I frequent an independent record store close to where I live which has an extensive collection of vinyl. Over the years I’ve found some real gems, one album which has made a lasting impression recently is Roy Bailey’s Leaves from a Tree. It takes its title from the short opening song which, in essence, is a reminder of the strength to be found in solidarity and likens protesters to the “leaves from a tree” which, whilst individually vulnerable, the roots of the tree are firmly rooted to the land. It serves as a reminder that change in society is often brought about by standing strong together.
Leaves from a Tree featured John Kirkpatrick, who also co-produced the album with Roy, along with Sue Harris and Val Bailey. It was released in 1988 at a time when the Anti-Apartheid Movement was growing in strength and support. As well as featuring Rivonia, a song which takes its name from the Rivonia Trials which led to Nelson Mandela’s incarceration, was The Dunne Store Strike. It was written by Sandra Kerr and tells of the solidarity of the eleven young Irish supermarket employees (ten women and one man) who went on strike for two years and nine months in 1984 over their refusal to handle South African goods. The Irish government banned South African Fruit in 1986, an overwhelming victory. Some of you may recall that Christy Moore also covered the song:
Despite the current trend to question where are all the protest songs today, there are plenty of activists – the likes of Ewan McLennan whom we’ve featured in session recently (watch him performing here) and Grace Petrie spring to mind. Many of those who were active in the ’80s are still standing strong today and have inspired a younger generation to “sing up”, there’s no doubt that Roy Bailey is amongst that number.
Roy is also the Festival Patron for Towersey Festival and the good news is that he will be launching his brand new album at the festival. It includes a cover of Si Kahn’s They All Sang Bread & Roses, a song inspired by James Oppenheim’s poem which in turn was inspired by the signs carried by striking mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912. Roy also sang the song with Robb Johnson on the 2012 folk compilation album Celebrating Subversion: The Anti-Capitalist Roadshow which also featured the aforementioned Grace Petrie as well as Sandra Kerr, Peggy Seeger and more.
Entitled Live At Towersey Festival 2015, the 11-track collection features guest appearances by Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting, Roy’s daughter Kit, and grand-daughter Molly, and was recorded in secret at the festival last year.
Remarkably, although he’s released a few live tracks in the past, it’s Roy’s first ever full live album!
Join Roy and friends for his traditional afternoon concert in The Big Club on Monday 29 August, from 3.45pm, where you’ll also be able to buy copies of the CD.
You can also pre-order it via ProperMusic here: www.propermusic.com/product-details/Roy-Bailey-Live-At-Towersey-Festival-2015-241358
Here are some words of encouragement to those considering making their voices heard which are from the sleeve notes of Leaves From a Tree:
Songs are a source of entertainment and enjoyment, a source of happiness. Art is often regarded as a realm outside the concerns of everyday life; an escape from the worries and the dilemmas of ‘making ends meet’. Songs, however, are not neutral. They either confirm or subvert. To claim neutrality, in almost any sphere of life, is to affirm the status quo. To be neutral is to abandon the issues and leave them firmly in the hands of the powerful and the privileged….Our personal experience is an expression of a political, reality. They are not private or public, they are both. Seemingly private concerns are rooted in a public world of politics and priorities, usually other peoples!
Here is Roy performing Leon Rosselson’s Palaces of Gold with Martin Simpson at Towersey Festival in 2012