‘Live From T’Shed #5’ takes place Saturday September 5th at 8.30pm in my dedicated live stream group on Facebook, and it’s a performance of my ‘Headscarves & Hurricanes’ album about Hull’s Triple Trawler Tragedy and the subsequent campaign by the ‘Headscarf Revolutionaries’ to change maritime safety law.
This may sound like dry folk history, but the story is not only poignant, it is a lesson in community solidarity and direct action that is every bit as relevant today as it was in February 1968.
There will be a short introduction by author Brian W Lavery whose books inspired the album, and it will be an honour and a pleasure to be introduced by such a damn fine writer and damn fine comrade.
and this time round the GoFundMe appeal is a little closer to home. My poor shed, which is second home, rehearsal space and recording studio to me, has had a serious roof collapse and is leaking water badly when it rains. The contents have slowly moulded and rotted away and it hasn’t been a very pleasant place to sit for many months now. I’m hoping to fund a replacement roof for ‘T’Shed’ via:
I always said #lockdownsolidarity would continue until we were able to gig again and I could do what I do in person; but it is becoming increasingly clear that not only is that a long way off, but owing to the government effectively throwing the grassroots music scene under the bus, the world we eventually return to will be a very difficult place to run fundraising events just when they will be needed most.
With this in mind Lockdown Solidarity will continue indefinitely.
Every Sunday I will shift cause and attempt to spread it around as I have this last 18 weeks, because it must be clear to everyone now, we are at the start of a very long journey through the aftermath of Covid-19, and millions will carry its burden for years to come; and while it might be a bottomless pit I’m shovelling merch money into on a weekly basis, I have to do SOMETHING because something has to be done.
So proud to be working with Hull and District Trades Council on the new Unity Shop; and with my brothers and sisters at We Shall Overcome who will continue to innovate and inspire in whatever form the live music scene allows (and no doubt some forms it doesn’t) including our WSO Fight The Good Fight Club supporting the musicians who support us. Grassroots organising is going to become an increasingly vital tool over the coming years, and we will be there on the frontline as per.
The knock-on effect of giving all merch money away is that Joe Solo releases will become streaming and download only for the foreseeable future. There will be a vinyl compilation of my work with Rebekah Findlay, which will hopefully be crowdfunded, but after that the songs sell so little there’s no real point in physical formats anymore- they cost money, and that money would be better spent helping folks.
And helping folks is what I will spend the rest of my days doing. A virus on top of decades of appalling leadership, corruption and greed have sealed that fate.
Wk17 of #lockdownsolidarity raised £430 for Leeds South and East Foodbank which I will send them over later.
Wk18 is a slight shift in emphasis, but is no less a vital act of solidarity than any other.
I’ll fill you in on the story.
A couple of years ago Tony Smith was at the heart of a hugely successful strike at the FCC refuse collection site in Hull. One of the lads had undergone extensive cancer treatment yet the company offered no sick pay scheme for its frontline workers forcing him into a choice between turning in for work mid-chemo, or losing his home on Statutory Sick Pay.
I first met Tony when I sang on their picket line, and I was proud as punch when that strike won Sick Pay, not just for the handful who’d fought, but for 2500 men and women nationally.
This was symbolic as it was the trade union movement on the offensive for once and making gains, not just fighting rearguard actions trying to stop pay and rights being taken away.
Since then Tony has been a target for a management revenge campaign which came to a head when he raised the issue of remnants of asbestos waste being declassified to allow them to be disposed of more cheaply by the company which was clearly putting profit before the wellbeing of its workforce.
Tony raised this, which as Health & Safety Officer he was duty bound to do, and FCC have responded by suspending and then firing him on manufactured charges to keep him quiet and get him out of the way.
This leaves a comrade, a brother and a friend without income from the middle of this month, and while we rally to his side with appeals and protests on one level, and lobby the council to not renew FCC’s contract on another, the immediate concern is getting him through and keeping his bills paid; in short #Wk18 of Lockdown Solidarity is raising money for a support fund for Tony Smith.
You take on one of us, you take on all of us.
You know the drill. All merch money from Bandcamp goes to a different cause every week, so all you need to do is bag CDs or downloads, t-shirts or tote bags, bundles, bandanas, artwork prints or mugs and I’ll do the rest. If you’ve got all that but still wish to donate to helping Tony, message me for PayPal details and it will all go to the same place.
We stand together and we fight for each other. It’s the only way we’ll ever win.
We launched the brand new We Shall Overcome initiative ‘Fight The Good Fight Club’ on August 5th with a cracking night live from an increasingly dilapidated shed.
FTGFC is a Wednesday night music club which runs from 9-10pm each week bringing you a live stream from an artist who has helped support WSO this last five years but now, thanks to Lockdown, has lost the gigs which pay their bills. It is the movement standing in solidarity with those who are its lifeblood in better times, and we would love you to join us in the dedicated group here:
Every morning between now and Christmas Eve I’ll be running a mile before work and asking for donations for Hull Help For Refugees. I started 32 days ago in response to an urgent appeal for tents, and so far this sponsored pain has raised £769 for the cause via a dedicated GoFundMe at:
If you can spare a donation, no matter how small, please hit the link and help me help them. A tent costs roughly £13 so we have already made a significant difference, but so much more can be achieved between now and when I finally hang up my jogging shoes for the Winter.
