Archive for protest

Quit Coal takes over the Premier’s Office

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2012 by Weary Hobo

Photo: Concerned community members from rural Victoria and Melbourne locked on to protest against brown coal exports.

As I write there is a great protest against exporting brown coal going on with padlocks and chains in VIC Premier Ted Ballieu’s office. I learnt about this from call from a friend who is part of the Quit Coal group who asked me to sing a song for them over the loudspeaker. I feel hugely grateful to you for putting yourselves on the line in such an important battle.

The struggle for the climate and against coal is now greater than ever. Get involved! 

If you are from Victoria and want food bowls over coal quarrys call Ted (03 9651 5000) and ask him to explain his failed election promise to take action on climate change or contact Quit Coal.

Yours lurkfully, 

Weary and the Lurkers.

Protesting with Michael Jackson

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by Weary Hobo

When you think of Protest Songs you might think of John Lennon, Sam Cooke and Pete Seeger. But what about Michael Jackson, The White Stripes or Lady Gaga?

Not so conventional but when Riff Raff Radical Marching Band rock them out at protests around Sydney they get people singing and having a laugh.

Riff Raff say

we are a bunch of friends who got tired of boring protests and started a fabulous marching band in 2010!  We play at community events, coal ports, solidarity demonstrations, artyhipsterthings, fundraisers, and on the streetz!

These musical protestors follow in the tradition of marching bands from USA such as the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, Infernal Noise Brigade and Brass Liberation Orchestra. Here is Rude Mechanical Orchestra performing Smash-A Bank Polka performed at Occupy Wall Street!

If you are interested they are looking for sweet new members and supporters! Including people that can play trombone, trumpet, clarinet, sax, flute, euphonium/tuba, and any forms of percussion.

W.H.

Bluegrass Lock-on

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2011 by Weary Hobo

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, show me a multinational corporation you can trust” -Belle Star

Wednesday 3rd August from IndyMedia Ireland

Local residents and folks from the Rossport Solidarity Camp met at the gates of Shell’s Ballinaboy refinery to begin blocking tractor movements. Everything coming out of the refinery in the morning was delayed by the protesters and no arrests were made. By 8:30am two people had locked themselves into a concrete barrel blocking the road.

The lock-on was cleared at about 12:30pm, having blocked the road for almost 4 hours. Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway, one of the people locked on, commented:

“I’m here because of the obvious corruption involved in Shell and Statoil’s gas project and the management of our resources. The Gardaí are partners in crime with Shell and Statoil in attacking the community.”

Later on people gathered at the refinery to listen to some bluegrass country music by the band Belle Star all the way from Virginia, US. The band had played a fantastic gig in McGuire’s pub the night before and commented that the refinery gig was one of their ‘strangest but most appropriate’ yet.

People were in high spirits, dancing to the music in front of a Shell truck.  The police found it difficult to use their normal force against smiling dancing people.

The hilarity made people feel pretty unstoppable. Even when guards were pushing people along the road with the Shell truck inching along, the bluegrass band kept up with everyone, walking along the road as they played, upright bass and all!

The day finished off with a traditional Appalachian square dance in front of the gates of the refinery. Everyone felt like it was a wonderful way to reclaim that space that is usually occupied by much more sinister activities.

There you go! Congrats to the awesome Belle Star from Virginia, USA for supporting community action struggling to defend their land against massive international giants.

Listen to their version of ‘Trouble in Mind’

http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_9503411

And if you’re wondering, the first line of this blog could be recognised from Doc Watson’s ‘The Train Carried My Girl From Town’. Stay connected to The Lurkers to hear where we are playing next – a Coal Seam Gas protest next week in Sydney!

W. H.

Radical approaches to songwriting

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2011 by Weary Hobo

There are a myriad of ways to write songs. I was inspired this week listening to the chants of radicals in the London protests. ‘You say cutback. We say fight back’ and ‘Revolution, revolution’. Simple songwriting with a radical message.

Another approach is more formal. You can be a member of the ‘Australian Songwriters Association‘ or ‘Songwriting Society of Australia‘ or ‘Songwriters Across Australia‘ or ‘Australian Songwriters Official National Group‘ or ‘Songwriters, Composers and Lyricists Association’ (South Australia) or ‘Tamworth Songwriters Association‘ for a nominal fee. Up until last week you could have gone along to the ‘Australian Songwriters Conference‘ but 2011 has been cancelled because of not being able to get funding.

