Music Notes – May 2013

The indomitable Anne Feeney

Several years ago Music Notes carried a story about U.S. labour singer Anne Feeney, who’d just been diagnosed with lung cancer. The odds were against her survival, but medical statistics were unable to factor in the Pittsburgh native’s indomitable fighting spirit. While illness has reduced her ability to perform, this summer Feeney will be singing with the Summer of Solidarity Tour (a roving band of U.S. musicians out to support striking workers and union organizing drives), and the ‘Almanac Singers Tour’ (in the footsteps of that historic band’s 1941 tour). She’ll also appear at the Northern Lights Festival Boreal in Sudbury. In 2010 Feeney headlined a Detroit solidarity concert that raised $2500 for striking Sudbury miners of USW Local 6500. If you don’t know Feeney’s work her popular song “War on the Workers” is a great place to start. Look it up on YouTube. Then buy an album or make a PayPal donation to help make up for the income she’s lost to her illness. For more info:

Progressive choirs in the U.K.

Canadian choirs with a radical-progressive orientation might consider establishing links with their counterparts in the U.K. Take Raised Voices for example, a socialist choir based in north London. It sings for peace, justice, environmental sustainability, and against capitalism, racism and sexism. Raised Voices also participates in U.K. campaigns against Canada’s tar sands – something that clearly invites a response from our side of the pond. A spokesperson recently told Music Notes that the choir is interested in sharing songs with Canadian choirs. As my contribution, I suggested David Francey’s contemporary classic “Torn Screen Door.” To send a song suggestion and view a video of Raised Voices at a recent action against healthcare cuts visit For a list of radical choirs in the U.K. visit the Workers’ Music Association, a venerable cultural organization with a wealth of resources:

Local 1000 at Folk Alliance 2013

One of the highlights of the Folk Alliance International (FAI) conference in Toronto last February was a concert presented by American Federation of Musicians Local 1000. The AFM represents many musicians in the USA and Canada, but Local 1000, founded in 1996, is unique. Unlike other AFM chapters, Local 1000 (a.k.a. the North American Travelling Musicians Union) is not based upon geography. The vast majority of the members of this local are, apparently, progressive-minded activist folk musicians. The achievements of Local 1000 were enumerated at the FAI convention by President Tret Fure. Most notable among them are pensions and health insurance – benefits that labour activist musicians have always dreamed about. Local 1000’s convention showcase, ably hosted by Canadian VP and Toronto roots music luminary Ken Whiteley, demonstrated the spirit, talent and commitment of dozens of its members. If you’re a progressive musician why not consider joining? For info:

A gala tribute to Marcelo Puente

Toronto’s Lula Lounge was packed on March 17th as dozens of musicians from the city’s Latin American community and beyond paid homage to Marcelo Puente, one of the outstanding exponents of the ‘nueva canción’ tradition in this (or any) country.  Marcelo Puente came to Toronto in the aftermath of the coup in Chile in 1973, bringing with him his songs and poetry. In the late seventies he co-founded the popular Chilean-Greek band Los Compañeros, a group of anti-fascist exiles who discovered a common musical language, and who have, after a period of inactivity, returned to the bandstand. Earlier this year Puente suffered a career-threatening injury. Long-time bandmate and friend Juan Opitz quickly rose to the occasion and organized the well-earned tribute at the popular Toronto nightclub, with old musical friends like Proyecto Altiplano, El Fernan, Ismael Duran, Nancy White and Heather Chetwynd. The homage concluded with an emotional performance by Los Compañeros, with Puente singing his popular song of exile “Mis Amigos del Bar.” Check out YouTube for concert clips. For more info:

Radical street bands to meet in Toronto

Radical street bands from across North America will gather in Toronto August 23-25 for BAM! 2013 (Bands Agitate & Mobilize Convergence). Invited bands from Milwaukee, Seattle, Montreal, Minneapolis, New York, Oakland and elsewhere are all active in anti-capitalist community struggles. In Toronto they’ll be discussing strategy and sharing skills. The host band is Toronto’s Rhythms of Resistance, itself part of an international movement of street bands, and also a militant and highly-respected presence at local mobilizations. Organizers of BAM! are fundraising to meet travel expenses and other costs, all of which are expected to be in the range of $25,000. Individuals and organizations interested in helping out can make cheques payable to Rhythms of Resistance Toronto (with BAM! 2013 in the notes line) and send them to Rhythms of Resistance Toronto, c/o Katelyn Blascik, 1269 Davenport Rd., Toronto, ON M6H 2H2. For more info:


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