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Thursday, April 8, 2010 01:35 pm

Irresistible resistance


Once upon a time, folksingers and musicians everywhere used voices and music to righteously rail and necessarily knock unfair and overbearing public and private wrongs. Believe it or not, people listened to these artists, considered by many to offer insight into problems and see ways of averting or adjusting these troubles for the common good, respectfully helping the human condition through song. These days in some folks’ opinion, including mine, a good deal of music is a superfluous concoction of soothing, sugary sap, produced to make a buck and without a thought to energizing the minds of people or encouraging a peep of betterment.

Now please give a hoot and a holler to Anne Feeney and Evan Greer, two honest-to-goodness, radical folksingers on the road and in the trenches with the fire of resistance burning brightly to light their way. Anne, the elder of the two by a wee bit, began singing to change the world more than 30 years ago. She made several stops in Springfield along her way, including a couple of Mother Jones dinners at Sangamon State University beginning in the late ’80s and most recently last October at University of Illinois Springfield for a Politics in the Public Sphere program with David Rovics, sponsored by Richard Gilman-Opalsky, a UIS political science professor. Her songs have been praised and sung by Pete Seeger, Utah Phillips, Billy Bragg, Peter, Paul and Mary and thousands of people all over the world, including the classic anthem of protesters everywhere, “Have You Been to Jail for Justice?” After years of local community organizing and working as a folksinger, she’s dedicated the last 20 years to full-time traveling on the road, tirelessly supporting and defending human rights in song and spirit.

 “I spend most of my life leaving people I don’t want to go from to see other people I want to be with,” she said. “My life is wonderful. I got the miles on me.”

Greer, a vibrant and evocative musician, writer and singer at 24 years old, calls himself gender-free, eats a vegan diet and is a founding member of the Riot-Folk Collective, a Boston-based group containing like-minded people singing and working for justice around the world. He began community organizing in high school and has since become an international voice for resistance and liberation through constant touring and working. After first meeting at a show a few years back, where Anne asked Evan and members of the collective to perform, the two singers bonded as friends and fellow musicians, touring and collaborating frequently since their initial get-together.

“Evan is a real talent. He is just phenomenal,” she said. “He’s challenging to me. Every time I see him again he’s made quantum leaps in his musicality and songwriting.”

This particular tour, called Generations of Resistance, covers about 4,600 miles over the next couple of months from city to city across the Midwest. The tour is more than just music, with Feeney and Greer also sponsoring “six different interactive and engaging social/environmental justice workshops” in most places along the way. Many of the scheduled stops are at universities, but also include visits to union halls, women’s organizations, peace groups, community centers and other socially conscious gatherings.

“Music is a great way to challenge people without threatening them, but through presenting ideas,” Feeney explained. “My idea of folk music isn’t folk music any more.”

She recently released a double CD of Irish music, both traditional and original, and plays all kinds of music other than “radical protest,” but she says, “my shows are definitely political these days” and “some of my views are controversial to everyone with issues that split the audience down the middle.”

Be assured the concert will be absolutely entertaining and educational as well as informing and invigorating with harmony singing and acoustic instruments, insightful lyrics and interesting commentary.

“Anyone who thinks political folk music is boring should give us a chance,” said Feeney. “It’s a good lively show.”

Anne Feeney and Evan Greer perform at Bar None, 5th &%u2008Monroe, Monday, April 12, 7pm.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com

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