These associations and conferences out of my league. I joined APRA last year and was paid $5.40 after spending about twenty hours trying to get my songs recognised by their admin. What are your experiences with Songwriting Associations? Do you find them valuable? Today I’m writing about a radical approach to songwriting that makes sitting with friends and sharing personal songs the equivalent of singing in the shower.

Most people I know started writing songs by copying their favourite musician. I got it in my head that I could play along with a song called ‘Given to fly‘ by Pearl Jam. Then I tried writing like Jeff Buckley (after 4:30 the video is really good). After learning that Buckley as scared as I was of performing I went searching for songs.

Inspiration (hidden under mossy stones by the gentle stream that flows in your head and heart)

What inspires me for songs is whatever is real. If I’m at dinner with my family or talking with a friend. Maybe sitting on the steps of town hall waiting for a bus, it just has to move my head or my heart. I don’t have to work to write songs like this but I have to work to finish them. The song I am writing about was inspired by a close friend who has been in and out of hospital.

The inspiration came simply after having tea with her. She left and the song came pouring out.  A radical love song because it is on the boundary of what love is. In half an hour I had a bunch of lyrics and the guitar part. After two and a half hours I had knocked out a song that felt rounded. The next part of the process for me takes the courageous plunge.

Work (if you like steps to help you in songwriting check out this book by Naomi Wolf who also wrote The Beauty Myth)

First, I record it on my phone and then listen back to it critically, preferably after a sleep. I will listen and record over and over making slight variations. This is not always a rewarding process. It is very important because it cuts the excess from your song and leaves the shiny, bright core. Excess might be simply an extra ‘the’ or it might be that the chorus is actually the verse. Maybe you find that a word sticks out uncomfortably and this is connected to your emotional state at the moment.

At this stage in writing I might even try playing the song on a different instrument like a piano or guitar. Just singing it a lot while walking can help. Writing it down lets the words look up at you from the page in a new way.

Second, share with people. This could mean busking or write it out on paper and giving it to friends you run into. I used to upload it to a website and get feedback from around random passers. It was fun but I didn’t find this very valuable to hone my writing skills because they didn’t have a real concern for that. I like the songwriting collective better than other spaces because the feedback is more genuine. There is a music group at Jura Books on Parramatta Rd or you could set one up with your friends.

Normally, the third step is performance. Get it out to the world! Such a relief to feel free of this thing you’ve kept secret for so long. Try to avoid sharing your intimates at the noisy bar on the corner where the footy will be playing behind your head. Then the song is finished yes? Maybe.

The radical step I have found most important to finishing a song is performing it to people you love who you expect could be challenged by it. It could be playing a satirical religious song to the devout or funny environmentalist song to the convener of the australian student environment network (who vehemently hated it). With the song for my friend, i had to make her my audience. For months after writing the core of the song I was avoiding seeing her because part of me was afraid to give her the song and it to hurt her. With prodding from bandmates who knew the song wasn’t finished I made arrangements to meet with her at a cafe.

When she walked in I hastily gave her my song. If you do it too slowly there is always the strong risk of backing out if you’re as cowardly about songs as I am. The fear and reluctance comes from knowing that what you will say has the potential to hurt people you love. Never forget that art can bridge the spaces between people, especially where there is a lot of confusion. It is likely that the listener will appreciate that you’ve spent time and energy and want to share the creation with them. It can also be very divisive. Be gentle. Better that they hear it now than on the radio.

In the end my friend was moved. She told me how she felt and we talked about it briefly. She gave me a couple of tips on the song. A wave of relief washed over me. I rushed home and quickly finished it with more recording, listening, recording, listening. Next step is to record it at Pirate Studios next week and share it with the world by August, 2011.

Some like Naomi Wolfs Dad will say the process to perfect songs or art never ends it just continues to develop. Some like Clinical Psychologist Ellen Langer say that the art is in its mindful creation. I wonder about these things. Good luck with your songwriting – and fundamentally be free with it.

Your in curious exploration,

Weary H.

Padlock and chain

Posted in Activism, Anarchism, Climate Camp, Climate change, Folk music, Police, political music, politics, radical art with tags , , , , , , , on December 17, 2010 by Weary Hobo

Dear Lurkers,

Two weeks ago, I was one of the people who locked-on to a coal track in a protest against the building of a new coal-fired power station. I don’t break the law regularly. Don’t even have a speeding fine. Two days ago I sat on a coal track to stop the trains and refused police requests to move. Over the past seven years I have tried a variety of ways to participate in the growing climate change movement including:

  • changing my light globes and lobbying my parents ; )
  • local campaigning, lobbying and protest at Macquarie University and in the community with ASEN and Climate Action Newtown and at work,
  • national lobbying of politicians and corporations, campaigning and creative actions with AYCC,
  • international actions with Youth of the United Nations NGOs, and
  • making activist climate music with The Lurkers

It is important that there is variety in the way we address an issue like climate change because it is an issue unlike any faced by the globe. I sincerely believe that all of these actions listed above help in small and large ways and congratulate you if you are doing any of them. On the weekend I took the further and less common step.

