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We shook our collective heads in confusion when we first heard the phrase “Hasidic reggae.” “How exactly is that done?” we asked. Simple: Matisyahu (Matthew) Miller is a New York-based reggae-hiphop artist who just so happens to be a devout Hasidic Jew. Or is it the other way around? Actually, the two things fly on the same level for Miller—he infuses his raps and toasts with a deep faith and spirituality to produce a music unlike anything that has come before. That’s no boast: When is the last time you heard someone reference Moshiach, Hashem and the Torah in a pop song, much less their single? (Matisyahu’s “King Without a Crown” has saturated the WEQX airwaves of late.)

The sky’s the limit for Matisyahu right now. Miller recently contributed performances to the upcoming Glen Ballard-produced album by quasi- Christian, multimillion-selling rap-rockers P.O.D. (sounds, um, interesting); he and his band just wrapped a handful of opening dates for former Phish head Trey Anastasio; and, indicator of indicators, they’ve sold out Sunday night’s show.

Matisyahu will come with both the God and the Jah this Sunday (Oct. 16) at Revolution Hall (425 River St., Troy). Tickets for the 8 PM show would be $22 if there were any left; call the club (273-2337) to find out if any additional tickets are available.

Songs for a New World

Community theater groups bring many gifts to their loyal audiences; these gifts, however, don’t often include works not yet firmly in the theater/musical theater repertoire. Credit Schenectady Light Opera Company, then, for taking a chance in presenting Songs for a New World, a 1995 song cycle by Jason Robert Brown, in its Capital Region community theater debut.

Brown, who wrote the music for the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Parade, is one of musical theater’s most promising young(-ish) composers. His songs have been recorded by Audra McDonald, and he has worked as arranger or orchestrator for Liza Minnelli and Yoko Ono, and for a number of notable Broadway shows.

Songs for a New World is a cycle of 16 songs about change. “Each of Brown’s songs,” note the SLOC press release, “is about a time of transition.” The themes are familiar, and universal: despair, love, heartbreak, religion and war. (Among others.)

The presentation will be cabaret style, with wine, cheese and assorted desserts served.

SLOC will present Songs for a New World tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday (Oct. 14-15) at 8 PM, and Sunday (Oct. 16) at 2 PM at the Schenectady Light Opera House (826 State St., Schenectady). There will be additional performances Oct. 20-22 at 8 PM and Oct. 23 at 2 PM. Tickets are $18, $9 children under 13 (children must be accompanied by an adult). For reservations and information, call 377-5101 or visit

Sports: Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers

‘Sports illuminate and transform a society. Sports change lives, affect politics, fuel our economy, and shape our culture. . . . The greatest champions stand for more than the records they break. They stand for the barriers they shatter—physical, social, psychological, racial, cultural—and change the way we think about our world.”

So wrote Smithsonian curator Ellen Roney Hughes about the traveling exhibit Sports: Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers, which opens at the New York State Museum on Sunday (Oct. 15). The exhibition, which is structured around 35 athletes and 17 sports, is a celebration of achievements that transcend simple competition. Objects in the exhibit include Abraham Lincoln’s handball, Roberto Clemente’s batting helmet and a jersey from the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

Sports: Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers opens Sunday (Oct. 15) in the Exhibition Hall of the New York State Museum (Empire State Plaza, Albany) and continues through Jan. 8, 2006. For more information, call 474-5877.

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