Academic journal article Yearbook for Traditional Music

Cape Breton Island Protest Songs

Academic journal article Yearbook for Traditional Music

Cape Breton Island Protest Songs

Article excerpt

NORTH AMERICA Cape Breton Island Protest Songs. 2011. Centre for Cape Breton Studies. Engineered by Christopher Jones. Produced by Richard MacKinnon and Victor Tomiczek. Gatefold package and website (www.protestsongs.ca) with notes in English. B/w photograph. CD, 18 tracks (72:14).

The coal mines of Cape Breton Island made Sydney Atlantic Canada's most dynamic growth zone throughout the late nineteenth century, but industrial decline in the 1920s lefta legacy of labour unrest, environmental degradation, and outmigration. The Maritime Labour Herald (MLH), a "workingman's paper, with its shirtsleeves rolled up" (McLachlan and Brodie 1921), documents this legacy. In its pages, leaders such as Dawn Fraser and George Straatman expressed workers' dissatisfaction with the British Empire Steel Corporation's (BESCO) infamous response to strike negotiations: "We hold all the cards ... they [the miners] will have to come to us ... they can't stand the gaff" (McClurg 1925). Verses published in MLH provide Cape Breton Island Protest Songs with its lyrical material. The melodies and arrangements on Protest Songs are written and performed by Cape Breton musicians with independent (although sometimes intersecting) musical careers. Of the eighteen tracks, there is one original song ("Picket Line" by Victor Tomiczek), one arrangement of the traditional fiddle tune, "John Roy Lyall" (in Colin Grant's "Better That"), and one adapted ballad ("Come All Ye" in Nipper MacLeod's "Dirty Danny"). …

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