In Concert Mat Callahan and Yvonne Moore
Songs of Rebellion by James Connolly
Irish revolutionary socialist, trade union leader, political theorist (1868-1916)
Sunday, January 24, 7:30 PM
First Presbyterian Church PALO ALTO, Social Hall
1140 Cowper Street, Palo Alto
Contributions requested. Wheelchair accessible.
“Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement” – James Connolly
Songs of Freedom is the name of the songbook edited by James Connolly and published in 1907. Connolly’s introduction is better known than the collection for which it was written, containing his oft-quoted maxim: “Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement, it is the dogma of a few and not the faith of the multitude.” Though most of the songs were of Irish derivation, the songbook itself was published in New York and directed to the American working class, explicitly internationalist in its aims.
From the rollicking welcome of “A Festive Song” to the defiant battle cry of “Watchword of Labor,” Songs of Freedom accomplishes the difficult task of making contemporary music out of old revolutionary songs. Far from the archival preservation of embalmed corpses, the inspired performance turns the timeless lyrics of James Connolly into timely manifestos for today’s young rebels. As Connolly himself repeatedly urged, nothing can replace the power of music to raise the fighting spirit of the oppressed.
Giving expression to Connolly’s internationalism, musical influences ranging from traditional Irish airs to American rhythm and blues are combined here in refreshing creativity. As for the songs themselves, nine have lyrics by Connolly, three were written about Connolly, and one, “The Red Flag,” was chosen by Connolly to be in the original Songs of Freedom songbook of 1907, subsequently becoming a classic song of Labor.
Mat Callahan is a musician and author originally from San Francisco, where he founded Komotion International. He is the author of three books, Sex, Death & the Angry Young Man, Testimony, and The Trouble With Music. He currently resides in Bern, Switzerland.
Swiss vocalist Yvonne Moore burst onto the scene in a major way with her debut release Walkin’ the Blues, where she was heralded as the “best blues voice in Switzerland”.
Reach and Teach, PM Press and Peninsula Peace and Justice Center