I did this because I reflected on what is effective. I don’t have cash to donate. I do climate unfriendly stuff like drive a car. I work and have fun. When I looked at what needs to happen in our community to get traction and what I can offer, this action fitted the spot. If you want to know more about Bayswater check out this site. As the UN negotiations to respond to climate change continue past their sixteenth year our planet continues to heat up due to coal burning and other fossil fuels. As our leaders talk about the difficult decisions without acting, the time to act is here.

In Copenhagen last year young people were asked by Kumi Naidoo from Greenpeace International to give their lives to solve climate change. He asked us to act, not out of desperation or fear but to act out of love for the world. Climate camp at Bayswater was overflowing with this love.

So that Friday, I went along to Climate Camp in the Hunter Valley and on Sunday I participated in civil disobediance with 130 other people. They were people from the local area including indigenous people, local farmers and city folk like me. I locked-on to seven other people making it impossible to be moved by the police while causing no property damage.

I was hooked up with carabeenas and rope to my old friend Erland as well as four sixteen year old girls from northern NSW. We had a huge amount of support and care from friends and activists who gave us sunscreen, water and food. We sat in the beating sun and heavy rain singing, dancing, telling stories and playing music for seven hours. There was even a radical marching band!

Police took us away in the paddy van and we sat in the holding cell for a few hours chatting and were out by 10:00pm. The under-age protestors got a lecture from the police and were let off without any charge! My court date is set for 21st February, 2011. Me and Erland will be heading back up to Muswellbrook on that Monday and might be let off the charge of ‘tresspass and remain’ and ‘ locking on’ with a Section 10 if we can show we are of ‘good character’.

The action was a coordinated, peaceful demonstration of the community’s frustration about expansion of coal-fired power stations in NSW. It was successful and positive. I feel proud to have been involved, even as someone who was not brought up to be politically active. Climate change is something that I think we can beat if we act in substantial ways now and continue to. I have not written this to convince you to lock-on but to explain my story.

When we were locked on we sang a lot of songs. One song by David Rovics resonated with lots of people. Here are the lyrics and here is a video of David singing it for some people arrested in the Copenhagen demonstrations.

So much gratitude to the Climate Camp organisers for creating such a wonderful event.

Cheers,

Weary H. and the lurkers

They’re keeping a file on me

Posted in Anarchism, ASIO, Climate Camp, Climate change, Culture, Hazelwood, Music, Police with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by Desert Rat Shorty

It was nice to see so many fans with video cameras when we played at the Switch off Hazelhood protest last month.  Hazelwood power station is the most polluting power station in Australia.

At gigs, and even when we’re busking, people invariably take photos or videos.  I always wonder where on earth those dodgy videos end up…

I can only presume these coppers were desperate to show their mates back at the station the awesome Lurkers gig they missed out on.  Because if it was for ASIO, what the hell are they gonna do with a recording of The Lurkers playing Environmental Evangelism Makes no Friends?! 

Then again, maybe they were genuinely afraid of the protesters.  I know that nothing strikes fear into my heart quite like a papier mache globe.

There  so many cops at the protest, they had to get creative about their modes of transport.  We saw dirt bikes, helicopters, inflatable boats, 4WDs, horses. 

In fact I think the only transport mode missing was the elegant bicycle.  I guess that would have been too environmentally friendly for the occasion.

If you feel like doing something to save us all from the impending doom cause by climate change, join us at Climate Camp this weekend. 

If we’re in luck, we might even get a few cops turing up to The Lurkers songwriting workshop this Friday.  Cause nothing threatens the state quite like a rhyming couplet.

People’s occupation of the world’s biggest coal port

Posted in Activism, Anarchism, Climate change, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by Desert Rat Shorty

Newcastle Harbour 3 hours north of Sydney has the dubious honour of being the world’s biggest coal port.  It’s where Australia exports climate change to the rest of the world.

The people’s occupation of the harbour is an annual event where people build dodgy rafts and other ‘sea worthy’ vessels and occupy the harbour for the day, stopping any coal ships from getting through.  Activism that involves swimming, lying on the beach and capsising hopeless raft building efforts..

Good times had by all!