World War I commemoration and folk music


The video of this punk rock song is called Siouxsie & The Banshees ‘Poppy Day’ Live 1979.

By Nick Matthews in England:

In Flanders Fields finds a new voice

Monday 13th October 2014

Inspired by John McCrae’s World War I poem, a new folk rendition was a highlight of the Derby Folk Festival, writes NICK MATTHEWS

I had a fabulous time at the Derby Folk Festival earlier this month.

At one point it did not look like it would go ahead after a fire at the Assembly Rooms — however a large marquee in the market place saved the day.

Bill toppers included Steeleye Span, Show of Hands and Kate Rusby.

Lower down the bill however there were some real showstoppers including an outstanding performance from the wonderful Martin Simpson and a lovely laid-back slot from Americans Dana and Susan Robinson.

The most moving performance by a long way however was that of In Flanders Fields by vocal trio Barry Coope, Jim Boyes and Lester Simpson.

They have been stalwarts of the festival for a long time and are one of my personal favourites.

That is not just because they release their music on the co-operative No Masters Voice label.

Their vocal harmony singing is sublime and they combine a mastery of the genre with tremendous wit and biting social commentary.

The folk world generally has produced some of the best musical offerings to mark the centenary of the first world war and as you would expect from folk artists, has done so from the bottom up.

This music video is called The end of “Gentle Men”, written by Robb Johnson and performed with Roy Bailey at the Ropetackle, Shoreham-by-Sea 24.7.14.

Robb Johnson’s Gentle Men, his family history of the war to end all wars, is very good indeed and so is Show of Hands’ Centenary, a mixture of song and poetry from the period.

This 18 June 2014 music video is called Show of Hands – Centenary: In Conversation with Steve Knightley.

Coope, Boyes & Simpson’s is a very substantial piece of work. It is both moving and funny and marks a 20-year collaboration, not only with the history but the place of Flanders itself.

Piet Chielens, co-ordinator of the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, argues that they have been at the forefront of the commemoration in the West Flemish Front region for 20 years.

Their body of work on the war can be seen as a “lieu de memoire.”

Indeed in Flanders, he says, no artistic initiative seems to have been more successfully involved with the theme than that of this trio.

In their show they bring together eyewitness accounts, contemporary poetry and songs specially commissioned for the town of Passchendaele’s peace concerts.

The album’s title, In Flanders Fields, takes its name from the poem written by John McCrae who was killed on the Western Front in the first world war.

Ironically the poem was used in army recruitment and its references to poppies made them an important part of later commemorations.

In the live shows the pieces between the songs are as well chosen as the songs themselves, including quips from contemporary music hall song, extracts from the Ypres Times — the satirical paper produced by the soldiers in the trenches — as well as poetry and letters home.

They give voice to the poor bloody infantry and their contempt for the sergeant majors and officers.

Never afraid to prick the bubble of the pompous they create a rounded image of the war that is deeply moving.

Visiting Belgium over two decades changed the life of Boyes in particular.

He now lives there after visiting regularly since the ’70s, before becoming involved in Peace Concerts Passchendaele, where he made many friends and later made Belgium his second home.

His involvement with the Flemish folk scene began when he released a solo album called Out The Blue.

It was the first thing he had done on the co-operative No Masters label which he had set up with John Tams.

Chielens, who wrote for the Flemish folk magazine Gandalf, had known of Boyes since his time in Swan Arcade.

He reviewed the album which contained a song, Down On The Dugout Floor, that he had written after a visit to play the Dranouter Folk Festival near Ypres.

When Chielens started the peace concerts, he invited Boyes to go over and play with some Flemish musicians.

Once there he was asked if there was anyone else that Boyes would like to involve.

He had just started working with Coope and Simpson and eventually they took part in five different peace concert productions in Belgium and England, performing on former battlefields like Hill 60, among the memorials at Tyne Cot and at the request of the town of Passchendaele for their 80th anniversary commemoration of the long and terrible 1917 battle.

Many of these performances are now contained on In Flanders Fields and there is also an impressive book to go with the two CDs.

At Derby they mocked the Guardian’s description of their work as post-modern folk. More like “post-mortem” they said. Sadly there is nothing post about this work — as we embark on another war, it is strikingly contemporary.

This work is beautiful, funny, passionate and angry and a terrific antidote to much of the jingoism that marks the centenary.

The artists argue that “the more we learn about war, the more important it becomes to sing about peace.”

Get to see them perform if you can and let’s hope that’s what everyone who hears them learns too.

Nick Matthews is chair of Co-operatives UK.

Thai military dictator condones murdering women


This is a music video by United States punk rock band the Dead Kennedys, live performance of their song called Holiday in Cambodia.

It is about Cambodia during the evil times of the Pol Pot dictatorship.

Now, in 2014, it looks like Thailand, neighbour to Cambodia, is not really a much better holiday destination, with its dictatorship now than Cambodia then.

We already know that, if you plan to spend your holidays in beautiful Thailand, then you can get into big trouble when taking George Orwell’s novel 1984 with you, as the dictatorship hates that novel.

