Posts Tagged ‘protests’

PTDC0003I booked today off work in order to make a pilgrimage to the Working Class Movement Library, along with David Wilkinson, to see Dave Randall talk about his book Sound System: The Political Power Of Music at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford.

Whilst walking through Piccadilly, I was struck by a piece of street art on the pavement that a Canadian visitor had left.


I was particularly struck by the nod to Alphonse Mucha and Art Nouveau, as it’s a new development in post Arena bombing murals/artwork, one that I found equally as striking as the recently encountered Stockport Worker Bee.

Market Street was busy, as always, in the clammy heat and I weaved and dodged my way through the usual blend of surreal street theatre and miss-en-scene. This included a middle aged man in a police costume with a boom box who, despite not seeming to be doing anything, had drawn a crowd of curious teenagers. There was also an Ed Sheeran style singer/songwriter who had attracted a very enthusiastic man with a huge rucksack, who was doing a variation of the Bez dance.

At the WCML, Dave Randall was introduced by the excellent Maxine Peake, and quickly proved to be a very engaging and confident (in the best sense) speaker. He clearly has a wide range of knowledge about the whole area of music, politics and protest to draw upon and is coming at it from the point of view of a musician and activist, rather than an academic. He has a global approach and his talk touched on the history of Carnival in Tobego and Trinidad as well as the protest music of the Arab Spring, I was also pleased to discover that his historical approach runs over centuries rather than decades, meaning he is looking far beyond the well trod Woody Guthrie – The Clash – The End path. I like the fact that he’s not just talking about how protest movements have used music, or how the dispossessed have used music, he’s also talking about propaganda and how the state has co opted and used music.

The Q&A went well and he got some interesting questions from the audience, covering a number of angles from ‘Can music without lyrics be political?’ via a series of debates around jazz, songs sung today at protests that have travelled from one protest area to another (Anonymous to Anti-Fracking via ‘We Are The 99%’. ‘Build a Bonfire’, ‘Whose Strets? Our Streets!’ and the imaginative recent use of the Benny Hill theme to see off the EDL were not mentioned) all sorts. I think the WCML audience can be a tough crowd sometimes, but they seemed won over by Dave, and he seemed equally enthused by the audience, so the energy was really good.

He got mobbed for books afterwards, which is always a good sign.

After tea and biscuits, it was time to venture back through the increasingly sultry Salford streets into muggy Manchester to get the bus back to Stockport.



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On Saturday while taking a break from the annual Louder Than Words music literature festival at the Palace Hotel, I found myself standing outside 8th Day marvelling at a very smart and imposing horse drawn Victorian style funeral carriage which was parked up there.

I initially thought it was something to do with a group of gothic lolita girls and steampunks I’d seen earlier on Oxford Road, but I think that was just an odd coincidence as I worked out eventually that the carriage was attached to a gathering group of people in hi vis vests inside and spilling out of All Saints Park across the road. The banners they had seemed to be for something called The 10th Day, which google reveals is something to do with Karbala.

What made this odd occurrence even odder was that it must only have been about 20 minutes since the first of the days marches had passed down Oxford Road: The protest march against the treatment of Kurds in Turkey.

The 10th Day people must have headed off down Oxford Road at about 2pm as I could hear their drummers over John Robb interviewing Kristen Hersh upstairs at the Palace Hotel.

The third march? That was the Anti-Fracking demo and march in the city centre, which you can read about over on Frack-Free Manchester.  I did know about this one in advance actually, but as with every march on a Saturday, knew I wouldn’t be able to attend as when I’m not attending Louder Than Words I’m working.

Despite the nature of these three marches, it does feel oddly reassuring to hear the sound of people on the march again in Manchester as, increasingly, I’ve been starting to see last years TUC March as a kind of last hurrah and wondering what will happen next.

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Today was the second anti-cuts, anti-tuition fees protest, but it was local protests this time, not a big one in London. Or not just a big one in London. The Manchester one assembled at 12, but people were there before then, so I wandered around for a bit outside the Tin Can (University Place), watching and listening, and looking for a friend of mine, who had been handing out leaflets the day before. Didn’t spot him, but spotted some good banners and placards (‘Cut Pizza, Not Education’ on a Pizza Hut box), several involving witty yet vulgar plays on ‘cut’ and ‘cunt’, plenty that simply said ‘Tory Scum’ (the chant of a generation, post Millbank), a Socialist Worker ‘Fuck The Cuts’ one… seemed to be a lot of nervy, gee-d up protesters, who were either new to it and didn’t know what to expect, or fairly new to it and for whom the novelty hadn’t worn off. There were also some sixth formers and school kids, looking very small and excited… Seemed like quite goodish numbers at this stage, and the idea was for the contingent outside the Tin Can to march towards MMU, and hook up with the malcontents there before continuing onto the town hall. There were a lot of police, even at this stage, and some GMPTE staff (for traffic reasons, presumably, given it was Oxford Road) and campus police from the University. It all looked pretty relaxed, and still seemed pretty relaxed when the march started at 12:30, but I didn’t get to see anything after that.

There haven’t been that many accounts of what happened next, but from what I’ve been able to cobble together from commenters on The Guardian, and the article that the Manchester Evening News did, then there was some kind of stand off near the train station, with students sitting in the road and being charged by police on horseback. Anyone who was in that bit of Manchester could tell you that the traffic was thoroughly gridlocked for a number of hours, but comments on both the Guardian and MEN articles would suggest this isn’t the full story, and that a full account has yet to emerge… if anyone would like to write and send me one, feel free, (cakemaiden@gmail.com) but I expect it’ll emerge on one of the protest blogs soon…



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