Half Waif's Nandi Rose Plunkett gives us a guided tour of Williamstown, her hometown in northwestern Massachusetts, and tells us about the top sights to see and places to visit.
Small college town surrounded by fields, farms, and woods and known for its impressive ties to the literary, dramatic, and visual arts.
There isn’t really a music scene in Williamstown - there’s a lot more happening in Northampton and the Pioneer Valley, about an hour and a half away. That’s where I’d go to see shows in high school. Western Mass has birthed bands like Dinosaur Jr., Speedy Ortiz, And The Kids, and Mal Devisa, and Sonic Youth lived there for a while.
Same as above - there isn’t really one in town, which is why my friends and I started a monthly coffeehouse called Java Jive. That’s where some of my earliest performances were! But in the next town over is MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) and they have some incredible spaces. In the summer, they have daily concerts in the galleries themselves, which is pretty spectacular - not to mention Wilco’s Solid Sound Fest. Also in Northampton there’s the intimate Iron Horse, which gets really good acts.
There aren’t any clubs either… unless you count the sweaty college dorm basements...
I’m very glad to say that there is one record store in Williamstown that has stayed open all these years - Toonerville Trolley. They carried my album there when I was 16 and that was a huge accomplishment for me!
Spice Root makes a killer ginger lime martini. I’m told that Images Cinema, our cute one-room movie theater, now serves beer and wine. Otherwise there’s the one actual bar, the Purple Pub, which burned down and was closed for a while but then it came back sleeker and more college-bar-ier than ever.
We get a lot of celebrities in town each summer because of the Williamstown Theater Festival. Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Alec Baldwin are all notable OG figures. Once when I was 10, my friends and I stalked Sam Rockwell around town. We loved his work in Charlie’s Angels.
Also, The Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky is from Williamstown. I was friends with her younger brother and her older sister was my babysitter.
It has been said that when playwright Edward Albee visited Williamstown, he was inspired by the volatile relationship of my best friend’s grandparents, and from that experience he wrote his hit play Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, which is about a seriously dysfunctional marriage.
Cricket Creek Farm (which is owned and operated by my cousins and makes incredible cheese), the top of Mt. Greylock (highest peak in Massachusetts), and the swimming hole at the formerly Rockefeller-owned Mount Hope. Nearby there’s also The Mount, which was Edith Wharton’s estate and has the most beautiful grounds.
There was a man who would ride his unicycle everywhere, but though I practiced, that feat was not for me. I grew up a 10-minute walk from the one shopping street, so it was an easy walk into town. It’s a really picturesque place with a lot of old collegiate buildings so walking is the best way to take in that quaint New England village vibe.
"Cumby’s run" - as in "let’s go on a Cumby’s run." Which just meant "let’s go kill time at the Cumberland Farm’s convenience store because we are 16, just got our license, and have virtually nothing else to do in this small town."
Lack of a young music scene, which I am really realizing even more as I answer these questions.
The proximity to other kinds of arts and culture despite being tucked away in the corner of Massachusetts.