And, no matter how hot Thai beaches can be, it seems very dangerous to bring your swimwear as well.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests ‘attractive’ female tourists cannot expect to be safe in bikinis

In a televised speech on tourist safety, following the murder of two Britons on the island of Koh Tao, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha questioned whether female travellers can be safe in bikinis

Natasha Culzac

Thailand’s military ruler has suggested that “beautiful” female visitors to his country should not expect to be safe in bikinis.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha allegedly made the comments as the investigation into the death of two Britons intensifies.

David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were killed earlier this week after they attended a beach party on the island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand.

Negative attention on the country – to which 800,000 Britons visit each year – appears to have left its leader attempting to offer explanations for why young travellers may run into trouble there.

Speaking in a live broadcast today discussing tourist safety, he said: “There are always problems with tourist safety. They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they can wear bikinis and walk everywhere,” according to the AFP news agency.

He added: “Can they be safe in bikinis… unless they are not beautiful?”

No arrests have yet been made following the murder of Miller and Witheridge, whose bodies were found less than 100 metres from the location of where the gathering was being held on Sunday night. …

The bodies were taken to Bangkok and autopsies have today found that Witheridge died from head wounds while Miller suffered severe blows to the head and then drowned in the surf. …

These comments [by dictator Prayuth Chan-ocha] were rebuffed by Witheridge’s MP, Brandon Lewis, who told the Daily Mail: “I have not seen anything indicating that there should be any blame on the victims, and right now the investigation will hopefully be targeted on finding the perpetrator of the crime.

“I hope the focus will be on bringing whoever committed this barbaric crime to justice.”

See also here.

British poet Attila the Stockbroker on punk rock


This video from Amsterdam in the Netherlands says about itself:

Attila the Stockbroker & Barnstormer – Live @ Soundgarden 02.11.2012 – Pt 1:

1. LEVELLERS / DIGGERS 2. BAGHDAD SKA 3. COMANDANTE JOE 4. TYLER SMILES 5. THE BLANDFORD FORUM.

Attila the Stockbroker on vocals, violin, crumhorn and recorders; Dan Woods on guitar; Baby Beaken on bass; Mass Murder McGee (some of them are also members of The Fish Brothers.)

Attila the Stockbroker (born John Baine, 21 October 1957, Southwick, Sussex, England) is a punk poet, and a folk punk musician and songwriter. He performs solo and as the leader of the band Barnstormer. He describes himself as a “sharp tongued, high energy social surrealist poet and songwriter.” He has performed over 2,700 concerts, published six books of poems, and released 30+ recordings (CDs, LPs and singles).

By poet Attila the Stockbroker from Britain:

The Europeans’ knack for culturally nourishing rebellion

Thursday 14th August 2014

On the road with Attila the Stockbroker

Amsterdam is always a pleasure to visit, and the Paradiso club — once a squatted church — is a legendary presence in the scene.

Did a gig there, solo poetry and with my band Barnstormer, as part of a vibrant and wide-ranging evening of spoken word and music and then headed to Peine, near Hannover in Germany, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their autonomous centre, the AJZ.

When it comes to independent music, politics and culture generally, much of mainland Europe is a completely different world compared to Britain.

Autonomously run venues emerged from the squatter movement years ago and are now legal and run independently by local left-wing activists — there are literally hundreds of them, dotted across many different countries, which guarantees performers like myself a network of ready-made places to play, run by like-minded people.

For someone whose British network consists of fairly mainstream arts centres and rock venues and sympathetic pubs that let people put on gigs in an an upstairs room, it’s always a sheer pleasure to see how things can be organised differently.

Highlight in Peine was a blistering performance by Canadian punk legend and activist Joey “Shithead” Keighley and his band DOA, whom I was to meet again a few days later at last weekend’s annual Rebellion punk festival in Blackpool.

For many years now, thousands of punks, young and not so young (!) have taken over the Winter Gardens there for a four-day celebration of the music we love.

As usual, this year’s event was a blast and I had a wonderful gig on the Almost Acoustic Stage on the Friday. As for whom I saw on stage, well, here goes…

My mate TV “Adverts” Smith and his band the Bored Teenagers were fantastic. So were The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Peter & The Test Tube Babies, John Otway, Ruts DC, The Cravats, Roy Ellis aka Mr Symarip (doing “Skinhead Moonstomp” and reminding us that real skinheads have hated racism since 1969) and The Outcasts and The Defects from Belfast. To name but a few.

But it’s absolutely wrong to think that Rebellion is just about the old guard, and among the new breed I must single out acoustic singer/songwriter Louise Distras, who is the sharp, angry voice of her generation of punk rockers and a real breath of fresh air in the scene. Her set was a masterpiece.

We have to beware the impostors though. Inside the Winter Gardens there was a real sense of unity, but outside I came across a group of fascists, some with tickets, some not, intent as always in spreading hate and causing trouble.

I had a verbal altercation — I’m 56 and was on my own, I’m glad it stayed verbal — and soon realised that many of them were from eastern Europe. Cue the ironic rant!

