Music Notes – August 2011

Gaza Island: Greyson’s new video

Gaza Island, the latest video from filmmaker/activist John Greyon was released in mid-June as he and other delegates prepared for the voyage of the Tahrir, the Canadian peoples’ contribution to the historic Freedom Flotilla II. As everyone knows (but some refuse to accept), the international fleet of non-violent activists seeks to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians and break the illegal Israeli embargo of Gaza. Greyson’s brilliant short film aims its arrows at well-known BDS-defying musicians who gave concerts in Israel in June and July, including Kiri Te Kanaka, Laurie Anderson, Bob Dylan, Moby and Paul Simon. Gaza Island features witty parodies of songs by these artists, an inspiring montage of well-known pro-boycott musicians, and a message from African-American author Alice Walker, who’s also participating in Freedom Flotilla II aboard the U.S. vessel The Audacity of Hope. While none of the parodied musicians are ready to respect the call to boycott the Israeli apartheid state, the indomitable spirit of the Tahrir shines through Gaza Island. Watch it at

“G20 Redux” calls for public inquiry

Young Toronto musicians Lynn Harrison, Allie Hughes, Dave Borins and the band Tiny Danza joined speakers from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Canadian Federation of Students, and the Council of Canadians at Toronto’s Queen’s Park on June 25th for the “G20 Redux” Fundamental Freedoms Festival. The event marked the first anniversary of the police state that was imposed on Toronto last summer, perpetrating the largest mass arrests in Canadian peacetime history. About a thousand people gathered to reinforce the call for an independent public inquiry into the events that surrounded last year’s clampdown. Most of these young artists have websites or they can be found on YouTube. Check them out and support them if you can. Don’t miss Lynn Harrison’s unforgettable G20 songs “Protester” and “What Does Freedom Mean?”  

Love Music Hate Racism

As U.K. workers face unprecedented attacks on their hard-won rights, they’re stepping up  the fight against the divisive poison of racism. Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) was founded in 2002 with the support of some of the country’s largest trade unions. Since then it’s staged hundreds of events, featuring both well-known and up-and-coming bands, in its effort to counter the influence of neo-nazi groups like the British National Party and the English Defence League. These racists hope to attract U.K. youth by appealing to fans of rock, metal, and traditional folk music. LMHR has a busy schedule this summer. In June alone there have been concerts in Reading, North London & Brixton, as well as a protest against “Slimelight,” an approopriately-named venue in North London that’s been booking bands with clear fascist ties. LMHR’s July 1st Ramsgate Unity Festival drew thousands to hear a diverse mix of bands that characterize the vital cultural scene of the contemporary U.K. For more info:

 Punks vs Apartheid vs Jello Biafra

 A scheduled July 2nd concert in Tel Aviv by hardcore punk icon and spoken word artist Jello Biafra was the catalyst that led to the formation of Punks Against Apartheid (PAA), an online musicians group that has aligned itself with the cultural boycott of Israel. PAA’s call for Jello to cancel his show succeeded, as the artist acknowledged in an interesting though somewhat sour statement on June 29th. Vowing to carry on until Palestine is liberated, PAA released a response to Jello on July 5th. Jello Biafra is former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys and is an anarchist-oriented social justice activist. In his statement he argued that his Tel Aviv gig would have given him a chance to “speak truth to power.” But he did cancel. This is  a real victory that will broaden the BDS campaign. Read Jello’s statement and PAA’s rejoineder here:; http://punksagainstapartheid,com.

Mike Waterson: 1941-2011

The explosion of English pop music in the early sixties obscured a simultaneous flowering of U.K. folk music. One of the key figures of that revival, an artist with a passionate belief in folk song as a voice for the working class, was Mike Waterson, who died on June 22nd after a long illness. Together with sisters Norma and Lal, and cousin John Harrison, he formed The Watersons, arguably the outstanding U.K. folk group of their time. The Yorkshire vocal group sang like no one else, with rich, distinctive voices and powerful harmonies. Mike Waterson not only passed on ancient songs like “John Barleycorn” to the next generation, but he also contributed a few standards of his own, like “Stitch in Time,” a mirthful song that celebrates the revenge of a battered wife who sews her drunken husband into his bed while he’s sleeping. Look for it on YouTube, where you can also find excerpts from “Travelling for a Living,” a fine 1965 BBC documentary on The Watersons.


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