Laramie, Wyoming, may be renowned for its three colleges, its breathtaking scenery, and its low tax rate, but for activists in the LGBTQA equality movement — and anyone who cares about human rights in general — the city is forever linked with the hate crime that galvanized a populace. The targeted torture and murder of the gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in 1998 brought international attention to the sleepy city, and it led to the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The narrative doesn't end there: Copious books, movies, and songs have examined the personal, communal, and legislatorial fallout from Shepard's death, from the play The Laramie Project to the documentary Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine. The latest entry in the Shepard-inspired cultural canon is the homegrown opera Not in My Town, with music and lyrics by Fort Lauderdale composer and librettist Michael W. Ross. Performed by the up-and-coming professional company Opera Fusion, the one-act opera dramatizes the dark night of Shepard's death, but Ross doesn't dwell on it: The show also explores the positive change his martyrdom spawned, centering on the heroic efforts of his friend Romaine Patterson to effect change. Tonally capturing the spirit of both grand opera and intimate musical theater, the show will enjoy its Broward County premiere at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Broward Center (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets cost $30 to $35. Call 954-462-0222 or visit browardcenter.org.
When you think of the standard monetary exchange for goods at a megabox store, it's not necessarily a warm communal event. Far removed from the folks who actually made those goods, you can't vouch for their working conditions or know they were paid in full before the goods made it to the store. You also do little in the way of upcycling/recycling or repurposing previously loved goods into newly crafted items to keep those goods out of landfills. This is why something like Stitch Rock: Indie Craft Fair & Bazaar is so unique in the grand consumerist scheme. In the ten years the event has been around, building community around the exchange of handmade goods has been a welcomed side bonus to the business of South Florida's largest indie craft fair. "Ten years of Stitch Rock means ten years of bringing creative people together by giving them a unique outlet to buy and sell handmade goods," creator Amanda Linton explains. "Helping create a crafting community along the way is just icing on the cake." This Saturday, the Stitch will turn 10 years old with a full day of local vendors dealing their wares at Old School Square (51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach). As always, the first 100 people through the doors will get a free swag bag of goodies before perusing the wares of vendors such as Danny Brito (patches and pins), Carla Merino Studio (handcrafted jewelry), Brott's Beard Care, Blue Pelican (children's clothes made of vintage Lilly Pulitzer fabric), and many others. Stitch Rock takes place Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Visit rockthestitch.com for a complete list of activities and vendors and $4 presale tickets.
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Remember Bill Bellamy? Yeah, that Bill Bellamy, the man who invented the term "booty call," used to crack us up on HBO's Def Comedy Jam, and was Mr. Everything on MTV. He was basically on every single channel of your TV set in the '90s. Bellamy was the hot thing back then, just like Sisqo and beepers. Well, Bellamy is back, and he's coming to the Fort Lauderdale Improv (5700 Seminole Way, Hollywood) Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets to the special event start at $22. You can bring your "Thong Song" cassette tapes and beepers to get signed, but we wouldn't recommend it. As of late, Bellamy has headlined multiple comedy tours, including Shaq's All Star Comedy Jam, the Standing Ovation Tour, Marc Curry & Tony Rock, and the Ladies Night Out Tour. Bellamy also recently wrapped filming on Kindergarden Cop 2 and made a guest appearance on TNT's crime series Murder in the First. Visit ftl.improv.com or call 954-981-5653.
Widely considered the last great American art movement of the twentieth century, the Highwaymen — a recognized grouping of 25 African American men and one woman — were true outsider artists who persevered in the face of political and cultural adversity. Widely acknowledged as coming from the Fort Pierce area, the Highwaymen were self-taught landscape artists who sold their work along coastal towns in the A1A/US 1 corridor. A lot of myth and lore goes into the group, but what is certain is that they originated in 1950s Florida, an era marred by civil unrest, violence, and the Jim Crow South. Galleries rejected them, but with their quick style of painting, evocative of the Hudson School and impressionism, the Highwaymen were able to create a combined body of work estimated to include around 200,000 paintings. Time has changed and some artists have passed, but those who remain, now in their late 70s and early 80s, continue to paint. They have become a part of Florida's rich artistic tapestry and continue to be some of the most unadulterated artists of our time. From their humble beginnings working with found objects and materials, often discards from construction sites, the Highwaymen are now internationally recognized and sought after. Landscape painting might not be in vogue per se, but it is incredibly easy to lose oneself in the poesy of their work. Founding member Roy McLendon Jr., Isaac Knight, and A.J. Brown will be on hand for a lecture as part of the African Diaspora Exhibition from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 2, at the Center for Creative Education, 425 24 St., West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $10. Call 561-805-9927 or visit cceflorida.org.
Everything that’s old is new again. Culture, music, and, apparently, politics and societal issues are cyclical in America. The rap-rock supergroup Prophets of Rage comes at a pivotal time in the U.S.’s history. The First Amendment, black folks, and our national sanity are all in danger of dying, literally and figuratively. With fists raised and middle fingers waving in the changing winds, Chuck D of Public Enemy, B-Real of Cypress Hill, and the remaining members of Rage Against the Machine banded together to become the very loud mouthpiece of some very underrepresented groups: the middle class, minorities, and essentially anyone making well under six figures. Prophets of Rage are currently on an extensive tour that’s more of a traveling political rally than a series of concerts. They’ve already played free shows at prisons, neighborhoods blighted by homelessness, and this past summer, at the RNC in Cleveland. They’re bringing their "Make America Rage Again Tour" to South Florida Sunday. Their setlist combines songs from the original groups and new songs such as the eponymous “Prophets of Rage,” which calls — yells — for changes in our various broken governments. Come rage like you’re fighting against the War on Drugs in the '80s or race riots in the '90s or 12-year-olds being murdered by cops as they play in public parks. The show starts at 7 p.m. at Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansburys Way, West Palm Beach. Call 561-795-8883 for more information. Tickets cost $13 - $399 via livenation.com.
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Bill Bellamy as Roy Bellamy. We regret the error.