Music

Belligerent but beautiful songs

Author: 

Janine Booth

When I grew into adulthood in the 1980s, the Tory government's onslaught saw us staring into a bleak future unless we fought back. So we did, and our fightback had a soundtrack.

The better-known voices of that soundtrack — the Paul Wellers and Billy Braggs — are still playing to this day. But one of the less known, and to me one of the best, died last month at the too-young age of 60.

Billy Franks led the Faith Brothers, writing belligerent but beautiful songs of working-class lives and battles, and playing them to an ardent congregation who lived those lives and fought those battles.

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Bread and Roses - an evening of Socialist Feminism in Newcastle 2 May 2016

Socialist Feminism gig at the Cumberland Arms in Newcastle

Author: 

Anthony English
An excellent evening of music, performance and poetry celebrating the often overlooked role of women in class struggle

With a spiraling list of performers and an unconfirmed set-list, our evening celebrating all things socialist and feminist was beginning to make Live Aid look like a lot of fuss about nothing.
However, as history has so often taught us, triumph can be found lurking in the jaws of disaster.
So it was that on a bank holiday Monday at The Cumberland Arms in Ouseburn, a veritable feast of music, poetry and drama unfolded before us.

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Singing for the underdog

Author: 

Gerry Bates

The country and western singer Merle Haggard, who has died, is best known for The Fighting Side of Me, a song in which he expressed the feelings of American patriots against the Americans who opposed US involvement in Vietnam:

I hear people talkin’ bad
About the way we have to live here in this
country
An’ gripin’ ‘bout the way things oughta be...
An’ I don’t mind ‘em switchin’ sides
An’ standin’ up for things they believe in...
When you’re runnin’ down my country, man
You’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me.

Country music is too often despised even by socialists who like folk music and blues. Yet it is the music of the American white working class.

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Yes to free speech, no to anti-semitism

Author: 

Bruce Robinson

A concert by the controversial Israeli-born jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon has been cancelled by the Royal Northern College of Music on the spurious grounds of threats to “safety” of the audience. This followed a petition from the North West Friends of Israel calling for cancellation on the basis of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism.

A concert by the controversial Israeli-born jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon has been cancelled by the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, on the spurious grounds of threats to “safety” of the audience. This followed a petition from the North West Friends of Israel calling for cancellation on the basis of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism.

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Growing into socialism

Author: 

Cathy Nugent
Becoming a socialist in 1970's Cambridgeshire.

Many children have an acute sense of injustice, will feel righteous anger when they don’t get a “fair go” at an activity or when their opinion is dismissed by an adult. A child’s sense of injustice is egocentric but reasonable and it’s probably essential if the individual is to develop a wider sense of injustice in the world.

From as long as I can remember I had that wider view. The root of it is in my family history, and specifically my mother’s recollections of her childhood.

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Carnival: party or protest

Author: 

By Elizabeth Butterworth

This year Notting Hill Carnival will be held on 24-25 August.

In between the photographs of smiling policemen and the swathes of tourists, it’s important to remember Carnival’s history of anti-racism.

In August 1958, there were riots in London and Nottingham after racist murders such as that of Antiguan carpenter Kelso Cochrane. Young white men, numbering in the hundreds, attacked the houses of Caribbean residents on Bramley Road, West London. Oswald Mosley and other fascists were also spreading hatred.

Carnival's history of anti-racism

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