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Wednesday, 27 July 2011


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This column is really a shameless plug for 1911 Llanelli Rail Strike & Uprising Week Aug 12-20 2011. Music was always part of the workers’ movement. For solidarity and the honouring of past fighters, song was important. Paul Robeson was a perfect example of this – using his music to reach across national and cultural boundaries and organise for a better, more just world. The solidarity he felt for Welsh miners and that they felt for him has become part of working class legend and his songs have become part of our culture.

The syndicalist activists of 1911 also loved to sing. In the USA the revolutionary Industrial Workers of the World (the IWW – known as ‘the Wobblies’) organised thousands of often migrant workers into trade unions and were at the heart of many strikes, including the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike in Massachusetts, known as the ‘Bread and Roses Strike’ because one of the slogans was “Give us bread, but give us roses too.” Many songs, like “Union Maid” “The Preacher and the Slave” and “Solidarity Forever” came out of this movement., as did the music of Woodie Guthrie.

Much of the folk music boom of the 1960s in the UK and the US involved Communist Party members whose songs were consciously political. And of course much of the most progressive music of the late 1960s (Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, The Grateful Dead) identified with the equal rights and student struggles and the anti-Vietnam War movement. In the late 70s Rock Against Racism and the Clash shook the fascists.

So we are proud to be part of that tradition of committed music in 1911 Rail Strike & Uprising Week, running from 12th-20th August. 7.30 on Sat 13 August at the Selwyn Samuel Centre is “Strike Up the Bands!” with Llanelli jazz legend Wyn Lodwick , also the Women in Jazz Allstars Swing Band, featuring the Syncopated Sisters and the amazing Jen Wilson. The £12 ticket includes a delicious hot meal. Late bar. Tickets from Cadno Records, John St, Llanelli, or from John Willock 01445 820736 or Tim Evans 07962804452 or

At 8pm on Monday 15 August “Strike Up the Bards” – radical music and radical poetry, upstairs at Stamps, John St. £2 on the door or from Robin Campbell 01792 422370 or Roger Price 01554 750045.

On Wednesday 17 August “Strike Up the Folks” – Llanelli 1911 Railway Strike Committee and Llanelli Folk Club join forces for the Strike’s centenary with a FREE themed “protest” night. Open Mike - performers should aim to sing protest, union, or railroad songs. Poets welcome too! 7.30 pm until 11pm Queen Vic Club, Queen Victoria Road.

If you love music - see you there!

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