Mat Callahan and Yvonne Moore (from the album Working-Class Heroes: A History of Struggle in Song available on Free Dirt Records)
The words of those affected by struggle continue to carry banners and placards up high decades after their ink has dried on paper with Working Class Heroes: A History of Struggle in Song. The collection of protests is gathered by Mat Callahan and Yvonne Moore, both Folk musicians as performers, curators, and activists in the genre. The project began with Yvonne Moore’s research of the legendary songbook, Hard Hitting Song for Hard-Hit People, and discovery of songwriter Sarah Ogan Gunning. Mat Callahan and Yvonne Moore found that the though popular in the times her songs were first heard, Sarah Ogan Gunning’s role in the labor movement was lost outside of her songs. Working Class Heroes: A History of Struggle in Songopens with a cut from the Sarah Ogan Gunning catalog, Yvonne Moore offering an acapella version of “Come All You Coal Miners”, the words from the voice of a coalminer’s wife urging change. Working Class Heroeschampions Gunning’s words with “Girl of Constant Sorrow” and “Come On Friends and Let’s Go”, attacking the powers-that-be with “I Hate the Capitalist System” and sharing woes in “Dreadful Memories”.
Woody Guthrie and his songs are continual examples of how words and music can incite change, and Matt Callahan along with Yvonne Moore keeps the sentiments fresh, presenting the protests with voices amplified by passion and united in one cause. Working Class Heroesincludes the songs of Woody Guthrie (“Mama Don’t ‘Low No Bush-Wah’s Hangin’ Around”) alongside lesser-known names such as Ella May Wiggins, John Handcox and Sarah Ogan Gunning siblings Aunt Molly Jackson and Jim Garland. Mat Callahan and Yvonne Moore are the torchbearers carrying A History of Struggle in Songas they share dreams with “Joe Hill”, warn “There Is Mean Things Happening in This Land”, and take sides in “We Have Feed You All for a Thousand Years”, reminding that the past is never far away with the traditional tunes “Rock-a-Bye Baby” and “Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad”.
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