater7/18 Holmdel, NJ PNC Bank Arts Center7/20 Raleigh, NC Coastal Credit Union Park at Walnut Creek7/21 Virginia Beach, VA Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach7/24 Charlotte, NC PNC Music Pavilion – Charlotte7/25 Tampa, FL MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre7/27 West Palm Beach, FL Coral Sky Amphitheatre at the S. Florida Fairgrounds7/28 West Palm Beach, FL Coral Sky Amphitheatre at the S. Florida Fairgrounds8/24 Denver, CO Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre8/25 Denver, CO Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre8/28 Bend, OR Les Schwab Amphitheater8/31 Quincy, WA Gorge Amphitheatre9/1 Quincy, WA Gorge Amphitheatre9/2 Quincy, WA Gorge Amphitheatre9/7 Stateline, NV Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys9/8 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View9/10 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood BowlView All Tour Dates
Photo: Kevin Cole Photo: Kevin Cole Last Friday, Dark Star Orchestra had some special news for their Boston fans, announcing that lead guitarist/vocalist Jeff Mattson would play Jerry Garcia‘s iconic “Wolf” guitar during the band’s upcoming performance at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre. Known for recreating past Grateful Dead shows in their entirety, the long-running tribute act added extra significance to the show by replicating the Dead’s own Boston performance from November 13th, 1978, during which Garcia also played “Wolf.”Dark Star Orchestra Taps Donna Jean Godchaux For Red Rocks DebutGarcia’s legendary Wolf guitar was auctioned off last June at the Brooklyn Bowl for a whopping $1.6M winning bid from Brian Halligan, the HubSpot CEO and co-author of Marketing Lessons From The Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn From The Most Iconic Band in History. The guitar was auctioned off to benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center, with the previous owner matching the winning bid, making for a whopping $3.2M donation at the end of the night. The auction also served as the vehicle for an all-star performance billed as Joe Russo’s Friends With Benefits that saw Neal Casal, Scott Metzger, Tom Hamilton, and Cass McCombs all get the chance to play Wolf before it went to its new home.However, Wolf’s new owner, Brian Halligan, is clearly generous with his recently purchased prize guitar. In the time since, he’s lent out Wolf to a number of musicians, including to Joe Russo’s Almost Dead’s Tom Hamilton, who played it throughout a show in December. Now, you can add Dark Star Orchestra to that list.Check out a gallery of photos from DSO’s performance at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre with Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf” guitar below via photographer Kevin Cole/Old King Cole Photography.Dark Star Orchestra’s spring run continues tonight and tomorrow at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. The shows will be webcast via The Relix Channel. For a full list of the band’s busy summer of tour dates, head to their website.Setlist: Dark Star Orchestra | Wilbur Theatre | Boston, MA | 5/10/18Set One: Promised Land; They Love Each Other; Mama Tried-> Mexicali Blues; Peggy-O; Cassidy; Tennessee Jed; Minglewood Blues; Stagger Lee; Jack StrawSet Two: Mississippi Half Step-> Franklin’s Tower; Samson & Delilah; Friend Of The Devil; Playing In The Band-> Drums-> Black Peter-> Playin’ In The Band-> Around & AroundEncore:: U.S. BluesFiller: White Rabbit; Werewolves Of LondonNotes: Recreating Grateful Dead’s 11/13/78 show at Boston Music Hall. Jeff Mattson played Jerry Garcia’s Wolf guitar for the entire show.Dark Star Orchestra (w/ Jerry’s “Wolf” guitar) | Wilbur Theatre | Boston, MA | 5/10/18 | Photos: Kevin Cole Load remaining images
The young guitar prodigy Taz has had a huge year. From sitting in with Tedeschi Trucks Band, Umphrey’s McGee, Twiddle, and many others to touring heavily and playing festivals with his solo band, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer becomes more of a force within the live music scene each year.Today, Taz announced the dates and locations for his upcoming fall tour with his solo band, which span from September to December and will see Taz and company travel across the U.S., with select stops in Canada and Japan. Taz’s tour begins in Fredericton, Canada this weekend, followed by performances in Teaneck, New Jersey, on September 21st and in Chittenango, New York, on September 22nd.On September 29th, Taz will stop through Brooklyn Comes Alive to lead an all-star tribute to Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, and Col. Bruce Hampton featuring George Porter Jr. (The Meters), Adam