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"We Shall Not Be Moved" at the Apollo Theater

by Steven Pisano

"We Shall Not Be Moved" at the Apollo Theater(All photos by Steven Pisano.)

"We Shall Not Be Moved," which played at the Apollo Theater this week following its world premiere at Opera Philadelphia last month, is an urban opera that riffs on the history of the radical political group MOVE. Established in Philadelphia the early 1970s by John Africa (born Vincent Leaphart), MOVE is vividly remembered for several violent confrontations with the police - including a 1985 firefight that killed 11 MOVE members (including 5 children) and which destroyed over 60 houses.

Against this intensely violent background, composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and director Bill T. Jones have written a contemporary story of urban struggle. Five teenagers, who have veered in and out of trouble, find their school has been closed, so they squat in an abandoned house in West Philadelphia - which just so happens to be the former MOVE headquarters from the 1980s. The house is populated by peaceful ghosts dressed in gray sweatsuits who dance through the house and try to guide the teens.

But the teens have also caught the eye of Glenda, the local beat cop. She wonders why they are not in school during the day, and eventually their interactions escalate until one day the police officer accidentally discharges her gun and shoots one of the kids. The young people grab her gun, then hold her captive, not knowing exactly what to do now that everything has suddenly spun out of control.

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Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner and James McAlister Revive "Planetarium" at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!

Planetarium with Sufjan Sevens - BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn - Feast of Music Jul 18  2017 Jul 18  2017  9-14 PMWhen Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner and James McAlister first performed their collaboration Planetarium at BAM in 2013, we were blown away by the experience, which seamlessly blended elements of classical, pop, rock, and electronics, accompanied by some pretty awesome visuals. As we said at the time:

"This was edgy rock and pop, and its straightforward presentation enabled it to breathe and communicate without being suffocated by mists of pretension. Lush harmonies melded together with a luxurious flow and were enhanced by the smoky projections on stage; you couldn’t help but be moved by the aural and visual spectacle."

Last month, Planetarium was finally released as an album, and to mark the occasion, Sufjan, Nico, Bryce and James brought their live show (sans lasers) back to NYC last night with a benefit concert at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn. The standing room-only crowd was enthusiastic from the start, cheering wildly after the big numbers "Jupiter" and "Saturn." In between songs, Sufjan held sway like a made-for-TV astronomer while making numerous oblique references to the challenging times we live in, encouraging us to look to the stars to remind us that the universe is much bigger - and vastly more open - than we are. 

Watch a performance of "Mercury" from Monday's Late Show here. More pics below and on the photo page

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Robert Randolph and the Family Band with Eric Krasno at Celebrate Brooklyn

Robert Randolph - BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn - Feast of Music Jul 13  2017 Jul 13  2017  9-12 PMVirtuosos come in all stripes, as Robert Randolph showed on Thursday night, as he melted the stage at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn with his pedal steel guitars - both sitting and standing - along with his crack band of blues rockers. Eric Krasno (Soulive) opened with a sharp set of his own before joining Randolph onstage to really ramp things up. 

More pics on the photo page


The Soul Rebels with Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch and Kirk Knight at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!

The Soul Rebels with Pharaohe Monch - BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn - Feast of Music Jun 24  2017  9-12 PM Jun 24  2017  9-015Rounding off a stellar weekend of music at the Prospect Park Bandshell, New Orleans brass ensemble The Soul Rebels blew into BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Saturday night with a high energy set that blended funk, rock and R&B. Eschewing the traditional sounds of the Preservation Hall or Dirty Dozen Brass Bands, the Soul Rebels have made a name for themselves by collaborating with everyone from Metallica to The String Cheese Incident, along with dozens of hip hop and R&B artists.

On Saturday, the Soul Rebels were joined onstage by a trio of MC's, including Talib Kweli, Kirk Knight, and the mesmerizing Pharoahe Monch, who exhorted everyone to "Get the Fuck up!" and shout at the sky for the recently deceased MC ProdigyGoapele opened with a sunny set of soul and R&B, followed by a DJ set from Natasha Diggs. 


More pics on the photo page