New Wednesday night live stream music club starting August 5th.
Each week from 9pm we will introduce an artist who has helped support We Shall Overcome, only this time out we will be helping to support THEM.
As Lockdown continues for musicians we wanted to put together a regular night where instead of gigging for a cause as we are forever asking them to do, we ask for donations to help support them through these desperate days. So there’ll be links to throw in a few quid as they play, and opportunities to chat on the threads afterwards and to share links to merch.
I’m playing the first one on August 5th to raise money for Help Musicians UK and to introduce the night itself. After that the next three will feature Jess Silk, Bedford And Simmonds and Calum Baird.
Join the group and help us support those who have done so much for WSO.
‘Live From T’Shed #4’ and my #lockdownsolidarity money from last week raised £1500 to help kickstart this brand new collaboration in Hull.
‘Unity Shop’ is part food bank, part advice centre, part place to call in a crisis and will be based at the Kurdish Community Centre off Spring Bank.
My £1500 has been matched by trade unions to give us a fighting fund we will be putting to good use as soon as possible.
Massive thanks to Joe Francis and all at Hull and District Trades Council for listening to my rants about the need for grassroots street level involvement right in the heart of communities so often abandoned by party politics, and consequently all too often breeding grounds for the Far Right. In the new post-lockdown financial reality there needs to be Unity Shops up and down this land demonstrating the sort of solidarity and spirit we preach but often don’t practice. Now is the time to walk it like we talk it, to get ahead of the future and change tomorrow for the better.
If you are struggling to make ends meet, having to choose between heating and eating, living under the shadow of eviction or any of the multiple often invisible tragedies of life on the bread line in work or out, we will be there.
As ever my comrade-in-crayons Kevin Pearson has delivered us a logo, and as ever my comrades in Hull are the first to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, could not be prouder to stand with all.
Can’t say how much it means to be offered space by the city’s Kurdish Community, and we stand in solidarity with them as we look to shape a better future for all.
So if you see me banging the drum for this, you’ll know what I’m ranting about.
You can find out everything you need to know about Hull Unity Shop here:
Wanted to keep you up to date with what we’ve been up to with WSO during Lockdown, and where we are heading.
Covid-19 has thrown us a LOT of challenges as a movement, but our first worry was keeping Pauline Town afloat. Without regular gigs there was no income to keep a roof over her head or to fund those 90 daily packed lunches and the incredible work she does getting people off the streets.
We secured that on Easter Saturday when WSO ISOLATION FESTIVAL- SAT APRIL 11th 2020 raised more than £26,000 plus another £2000 from Steve Nevard and his AMAZING merch campaign running alongside. You can catch all the festival performances by clicking here:
Matt Hill has continued his brilliant Defiance Sessions online with the next event featuring one of THE stars of lockdown Jess Silk, so make sure you don’t miss either event!
Some regular WSO artists have been consistently active for their local food banks and outreach services. Skinner & T’witch’s Pick n’ Mix Social Club has been brilliant, as has Lewis Pugh with his regular Monday live streams. If you get chance to support them, please do.
Personally, I’ve been running regular ‘Live From T’Shed’ shows with GoFundMe pages running alongside; and for the last 11 weeks my #LockdownSolidarity campaign has been donating all merch money to a different cause each week.
I’ve also teamed up with Hull and District Trades Council to work on a proposed Trade Union Solidarity Food Bank in the city. We’re looking to establish roots in communities up and down the UK and involve the TU movement in the struggle at street level.
And current news is the INCREDIBLE single released on Sunday. Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds have pulled off something very special indeed and put together a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Lily, Rosemary and The Jack Of Hearts’ featuring 12 singers and 6 musicians all recorded in isolation during lockdown. The result is absolutely brilliant and you can download it here:
with all money going to frontline WSO causes wherever need is greatest.
You can also enjoy the fantastic video here:
So what about the future?
Well, I think we all know tough times are coming, and on top of that we have no clue what the live music scene will look like on the other side, so it’s very difficult to book anything with any certainty; but we will continue to find ways to raise whatever help we can in whatever way it takes.
Anything you can bring to the party please do. As ever, We Shall Overcome is only as strong as those willing to stand up and support it.
Just wanted to update you all with where we are.
We have fought hard for the last five years and we will fight on for as long as it takes.
Today saw the release of an INCREDIBLE lockdown project to record Bob Dylan’s classic ‘Lily, Rosemary & The Jack Of Hearts’ in isolation for We Shall Overcome.
The idea was the brainchild of Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds and has taken weeks of painstaking piecing together building the musical backdrop and compiling vocal takes from up and down the land.
You can watch the stunning video here:
Very proud to have been asked to add my voice to the likes of Naomi, Justin Currie, Jess Silk, Carol Hodge, Daniel Lucas, Aladsdair Roberts and Phil Odgers among others; and the finished product is just brilliant.