“Brain dead morons from mainland Europe, coming over here, singing crap English songs, crap English fascists wrote in stupid accents… We’re full up, mate.

“We’ve got our full quota of racist cretins with IQs smaller than their boot size. Piss off back to where you come from!”

It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

Next stop Guernsey, and a rather different festival. Happy holidays to one and all.

Drummer Tommy Ramone dies


This 1987 music video from the USA is called The Ramones – Bonzo Goes To Bitburg Live. Lyrics are here.

From Variety in the USA:

Tommy Ramone, Founding Member of Influential Punk Band, Dies at 62

July 11, 2014 | 10:07PM PT

Christopher Morris

Drummer and producer Tommy Ramone, the last surviving original member of the influential New York punk quartet the Ramones, died Friday at his home in the Ridgewood area of Queens, New York. He was 62 and had been in hospice care following treatment for bile duct cancer.

Born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, Hungary, and known professionally as Tom or T. Erdelyi, Ramone played on the first three epoch-making Ramones albums, “Ramones” (1976), “Leave Home” (1977) and “Rocket to Russia” (1977). He also co-produced the latter two albums with Tony Bongiovi and Ed Stasium, respectively. He appeared on and co-produced the 1979 live Ramones opus “It’s Alive.”

After leaving the Ramones to concentrate on studio work, he co-produced the band’s 1984 album “Too Tough to Die” with Stasium. He was replaced in the lineup by Marc Bell (Marky Ramone), a former member of Dust and Richard Hell’s Voidoids.

One of the first high-profile releases to emerge from New York’s punk underground of the mid-‘70s, “Ramones” – reportedly recorded in six days on a budget of $6,400 – brought a pared-down, hyperactive style to the stuffy rock scene of the day. Tommy’s driving, high-energy drum work was the turbine that powered the leather-clad foursome’s loud, antic sound.

Tom Erdelyi emigrated to America in 1957 and grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, where he played with guitarist John Cummings – later Johnny Ramone – in Tangerine Puppets. He went on to study engineering and worked at the Record Plant (where he assisted on a 1969 Jimi Hendrix session) and other facilities.

The Ramones coalesced with the addition of fellow Queens musicians Jeffrey Hyman (aka lead singer Joey Ramone) and Douglas Colvin (bassist Dee Dee Ramone). Breaking in their act at Hilly Krystal’s Bowery club CBGB, the band was signed to Seymour Stein’s Sire Records, also the home of such other punk acts as Richard Hell, Talking Heads and the Dead Boys.

The Ramones finally disbanded in 1996 after a show at the Palace in Hollywood. Joey Ramone died of lymphoma in 2001; Dee Dee succumbed to a drug overdose in 2002; and Johnny expired from prostate cancer in 2004.

The Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Erdelyi’s other production credits included the Replacements’ major label debut “Tim” (1985) and L.A. punk unit Redd Kross’ “Neurotica” (1987). In later years, he went the acoustic route, playing bluegrass and country music with his partner Claudia Tienan in Uncle Monk.

He is survived by Tienan and an older brother. A private funeral service is planned.

Polish workers at anti-fascist music festival in London


This punk rock music video from England is called Clash – Live at Rock Against Racism, Victoria Park, London – 30 April 1978.

By Luke James in Britain:

Unite Against Fascism organises festival at stabbing site

Saturday 28th June 2014

A COMMUNITY music festival is to be staged today at the site of a racist stabbing in north London amid concerns over reprisals.

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) organised the cultural event at Markfield Park in Tottenham, where a mass brawl was sparked last Saturday when Polish skinheads attacked another free musical event.

But the community is coming together to reclaim the park from the gang, which has used it as a recruiting ground in recent months.

Speaking ahead of the festival, factory worker Jacek Szymanski said the Polish community felt “angry and ashamed” by last week’s violence.

“Ashamed because they are Poles and brought disgrace on the whole Polish community in London,” he told the Star.

“And angry because we are afraid that this case will be used as a pretext for further attacks on the Polish community and the wider eastern European community.”

The attack had seen one man rushed to hospital with stab wounds and two Jewish men also targeted, with one having his kipah cap swept from his head.

Rocks, bottles and a flare were thrown in violent scenes as partygoers repelled the attack by the Zjednoczeni Emigranci (Immigrants Together) group of exiled Polish football thugs.

The group has since plastered the community in far-right stickers that show a crossed out hammer and sickle symbol.

UAF national secretary Weymann Bennett said the police were investigating but added that “the most important thing is that the community deals with it on the ground.”

Mr Szymanski said the fascist group represented a tiny minority and hoped “solidarity will emerge between the different local communities” after today.

He said: “It’s not about division between Poles and British people or Poles and Muslims. The man who was stabbed by the fascists in Markfield Park was a Pole himself.

“So the real division is about fascists and anti-fascists and we need to be united in the common good.”

The festival is being put on after more than 200 local people joined a display of unity organised by UAF at Tottenham Town Hall on Monday.