Freedom Square in Troy is hosting the second annual PeaceStock Festival from 4-7pm on Friday (July 31). Presented by GotPeaceofMind.org, 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.
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.
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’sphotographs from StoryHarvest at Albany Jazz
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.
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.
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.
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