by Chris Garlock
You’ve got just two more chances to see – and hear – “Love Songs from the Liberation Wars,” the original labor jazz opera by local composer Steve Jones. Tomorrow night’s show is sold out, but there are still tickets available for tonight’s show and tomorrow’s matinee. Jones calls it an opera but “Love Songs” is also part musical, part revival meeting and all inspiring. It’s nominally about a historic strike led by African-American women at the R J Reynolds factory in Winston-Salem, North Carolina during the 1940’s but it’s also a reminder of how far we’ve come – and just how far we haven’t – since the days of racist Jim Crow segregation. And “Love Songs” – not surprisingly, given its title – is also a good old-fashioned love story, not just about love between characters, but about love of country, love of justice. Jones mixes jazz, blues, gospel, pop and folk music, which is performed with unrestrained gusto by a cast that includes professional and amateur actors and the DC Labor Chorus, all under the expert direction of Elise Bryant, who also directs the Labor Heritage Foundation, the non-profit cultural arts organization that works to strengthen the labor movement through the use of music and arts, and which is sponsoring the production. Do yourself a favor and go see “Love Songs,” it’s just the shot of inspiration you’ve been looking for.
photos by Chris Garlock