This year, the TUC celebrates its 150th anniversary and with it, a century and a half of working together to change the world of work for good. It all started with a simple question. Samuel Caldwell Nicholson, a typesetter and union officer living in Manchester asked: “why not have a congress of our own?” The trade union movement came together in the Mechanics Institute in Manchester, resolved to work as one, and the rest, as they say, is history.
To mark this special occasion in Manchester, Band on the Wall brings some of its favourite folk artists to the stunning surroundings of the Mechanics Institute for a string of unmissable, unique folk concerts.
As well as being the birthplace of the TUC, the Grade II*-listed Mechanics Institute was also the founding place of the Co-operative Insurance Society, and the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University also had their beginnings in the building.
Edward II are the English roots band that uniquely blend the rhythms of the Caribbean with traditional songs from the British Isles. Temporarily turning away from the rural songs of the middle England Morris teams, this time around the band has been delving deep into a repertoire of songs born of the industrial revolution, specifically of their home town, Manchester. Still upbeat, and with rock-steady rhythms, blazing horns, fabulous harmonies and fiery melodeon melodies, this will be a new set mixed with some of the old favourites and a familiar sound for the faithful.
The new repertoire features such unlikely classics as ‘Victoria Bridge on a Saturday Night’ and ‘A New Song on the Great Demonstration, which is to be made on Kersal Moor September 24th, 1838’, and give remarkable insights into the lives of our those living through a time of great change almost 200 years ago. Not surprisingly, many of the themes are still relevant today with songs of love, loss, poverty and political rights featuring heavily, but in the hands of Edward II, these have been turned into an uplifting celebration of the working people who really forged Manchester and transformed Britain into an Industrial powerhouse.
Jennifer Reid is a performer of 19thC Industrial Revolution broadside ballads and Lancashire dialect work song. After volunteering at Chetham’s Library and the Working Class Movement Library, Jennifer completed an Advanced Diploma in Local History at Oxford University. Jennifer’s work now takes her to Bangladesh, where she is testing the idea that the Industrial Revolution never stopped, it just moved to Dhaka. In April 2018, Jennifer spoke at the first ethnomusicography conference on the Indian sub-continent about her research into Bangladeshi and Mancunian weaving songs.
Poppycock was formed by Una Baines of The Fall, Blue Orchids and latterly The Fates, in 2012. Working from Una’s substantial back-catalogue of songs (both released und unreleased) Poppycock began initially as a floating collective of musicians, and now features:
Una Baines – Guitar/Keys/vocals
Lucy Power – Flute/Vocals/Guitar
Heather Greenbank – Guitar
Stuart Quinn-Harvey – Drums
Paula Darwish – Vocals/Guitar
Matt Crawford- Bass
Lucy Nyland – Vocals
Christine Johnson – Vocals