With Banners Held High 2019

Joe and CC Neil Terry

Banner Photo pre show

With Banners Held High 2019 was an absolute blinder of a day and a massive thank you must go out to the organisers who made such a wonderful occasion possible. Events like this are needed more than ever these days, to remind us who we are and what we are fighting for, to recharge our batteries and put the wind back in our collective sails.

Well, it certainly did all that.

Selby Banner

I made it just in time to join the march and fell in behind comrades from Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, as up for it as ever, and just as determined to get that inquiry as the first day I met them. Inspirational folk. You should follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and help spread the word.


I had been asked to write a poem for the opening ceremony and delivered ‘With Banners Held High’ to a street full of amazing people and banners as far as the eye could see. An incredible scene.

Poem and fist

There were phenomenal performances by Lily Gaskell, Bard Company and the incredible Commoners Choir whom I borrowed to close my set with ‘Haul Away, Boys’ and ‘No Pasaran’.

And it was great to see so many amazing comrades out supporting the event. From the fab ladies of the Women’s Banner Group to a big RMT contingent, fantastic company all.

Also brilliant to see RMT Deputy General Secretary Steve Hedley take to the stage for his keynote speech wearing a Joe Solo t-shirt remembering the ten International Brigade volunteers from Hull.

Steve Hedley and Joe

So full marks to everyone involved for another superb festival, and here’s to 2020!!



Thanks to Neil TerryPaul and Lindsay Rutland, Sean Mcgowan, James McElhoney and everyone else who snapped the above pics.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY We Shall Overcome!!

Original WSO Roundel Logo

We Shall Overcome is officially four years old today and still battling on, fighting the worst excesses of government policy and the pain it inflicts on the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities.
In those four years ordinary people up and down this land have organised well over 1000 events in 150 different towns and cities, raising an estimated £500,000 worth of food, cash, warm clothing, toiletries, sanitary towels, tents, sleeping bags, furniture and electrical goods all going direct to the front line of need in the community which raised them.
We have supported food banks, soup kitchens, homeless outreach, youth projects, crisis centres and just about anything else tackling the multiple impacts of targeted, ideologically-driven austerity aimed at those least able to fight back.
Well, we’ve been fighting back.
All of us.
It took THOUSANDS of organisers, musicians, poets, artists, venues, activists and campaigners to pull this off and it has been a genuine act of nationwide solidarity I have been proud to represent from the start.
Together we prove there is no such thing as a meaningless gesture, because all those seemingly meaningless gestures add up into something very meaningful indeed. From the first person who rocked up with a 4-pack of beans at the very first show, to the donations I received in Harrow last night. It ALL mattered, it all continues to matter.
It is perhaps fitting that today we celebrate housing another gentleman facing street homelessness. Thanks to a combined donation by Poetry on the Picket Line, Commoners Choir and Lindsay Rutland for Wool Shall Overcome, Pauline Town has been able to sort out a flat for a chap named Colin. Colin has health issues and had been evicted on to the streets with all his possessions lost. Today he has a new home and a new start.
And yes, you might sneer at our ‘one life at a time’ motto, it might seem like a lost cause and a waste of time.
Well try telling that to Colin.
We fight til they lose.
#WSO2019 is booking.
Bring em on.

May Day Festival Of Solidarity 2019- Wow, Just Wow.

Grace 4 best

Hard to know where to start.

May Day Festival Of Solidarity absolutely blew my mind. WHAT a day!

We knew the Grace Petrie factor had shifted tickets, but we didn’t expect to be rammed full from 2pm! It was a fantastic gesture of solidarity from our festival family to be cheering Tom Jackson onstage at that hour of the day, with almost as much gusto as they cheered Grace at 9.45pm, but then we have come to understand that the spirit there is unique.

Tony Wright and myself have lovingly put this festival together since 2016, and this was our fourth, and best. Largely down to such great support from the audience, artists and venue, a combination that delivers something very special once in the hands of the amazing Marcus Ward behind the sound desk, who is the glue that holds the whole thing together on the day. That and Simon Ibbotson aka Barnsley Sime on the decks, spinning the finest platters of Punk, Ska and Northern Soul between acts, keeping the mood just right.

So big shout-outs to Tom Jackson, Eagle Spits & Rachel Joy, The Hurriers, Johnny Campbell, The Swindells, Commoners Choir, Paddy Nash and Diane Greer, Rory McLeod, Smiley and the Underclass, and of course Grace Petrie for cooking up an absolute STORM and raising the roof so many times we lost count. And thanks too to John Dunn and Ian Hodson speaking on behalf of Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and the BFAWU respectively, for their poignant and inspirational speeches.

Special mentions too for Lindsay Rutland, who ran the merch stall all day knitting hats for Wool Shall Overcome to raise money for #WSO2019; and to Chip and Nadia of Poetry On The Picket Line, up from London for the day and donating all their merch money to the We Shall Overcome cause too. Fantastic gestures by both.

