Author Archives: Marko B

‘Ain’t gonna let nobody frack my home, frack your home, frack our home…’

MB vs. Cuadzilla outside northern Cuadrilla, 19-8-14

I’m just back from supporting Frack-Free Lancashire with music, as part of a thing of self-organised wonder known as Reclaim the Power. It was touch and go whether I would head to Edinburgh to sit in with the entirely inspirational Rev Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, but in the end I was happy to have got to Grow Heathrow to help resist the eviction, then roll north on the chartered coach to Blackpool for the camp. With wildly talented song maker and leader Alex Etchart, I helped turn slogans into songs, and write a new one inspired by stories of resistance in Pennsylvania and Rumania, which was dreamt up while tramping the green edges of the campsite just before the hastily-called singing workshop on Sunday morning, set in waltz time and went:

‘Lancashire, Rumania, Pennsylvania,/We salute those who resist frackmania/With bodies, voices and hands together,/We stand with you whatever the weather’, which loads of us sang outside Cuadrilla’s occupied northern office in Blackpool – Continue reading

A Declaration of Peace, August 4th 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 17.22.39

I performed on Saturday evening (August 2nd) at Peace News Summer Camp, which took place in a really beautiful location near Minsmere nature reserve from July 31st to August 4th. (Special thanks to the farmer for pointing me towards the big swimming pond!)


On Monday August 4th we had a powerful and helpful session/ritual declaring peace on the 100th anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany, and envisioning our contribution to (some of) the next 100 years. I wrote a short piece (with melodic assistance from Sarah Jewell) which we all sang at the beginning. Here’s me demo-ing it a few days earlier:

The Travelling People 2014 rides again, (Saturday July 12th)

Well, it was a wild, chaotic, warm-hearted full moon of a night, and a wonder to see how far this immersion in the words and music of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger has journeyed from a short performance in a Goldsmiths College classroom back in spring 2012. A real sense too of being part of this long chain of people making art that gives a damn about how we’re doing.


(Above:) Sarah Jewell and I take a verse of The Moving On Song, with choir assistance


(Above:) Excerpts from the original ballad, with images from the road past and present

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Bidding farewell to Shell in song

‘There is a fire in me
Burns all night and day
Flares at injustice
Leaps at oppression
Glows warmly in beauty’
(Ken Saro-Wiwa)

I made a demo of a setting I wrote of this poem:

And we sang it, along with ‘Oil-Free Festival Hall’, outside said Festival Hall, on June 8th 2014, to mark a small but significant victory in the long journey towards art and culture untainted by  fossil fuelled funding. We were small in number, and perhaps a little under-rehearsed, but there was still an undeniable power I thought in what we sang.

Farewell fire banner 8-6-14Farewell Outside 2 8-6-14

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‘Send down roots or carry them with you’…The story of The Travelling People 2014

Gypsy Stars from footage 3

It was back in the spring of 2013 that I was sitting in the Special Collections room in Goldsmiths College library, immersed in what was once the library of Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl, and discovered that their brilliant and still-resonant radio ballad The Travelling People was broadcaston April 17th 1964. Since that made it 10 days younger than me, it didn’t take too much calculation to work it would be 50 the following year…

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The Travelling People 2014

TVP poster April

Poster by Alex Goodman:
On the 17th April 1964, the BBC broadcast The Travelling People, a ‘radio ballad’ by Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker and Peggy Seeger. The last of their groundbreaking collaborations, this programme explored the lives of Gypsies and Travellers in their own voices, interspersed with songs by MacColl. Continue reading

Of musicians and movements

Oil Festival Hall

This piece was commissioned then declined, in part for its lack of our old friend ‘balance’. So here it is, in case it’s of interest. It’s addressed in particular to artists and musicians who might be pondering their role in movements for social and ecological justice…

Musicians are mavericks. We might hear the call to join this movement or that, and hesitate. So when the call comes in to be part of a movement of artists responding creatively to climate change, (a human and ecological catastrophe-in-progress), what might some of the questions be ricocheting around the head of a pondering musician?

 “Do I have something to offer that would be any use?”

“Would it rob me of my autonomy as an artist?”

“Might I be pigeon-holed as an eco-lunatic or social justice-bore?”

“Might I be ostracised by my more fearful peers?”

And last but not least:

“Might I miss out on that tasty commission and see my career slip out of sight?”

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