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Rock the Block Celebration Coming to Downtown North Adams May 6

04/17/2012

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - The Performing Arts Management (PAM) class at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will curate, produce and present the final MCLA Presents! performance of the season, "Rock the Block." "Rock the Block," which will include music by Debo Band - also known as "Boston's Ethiopian Groove Collective" - will take place on Sunday, May 6, from 2-9 p.m. on Main Street.  

For the first time, this Third Annual PAM Show will happen away from the MCLA campus. A free, street-wide block party, the event will celebrate and embrace cultural interaction throughout North Adams through music and dance.

The PAM students have collaborated with the City of North Adams to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for all. Taking place in the heart of North Adams, "Rock the Block's" central location encourages and provides opportunity for participation from the North Adams community. This block party is designed to bring North Adams residents and businesses onto the streets in celebration of community culture and interaction.

Ben Mancino '14, a member of the "Rock the Block" marketing committee, said he looks forward to presenting a block party. "Our goal is to mesh the MCLA and North Adams communities through celebration. Main Street is the perfect place to create an inviting sociable atmosphere for everyone."

"Debo Band" an 11-member group led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by charismatic vocalist Bruck Tesfaye, will headline the final event of the day, an energetic dance party beginning at 7 p.m., for what's sure to bring the "Rock the Block" celebrations to an unforgettable close, Mancino said.

The New York Times stated, "A different archival impulse paid off for Debo Band, a Boston group devoted to the Ethiopian funk of the late 1960s and '70s: fierce, jagged, complex and galvanizing music. With a beefy horn section, biting violins and a lead singer with a convincing Ethiopian quaver, the group brought back a live version of a style that was never recorded as vividly."

The group has graced national and international stages including Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis Ababa, and in New York City's Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, The Kennedy Center, GlobalFEST 2012 at Webster Hall and Joe's Pub. Other performances include those at the World Music Festival: Chicago, as well as Sauti Za Busara in Zanzibar, the largest music festival in East Africa.

Performances will include those by the MCLA Jazz Band, Allegrettos Acapella Group, the Drury Jazz Band, and Spooky and the Nomads. Other MCLA groups performing include the Yorick Shakespeare Club, Nexxus Step Team and Harlequin Musical Theatre Club. In addition, DJ Leila will perform throughout the day, beginning at 2 p.m. and ending at 7 p.m. Downtown businesses and a variety of Berkshire vendors also will join the block party, connecting and sharing with the North Adams community by offering business specials, as well as later hours of operation.

The PAM Show, part of the MCLA Presents! performance series, gives arts management majors of MCLA the chance to produce, program and present a public event. This process creates a hands-on opportunity for students to experience and examine all aspects of performing arts. Ultimately, through the PAM class, students receive a chance to reach out to the MCLA campus and North Adams community through the arts and culture.

Arts management student Sarah Spaulding '12 said she enjoyed participating in the PAM class.

"PAM students get to play an important role in enhancing audience experiences through their combined presentation of class gained knowledge and creative artistic performances that make up the PAM show. As my fellow classmates say, May your blocks be ever rocked!" Spaulding said.

MCLA Presents! is a program of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), a collaborative project with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the City of North Adams. The BCRC provides professional development training, resources and support to the artists, art managers and creative workers of Berkshire County. Through its multiple programs and presentations, BCRC brings the best of performance and art to the Berkshires and showcases the best of the Berkshires to the world.

For more information, (413) 664-8718, or go to www.mcla.edu/presents . To learn more about Debo Band, go to http://deboband.com .