THE ARAB cultural organization Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture presents a free performance tonight that celebrates poetry and music. First up is the Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble, a community group that performs traditional folk and classical music from Arabic cultures. Melodies from lutelike instruments such as the oud inspire the urge to dance. Arabic vocalists are subdued and highly controlled. The program includes compositions by "Oud King" Farid Alatrash and Mohammad Abdel Wahab, whose music is delicate and passionate.
Palestinian-American poet Suheir Hammad complements the music. Hammad, author of Breaking Poems and a recipient of a 2009 American Book Award, was born in Amman, Jordan, and lives in New York. She immigrated to America with her parents when she was 5. Her musical and theatrical poetry performances (you may have seen her on HBO's "Def Jam") explore a range of topics, from the 9/11 attacks to her Palestinian heritage to the act of writing itself. (Search her name on YouTube and you'll find a collection of readings that look like music videos.) Hammad will read alongside members of the Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble for the first time in an intriguing collaboration of art forms.
Who should attend? "Anyone interested in music and poetry of any genre, willing to experience something new," said Hazami Sayed, executive director of the Al-Bustan program.
Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, Trinity
Center for Urban Life, 22nd and Spruce streets, 7:30 tonight, free, 267-809-3668, albustanseeds.org.
- Mary Sydnor
Though Jamaica usually conjures images of white sands and indigo water, the documentary "Bad Friday" explores a slice of its history that may be unknown to tourists.
The trouble started during Holy Week in April 1963, in Jamaica's Coral Gardens, a community just outside the tourist destination of Montego Bay. A Rastafarian who had been jailed following a land dispute sought revenge by burning down a gas station, resulting in police targeting the Rasta community with beatings and jailings.
Jamaican society looked down on the Rastafarians, whose beliefs and customs were an offshoot of the country's Afrocentric cultural ideology. To avoid the police crackdown, Rastas hid or cut their iconic dreadlocks.
Their treatment is depicted in all of its brutality. "Bad Friday," screening tonight at Scribe Video Center, doesn't rely on the testimonials of historians or journalists but on the recollections of people who witnessed the events. Both Rastafarians and members of the police talk about the causes and effects of the events.
Scribe Video Center, 4212 Chestnut St., 7 tonight, $5/free for Scribe members; 215-222-4201, scribe.org.
- Alissa Falcone