Culture

Music & Movements: The Skiffle revolution

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Following the Second World War, austerity and rationing loomed large in British society. The rebuilding of post-war Britain would change the country forever. The Windrush generation saw new cultural influences appear, rationing ended and the longest sustained boom in the history of capitalism began. Musically, the US was the most important place in the world and young people looked there for their inspiration, leading to four musical developments that would profoundly influence British youth in the 1950s: traditional jazz, rock’n’roll, skiffle and modern jazz.

BLM in music

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The explosive impact of this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests was bound to stir music makers into creative action. Public Enemy’s Chuck D, once described rap as “Black America’s CNN”, the genre that provides the soundtrack and commentary to life in the ghettos. Fight The Power, released in 1989 is arguably the band’s magnum opus. Remixed for 2020 it includes a stellar line up of collaborators such as Questlove and Black Thought from The Roots, Rapsody and Nas. Meanwhile the images in Anderson.

Tribute to Frederick “Toots” Hibbert

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It was terribly sad to hear of the death of reggae legend Frederick “Toots” Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals. His unique, gospel influenced music was fantastic to listen and dance to. It was deeply political and inspirational. “54-46 Was My Number” and “Pressure Drop” are unforgettable tracks with passionate, political lyrics that talk of struggle and injustice. The title of the former refers to his prison number after wrongful arrest. The latter is a reminder to those in power that the day will come when they will fall. It was covered by The Clash amongst others.

Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame

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Cat Mackay spoke to filmmakers Don Coutts and David Hayman about their 2018 documentary Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame. Coutts and Hayman travelled to Sierra Leone and Jamaica, bringing to light facts about the Scottish ruling class’s central role in the horrors of the slave trade.

SR: Were you commissioned to make the documentary, or was it your own idea?

Jimi Hendrix Soundtrack of Revolt

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Fifty years after his death in1970 at the peak of his fame, Hendrix is still revered as the premium electric guitarist. His music became part of the soundtrack of a generation’s revolt. In the six years of his recorded output, he produced just four albums. But these, the hit singles from them and the new tonal and emotional territories he established with the electric guitar, make him one of the most important musicians of the century. Hendrix began playing on the Chitlin’ Circuit with, amongst others, the Isley Brothers and Little Richard.

Culture in Crisis: The Arts, Defunded

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There are three things to say about the government announcement of £1.8 billion for the Culture, Arts and Heritage sector announced in early July. First, for those who work in a sector of the economy that employs about 270,000 people this is potentially a lifeline. Second, compared to the funding provided by other (mostly European) governments for the same purpose, it is a pittance. Third, one of the effects of this money is that it will deepen the inequalities that already scar the different forms that make up the creative industries.

Theatre Online: Pass Over

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Since the lockdown and consequent closure of theatres, many theatre makers and theatre lovers have been trying to make a virtue out of a necessity of “online theatre”. One piece of onscreen theatre I was pleased to discover was Spike Lee’s film of Antoinette Nwandu’s play Pass Over, built around a recording of a performance at Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago in 2018. The play, based on Samuel Beckett’s classic Waiting for Godot, takes us to a street corner in a black, workingclass neighbourhood of an American city.

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