Smirnoff (Lettuce), Jeff Sipe (Aquarium Rescue Unit), Peter Levin, and Elise Testone at Brooklyn Comes Alive.Rounding into October, Taz will kick off the month in Memphis with a two-night stand on October 6th and 7th. From there, the guitarist will travel to Houma, Louisiana, for shows on the 12th and 13th before heading to Tokyo, Japan, where he will play two, two-night runs from October 20th to 21st and October 23rd to 24th.Returning to the United States, the beginning of November will see Taz stop through Providence, Rhode Island, and Albany, New York, ahead of shows in Roslyn, New York, and Bridgeport, Connecticut, on November 16th and 17th, respectively. To close out his fall tour, Taz will stop through Washington, D.C.; Annapolis, Maryland; Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; New York City; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.For more information, head to Taz’s website here. Don’t miss Brandon “Taz” Niederauer at Brooklyn Comes Alive, returning to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood on September 29th for an all-day music marathon at fan-favorite venues Brooklyn Bowl, Music Hall of Williamsburg, and Rough Trade.Inspired by the vibrant musical communities of Brooklyn and New Orleans, Brooklyn Comes Alive brings together more than 50 artists, allowing them to carry out passion projects, play with their musical heroes, and collaborate in never-before-seen formations. For more information, ticketing, and to see the full list of performers scheduled for Brooklyn Comes Alive 2018, head to the festival’s website here.Brooklyn Comes Alive is sponsored by Denver-based company, Pure CBD Exchange, which creates and sells a number of CBD/cannabidiol products (What is CBD?) from concentrates, tinctures, extracts, lotions, creams, and more. The use of CBD has gained much notoriety as of late, for use as both a health and wellness supplement and to treat conditions such as epilepsy, PTSD, cancer, and a number of mental disorders and is also used for anti-inflammation, nausea reduction, sleep aid, and more. Pure CBD Exchange was co-founded by Gregg Allman Band organist/keyboardist and Brooklyn Comes Alive musician Peter Levin back in 2017.Pure CBD Exchange focuses on low-THC cannabis products with high CBD content. They work within the Colorado Industrial Hemp pilot program to distribute non-psychoactive tinctures, extracts, lotions, and more all over the world. The company has featured by companies like VICE, High Times, Leafly, and more.
Load remaining images Photo: Doug Siegel; from Xmas Jam 2018 Photo: Doug Siegel Warren Haynes and a number of special guests returned to the U.S. Cellular Center on Saturday evening for the second of two nights of the guitarist’s 30th Annual Christmas Jam in Asheville, NC. To add to the weekend’s celebratory drama, a rare snowstorm in the Asheville area prohibited many of Saturday’s Christmas Jam performers from leaving as scheduled. The predicament led to Warren and several of his talented friends returning to the nearby Orange Peel—where their pre-jam was held on Thursday—for a surprise, cover-filled pop-up concert on Sunday night.Night one of Christmas jam on Friday saw Haynes and Gov’t Mule channel their inner Pink Floyd with a full headlining set as their common alter-ego, Dark Side of the Mule. Saturday’s festivities picked up right where Warren and company left off on Friday, beginning with the guitarist reuniting with his old friends as part of the 45 Cherry Band. The live band included a mix of musicians who played at the very first Christmas Jam back in 1988, which took place at an Asheville club named 45 Cherry. The band would play through a few tunes before Jeff Anders joined in for a cover of U2‘s “One”. Next, Philip Ashley came on to play on Haynes-penned latter day Allman Brothers Band hit, “Soulshine”. The festivities continued with a performance from Joe Bonamassa, who jammed out to his own “If Heartaches Were Nickels” before giving fans a mix of classic rock covers from Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin, and Cream.Jim James‘ performance followed shortly thereafter, with the My Morning Jacket singer/guitarist returning after his impressive showing on Friday to play some of the songs off his recent solo album, Uniform Distortion. Joanne Shaw Taylor followed with a trio that also included drummer Rocky Lindsley and bassist Johnny Jump. The three appropriately played a trio of songs, ending with a cover of Freddie King‘s blues power anthem, “Goin’ Down”.Foo Fighters‘ Dave Grohl took the stage next, beginning with the live debut of his lengthy “PLAY” instrumental. Grohl continued jamming with a sit-in from Haynes that saw the two rock