FREE FEST: PeaceStock @ Freedom Square on Friday

July 30th, 2015, 11:00 am by Greg


Freedom Square in Troy is hosting the second annual PeaceStock Festival from 4-7pm on Friday (July 31). Presented by, the three-hour community celebration will feature BBQ and grilled food, t-shirts, henna tattoos, Reiki and music – and it’s all free.

Among the musical performers will be Maurizio and 18 Strings of Trouble, both of whom will put their own unique contemporary spin on the classic songs of the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

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FEST: Freedom Festival @ Freedom Square on Saturday

June 12th, 2015, 10:00 am by Greg

The annual Freedom Festival returns to Freedom Square in Troy on Saturday (June 13) with plenty of free food, art activities and, of course, live music.

The free festivities run from 3-6pm, and festivalgoers are invited to bring a lawn chair or blanket and anything that you’d like to share for the community meal.

The rain location is the nearby Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy.

Here’s the line-up of scheduled performers:

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LIVE: StoryHarvest @ Freedom Square, 9/27/14

October 9th, 2014, 3:00 pm by Greg
Nation Beat (photo by Andrzej Pilaczyk)

Nation Beat (photo by Andrzej Pilaczyk)

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Jonathan Flanders

The fourth annual StoryHarvest Festival in Freedom Square in Troy kicked off the Sanctuary for Independent Media’s fall 2014 season of events late last month.

The community gathering featured plenty of food, a wide array of art activities and, of course, it just wouldn’t be a fest without some booty-shakin’ music.

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LIVE: Debo Band @ Freedom Square, 7/11/14

July 28th, 2014, 2:00 pm by Greg
(photo by Rudy Lu)

(photo by Rudy Lu)

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
Additional photograph by Jon Flanders

Freedom Square in Troy was filled with the joyous, high energy sounds of Debo Band once again earlier this month. The band made their Freedom Square debut back in 2011, christening the new community gathering space in fine fashion. Back then there was no colorful mosaic wall that now serves as a backdrop for the stage.

The band was making the Troy tour stop between shows at the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Green River Festival, and this time around the brightly colored backdrop of the now finished Freedom Square Stage certainly added to the excitement of Debo’s performance. The band played exotic and infectious Ethiopian dance-pop music, featuring highly complex rhythms and jazz-like instrumental solos shaded with elements of funk and rock.

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LIVE: StoryHarvest @ Freedom Square, 9/28/13

October 8th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg
Don Byron and Carla Cook

Don Byron and Carla Cook

Photographs by Rudy Lu

The fall 2013 season at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy kicked off its fall season with the third annual StoryHarvest celebration. Taking place nearby at Freedom Square, the fest featured performances by international jazz stars the Don Byron New Gospel Quintet (with vocalist Carla Cook), Comorian singer-songwriter Nawal, plus local gospel artists and a free community potluck BBQ.

The Sanctuary for Independent Media continues its performance series at 7pm tonight (Tuesday, October 8) with Christine Salem, from La Réunion in the Indian Ocean. She sings maloya – the once-banned, African-influenced music of the Creole descendants of slaves who worked the island’s sugar plantations. These are dangerous tunes that rouse the spirits and challenge the authorities, which means that her shows are as controversial as they are spellbinding. Tickets are $10.

More of Rudy Lu’s photographs from StoryHarvest at Albany Jazz

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LIVE: M.A.K.U. Sound System @ Freedom Square, 6/15/13

June 25th, 2013, 2:00 pm by Greg


Photographs by Rudy Lu

Sponsored by the Sanctuary for Independent Media, the inaugural Freedom Festival was held in Troy on Saturday, June 15, serving as a dual celebration of the Juneteenth holiday, as well as the very cool looking, found-art mosaic of the new stage at Freedom Square.

Nippertown’s own Taina Asili y la Banda Rebelde kicked off the music portion of the fest, which was headlined by the NYC-based Afro-Columbian band M.A.K.U. Sound System, who spiked their intoxicating music with elements of jazz, rock, hip-hop, punk and Colombian folkloric rhythms.

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LIVE: The Debo Band @ Freedom Square, 7/2/11

July 14th, 2011, 4:45 pm by Greg

Debo Band

What – or who? – is the Debo Band?

Well, it is a sprawling, 10-piece band that plays exotic, horn-laden dance music that’s Ethiopian in nature but loaded with plenty of funk, soul and Afro-beat to boot.

Although they’re based state-side – Boston, to be more precise – and have only a few real Ethiopian musicians in their ranks, the music was undeniably fun, and it’s real. Following a Friday performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival, they landed in Troy on Saturday to launch a new community performance space that’s been dubbed Freedom Square.

Led by Danny Mekonnen, the Debo Band’s music was just as vocally hypnotic as that of Ethiopian chanteuse Aster Aweke, but it was bolstered by a deep foundation of relentlessly infectious rhythms that seeped into your soul and got parts of your body involuntarily tapping or rocking.

The band’s lyrics were certainly not understood by most of those in attendance, but the words were hardly the focal point. It was all about the feel and the spirit, which were irresistibly contagious. The music just bounced and glided in the groove of the mesmerizing beat.

With only a lone EP to their credit so far – “Flamingoh (Pink Bird Dawn)” – the band is already opening western ears to this unique North-Eastern African music.

Presented by our friends at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in conjunction with the Troy Bike Rescue, the Missing Link Street Ministry and the Collard City Growers, the Debo Band christened the brand new community gathering space in fine fashion, leading an afternoon of homegrown performances by Troy’s own Missing Link Men’s chorus, hip-hop group S.K.A.T.E. and country-rockers Sumac.

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Debo Band

Festival Fever: Freedom Square, Troy

June 29th, 2011, 4:00 pm by Greg

A coalition of local community groups is launching Freedom Square in North Troy on Saturday afternoon with a free festival of live outdoor music at the corner where Fifth and Sixth Avenues meet 101st Street.

A community collaboration between the Sanctuary for Independent Media, the Missing Link Street Ministry, Troy Bike Rescue and Collard City Growers, Saturday’s fest will be held from 4-8pm on Saturday, featuring such local performancers as Americana band Sumac, the hip-hop of S.K.A.T.E. and gospel music by the Missing Link Street Ministry Men’s Choir.

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