Music

Letters: Right to stick in Labour; Langston Hughes set to music

Eric Lee (Solidarity 570) reports that he quit the Labour Party when he saw antisemitism there in recent years, and has only now rejoined. He identifies the argument against Jewish members quitting Labour as one that, despite mistakes, Labour “has consistently fought against all forms of racism” and for “genuine equality and respect”. That argument would make it naive to join Labour in the first place. In the very first years of the Labour Party, high-profile Labour figures, including on the left, denounced the Boer war as generated by “Jewish financiers”. They supported the anti-Jewish...

Let Music Live!

On 6 October the Musicians’ Union organised a 400-strong protest in Parliament Square about musicians’ jobs. The union is calling for the government to expand the self-employed “furlough” scheme so that more musicians can qualify. At present 38% of musicians are ineligible. It wants the Arts Council to be able to distribute money to help individual musicians in England, as is being done in Wales and Scotland. And it wants the government to fund local government to make municipal venues available for live performances with suitable covid-distancing. Another measure that could make a difference...

Black culture and resistance: the Harlem Renaissance

One hundred years ago, an arts movement was forming in a mainly-black district of New York City. Later known as the Harlem Renaissance, it was primarily cultural but also inescapably political. Literature, poetry, jazz, theatre, sculpture and more articulated the lives and demands of African-Americans no longer willing to be grateful that they were no longer enslaved. O black and unknown bards of long ago. How came your lips to touch the sacred fire? How, in your darkness, did you come to know The power and beauty of the minstrel’s lyre? Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes? Who...

"Active class struggle is central to anti-racist struggle"

The Repeat Beat Poet is a hip hop and spoken word artist, broadcaster and activist. He talked with Janine Booth from Solidarity; the whole conversation is online here. On recent events in the USA: There are shamefully still regularly extrajudicial killings of Black people in the US and across the world, but because of lockdown, the killing [of George Floyd] is a moment of vindication for a lot of activists. The protests are vital in achieving concessions from the oppressive system we’re living in, and show mobilised oppressed peoples how they can bring themselves together and collectivise...

An all-round troublemaker and a musician

Rhoda Dakar talked with Janine Booth, about Two-Tone, policing, the centrality of class and much much more! Rhoda Dakar was in The Bodysnatchers and The Special AKA, and performed in "Free Nelson Mandela". See the interview as a video, an audio recording, and a trasncript below respectively. A shorter version was printed in Solidarity 555.

McCoy Tyner, 1938-2020

The jazz pianist, composer and bandleader McCoy Tyner has died aged 81. Best known as a member of the “classic” John Coltrane Quartet between 1960 and 1965, in a career of over 50 years Tyner developed one of the most influential styles of modern jazz piano and produced a wide range of varied yet distinctive music. Tyner grew up in Philadelphia where there was a thriving jazz scene in the 50s. He started learning piano when he was 13 and had some classical training. He first met Coltrane in 1957 and they developed a friendship and musical understanding despite more than ten years age...

Diary of an engineer: My Grab

There are two cranes at work which are used to continuously load waste from the pit into the furnace. Each crane grab looks like a bit like a fuchsia flower suspended from the roof, with four “petals” that carry the rubbish in 40 tonne hauls. D, the fitter I have been having arguments with, has just moved from a contracted company that Veolia hired to service the crane grabs. His speciality is hydraulic systems. We both put on white disposable overalls over our usual overalls; plus dust masks, hoods, disposable gloves and the usual head and eye protection, then switch the crane into “Remote”...

Is Drill really killing people?

Bing. You have one new WhatsApp message — “What you up to?” asks one of my friends, “Nothing. Watching Drill videos”, I reply. Drill eh? Isn’t that the music that literally kills you? I’ve heard it literally comes out of the headphones and stabs you as you listen to it.” The joke lands well. I find it funny mostly because it plays right in to all the preconceived notions I already have about this Drill debate. As far as I’m concerned, the war on Drill music is just another in a long line of moralistic, oversimplified, sensationalised, outrage campaigns designed to sell papers to an...

Workers' Liberty summer camp 2019

Fifty friends and supporters of Workers’ Liberty gathered in the hills of West Yorkshire for our annual summer camp on 8-11 August. Although storms were forecast, socialists of all ages enjoyed wild swimming in a nearby waterfall, hiking, trips on the canals and steam railways of the surrounding valleys, football, and our annual pub quiz and talent show. Longtime socialist Bruce Robinson ran a presentation on African Jazz; we learned about the history of Esperanto in the European workers’ movement; and we enjoyed talks from Deliveroo strikers, Nama’a al-Mahdi the Sudanese revolutionary...

Blues Power

Right-wing politicians always have great difficulty trying to get support from anyone with artistic integrity. In the Thatcher era, when numerous talented musicians sang up for the Labour cause under the banner of Red Wedge, all the Tories could cobble together were talentless tosh like Vince Hill, Jim Davidson and Mrs Mopp. Similarly, the Trump Presidency from the world of showbiz have been decidedly threadbare. Apart from the odd aged crooner or obscure country artist, the chief White House favourite has been the despicable Ted Nugent – NRA nut and serial slayer of North American wildlife...

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