The Shelby Bottom Duo will reprise their Joe Hill Road Show multimedia program Sunday, March 5, at 1 pm. First Congo Church, 1000 S. Cooper, Memphis TN
The Joe Hill Revival musical will be performed Sunday, February 6, at 2 pm at the Triad Theater in New York City. In-person and streaming tickets are available.
“The Joe Hill Revival,” is a new musical that brings back to life the story of labor activist and songwriter Joe Hill, framed up and executed by the state of Utah in 1915. This will be an encore one-night-only performance at the Triad Theater in Manhattan on Sunday, February 6, 2-4pm. The book and original music and lyrics are by Dan Furman, with additional lyrics by Joe Hill and others. The musical is directed and choreographed by Jerome Harmann-Hardeman, with a cast featuring Laurént Grant Williams as Joe Hill and Caitlin Caruso Dobbs as Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. They are joined by Nicola Barrett, Laura Bright, Curtis Faulkner, Julia Fein, Drew Hill, Christopher Isolano and Ace McCarthy and supported by a 4-piece band.
The show was first performed at the Outdoor Patio @ Rustik Tavern in Brooklyn, Sept. 14-Oct. 6, 2021. A song from the musical is available online (as is more information on the show and links to purchase tickets) at: http://www.brooklyntaverntheater.com/the-joe-hill-revival.html?fbclid=IwAR0n0s3zf9YD16OLJJmR-fq6pWz4KEswkaMXP1FH8YtiLwMGrQ-80cNRdjY
Lucius Papyrius, May 1, 2020·3 min read
Born in Sweden, in 1879, as Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, he and his brother Paul Elias moved to the United States in 1902. There, he lived as an itinerant worker, going where he could find work and facing periods of unemployment. In 1910, as he worked the docks in San Pedro, CA, he joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), commonly referred to as Wobblies, an international labour union established in Chicago in 1905. He, then, spent the next few years travelling the country, helping workers organize in unions and writing songs of protest. In early 1914, Joe Hill was working near Salt Lake City, UT, when a grocer and his son were killed in their store by a couple of armed intruders. Although the evidence pointed to Joe’s innocence and despite a large mobilization of the people in favour of his acquittal, he was nonetheless sentenced to death by firing squad, which took place in late 1915. This leads us to conclude that his condemnation was motivated by a desire to silence his activism for the rights of workers.
One of the most notorious songs by Joe Hill is The Preacher and the Slave, written probably around 1910 or 1911, during the time of his early activity in the IWW. This song is a parody of the religious hymn In the Sweet By-and-By, written and composed by S. F. Bennett and J. P. Webster in 1868. The subject of the song is how religion and its ministers use the people’s faith — their fear of God and the promise of a better life in Heaven — as a mean to keep them obedient and servile under the yoke of their oppression.
Let us enjoy a rather recent interpretation of this song by synthpop creator Intellectual Dark Wave (video at the bottom):
Long-haired preachers come out every night
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
But when asked how ‘bout something to eat
They will answer in voices so sweet:
You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and pray, live on hay
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die
(That’s a lie)
And the Starvation Army, they play
And they sing and they clap and they pray
Till they get all your coin on the drum
Then they tell you when you’re on the bum:
Holy Rollers and Jumpers come out
And they holler, they jump and they shout
Give your money to Jesus, they say
He will cure all diseases today.
If you fight hard for children and wife
Try to get something good in this life
You’re a sinner and bad man, they tell
When you die you will sure go to hell.
Workingmen of all countries, unite
Side by side we for freedom will fight
When the world and its wealth we have gained
To the grifters we’ll sing this refrain:
You will eat, bye and bye
When you’ve learned how to cook and how to fry
Chop some wood, ‘twill do you good
Then you’ll eat in the sweet bye and bye.
(That’s no lie)
28M | Portugal
German public broadcaster SWR is airing a German-language program on its internet radio station SWR2 this Sunday: “The Ashes of Joe Hill – The Resurrection of a Legend” Sunday, December 6, 2020 2:05 p.m., SWR2 Feature on Sunday, https://www.swr.de/swr2/doku-und-feature/die-asche-von-joe-hill-swr2-feature-am-sonntag-2020-12-06-100.html?fbclid=IwAR2c-eQ-7tx4rVEiekdkY0Zj61r7PFuy3Sygi6IcAKhwARs4dYB-RBOTkxI
By FW Greg Giorgio, Industrial Worker Fall 2017
Magpie, the folk duo Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino, wear their working class roots and union memberships proudly. The native Ohioans met at Kent State, where Terry dodged National Guard bullets in the infamous murders of four students in 1970. The social justice and environmental activists began performing together soon after and have never wavered from their strong messages for freedom.
When We Stand Together, subtitled Songs of Joe Hill, the IWW, and Fellow Workers, is a noble effort in the history of Wobbly songs. Its broad vision that includes songs penned by Ronnie Gilbert, Tish Hinojosa, and Si Kahn, Phil Ochs, and others closes a circle to incorporate the vision of a world where there is room for the justice around which we organize. Greg and Terry have added an important new take on the singing union tradition of the IWW.
