Australian fans of quality, progressive music are in for a real treat this summer with the joint tour by left-wing songwriters Alistair Hulett from Scotland and David Rovics from the US.
Hulett is known in Australia for his role as lead singer of 1980s Sydney punk-folk band Roaring Jack and for his regular solo tours since he returned to Scotland in the mid 1990s. Rovics by contrast has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe and other parts of the world but is visiting Australia now for the first time.
Rovics and Hulett first met at the 2005 protest against the G8 Summit in Scotland and began plotting tours together. Rovics told Green Left Weekly that while he has long wanted to visit this part of the world the distance was prohibitive.
This tour began in November with gigs throughout New Zealand and will continue in December and early January as the pair travel all over eastern Australia with highlights including the Woodford Festival in Queensland.
People who remember Hulett from Roaring Jack days will be interested to learn that he "finally has a band again after all these years". The band is called The Malkies, which he explains is "Glaswegian gangster rhyming slang for a cut throat razor, a Malcolm Fraser".
Hulett will be playing songs from the new album he's done with The Malkies, which includes a few old Roaring Jack numbers, and some from the CD Riches and Rags as well.
Another relatively recent album from Hulett, Red Clydeside, paints a musical portrait of the mass working class rebellion in Glasgow around WWI which remains an inspiration today. Hulett told GLW he is very proud of that project and still performs songs from the album.
Rovics' latest CD is called Har, Har, Har and is a CD for children with a pirate theme. "I just recorded it last summer with some talented musicians from Portland", Rovics said.
"Of course, I'm still writing songs for grownups too", he emphasised including those on his 2007 CD called The Commons which no doubt will feature on this tour as well.
Rovics is known as the "musical version of Democracy Now" — a left-wing radio show from the US that can be heard in Australia on the internet and on some community radio stations. This description is richly deserved as he regularly performs at protests and writes songs that translate into music the aspirations of a wide range of protest movements.
In particular he is a fierce critic of the Bush administration's "war on terror" and a passionate supporter of justice for Palestine.
In response to the Obama victory — which is a topic of one of the essays on his website — Rovics told GLW that "there are lots of legitimate reasons to celebrate his victory, but also lots of very good reasons to be very sceptical".
I am especially looking forward to this tour as Rovics and Hulett are two of my favourite song-writers. I can't possibly recommend too highly that people make their way to at least one of the performances on this tour.
The first Australian appearance of the duo on December 6 at The Harp in Sydney to raise funds for the Australian Greens. Hulett and Rovics are also performing for GLW in Newcastle on December 17 and at the Sydney Resistance Centre in Chippendale, on December 18.
Both artists have also paid tribute to the role of GLW. In Hulett's words: "a better world is indeed possible and it's papers like this that help carry the fight for a new society forward — more power to you all!"