PRE-ANARCHSIT BOOKFAIR EVENT
PM Press present:
‘Working Class Culture’
with John Barker, Robb Johnson and Leon Rosselson
Friday 17th October, 7pm
RSVP ESSENTIAL: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase
Political singer-songwriters Robb Johnson and Leon Rosselson are joined by author and activist John Barker to perform their work, and discuss the politics of working class culture.
John Barker is perhaps best known for being one of four Angry Brigade members sentenced to 10 years in prison for a series of insurrectionary bombings in 1972. He worked as a dustman and welder before being implicated in a conspiracy to import cannabis in 1986. In 1990 he was finally arrested and served a five-year sentence.
John has gone on to write ‘Bending the Bars: Prison Stories of an Angry Brigade Member’ (ChristieBooks, 2007) and this year PM Press have published ‘Futures’, from which John will be reading on the night. Originally written more than 20 years ago it tells the story of Carol, a young single mother and drug dealer, Gordon, a “tasty”, self-regarding old-school London gangster, and two coke-snorting financial analysts, Phil and Jack, who entertain a fantasy of a cocaine futures market. Their internal lives are described in a richly original, cliche-free style and the book is remarkably prescient.
Robb Johnson is a musician and songwriter, who has been called “one of the last genuinely political songwriters”, and is known for his mix of political satire and wit.
Johnson began his musical career playing in folk clubs in the 1970s and ran a folk club at the University of Sussex, before forming a band called Grubstreet, which split up in 1983. Two years later he made his first solo album – In Amongst the Rain – setting up his own label on which to release it, before forming an agitprop group, The Ministry of Humour, with Mark Shilcock and Graham Barnes. After the break-up of this act and a failed attempt at forming a new electric band, he returned to performing solo and also formed a duo with female singer Pip Collings.
In 1997 he composed the song cycle Gentle Men, based on the experiences of his grandfathers in the First World War. The song cycle was recorded by Johnson in collaboration with Roy Bailey, and performed at the commemorative Passchendaele Peace Concert. In 2006 he was a special guest at the BBC’s “Folk Britannia” concert at the Barbican Centre, ending the night with a rendition of World War I song “Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire”. He remains active and has released at least one album annually for over 20 years, as well as playing regular gigs, including benefits and political events.
“There is no songwriter to compare with Robb Johnson operating in the UK” – Radio 2
Leon Rosselson: After his early involvement in the folk music revival in Britain, he came to prominence, singing his own satirical songs, in the BBC’s topical TV programme of the early 1960s, That Was The Week That Was. He toured Britain and abroad, singing mainly his own songs and accompanying himself with acoustic guitar.
In later years, he has published 17 children’s books, the first of which, Rosa’s Singing Grandfather, was shortlisted in 1991 for the Carnegie Medal.
His song The World Turned Upside Down has been recorded and popularised by, amongst others, Dick Gaughan and Billy Bragg (who took it into the pop charts in 1985) and has been sung on numerous demonstrations in Britain and the USA.
His Ballad of a Spycatcher, ridiculing the ban on Peter Wright’s book, went into the Indie Singles charts in 1987 in a version backed by Billy Bragg and the Oyster Band.