Music Notes – July 2010

Music from striking Sudbury miners

USWA Local 6500 has posted two songs on its website reflecting the indomitable spirit of the workers struggle in Sudbury against Brazilian mining giant Vale Inco. “The Struggle” by Pascal Boucher and Mike O’Brian, and “On the Line” by Keith Bona and Jon Giroux can be accessed as MP3 files by going to the union’s website (http://www.uswlocal6500.ca/news.php) and scrolling to “USW 6500 Music.” Brothers Bona, Boucher and O’Brian are active members of Local 6500. Jon Giroux is a local musician and a supporter of the strike, now approaching its first anniversary. Keith Bona writes, “whatever struggles we go through, you can not break our spirit, that’s why we’re singing.”

Copyright bill neglects performing artists

Canada’s musicians and actors unions have charged that proposed new copyright legislation fails to ensure that their members are fairly compensated. Bill C32, which will amend Canada’s copyright laws, passed first reading in the House of Commons on June 2, but in its present form it still allows consumers to make illegal downloads. AFM Canada President Bill Skolnik and ACTRA President Ferne Downey are calling for the extension of the existing private copying levy, currently imposed on blank Cd’s and tapes, to MP3 players such as the iPod. Levies are collected by non-profit collectives such as the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency, and distributed to artists on a pro-rated basis. What gives? Legalizing private digital copying while simultaneously compensating artists ought to be a no-brainer.

Chantal Kreviazuk resists B’nai Brith attack

Winnipeg singer-songwriter Chantel Kreviazuk and the Manitoba’s education ministry came under fire recently from B’nai Brith after an article by Kreviazuk deploring the suffering of children in Gaza and other conflict zones was reprinted in a Grade 12 exam. Students were asked to discuss whether entertainers have a responsibility for making the world a better place. Although the article does not mention Israel, the Jewish organization complained that it would promote “anti-Israeli hatred.” B’nai Brith’s intimidation worked initially, as Education Minister Nancy Allan quickly declared that she shared its concerns and promised to be more vigilant. However, the Winnipeg Free Press criticized her the next day in an editorial, stating that “nothing offensive” was presented to the students. Kreviazuk has stood firm, saying her position is one of “compassion for children living in war zones.”

The Pixies protest Israel commando raid

American alternative-rock band The Pixies became the first major musical act to cancel a performance in Israel after the the Zionist state’s murderous May 31st high seas raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The Pixies’ decision to cancel their first Israeli appearance came several days after two British bands, Klaxons and Gorillaz Sound System, withdrew from the same five-day Tel Aviv festival (Pic.Nic 2010) in a move apparently  related to the storming of the aid flotilla. Prominent Israeli promoter Shuki Weiss complained that Israel has become the victim of “cultural terrorism, ” but not all Israelis would agree with him. Activists in the Israeli human rights group Boycott! had written an open letter to the The Pixies on March 1st urging them not to come to Israel. (http://boycottisrael.info/)

Musicians fight racist Arizona laws

Musicians have joined the struggle against Arizona’s racist Bill SB1070 with the formation of The Sound Strike, a campaign calling on artists to boycott the state until the bill is repealed. Led by Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha, the boycott has already been endorsed by prominent artists such as Kanye West, Chuck D, Sonic Youth, Los Tigres del Norte and Joe Satriani. Bill SB1070 criminalizes undocumented residents as well as anyone who associates with them, and forces law enforcement officers to resort to racial profiling. It has been compared to the fugitive slave laws of 19th cenury America. The musicians are joining a vast coalition of labor, civil rights organizations, students, faith-based groups, professional athletes, elected officials, and even police groups who want swift federal action and comprehensive immigration reform. Learn more at http://www.thesoundstrike.net/.

Suze Rotolo’s memoir: Dylan and the Left

The current issue of Political Affairs, the online journal of the CPUSA, carries an essay by historian Gerald Meyer on Suze Rotolo’s 2008 memoir A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties. Perhaps best known as Bob Dylan’s lover and muse during his rise to fame, Rotolo’s background as a “red diaper baby”  places her in a unique position to explore the links between the embattled left of the fifties and the folk music revival of the sixties that played such a key role in the civil rights and anti-war movements. How well Rotolo succeeds is thoughtfully assessed by Meyer, a professor at City University of New York, biographer of legendary East Harlem radical politician Vito Marcantonio and editorial board member of the Marxist journal Science and Society. (http://www.politicalaffairs.net/)

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