- Anthony Saint John
- Anthony Saint John
- Anthony Saint John
- Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Billy Bragg Launches Tour of New Zealand & Australia Celebrating Woody Guthrie Centenary with Songs of "Mermaid Avenue"
Billy Bragg launches a tour of New Zealand and Australia this Friday, October 12, in celebration of the life and legacy of Woody Guthrie, on the 100th anniversary of the folk legend’s birth. The shows will feature songs from the Mermaid Avenue albums, in which Bragg and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy set Guthrie's words to music, as well as songs from throughout Bragg's career. The New Zealand leg includes stops in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, and Christchurch; the Australia leg in Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth.
- Friday, August 3, 2012
Billy Bragg will bring his Ain't Nobody That Can Sing Like Me tour to New Zealand and Australia this October in celebration of the life and legacy of Woody Guthrie, on the 100th anniversary of the folk legend’s birth. The first half of each show on the tour features songs from the Mermaid Avenue albums, in which Bragg and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy put Guthrie's words to music; the second half of the sets features songs from throughout Bragg's career. The New Zealand and Australia shows follow a similarly focused months-long tour of Europe and North America.
About Billy Bragg
Billy Bragg was inspired by punk, forming his first band in his hometown of Barking, east London in 1977. They released one EP on Chiswick Records before burning out as the 80s dawned. Looking to press the eject button on his punk days, Billy joined the British Army in 1981, training to become a tank driver in the Royal Armoured Corps. Things didn’t work out—“When you’ve driven one tank, you’ve driven them all” was Billy’s terse comment—and in early 1982 he found himself back on the streets of Barking, still writing songs.
Drawing inspiration from the do-it-yourself attitude that was at the core of punk rock, he decided to take on the world single-handedly, armed with only an electric guitar. Following a year of relentless gigging, his first album, Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy, came out in 1983. He famously scored his first radio play by delivering a mushroom biryani to a hungry John Peel at the BBC.
Billy was politicized by Rock Against Racism in the late 1970s and, as a result, saw his music as a platform by which to offer listeners a different perspective of events. He marshaled his songs in opposition to Margaret Thatcher, supporting the miners when they went on strike in 1984 and subsequently founding Red Wedge, a collective of left-wing musicians who campaigned for the defeat of Thatcher at the 1987 election.
Although often defined by his political songs, Billy is also a writer of great love songs. He says, “ I write about the things make me angry: sometimes it’s the government, sometimes it’s the girl.” His ability to describe the emotional peaks and troughs of loving someone have led Billy to be described at the "Sherpa of Heartache," helping others to navigate the difficult terrain of modern relationships.
In 1992, Woody Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, approached Billy with the idea that he put new music to lyrics that her father had written in Brooklyn in the 1940s. Billy invited Wilco to join him in the project and the resulting album Mermaid Avenue came out to great acclaim in 1998. A second volume was released in 2000. Both were nominated for Grammy awards.
In 2012, Nonesuch Records released a third volume of tracks from the original sessions and a collection of all three records to mark the centenary of Woody’s birth. Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions also includes a DVD documentary about the making of the album.
April 21, 2012
On the acclaimed Mermaid Avenue albums, Billy Bragg and Wilco put music to lyrics by folk legend Woody Guthrie for which he had not written music or made recordings. Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions includes the original two volumes (the second re-mastered); a third volume with 17 previously unreleased recordings from those sessions; the 1999 documentary on the sessions, Man in the Sand; and a 48-page booklet with new liner notes by Nora Guthrie, lyrics, archival photographs, and facsimiles of lyric sheets and sketches by Woody Guthrie. "Nobody has picked up on Woody as effectively—or unexpectedly—as this transatlantic get-together," says the BBC. "What's remarkable," says Pitchfork, is "the number of gems these sessions produced."