From a personal point of view, the 10 minutes I got to spend on stage singing with Commoners Choir were my favourite moments in 32 years of singing live. Just incredible. To hear that wall of sound from behind me, and to see a packed house of raised fists singing in front of me, was a genuinely spiritual moment and one I will never forget.

Commoners and me onstage Paul

So a massive thank you to everyone who supported the event and made it such a brilliant day. Tony and meself know how much it means to us, but to hear you all saying how much the day means to you inspires us to ever greater heights.

So will we be back in 2020?

Damn right we will. It is already being plotted.

Tony Wright brought this idea to me in the wake of the first We Shall Overcome and we decided to give it a go. Thanks to his energy and determination we now have one of the best political events on the calendar, bringing music fans and activists together from all over the country to compare notes, build bridges, punch the air, and put the wind back in each other’s sails for the struggles ahead.

That’s what we’re here for. And we plan to be here for many more years to come.


Big thanks for all the photos, especially to Paul Rutland, Pete Yen, Jenny Fuller, Paul Dickinson and anyone else my shattered head has missed out. Top work folks!

Solidarity Forever stood up close

Durham and Hartlepool- Aceness & Graceness.

Grace and Joe Durham 2019 2

Back from two blinding gigs over the weekend that have recharged my batteries and helped We Shall Overcome make a difference once again.

Friday I returned to Old Cinema Launderette to open for the peerless Grace Petrie in a reprisal of the gig we played together this time last year. Always a joy, an honour and a pleasure to share a bill with Grace, who delivers absolutely every time and lifts the spirits of everyone present in that way only she can. Inspirational stuff as ever, and she even let me sing with her!

I took backing vocal duties on her ‘Coldwaterproofjacket’ a song I love very much, and although I don’t have a Bucket List at present, should I ever decide to make one, that will be one less thing to drop in it.

Grace and Joe singing Durham 2019

Saturday I played Hartlepool in a special #WSO2019 event put together by the amazing Edwin Jeffries. The gig was ‘An Evening With Frances O’Grady’ as the TUC General Secretary spoke and took questions from the floor before some shouty bloke with a maraca in his shoe drove the serious people away and had an awful lot of fun with the rest.

In all seriousness though, the response from the good people of Hartlepool to our We Shall Overcome appeal for food, warm clothing, toiletries and sanitary towels was incredible and completely filled my car front and back! On top of that, an appeal from the stage for help led to me being able to send £150 to someone none of us will ever meet, 300 miles away, who had her power cut off and was unable to light her home or feed herself. Fantastic solidarity from everyone there and I must salute both the crowd, and especially Edwin, for helping change lives.

Hartlepool Frances O Grady WSO

There now begins a run of dates which will leave me fit to drop, but which should crunch up 2019’s gearbox and get the show on the road proper.

Here’s where to find me….

2nd YORK– Crescent Community (with Jess Green)
4th SHEFFIELD– DINA (May Day Event)
5th BARNSLEY– May Day Festival Of Solidarity
7th LONDON– Three Wishes Pub, North Harrow (Venue tbc)
18th WAKEFIELD– With Banners Held High
24th REDCAR– Claxton Hotel (Momentum/WSO Event)
25th OLDHAM– Strummercamp Festival
26th STOCKTON-ON-TEES– Political Songs Open Mic (Hosting)

In the meantime, Grace’s tour continues and I’d urge you to get to one of her shows if you can. We share a bill once more at May Day Festival Of Solidarity on Sunday May 5th, but you can also find her here…..

30th April CAMBRIDGE– The Junction
1st May READING– South Street Arts Centre
2nd LONDON– Cecil Sharp House
3rd ASHBURTON– Ashburton Arts Centre
4th BRISTOL– Bristol Folk Festival
5th BARNSLEY– May Day Festival Of Solidarity
7th STROUD– Prince Albert
9th YORK– Black Swan Folk Club (Sold Out)
11th TRELAWNYD– Trelawnyd Memorial Hall
12th LIVERPOOL– Music Room, Liverpool Philharmonic
17th EDINBURGH– The Dissection Room, Summerhall
18th GLASGOW– Oran Mor

Highly recommended.

I’m sure, just like me, Grace would be mighty glad of your company.

Keep up you lot!

Grace and Joe Durham 2019

And a big thank you to Jenny Rohde for sending over the pic of us singing x

Welcome BACK To Joetown- The Return Of Lithium Joe

Park Street Edit

After 19 years away, Lithium Joe are not only back but BACK.

We have studio time booked in late November to begin recording a brand new EP which should land next year, and two very special gigs lined up. Our first since 2000.

We are currently clocking up the miles rehearsing a set of songs spanning a decade of writing and recording, but we’re also hard at work writing new material.

Can’t wait to get it out there.

We will be throwing our weight behind We Shall Overcome over two consecutive nights starting at The Station Hotel, Ashton-Under-Lyne on Saturday November 30th as part of a #WSO2019 all-dayer which doubles as my 50th birthday party; then we’ll be playing a full-on hometown show at The Adelphi in Hull on Sunday December 1st. Both gigs will be helping raise much needed support for the homeless before the worst of the winter sets in.