heroes lead the way on a cover of the Foo’s “Times Like These”. Grohl would go on to repay the favor during Gov’t Mule’s headlining set, during which he joined the quartet for a killer cover of Neil Young‘s rock and roll anthem, “Rockin’ In The Free World”, featuring a mid-song interlude of Band Of Gypsys’ “Machine Gun”.Eric Church also took the stage as the evening continued for a mix of solo acoustic and full band performance. Some of the solo songs Church performed for his fellow North Carolinians included “Desperate Man” and “Record Year”. Church continued with full band covers of The Allman Brothers Band’s “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”, and The Band‘s beloved classic, “The Weight”.Finally, Gov’t Mule capped the memorable night with a headlining set including “Thorazine Shuffle”, “Revolution Come, Revolution Go”, “Million Miles From Yesterday”, “Dreams & Songs”, “Red Baron”, the Grohl-assisted Neil Young cover, and a set-closing “Mule” with the help of Audley Freed and Ron Holloway.Gov’t Mule with Dave Grohl – “Rockin’ In The Free World” (Neil Young cover) – 12/8/2018Sunday’s weather-induced pop-up show may have caught fans and Asheville residents by complete surprise, but Gov’t Mule and Grohl (on both drums and guitar) made sure that fans stuck in the city would have as much fun as possible with a two-set, 13-song performance that included covers of songs by Led Zeppelin, Nirvana and Tom Petty, just to name a few. The show began with another live rendition of Grohl’s instrumental marathon, “PLAY”, before continuing with covers of Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and Tom Petty’s southern rock masterpiece, “You Don’t Know How It Feels”. Set continued with more covers including Nirvana’s 90s grunge ballad. “All Apologies”, Petty’s “Breakdown”, and The Beatles‘ “Helter Skelter” with Jimmy Vivino on guitar before closing out with The Rolling Stones‘ “Bitch”.Sunday’s second Gov’t Mule + Dave Grohl set kept the moving with more fan-favorite covers, as the band began with Temple of the Dog‘s “Hunger Strike” before tearing into a cover of Traffic‘s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and transitioning right back into “Hunger Strike”. The augmented band continued their classic rock run with a cover of The Who‘s “Eminence Front”, followed by a return to Zeppelin for their hypnotizing psych-rock power ballad, “No Quarter”. Finally, the was rounde out with one last cover of the evening in Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Simple Man”.You can watch videos from the surprise Sunday performance below:Gov’t Mule with Dave Grohl – “Since I’ve Been Loving You” [Led Zeppelin cover] – 12/9/2018[Video: Tom Libera]Gov’t Mule with Dave Grohl – “You Don’t Know How It Feels” [Tom Petty cover] – 12/9/2018[Video: Tom Libera]Gov’t Mule with Dave Grohl + Jimmy Vivino – “Helter Skelter” [The Beatles cover] – 12/9/2018[Video: Tom Libera]This weekend turned out to be quite the marathon of great rock and jam performances by Warren and company, making for a fitting 30th anniversary of his Asheville benefit show for his hometown community. Fans can catch Haynes early next year when he heads down to Runaway Bay, Jamaica for the 10th running of his annual Island Exodus destination event featuring performances from Gov’t Mule, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Devon Allman Project featuring Duane Betts, and more. Tickets and information for the snowbird-friendly music event in late January can be found and purchased here.Setlist: Gov’t Mule | U.S. Cellular Center | Asheville, NC | 12/8/2018Set: Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young cover with Dave Grohl) > Machine Gun Jam (Band of Gypsies cover) > Rockin’ In The Free World, Thorazine Shuffle, Revolution Come Revolution Go, Million Miles From Yesterday (with Machan Taylor + Mini Carlsson), Dreams & Songs (with Machan Taylor + Mini Carlsson), Red Baron (with Mike Barnes + Ron Holloway), Mule (with Audley Freed + Ron Holloway)Setlist: Gov’t Mule + Dave Grohl | The Orange Peel | Asheville, NC | 12/9/2018Set One:Play (Dave Grohl cover), Since I’ve Been Loving Your (Led Zeppelin cover), You Don’t Know How It Feels (Tom Petty cover), All Apologies (Nirvana cover), Breakdown (Tom Petty cover), Helter Skelter (Beatles cover with Jimmy Vivino), Bitch (Rolling Stones cover)Set Two: Hunger Strike (Temple of the Dog cover), Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic cover) > Hunger Strike, Eminence Front (The Who cover), No Quarter (Led Zeppelin cover)Encore: Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)View Setlists[H/T JamBuzz, JamBase] Photo: Doug Siegel; from Xmas Jam 2018
