How it’s New York: City Winery is a winery and music venue located in lower Manhattan.
How it’s Irish: Billy’s been known to play the old Irish folk song,“The Croppy Boy,” in which the narrator is a young Irish revolutionary in the 1798 rebellion.
Singer songwriter legend Billy Bragg played two sold out shows at City Winery on Monday, October 16th.
In the early show, Billy played new songs from a just released six-track EP, “Bridges Not Walls”, slated for release November 3rd. Included on the new EP is his Dylan re-write, “The Times They Are A Changing Back”, and a new single entitled “Saffiyah Smiles,” both commentaries on our current political landscape. Billy also played “Levi Stubbs Tears,” “A New England,” and “The Milkman of Human Kindness” along with three tunes from his 1988 album, “Workers Playtime.”
Characteristic of his work, these songs emphasize the importance of bringing a new humanitarian spirit to our present times.
Billy brought the audience together with stories drawn from the road and his life and gave his considered take on our current political situation. For him, his new songs are “my way of trying to make some sense of what’s going on. And there’s been a lot going on.” He stressed how we must all fight not to become cynical – that optimism, dogged and determined, needed to be the order of the day.
I was lucky enough to have traveled with Billy and Joe Henry as they recorded their album of folk songs, “Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad”, an album that went to number #1 on the UK’s Americana Albums chart after its release September 2016.
It was wonderful to see Billy again. We had coffee the following day and I had a chance to tell him what a galvanizing show it was and how much the crowd really needed to hear that reminder to keep fighting and to not give up.
Joe Henry, who recorded “Shine a Light” with Billy, has a brand new album, just released this week entitled “Thrum.” On it, Joe sings: “Oh come let us be hungry in the world.” Billy Bragg and Joe Henry are artists who hunger for a better world. Both seek to remind us through their music that we are all united in song and in life.
Here’s that special film project I directed for Billy & Joe:
Here are some photos from the City Winery show: