Weekend Tunes: Nick Burbridge – Song of Sisyphus

You won't find Nick Burbridge's music charting on any Top 20 lists and, to the best of my knowledge, he's never toured extensively, by himself or with his band McDermott's 2 Hours. But his music, once you hear it, is hard to stop listening to. Burbridge sings of the disenfranchised, the marginalized, and those working underground to subvert the status quo. These are protest songs and songs for the working class from the depths of a poet's heart, and its on constant rotation in my home. Read the rest

Weekend Tunes: The Levellers

Last week, I mentioned that listening to The Pogues turned me on to checking out The Levellers. This would be they.

The band takes its name from a political movement that rose up in the 1600s during the English Civil War. To be a Leveller, back then, was to believe in popular sovereignty, radical democracy, suffrage, religious tolerance and equality before the law. Civil rights, for all, was the name of their game. Levellers fought for many of the things that the left are still reaching for today. Resistance to power, egalitarianism, paganism and a call to action are the threads that have made the cloth of their music since the band first got together back in 1988. Read the rest

Weekend Tunes: The Pogues Live at the Town and Country

The Pogues were my entry point into punk. They caused a massive shift in my understanding of music: they made my growing up to play the mandolin, tenor banjo and bodhran feel cool. The music I played needn't be something from the past. As much as I loved and continue to adore traditional Irish tunes, The Pogues showed 15-year-old me that there was new life in the tunes I knew; new themes to explore. Discovering A Pair of Brown Eyes, Thousands are Sailing and The Broad Majestic Shannon kicked open other musical doors for me. It wasn't too long until my Discman was pushing The Waterboys, The Levellers, Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span into my skull.

I've got fond memories of The Pogues Live at the Town and Country. When I was 18, I skipped my high school prom in favor of shipping off to Halifax. I'd fallen in love with a girl there, the summer previous. She was waiting for me. The relationship smouldered itself out, as flames that burn too hot, too fast, often do. Before we parted ways, she bought Live at the Town and Country on VHS for me as a birthday gift.

I watch it and listened to it until there was nothing left of that tape. Read the rest