Workers Unite Film Festival

The film about our project “Songs of Slavery and Emancipation” will be shown on the Workers Unite Film Festival in September. Click on the above logo to open the festivals website with the program.

A trailor is available on Vimeo here.

24.03.2020 – Virus News

Dear Friends:

Due to the pandemic all our concerts and public appearances have been canceled. This includes the US tour we planned in April as well as concerts in Switzerland. Plans for visits to England, Ireland and Italy are on hold. We can’t predict when the epidemic will end or when it will be possible to resume live concerts and other public gatherings. Nevertheless, we know it will end and we plan to be ready when it does.

It is our hope that humanity will learn some important lessons from this episode and that the experience strengthens our resolve to fight for a world free of war, poverty and oppression. Among the most important lessons is an obvious one: health care is a human right, public health must be expanded and improved, and the entire exploitative apparatus of private health insurance and pharmaceutical companies should be abolished. If we can expect any good to arise from this crisis that should be one.

Another lesson is that this epidemic is not an isolated incident but embedded within the wider environmental emergency our planet has been facing for decades now. Since 1988 when Dr. James Hansen presented irrefutable evidence of global warming before the US Congress, we’ve witnessed governments and corporations evading and avoiding, obstructing and sabotaging, every reasonable proposal to end fossil fuel use and convert to clean energy production. Now, suddenly, these same governments and corporations are forced to act by a medical emergency. The connection is obvious to all: the health of humanity depends on concerted action, not only to overcome this pandemic, but to end fossil fuel use-immediately. There can be no more excuses and delaying tactics. Convert to renewable energy now.

A final lesson we might learn is that international cooperation, such as Cuba sending doctors to Italy, or the EU sending medical supplies to Iran, should not end with the retreat of the virus. On the contrary, if it is possible to work together to overcome a medical emergency it is possible to overcome a political one as well. This means identifying the “pathogen” of militarism and targeting its source, most notably the United States and NATO. Along with our physical resistance to the coronavirus, we need popular resistance to war. It is our hope that this lesson is not lost, especially as governments are even now trying to assign blame for their own incompetence. Such belligerence is counterproductive and should be met with a demand for a cessation of hostilities, sanctions, military budgets and arms trading. At the very least, the total ban of nuclear weapons should be as realistic as overcoming the coronavirus. To whom is peace a threat?

Mat and Yvonne

March-April 2020 News

The big news is our Working Class Heroes tour in April. Please let us know if you need more information about any of the following events. Hope to see you along the way!

Working Class Heroes-US tour

Wednesday, April 8th – Marist College talk (Poughkeepsie, NY)

Thursday, April 9th – 7pm-9pm
Wunderbar, 3rd floor, 201 S West St, Syracuse, NY 13202
Contact: syracusedsa@protonmail.com, 315-506-5659
Co-sponsored by Syracuse Democratic Socialists of America and Friends of Irish Freedom.

Saturday, April 11th – Two events:

1pm-3pm-Cornell University
School of Industrial & Labor Relations, Ives 361
Ithaca, NY

7pm-9pm, The Irish American Heritage Museum,
25 Quackenbush Square, Albany
Sponsored by the Upstate Branch of the IWW

Sunday, April 12th – Salon, New York City

Wednesday, April 15 – Two events:

12:15pm-1:30pm “Songs from the Line: The Music of Working Class Heroes” –
Green Room, 4th Floor West, Michigan State University Library
(co-sponsored by the MSU Library Colloquia Series)
MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing, MI
48824 USA

6:30PM – 8:00PM
East Lansing Public Library
950 Abbot Road
East Lansing, MI 48823

Friday, April 17th – Labor Notes

Saturday, April 18th – Labor Notes “Meet The Author” session on Saturday, April 18, between 6 and 7 pm.

Sunday, April 19th – Labor Notes

November-December 2019 News

Dear Friends:

In December, Yvonne and I will be traveling to the Bay Area to record an album. This album is a collection of songs I’ve written over the last ten years but never recorded. While we’ve devoted much effort to Songs of Freedom, Working Class Heroes and Songs of Slavery and Emancipation, we haven’t forgotten these original compositions. In fact, we began investigating the possibilities for recording them in December 2017. That’s when we contacted Greg Landau, an old friend of mine who also happens to be a great musician and producer. Greg’s worked with many outstanding artists from Omar Sosa to Susana Baca and, of course, he was responsible for bringing my band, the Looters, to Nicaragua in 1983, in solidarity with the Nicaraguan revolution.
First, we asked Greg’s opinion of the material, whether it was worthy of the effort and expense of recording it. Second, we asked if he was inspired to take charge of the production. Greg’s enthusiastic endorsement of both the music and the prospects of recording it were enough to encourage Yvonne and me to take the necessary steps. These began with fundraising-as do all our projects!-but quickly led to planning where and how to do the recording. By the end of 2018 we’d hit upon the idea of recording in Matanzas, Cuba with an Orchestra connected to the Conservatory of Music. Greg traveled twice to Cuba to secure the necessary invitations and support. We were all set to make the trip whereupon Trump issued his decree banning travel to Cuba.
To make a long story short, our high-profile visit, at the behest of the Cuban Ministry of Culture, could not escape notice by US authorities making it dangerous for Greg, an American citizen, to travel to Cuba. Suddenly we had to decide whether to postpone to the recording until after the 2020 election in hopes that the travel ban would be lifted or to find another location and go ahead with the recording. Greg convinced us that, while it would undoubtedly be a different album, it would nonetheless be worthwhile if we came to the Bay Area and worked with the pool of musicians Greg works with on a regular basis.
After much discussion, we decided to go ahead and so we begin recording in December. We’ll let you know how well we’ve done in January, 2020.

YOU ARE INVITED:

We couldn’t return to the Bay Area without performing at least a few times. After all, Working Class Heroes was only released in October this year so, even as we are making new music ready for future release, we want to encourage everyone to listen to the music we’ve already recorded!!!

The following events are open to the public and we’d like to see all of you at one or more of them.

Sunday, December 8thThe Howard Zinn Bookfair – 4-5:30PM – ROOM 325
City College of San Francisco, Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia Street

Saturday, December 14thDown Home Music – 2pm
10341 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA
510-525-2129

Tuesday, December 17thThe Green Arcade Bookstore – 7:30pm
1680 Market Street (at Gough) San Francisco
415 431 6800

August 2019 News

Dear Friends: This month we can announce the publication of our songbook, Working Class Heroes. This is not to be confused with the release of the CD of the same name. The CD is comprised of our performance of twenty songs. The same songs are presented with musical notation (including guitar chords) in the songbook. The two are complementary and are best enjoyed together.

If you are interested in obtaining songbook and/or CD please contact the following:
PM Press