storytelling, live music, and joe’s pub … a few of my favorite things

d and i recently went to one of the most moving performances at joe’s pub. martha redbone (singer, songwriter, performer, and all around talent) brought to life her family tree on a brightly lit stage. the story unfolds with her thirteen year old great grandmother liza of the choctaw indian tribe being sent to work at a british home in kentucky. martha redbone rightly defines what the forty five year old british man of that household did to her great grandmother — child rape. her great grandmother liza bore ten children. only four survived. when the british man died, the british mrs. threw liza and liza’s four children out onto the streets. redbone guides the audience along her family tree, tracing her roots down to the present day. through redbone’s mesmerizing performance, we learn of her mixed heritage and the day to day struggles (not to mention layers of prejudice) her family faced deep in the mining town of harlan county, kentucky. redbone artfully injects humor and surprise throughout for one of the best performances i’ve seen in a long time.

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