Billy Bragg, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 7th November 2017

A rainy night in Islington is the setting for this second appearance by Billy Bragg at the elegant Assembly Hall. This has been billed as the Bridges Not Walls Tour – and there’s a new EP of the same name with a set of commentaries on today’s political situation. It’s a delayed reaction to Brexit and the election of Trump. Delayed, as Billy Bragg ruefully acknowledges, because whilst the world was being turned upside down he was out on tour singing songs about trains with a more and more depressed Joe Henry, and thinking long and hard about skiffle for his recent book. Continue reading “Billy Bragg, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 7th November 2017”

Billy Bragg: “music can make connections in these divisive times”

A really nice comment piece in the i newspaper today from Billy Bragg in which he talks about music having the power to heal the wounds of Brexit.  He writes: “Although the Leave campaign was victorious in the EU referendum, the slim margin of their victory undermines their claim to speak for the British people as a whole. Brexit has split the country into warring camps, who seem only able to respond to one another with, at best, indifference and, at worse, outright abuse. Continue reading “Billy Bragg: “music can make connections in these divisive times””

Billy Bragg builds bridges not walls – new album out next month

Billy Bragg, currently in North America for the first leg of his ‘Bridges Not Walls’ tour, has released his new single Saffiyah Smiles which you can see the video to below.  The song is a rousing Hammond-drenched country soul shuffle written by Bragg and was inspired by the bravery of Saffiyah Khan who smiled benignly in the face of the incensed leader of the far-right group the English Defence League at an anti-immigrant demonstration in Birmingham (UK) in April ’17; a photo of her action immediately went viral on social media. Continue reading “Billy Bragg builds bridges not walls – new album out next month”

Van Morrison joins Americana Awards 2017 line-up

If we could afford to cover this in person we would, although you do avoid Van on a bad day biting your head off (sorry, lazy journalism there). Rolling Stone Country reports: “Eclectic UK rock legends Van Morrison and Graham Nash, both of whom have been directly influenced by American music will both take the stage to perform at the Americana Honors & Awards Show on September 13th at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.  Continue reading “Van Morrison joins Americana Awards 2017 line-up”

Billy Bragg’s new song tackles the new populism

As reported in Paste magazine Billy Bragg has released a new song, The Sleep of Reason, a spare electric-guitar track that aims its venom at social-media trolls, Internet addicts and folks who fly Confederate flags “just for show.” The song was inspired by Spanish artist Francisco Goya’s etching from 1799, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.” In it Bragg casts his net over the political and social events that have overwhelmed the U.S. and the U.K. As he told Paste “The title struck a chord with me when trying to understand the events of last year. The lies and hubris of the Leave campaign in our EU referendum were echoed and amplified by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Only by restoring empathy and reason can we hope to defeat the monstrous forces of nationalism and untruth.”

Here’s the video and you can read the whole article here

Billy Bragg pays tribute to Woody Guthrie at Folk Awards – Watch

This will set your weekend off to a good start, it’ll elevate the hairs on the back of your neck (well until you read the Trump bit of the accompanying piece). Spin reports on Wednesday evening’s events: “Woody Guthrie was the hall of fame inductee at last night’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, which sort of makes you wonder who’s in the hall already if Woody’s only just now getting in. In any case, the UK folksinger Billy Bragg gave a tribute performance to the icon last night, and it was quite lovely. Bragg is probably the most easily identifiable inheritor of Guthrie’s weighty legacy as poet and troubadour of the working class–his 1998 collaborative album with Wilco Mermaid Avenue set unused Guthrie lyrics to original music–and he handled the role with gravity, performing a somber rendition of “I Ain’t Got No Home,” Guthrie’s devastating ballad of poverty. (The song was previously covered by Bruce Springsteen and Bragg himself on 2013’s Tooth and Nail.)  Continue reading “Billy Bragg pays tribute to Woody Guthrie at Folk Awards – Watch”

Billy Bragg on Question Time: “What kind of people are we?”

Billy Bragg was on fiery form on Question Time (BBC1) from Torquay last night, talking about the harsh new atmosphere of conversation in the era of Trump and the UK government’s attitude to migration. “Tony Benn once said that the way the government treats refugees is very instructive because it’s the way they would treat the rest of us if they had half the chance.” He’s on terrific form and you can watch the whole thing here although you do have to endure Ann Widdecombe and an awful bloke from UKIP as your penance.    Continue reading “Billy Bragg on Question Time: “What kind of people are we?””