Two years ago Magpie signed on to tour with FWs Charlie King and George Mann for the “Joe Hill Road Show,” during the centenary of the Wobbly bard’s execution in Utah. They had already fallen in love with many of Joe’s songs. They were so thrilled, in fact, they took out red cards on the tour, adding to their credentials as stalwarts in AFM Local 1000, the traveling musicians’ local. It’s exciting to hear them lead off this CD with Hill’s “Workers of the World Awaken.” Joe’s reboot to the “Internationale” riffs some of its lines but adapts it to a higher plane. One verse (“If the workers take a notion they can stop all speeding trains,” etc.) outlines the mechanics of stopping exploitation in the workplace and ending war. Magpie’s revelatory attempt here illustrates how their musicianship and sense of history are second to none in modern folk music.
Hill’s best efforts expropriated the boss-class popular culture and accentuated themes of “building a new society within the shell of the old,” as stated in the IWW Preamble. Hear Greg and Terry’s spirited offerings on Hill’s “It’s a Long Way Down to the Soup Line” or the anti-war anthem “Don’t Take My Papa Away from Me.” Terry’s vocal on the latter is rich, emotional, and evokes the era in which it was penned. While many have recorded Joe’s “The Rebel Girl,” Magpie treats it with a reverence they share about Hill’s compositional prowess.
Magpie’s originals show their strengths as songwriters. “Poor Old Dobbin” is a tribute to the IWW that could have been written a century ago. And “Canton 1918” chronicles the famous speech by Gene Debs that resulted in his lockup in the federal pen for “sedition.” You can hear the emotion coming through your speakers with Greg’s lead vocal as he sings so reverently about the time and the town as it was then.
The 19 cuts that grace the recording include songs by many non-IWW authors, but their inclusion enriches the mix. Like Flo Reece’s “Which Side Are You On?” where Terry embodies Flo’s unique vocal style, working-class imperatives in “Build High the Bridge,” environmental justice in “Something in the Rain,” solidarity in “Links on the Chain,” and immigrants and labor in “Borderlines” are all powerful reminders of the work that still needs to be organized. Do you know “Paper Heart”? Si Khan and Charlotte Brody wrote this about Joe Hill, and Magpie’s heart-tugging harmony is sad and beautiful. And now the circle is complete.
Please see www.magpiemusic.com for information on this and other recordings by Magpie.
We continue to add new Joe Hill events to our calendar as we learn of them. The latest:
Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. 4:00 pm. Joe Hill commemoration concert with the U-Liners. Fundraiser for Marc Elrich, candidate for Montgomery County Executive. Flanagan’s Harp & Fiddle, 4844 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, Maryland.
We’ve also added the 2018 Solidarity Forever Labor History calendar to our web store. This year’s calendar commemorates workers’ struggles against fascism and bigotry around the world, and the power of workers’ solidarity.
Workers of the World, Awaken!: The Life and Legacy of Joe Hill exhibit opened on Saturday, June 3, at the Steeple Building Museum in Bishop Hill, Illinois. The exhibit will close on September 30, 2017.
This traveling display, consisting of 5 text panels and over 25 stand-alone images with music, was created by the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia. After a year in Philadelphia, the exhibit has also appeared at Nordic Northwest, in Portland, OR.
For more details about the exhibit or the concert, please call 309-927-3899 or email email@example.com.
By John Paul Wright
Nashville-based Shelby Bottom Duo (Michael August and Nell Levin) will perform their entertaining, multimedia educational show, A Musical History of Joe Hill and the Early Labor Movement in Louisville April 7. The show is set for 7 to 10 p.m. at Lettersong, 1501 Story Ave.
Tickets are $10 advance, $12 at the door. Space is limited so advance tickets are recommended. Click here for tickets.
Their companion CD Joe Hill Roadshow will be available at the show. Special guest will be Louisville’s John Paul Wright, Railroad Engineer, Songwriter, Drummer, Poet, Activist. www.railroadmusic.org
Songwriter Joe Hill is the precursor of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. He was immortalized when Joan Baez sang “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. A Swedish immigrant, Hill was a member of the international labor group, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies), active in the decade leading up to World War I. In 1914, Joe Hill was framed for two murders he did not commit. He was executed by a firing squad in Salt Lake City, Utah on November 19,1915. He subsequently became a labor icon.
Our Musical History includes live performances of Joe Hill songs along with a talk and images about Hill’s life, early labor struggles and the influence of the IWW’s innovative organizing strategies on movements today. Our goal is to share this vital slice of labor history with a wide range people so that we can all better understand why the revolutionary creativity exemplified by Joe Hill and the Wobblies is still relevant. In 2015, 100 years after Joe Hill’s execution, 40 concerts were held around the country celebrating his legacy. Shelby Bottom Duo organized and performed at the Nashville concert and performed at the Knoxville concert.
A Musical History has received funding for our performances from Metro Nashville Arts Commission THRIVE and Humanities Tennessee.
“Shelby Bottom Duo: Entertaining, irreverent social commentary, humanity and humor.” Bill Friskics-Warren, correspondent for the New York Times