On Friday night, Athens, Georgia road warriors Widespread Panic opened up the 2019 edition of Panic En La Playa, their annual beachside destination event, at Riviera Maya, Mexico’s Hard Rock Hotel.For their first show of 2019, Widespread Panic appropriately opened up their first set with “Coconut”, as the six-piece powerhouse set the tone for the evening alongside the picturesque Caribbean coastline. Next, keyboardist JoJo Hermann took the vocal lead on “One Arm Steve”, before WSP worked through solid, seamless takes on “You Should Be Glad” and “Junior”. Following “Junior”, Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville joined the stage to lead the band through a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman”, and stayed up on stage to help close out “You Should Be Glad”.Widespread Panic w/ Ivan Neville – “Pusherman”[Video: Eric Nelson]Neville exited the stage and Widespread Panic pushed forward with “Diner”, with John Bell shining bright on lead vocals. Guitarist Jimmy Herring then took the lead, firing off a roaring solo on his beautiful PRS guitar. The band harnessed the crowd’s infectious energy, as they moved forward with “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” and “Time Zones”, before bringing the first set of the weekend to a close with a raucous rendition of “Imitation Leather Shoes”.Following a brief break that gave attendees a chance to refill their cups and take a breather, Widespread Panic came back out to open their second set with “1 x 1”, before Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz led the band into “Worry”. With Bell leading the way on vocals, Herring showcased some intricate work on his 6-string, eventually peaking as he reached a monumental high-note. A cover of Vic Chesnutt’s “Aunt Avis” came next, before moving forward with the fan-favorite “Driving Song”. WSP left the scorching hot “Driving Song” open-ended, as they dove head first into “Impossible”, which featured an extended jam on the Grateful Dead’s “The Other One”.Widespread Panic – “Driving Song” > “Impossible” > “The Other One Jam” > “Rock”[Video: Eric Nelson]Widespread Panic landed into “Rock” out of their “The Other One” jam, and finally returned to “Driving Song”, giving the rocker the proper closure. Following a bluesy take on “One Kind Favor”, the six-piece brought their second set to a close with “All Time Low”. WSP delivered a two-song encore with a cover of The Band’s “Ophelia” followed by “North”.Widespread Panic – “One Kind Stranger”[Video: MrTopdogger]Widespread Panic – “Ophelia”, “North”[Video: Eric Nelson]Check out a beautiful gallery of photos from last night’s show courtesy of photographer Dave Vann.Tonight, Widespread Panic returns to Rivera Maya, Mexico’s Hard Rock Hotel for the second night of their Panic En La Playa destination event.Setlist: Widespread Panic | Panic En La Playa | Riviera Maya, MX | 1/25/2019Set One: Coconut, One Arm Steve, You Should Be Glad > Junior > Pusherman* > You Should Be Glad**, Diner > Stop Breakin’ Down Blues, Time Zones, Imitation Leather ShoesSet Two: 1 x 1, Worry > Aunt Avis > Driving Song > Impossible > The Other One Jam > Rock > Driving Song > One Kind Favor > All Time LowEncore: Ophelia, North* Ivan Neville on keyboards & vocals, ** Ivan Neville on keyboardsWidespread Panic | Panic En La Playa | Riviera Maya, MX | 1/25/2019 | Photos: Dave Vann Load remaining images
The Newport Jazz Festival will return to Newport, RI’s Fort Adams State Park on August 2nd–4th, marking the event’s 65th anniversary.The historic New England jazz festival has announced it’s first wave of 2019 artists, with Herbie Hancock, The Bad Plus, and Corinne Bailey Rae topping the bill. Newport Jazz Festival will see additional performances from Buika, Terence Blanchard Featuring The E-Collective, Sons of Kemet, Makaya McCraven, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Ravi Coltrane/David Virelles, ELEW, Marcus Strickland Twi-Life, Christian Sand – 3 Piano Erroll Garner Tribute! feat. Helen Sung and Tadataka Unno, Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Sun Ra Arkestra, Jenny Scheinman & Allison Miller’s Parlour Game, Joel Ross ‘Good Vibes‘, Tia Fuller’s “Diamond Cut”, Sammy Miller and the Congregation, and Laurin Talese.More artists will be announced in the coming weeks.Newport, RI’s Fort Adams is situated at the mouth of Newport Harbor with panoramic views. The festival at the Fort features 4 stages, food and crafts, two beer and wine gardens, and more. The festival is held rain or shine, so get ready for a weekend stacked full of Jazz’s finest musicians.Tickets are on sale now here, with numerous ticket-package options available.For more information on the 2019 Newport Jazz Festival, head to the event’s website.
