Posted tagged ‘folk music’

Sing a Song for Joe Hill

2010/11/19

Some say Joe Hill died on this day. In 1915. He was executed by a firing squad in the state of Utah. One night two men had been murdered in what seemed like a tale of revenge, and Joe Hill got the blame. He didn’t have no reason for killing those two men, but then again he didn’t have no alibi for why he had suffered a gunshot wound that same night.

The two men, they said, had been murdered by a man who had got himself shot too. Joe Hill hadn’t been a friend of the state of Utah – he was a Wobblie – a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. The I.W.W. still exists today, and in Hill’s time they were leading the charge for workers’ rights (for little things like the weekend and an eight hour work day). Hill served as the I.W.W.’s songsmith – he took old gospel standards and turned them into worker anthems.

Joe Hill

Joe Hill

Unfortunately, we don’t have a time machine to go back and find out the truth about Joe Hill. But many folks believed then, and many folks still believe now, that the trial of Joe Hill was a farce. That he wasn’t guilty of no murders, but he was being blamed because he organized workers, and that meant less money for the Big Wigs, Fat Cats, and those otherwise involved with getting rich off the poor. They saw their chance to get rid of Hill and they took it.

And why didn’t Hill have an alibi? Well some would tell you that Joe Hill was in the arms of a married woman, and revealing the affair would have ruined her life. So he gave his life to save her.

But some say Joe Hill didn’t die that day.

And some sang songs about him. Here’s a few of ’em.

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F&M wear their hearts on their album sleeve

2010/11/16

When people finish graduate work in history, they usually get a job at a university…or a library…or heck,  they could just write a blog. But every so often, or at least this once – a history graduate will use the topic of their thesis to help inform their own songwriting and performing. It helps, of course, when the subject of your thesis was a Soviet rockstar.

It’s New Album Release Day again, and F&M are back with a new album today called Sincerely, F&M. I know what you’re wondering and yes – it comes with its very own winelist.

I sat down in Internetland with F&M frontlady (and history graduate) Rebecca Anderson to ask her about the new album, touring across Canada, and a guy that she learned about back in the USSR.

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Choose Your Own Wool on Wolves Adventure!

2010/11/09

To begin, please sing the following words to the tune of “Sweet Jane” by the Velvet Underground.

Tom, he is a family man, and Kevin…he’s a Jack of all Trades. Brody, he’s a really good question, and Gord, he’s a geophysi…cist. Huh. Eric, well he’s satisfied…and, you know, overprescribed…

[skip a few bars of the song here]

…and when they come home from work…

…They’re Wool on Wolves. And they’ve got a new album out. Today. Tuesday 9 November 2010. Oh, and if you haven’t already – you can stop singing the song now, cheers.

I sat down with Wool on Wolves in the real world to ask ’em about what it’s like being part of the Edmonton music milieu, finding a fine balance, and of course…what they like about music… 

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Innovative Research Methods 101

2010/11/06

When you’re doing historical research, you can be pretty rest assured of a few things:

1) You’re going to have to read a lot of books.
2) You’re going to have to spend a lot of time in the library.
3) You’re going to have to spend a lot of time in the archive (this is different from the library, but only slightly).
4) You’re going to have to forgo any sort of social interaction for long periods of time.  

 Sometimes, though, depending on your topic, you have to get creative with your methodology. Such was the case when Joey “Shithead” Keithley played an afternoon gig at the Black Dog in Edmonton. The frontman for the seminal Vancouver punk band D.O.A., Keithley was a major part of the punk milieu during the 1980s (and ever since). So in the name of historical understanding, I had to put down my book, venture out of the library, and walk past the archive and head to the pub. Once there I had to order a pint from the barman, sit down in front of the stage, and utilize the handy coasters on the table to carry out my important research.

This was the result:

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