Music Notes – September 2010

Montreal Artists vs Israeli Apartheid

Montreal artists, including hundreds of musicians, have been staging events to promote the boycott, divestment & sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israeli apartheid. On July 22, Artists Against Apartheid XIII was held at La Sala Rossa, a popular club on St-Laurent Blvd., featuring performers who had signed the Artists Against Israeli Apartheid open letter last February. Performers at La Sala Rossa included hip-hop artists Samian, Nomadic Massive, Amérythmes, as well as DJ Andy Williams and Kalmunity Vibe Collective. The Montreal declaration, signed by 500 artists, can be found at www.tadamon.ca/post/5824. Montreal activists will host the Quebec-Canada BDS Conference on October 22 (www.bdsquebec.org).

Musicians Fight Arizona Law

Musicians continue to play a significant role in the struggle against Arizona’s racist Bill SB1070, which makes it a state crime to be undocumented. Sound Strike, the boycott founded by Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha, now has pledges from more than 300 musicians. Recent artists to join include British star M.I.A., rapper Kanye West and rock band Sonic Youth. On July 28th the Obama administration won an eleventh-hour partial injunction against the bill, but some egregious clauses still went into effect the next day. While the legal contest between Arizona and Washington continues, 21 states are discussing “copy-cat” bills. Meanwhile, a few musicians who oppose the bill disagree with the boycott tactic. Pop star Lady Gaga performed in Phoenix in July and urged her fans to resist the bill, saying “without immigrants this country wouldn’t be shit.”

President Wyclef Jean?

Three-time Grammy winner and Fugees star Wyclef Jean, who moved from Haiti to the USA when he was nine, is running for president of the illegally-occupied nation. The November 28th vote will occur in the absence of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in exile since the 2004 coup engineered by the USA, Canada and France, and with Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti’s most popular political party, still banned. Although officially occupied by a U.N. force, the real power in Haiti is the USA, and its proconsul is none other than former President Bill Clinton. Wyclef Jean, who just happens to be a nephew of the Haitian ambassador to the USA, opposes the return of Aristide and the legalization of Fanmi Lavalas. His presidency would only further legitimize the Clinton plan for Haiti: more sweatshops, trendy tourism and “guided” democracy. Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas are feared because they sought to free Haiti from the clutches of the IMF and the World Bank.

Lydon & John: Musical Schmucks

Former Sex Pistol John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten), justifying his decision to defy the cultural boycott of Israel and perform there on August 31st, says critics must understand that it’s because he hates all governments. For the punk-rocker who rose to fame singing  Anarchy in the UK, this is a cynical smokescreen. The boycott call comes from 171 civil society groups in Palestine, not the ‘governments’ of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Some anarchist! As for Sir Elton John, it seems that he worked hard to offend as many social justice groups as possible this summer. On June 5th he performed in Florida at the wedding of conservative talk-show bigot Rush Limbaugh, reportedly for a million dollars. Then on June 17th he played a concert in Tel Aviv, thumbing his nose at requests to cancel. Finally on July 22nd he played Tuscon,  in defiance of the cultural boycott of Arizona. Unlike Lady Gaga he did not denounce Bill SB1070 but instead ranted against musicians honoring the boycott, employing the peculiar epithet “fuckwits.”

Lebanese Singer Joins Gaza Ship

Lebanese singer May Hariri has joined a ship bearing medical aid for Gaza. The Saint Mariam is carrying only female passengers, including a multifaith group of nuns, doctors, lawyers and journalists. Spokesperson Samar al-Haj told The Guardian on August 6th that the Lebanese government had given permission for the Saint Mariam and its sister ship Naji Alali to leave for Cyprus, the first leg of its journey. The women have vowed not to leave the ship if attacked. The popular Arabic singer (http://www.may-hariri.com/) has said lttle about joining the humanitarian convoy.

Labour Singer Anne Feeney

U.S. folksinger-activist Anne Feeney, a participant in countless working-class  struggles over the past 40 years, is gathering strength for a different kind of fight. The 59-year-old Pittsburgh native announced August 8th that she’s been diagnosed with a tumor on her lung. Feeney has cancelled upcoming gigs and returned to her hometown to be with friends and family. Supporters who can afford it may help the troubadour recover lost income by donating up to $50. Cheques may be sent to Anne Feeney, 2240 Milligan Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15218. For info on how to donate via PayPal please send an e-mail to getwellanne@annefeeney.com. Feeney is the 2005 recipient of the Labor Heritage Foundation’s Joe Hill Lifetime Achievement Award.  For more info visit: http://fellow-travelers-advisory.blogspot.com/

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