I have now figured out the secret of surviving a Tanglewood residency. It involves a car, a map, and an Internet connection.
To back up: I had a hazy, mystical picture of life at Tanglewood prior to arriving here, including random music clinics with the famous and artistic; brushes with genius at every turn; and the sort of breezy camaraderie that goes with all good choirs. I am in the process of recalibrating my expectations.
For one thing, most of my fellow 178 choristers seem to have made plans well in advance for every meal and don’t linger about after rehearsals, leaving us newbies to shift for ourselves. (In fact, another Tanglewood first timer to whom I gave a lift today decided that he was going to hike around, and hike back the five miles to his hotel, after we tried unsuccessfully for half an hour to find a group to join for lunch.) For another, we are early in the season, and the masters classes appear not to have started (or to not be advertised to the hoi polloi, at any rate). What to do?
Well, for me, the solution was to do a solid afternoon of work for the office, and then to strike out on my own. And if you know me, you know that means beer. In particular, thanks to a BeerAdvocate recommendation, I found my way 10 miles north up Route 7, which runs from the Mass Pike past Lenox and through Pittsfield, all the way up to Lanesboro, where I found Ye Olde Forge, which claims it has the “county’s largest selection of imported and domestic beer.”
And it just might. The draft list was about fifteen beers—numerically nothing spectacular, but when those fifteen include Belhaven Scottish Ale and Delerium Nocturnum, your writer tends to sit up and pay attention. Add to that a long (if incompletely stocked) list of bottled offerings and a pub menu that stretches from mussels to chicken fingers to etoufée, and you have a minor mecca on your hands.
(Chicken fingers? Well, Ye Olde Forge is family friendly, as evidenced by the two young kids at the table across the way from me. The younger child got off the best line I heard today when, looking at the bar TV which was showing the Tour De France, he solemnly told his mom that he didn’t ever want to go to France. “Why not?” “Because I don’t want to be run over by bicycles.”)
Anyway, I recommend Ye Olde Forge—and I recommend arriving early, particularly on a rainy summer evening when the patio isn’t open.