Harvard Provost Steven E. Hyman announced today (Dec. 16) that Lino Pertile will become director of the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti in Florence, Italy, beginning next summer.Pertile will succeed Joseph Connors, professor of history of art and architecture and I Tatti’s sixth director, who has run the center since 2002. After a sabbatical year, Connors will resume teaching, concentrating on Harvard College courses in Italian art.Pertile said of the announcement: “In the 50 years since Bernard Berenson left it to Harvard, Villa I Tatti has had a unique role in the fostering of Renaissance studies, and I am truly honored to be given the opportunity to join this remarkable institution. I look forward with great enthusiasm to carrying on the outstanding work of Joe Connors and the previous directors.”“I am delighted that Lino has accepted the directorship of Villa I Tatti,” said Hyman. “His academic stature, deep knowledge of the Villa, of Italy more broadly, and experience in creating an inclusive scholarly community all make him ideally suited to take the reins of the center and burnish its status as a global leader in Renaissance studies.” He continued, “I look forward to working with Lino in strengthening the ties between Harvard and I Tatti, and developing the center in the years to come.”Pertile, the Carl A. Pescosolido Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is a renowned scholar on Italian literature, with a particular focus on the medieval and Renaissance periods. He has taught numerous courses at Harvard College, including, since 1998, the popular “Dante’s Divine Comedy and Its World.”Pertile’s commitment to undergraduate teaching and advising earned him the award of Harvard College Professor in 2005. Since 2000, Pertile has served as master of Eliot House along with his wife, Anna Bensted. Pertile and Bensted are widely credited with creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere at Eliot.Connors said of the announcement: “Lino’s distinguished career as a scholar of Dante and Petrarch — spanning the Italian and Anglo-Saxon worlds of learning — is the true embodiment of what Villa I Tatti is all about, and I couldn’t be more pleased with his appointment. The future of I Tatti under Lino’s leadership looks very bright indeed.”Connors took over I Tatti after serving as chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. From 1988 to 1992 he served as director of the American Academy in Rome.“Joseph Connors leaves a superb foundation on which Lino Pertile will continue to build,” said Hyman. “Joe’s model stewardship has transformed the Villa — academically and physically — and he leaves behind a robust center of which Harvard can be proud. We are deeply grateful for his leadership.”Villa I Tatti was founded in 1961 around the house and library of the art critic and connoisseur Bernard Berenson (Class of 1887). It covers 75 acres near Florence, employs a staff of 50, and consists of a fellowship program in Renaissance studies and the Biblioteca Berenson, a research library with distinguished collections in art history, history, literature, and early music, as well as an extensive photographic collection. I Tatti is also known for its historic garden and working farm, and a notable collection of early Italian and Asian art.
