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Black 47 Rocks Hard Against U.S. Iraq War
L arry Kirwan despises George W. Bush’s war policy. “Our troops have been betrayed by a bunch of grasping politicians who have cast them into this morally indefensible, vanity war….. For rock musicians, this war may well be a last chance to redeem our particular art form and grant it some needed relevance and credibility,” Kirwan declares in the final pages of his just-published musical autobiography, Green Suede Shoes (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2005). Kirwan and his band Black 47 have also just released their antiwar song “Downtown Baghdad Blues.”
Black 47, also known as the House Band of New York City for their 15-year career of playing up to 120 shows a year, have challenged fans to stay with them as they confront the U.S. regime’s policies in their shows, turning each performance into a protest rally. “Yeah, we do ‘Downtown Baghdad Blues’ live every night now, and it splits the audience. Causes quite a stir,” Kirwan matter-of-factly stated in a late March interview.
In his book, the Wexford-born Black 47 leader explains the song’s context, and his band’s fierce antiwar stance: “Black 47 has always had a considerable body of its fans in the armed services; we support them wholeheartedly, yet question why they have been sent halfway around the world to get trapped in this quagmire. And we refuse to be browbeaten into silence by chicken hawks and armchair patriots who cry treason at the first sign of dissent.”
Black 47 takes its name from the awful year 1847, when a brutal government policy killed thousands of Irish people; survivors cursed those rulers and fought back any way they could. Kirwan recounts in Green Suede Shoes how he long ago vowed never to witness injustice in silence. Black 47’s stance today is unflinching: “We’ve spoken out against this travesty from the beginning, and suffered the loss of many a fan and friend as a consequence. That’s as it should be. The purpose of a band like ours is to speak its mind, regardless. Iraq is the defining issue of our time.”
Black 47 is perhaps the U.S.’s most raucous working class band and its packed shows are wild, dancing affairs. “Take it to the streets if you’re looking for redemption,” they roar in one of their signature songs. Larry Kirwan’s rock n’ roll faith takes fire as he raises his fist onstage, and in Green Suede Shoes he is serious about solidarity: “Music and the right songs, if played with conviction, can still galvanize large and small audiences and propel them toward activism. What a need the United States has for a broader-based opposition to this disastrous war in Iraq.”
Bill Nevins, of Albuquerque, writes for Dirty Linen, Transmission, HyperActive and other magazines.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.