NUGGETS FROM THE NUT HOUSE
Edward S. Herman
Million Dollar Minute
Tom H. Hastings
KINGS & QUEENS
Obama Crowns Himself
Masked in Gaza
Oaxaca's New Government
The People's Caucus
Defending Civil and Human Rights
The Fight for Worker Rights
Not Just About Occupying
MUSIC & BOOKS
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Musicians as Cultural Warriors in the Occupy Movement
For as long as there has been dissent, there has been the protest song. In the people’s history, the fight for social justice has always been accompanied and inspired by the voices of outspoken songwriters, the daring harmonies of dissident composers, the passionate cry of radical poets, and the compelling news reports of the topical balladeer. This is the drumbeat of radicalism.
One can easily trace work songs back to the earliest toilers and songs of revolt directly to the movements to organize in each era. Reviewing poetry or ballads composed on slave ships, within workers’ hovels or concentration camps, or in cold urban landscapes, we can not only gain valuable information about earlier uprisings against injustice, but develop a visceral understanding of them. Where progressive history books offer core stories and important dates, topical art-forms deliver the fervor, the agitation, and the struggle of the embattled to survive and then to live.
In my own experience as a musician and a cultural organizer, I’d long sought out something—anything—like OWS. After my first visit to
Though drum circles are empowering and an excellent means to build still larger masses, there is a need for musicians of conscience to forge a more cohesive unit, a cultural arm of OWS. Rather than the occasional folksinger or rapper writing an anthem for the movement, why couldn’t there be a committed organization, which would feed the protest, inspire creativity, and then take it out to the wider populace?
The Occupy Musicians group (www.occupymusicians.com) is an exciting means toward this goal. Hundreds of signatories and a series of events has fortified the organization’s dawning. Now what’s needed is to draw on the considerable strengths of musicians of conscience to agitate, educate, and organize through song.
The generation of folksingers in the 1960s became the very soul of the struggles of civil rights and peace. Folk revival musicians such as Bob Dylan, Odetta, Phil Ochs and Joan Baez wrote the anthems that acted as shields against the assaults of the police and the national guard, as did the songs which had originated in southern Black churches. Performers like the Freedom Singers made the difference when staring down Bull Connor.
The Black Arts Movement offered creative guidance along with fiery radical sounds to urban centers. Avant garde jazz figured in this scene. Legendary names like Amiri Baraka, the late Sam Rivers, the AACM, and the Black Arts Group were instrumental in countless seminars, rallies, gatherings, and confrontations.
The Punk movement often carried with it an anarchist message and an intolerance for compliance. While some aspects of Punk could seem right wing due to the presence of fascist imagery (to shock), most Punks were drawn to the left messages found in the music of the Clash and the fight against Reaganism launched by the Dead Kennedys. Punk also turned “DIY” into a freedom cry for all artists.
Hip Hop has also stood out as a people’s movement, which has called on multiple generations to speak out. For every gangsta rapper, there are scores of Hip Hop artists who use their poetry and music as a means of unity and expression: life and survival in the ghettos, exposing social ills and the need for social change are mainstays.
Occupy Musicians should call on composers, improvisers, rappers, singers, songwriters and instrumentalists. We must speak in every language, to every taste, to allow for the unrestrained flow of outreach. We need to establish a series of awareness-raising concerts, to circulate recordings of OWS musicians and offer teach-ins and workshops to not only insure continuity of current artists but to inspire the generations to come. Occupy Musicians can organize Shock Brigade bands to descend upon rallies and marches. We need to do so in concert with radical poets, performance artists, and other cultural workers.
Occupy Musicians can become an integral part of Occupy movements all over the nation and the world. Through both concert presentations and social media, we can grow a network that will keep live music relevant even as it carries activists to the necessary next level, true social and political change.
John Pietaro is a musician, writer, and activist from
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/.