Scientists at Harvard University have used light and genetic trickery to trace out neurons’ ability to excite or inhibit one another, literally shedding new light on the question of how neurons interact with one another in live animals.The work is described in the current issue of the journal Nature Methods. It builds upon scientists’ understanding of the neural circuitry of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, frequently used as a model in biological research. While the detailed physical structure of C. elegans’ scant 302 neurons is well-documented, the new research helps to measure how neurons in this organism affect each others’ activity, and could ultimately help researchers map out in detail how neural impulses flow throughout the organism.“This approach gives us a powerful new tool for analyzing small neural circuits, and directly measuring how neurons talk to each other,” said Sharad Ramanathan, an assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology and of applied physics at Harvard. “While we’ve only mapped out the interplay of four neurons, it’s the first time scientists have determined the ability of multiple neurons in a circuit to excite or inhibit their neighbors.”Ramanathan and Zengcai Guo combined genetically encoded calcium sensors and light-activated ion channels with optics. The scientists used a mirror array to excite individual neurons — each just 2- to 3-millionths of a meter wide — while simultaneously measuring calcium activity in multiple other neurons. This calcium activity serves to indicate whether these other neurons were activated or inhibited by the neuron that was primed with a burst of light.“Using this technique, for the first time, we could excite both a sensory neuron and an interneuron, and monitor how activity propagates,” said Guo, a research assistant in Harvard’s Center for Systems Biology, Department of Molecular Biology, and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “We expect that our technique can eventually be used more broadly to measure how activity propagates through neural circuits.”Manipulating neurons with light, Guo and Ramanathan were able to evoke an avoidance response — causing the worm to back away from light — that is normally prompted only when the organism is touched.With a compact nervous system consisting of only 302 neurons linked by about 7,000 synapses, the nematode C. elegans is an ideal system for studying the interplay between neural circuits and behavior. While the physical connectivity of the neurons in this nematode is well-known, scientists know very little about which of these connections are excitatory and which are inhibitory.Because of the small sizes of the neurons and a tough cuticle surrounding the worm, electrophysiological recordings can be made from only one neuron at a time, precluding the possibility of any circuit-level analysis of neural activity. By establishing this first fully genetically encoded light-based electrophysiology, the authors have developed a way to overcome this limitation.Guo and Ramanathan’s Nature Methods paper was co-authored by Anne C. Hart of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Their work was funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
An interdisciplinary group of leading Harvard geneticists and stem cell researchers has found a new genetic aspect of cell reprogramming that may ultimately help in the fine-tuning of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) into specific cell types.The researchers, who have affiliations with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB), Children’s Hospital Boston, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), have identified a set of genetic elements never before known to be involved in cellular reprogramming.According to John Rinn, a corresponding author of the study who is affiliated with HSCI, SCRB, the Broad, and BIDMC, “this is the first time that this new type of gene has been implicated in the reprogramming process. In reprogramming it’s important to find as many routes to reprogramming as possible. This finding gives us another set of fingers to play on the genomic piano that controls the ‘music’ of cellular reprogramming.”“This is a group of RNAs that come from the dark region of the genome,” Rinn said. “We don’t know everything they do, but they clearly are involved in the reprogramming process.”“We know reprogramming resets the genome [of the reprogrammed cell] globally,” said George Daley of HSCI and Children’s Hospital and, along with Rinn, one of the two senior authors of a paper published online by Nature Genetics. “What we’ve learned by working with John is that lincRNAs play essential roles in the reprogramming process. We’ve even identified one lincRNA that enhances reprogramming, which is tantalizing evidence that we can make reprogramming more efficient by harnessing lincRNAs.”Added Daley, a biologist, “our groups came together to answer a question that neither group could answer alone.”The new finding follows by less than two months the discovery by HSCI’s Derrick Rossi and colleagues that skin cells could be returned to an embryonic stem cell-like state using specially engineered synthetic mRNAs, eliminating the need to use viruses that can induce cancers to develop.Rossi’s discovery turned the cell reprogramming field on its head, and was considered so significant that HSCI co-director Doug Melton announced that the HSCI iPS core, which produces reprogrammed cells for researchers, would immediately switch to using the method developed by Rossi.The new findings by Rinn, Daley, and colleagues may help explain why Rossi’s method works — because RNAs appear to be part of the natural cell programming process — and may also be used to refine the Rossi reprogramming method, Rinn said. “What we think we’ve done is, [we’ve found] another way to throw the reprogramming switches,” Rinn said.The road to this latest discovery began when Rinn first arrived at Harvard and the Broad in January 2009. He, Broad director Eric Lander, and Mitch Guttman, who are also authors on the Nature Genetics paper, discovered a group of 5,000 lincRNAs. “Then we worked with George (Daley) to figure out their relevance, if any, in reprogramming,” Rinn said.Like much of scientific discovery, the latest finding was serendipitous. As Rinn explains it:“We started out looking for something else: We wanted to know what happens when you program skin cells that originate in different parts of the body into stem cells. George and I were on a committee meeting together with a student who didn’t know the anatomic origin of the skin cells used to make stem cells. A light bulb went off that it may be interesting to make stem cells from skin cells originating all around the body and see if they ‘remember’ where they came from. Sabine Loewer, the lead author on the paper, immediately jumped at the idea as well — which was very brave for such a risky project.“It turned out they didn’t matter where the cells came from,” Rinn said, “which is in itself an important finding. But in the process we found that hundreds of lincRNA genes were turned on and off during the reprogramming, so we focused on the ones that turned on, to see if they were part of the pluripotency process, and they were.”