Billy Bragg is returning to Australia this October with a special new two part show: the first half celebrating the legacy of Woody Guthrie, the original alternative musician, and the second exploring Billy’s own extensive repertoire, highlighting the songs that have made him famous over his almost three decade, 14-album career.
2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, folk singer and ‘dust-bowl troubadour’, a prolific writer whose songs, ballads, prose and poetry championed the plight of the underdog. Billy Bragg has a special musical affinity with Woody – when Woody’s daughter Nora unearthed a treasure trove of her father’s unrecorded lyrics after his death, Billy Bragg and Wilco worked together setting these to music, creating the critically acclaimed Mermaid Avenue albums.
The Complete Sessions has just been released, including Mermaid Avenue Vol. III. Billy will play songs from Woody’s extensive repertoire as well as the Mermaid Avenue albums, giving audiences new insights into one of the most influential figures in popular music, a man who inspired artists from Bob Dylan to Joe Strummer, as well as Billy himself.
In the show’s second half, Billy Bragg will take a trip through his back catalogue inhis own inimitable style. In nearly three decades of performing and activism, Billy Bragg, described recently by the London Times as a “national treasure”, has crafted an incredible collection of songs traversing both the personal and the political.
A guardian of the radical dissenting tradition that stretches back over centuries of political, cultural, and social history, Billy is a consummate performer and gifted raconteur. His live shows, like his songs, are funny, warm, sad and true.
Billy Bragg, ‘the Bard from Barking’, famously started out as a tank driver in the British Army. Things didn’t work out – “When you’ve driven one tank, you’ve driven them all”– and in early 1982 he found himself back on the streets of Barking, writing songs. Drawing inspiration from the DIY ethos of punk rock, he decided to take on the world single-handedly, armed with only an electric guitar. His first album, ‘Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy’ came out in 1983.
Billy was politicised by Rock Against Racism in the late 1970s. He marshalled 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. Throughout his career, Billy Bragg has remained contemporary, providing his insightful, clear-eyed yet hopeful commentary on our times through social, political and technological change.
Although often defined by his political songs, Billy is also a writer of great love songs. He said “I write about the things make me angry: sometimes it’s the government, sometimes it’s the girl.”His songs describe the emotional peaks and troughs of love, navigating the difficult terrain of modern relationships.
Don’t miss Billy Bragg this October and November on his ‘Ain’t Nobody That Can Sing Like Me’ Tour and as part of The Melbourne Festival.
All Tickets go on sale Monday 6 August:
Sunday 21st October – Federation Hall, Hobart
Tuesday 23rd October – Canberra Theatre, Canberra
Thursday 25th October – QPAC, Brisbane
Saturday 27th October – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Wednesday 31st October – Town Hall, Adelaide
Friday 2 November – Astor Theatre, Perth
Plus Melbourne Festival shows:
Friday 19th October – Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Billy Bragg Celebrates The Legacy Of Woody Guthrie
Saturday 20th October – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne
An Evening With Billy Bragg