A List of Philly’s Finest Black History Month Stuff, Volume 2 – from February 15 to February 28, 2023

the jazz bins

The Jazz Bins at Solar Myth, Thursday, February 23, 2023

South Broad Street’s newest music venue named after Black to the Future giant – Germantown’s own, Sun Ra – hosts New Jersey native guitarist Marc Ribot’s Jazz Bins collaboration with New York City Hammond B3 organ god Greg Lewis and Philly all-around drumming legend Chad Taylor playing in tribute to the greasy organ trio jazz-funk sound of Philadelphia. No. We don’t know what they’re playing and neither does Ribot – a guitarist known for his own brilliant, diverse solo career as well as playing with Elvis Costello and Tom Waits.

Solar Myth, 1131 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA

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The Mountaintop at The Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center in West Chester through February 19, 2023

the mountaintop

West Chester’s newest theater space, The Uptown! offers Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall’s emotional tale of a “warts-and-all” Martin Luther King Jr. on the eve of his Memphis assassination, and in the company of his better angels with The Mountaintop. Named for the speech that MLK made on that day, actor Chaz Rose embodies the role of Dr. Martin Luther King as a mortal with issues at home and the weight of the world on his shoulders rather than that of a god with all of the answers at his heavenly fingertips.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, 226 N. High Street, West Chester, PA

Back Then: The History of Us – Negro Spirituals, Dance, Food and More + Seen or Unseen: The art of Barbara Kigozi and Wanda Payne at Trunc through February 28, 2023

Founded in 2018 by Dorothea Gamble and Dagmar Mitchell in Northern Liberties, Trunc’s mission is that of sustainability, quality and affordability while offering the community access to handcrafted, functional and sustainable products. For Black History Month, as well as offering a live action installation dedicated to the history of Black music and dance, Trunc welcomes local Black artists Barbara Kigozi and Wanda Payne to exhibit the energy and magic through April.

Trunc, 929 N 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA

Clyde’s at the Arden Theatre, running February 15 through March 12, 2023

Old City’s Arden Theatre and Tony Award winning playwright Lynn Nottage work together to locally premiere this deeply hypnotic and humorous tale about a group of once-incarcerated kitchen staff workers at a Reading, Pennsylvania truck stop diner looking for an opportunity at personal and professional redemption through one shared quest – to create the perfect sandwich.  Clyde’s director Malika Oyetimein states that audiences will be enthralled by its levels of hopefulness in hard times such as today.

The Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA

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The Philly Pops’ Get Up, Stand Up: An Encyclopedia of Soul Legacy at The Met Philadelphia, Saturday February 18, 2023

For two shows this Saturday at 3 PM and 8 PM, this city’s light classical orchestra – recently besieged by problems with landlords and bills from the Kimmel Cultural Campus – touches down on North Broad Street and its most historical opera house with a touch of R&B and a wealth of dance moves. Get Up Stand Up: An Encyclopedia of Soul gets its vocals and dance skills from Hamilton/Disney rising star and three-time Tony and Grammy nominee Joshua Henry. While he sings “Heard it Through the Grapevine,” “A Change is Gonna Come,” “Feeling Good,” “What’s Going On” and “Let’s Get it On,” the Philly Pops’ 58 -piece outfit wails.

The Met Philadelphia, 858 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA

Playwright Loy A. Webb’s The Light, running now at Theatre Exile through February 26, 2023

Theatre Exile director J. Paul Nicholas and actors Ang Bey and Abdul Sesay offer up a deeply human and visceral tale of how rapidly wrong – even violent – all things could go between the most loving of romances. Director Nicholas says of Webb’s script that it is an emotionally jarring work, uplifting, yet at the very same time, soul crushing. Whoa.

Theatre Exile, 1340 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA

Helium Presents: The Black History Monthly – The Winter Cookout, Saturday February 18, 2023 + Michael Colyar, Thursday through Sunday, February 17 to February 19, 2023

While the Saturday showcase at Helium, dedicated on the regular to inclusivity and diversity, offers up stand-up comedy sets from Ronald Metellus (“Ziwe,” “Stephen Colbert’s Tooning Out The News,” The Onion), Keane Cobb (ComedySportz), and Brandon Mitchell (SiriusXM) in order to “settle their petty arguments in public through a mix of games, crowd work, and incriminating Power Points,” famously down-to-earth and warmly humorous stand-up comedian Michael Colyar takes over the three-day weekend. Since the 1980s’ Colyar has been known for his working the beach – Venice Beach, California – for five shows a day. Doing comedy on the beach sounds amazing. Getting one’s toes out the sand might be tough, but Colyar is also comfortable on dry land with acting creds on Martin, Black-ish and House Party III.

Helium Philadelphia Comedy Club, 2031 Sansom Street, Philadelphia PA

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The Russell Malone Quartet and Willie Jones III Quintet at Chris Jazz Café, Friday, February 24, 2023 and Saturday, February 25, 2023

Downtown Philly’s Chris Jazz Café offers the best of back-to-back Black jazz on one weekend with post Bop guitarist Russell Malone’s Quartet and modern jazz drumming up-and-comer Willie Jones III and his team. Get to Chris’ early for the dinner and the chow package and its 3-course chef tasting – all tasty.

Chris’ Jazz Café, 1421 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA

    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is an award-winning journalist who, along with working for the Philadelphia Weekly, writes regularly for Variety, Jazz Times, Flood and Wax Poetics, and hosts and co-produces his own SoundCloud-charting radio show, Theater in the Round for Pacifica National Public Radio station WPPM 106.5 FM and WPPM.org.

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