A few months ago, I got an email from the upstate New York chapter of the James Connolly Industrial Workers of the World, an international movement that focuses on broader worker solidarity (as opposed to trade-specific union groups each fighting for their own). I've written here before about my appreciation for James Connolly's socioeconomic insights, and even recorded a few songs about the man for my 2022 Irish folk album, Forfocséic Vol. 2: Whiskey & Work. As such, I was honored when the James Connolly IWW asked me to contribute some music to their new fundraising album, We Will All Sing One Song.
The album was just announced today in recognition of May Day, but it won't be officially available to listen and download until May 12 — the yahrzeit* of James Connolly (a term I only just learned!). Proceeds go to local strike and relief funds, although a slightly smaller free version of the album will also be available for those who can't pay.
I actually ended up contributing two songs: a raucous, punk rock version of "Connolly Was There," which I had previously recorded on the aforementioned Irish folk record, and "Song of My Da," a union song by Paul O'Brien that the album organizers specifically requested of me (and which I think might be my best production work yet). My friend Craig Wesley Divino plays drums on both tracks; you may have also seen his pretty face on The Blacklist and Wu-Tang: An American Saga.
We Will All Sing One Song [James Connolly Upstate NY IWW / Bandcamp]
*Connolly was executed by British soldiers on May 12, 1916, for his participation in the Easter Rising. The 47-year-old Connolly was so gravely injured during the Rising itself that he had to be carried out to the firing squad on a stretcher, unable to stand on his two legs. But the indignity turned into a major turning point for Irish independence. That's a big part of why I find the Easter Rising so fascinating: it lacked popular support and ended with all of its leaders captured and killed, and yet that failure ultimately ended up being the spark that brought on the change.