There will be posters and a new website very soon, but in the meantime, bang those dates in your diaries because they will be very special indeed.

At The Rainbow's End

Two Gigs. Two Countries. One Day.

Bean and Nothingness WSO 1

Busy day yesterday hitting two gigs in two countries on the same afternoon.

In what is a sad indictment of the times we are living in, both gigs were in one way or another anti-fascist events, and both celebrated the past in a bid to inspire the present to change the future.

Right up my street.

The first was an all-day event at Bean & Nothingness in Hull organised to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the city’s first involvement with the Rock Against Racism movement. It was timely too. Although this proud city has a long history of standing up to fascism and taking in refugees, it has also seen an unwanted rise in hate attacks on its streets, and the statistics quoted by artist Richard Lees were alarming in the extreme. There is no place for racism in our society, it should not and will not be tolerated, and events like this help promote some much-needed solidarity, support, and hopefully inspiration for the struggles ahead.

I popped in to remember Jack Atkinson on the way back to the car.

Bean and Nothingness WSO 2

Then hit the road for Wrexham to play the Gwyl Twm Sbaen Festival as part of a full day of marches, speeches, screenings, lectures, poetry and music.

Absolutely brilliant people and a phenomenal event which I loved every second of. Superb work by the organisers, and I heard talk of it becoming an annual celebration of the life of Twm Sbaen– International Brigade volunteer, coal miner and socialist- and another reason to bring people together in the spirit of unity and solidarity to recharge their batteries for battles yet to come.

Fascism may be on the rise in the UK, but it has been this way forever. While in Hull I was reminded of Lithium Joe‘s involvement in Anti-Nazi League gigs and solidarity fundraisers throughout the 90s. It peaks and it troughs and right now we are at a peak. It is up to us to drive it back into a trough, and events like these help do just that, by rallying people to the REAL cause of the Working Class- Socialism and Internationalism.

Fascism is NOT the friend of the worker. Fascism puts an arm around the shoulder of the angry, and points a spectral finger at someone they can blame, but it is never on your side. It simply reinforces the very institutions which crush Working Class people the world over. Fascism is the friend of the boss class, of State control, of violence, of militarism, of oppression. It is the enemy of unity, of compassion, of fairness, decency and hope.

Together we will defeat it once more.

Twm Sbaen




I was asked by the amazing people at With Banners Held High to write a poem to sum up the festival and what it stands for.

So I did.

It has been incorporated into these posters to help promote the event which takes place in Wakefield on Saturday May 18th.

In exchange we have been offered a stall for WE SHALL OVERCOME 2019, so anyone attending the event can drop off donations of food, warm clothing, toiletries and sanitary towels for #WSO2019 and we will distribute them according to need.

Here goes:

I was asked by the amazing people at With Banners Held High to write a poem to sum up the festival and what it stands for.

Here goes:


A gang of young lads laughed
And passed round a joint:
“It’s just a rag and two poles!”
One said, “What’s the point?”
With a shrug and a sneer
They were walking away,
When I saw an old man move
To stand in their way.
Though frail and outnumbered
That man stood his ground,
And with fire in his eyes
He said: “Boys, turn around.
And I’ll tell you a tale
From a time long ago.
You asked: ‘What’s the point?’
When I’ve finished you’ll know.

For hundreds of years
People like you and me,
Have been crushed in the spirit,
And kept in poverty.
In August of 1819 fifteen died,
And that Peterloo banner?
Their ghosts stand at its side.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs 1834,
They spoke up in hunger
When that broke the law;
They were shipped to Australia
But did not stand alone,
And it was people with banners
Who had them shipped home.
There were Matchgirls and Dockers
And Suffragists who
Fought for votes and fair wages,
Bank Holidays too;
There were marchers from Jarrow,
Petition in hand;
Folk who kept Mosley’s Blackshirts
From taking this land;
When times grew still harder,
And fascism came,
There were brave men and women
Who fought it in Spain;
They marched and they rallied,
They fought and they died;
They stood up for truth
When their government lied;
From tap on the shoulder
To Dock Labour Scheme;
From starving in squalor
To daring to dream;
From Headscarf Revolution,
Back to George Square;
From Orgreave to Wapping
These banners were there.”
With that he fell silent,
And after a pause
Said: “This Struggle is not only theirs, boys,
It’s yours.
It’s beats in your hearts
It runs through your veins,
It’s a yearning for justice,
To shake off these chains.
It’s a burning defiance
That’s locked in your soul
And it’s raised up as that there:
‘A rag and two poles’.
When we’re dead and gone
They’ll be marching here still
Cos we’re part of something
That power can’t kill.
We are the spirit
That will never die.
And that’s why we march here
With Banners Held High.”

Join us on the day and let’s celebrate the achievements of Working Class unity and solidarity, together.