Traditionally a slow month as the post-Christmas financial realities bite, the fairy lights come down, and the short days and cruel temperatures mean we tend to bunker up and pray for Spring.

But 2023 is different.

The Struggle is visible everywhere, from newspaper headlines to smart meters. I promised at the start of the year that I’d stand on every picket line I could and support striking workers in whatever way possible, so I did.

I stood with RMT rail staff, RCN nurses, and GMB Ambulance staff this month, and the first week of February will add NEU teachers to that list.

It’s important for the rest of us to support their battles, either by spending a little time there talking and listening or giving them a beep as you drive past. We ALL deserve better from our government and our employers, and these are the folks with the guts to do something about it. Much respect.

Music-wise, January began with two live streams, one to mark the 10th anniversary of ‘A Revolution In An Empty Room’– where I played the whole album front to back for WSO- and the other to support south coast food banks running low on supplies.

On January 14th ‘Three Shall Overcome’ was launched. A short film of Steve White, Kev Titterton and meself walking from Scarborough to Robin Hood’s Bay along the Cleveland Way, putting the world to right en route, with some stunning aerial footage courtesy of the FBU drone. The film is hoping to encourage support for both We Shall Overcome, and its twin venture We Shall Overrun. You can watch that here:

Back with the music, the month ended with two wildly different, but equally chaotic, gigs in Scarborough and Ashton-under-Lyne.

The ‘Solidarity Social’ event at the Railway Club in Scarborough was a strike fund benefit gig and 200 people crammed into the main room raised almost £700 for the cause. It was great to hear the speeches from workers on the front line, and fantastic to hear the collected voices raised in song.

And, Em Carroll‘s We Shall Overcome birthday was a fantastic night of mischief and mayhem in a packed Station Hotel in Ashton-under-Lyne.

All capped off with a ‘No Pasaran’ featuring Pauline Town, Dan Lucas, Matt Hill, Jess Silk and meself. For those who don’t know, Matt had serious surgery on his ears last year to save his hearing, so to have him singing at my side again was pretty emotional; a fantastic end to a wonderful night which raised hundreds to keep the Station open and the daily food parcels flowing.

That same night We Shall Overcome raised £1000 up in Hartlepool thanks to Brian Barnes and the team up there. That money will help keep food on the shelves at St Aiden’s Kitchen.

In the background, the new Lithium Joe single won’t be long, the new Hatfield Brigade song is at a critical stage, there will be more children’s books this year via Unison, and I’ve started work on a lyric book covering songs and poems from the last 20 years, illustrated by my comrade-in-crayons Kevin Pearson.

So there’s plenty to look forward to.

The next round of madness starts at the Radical Book Fair in Sheffield on February 4th.

Be good to have your company ✊️

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