NEW YORK – Joe’s Pub plays host on Saturday, March 1, to a unique event celebrating the protest-song tradition through performances of songs drawn from the definitive source, The Vietnam Songbook. The evening will feature performances by artists who experienced the ’60s anti-war movement including legendary protest/blues singer Barbara Dane, Tuli Kupferberg (Fugs), activist singer/songwriter Bev Grant, noted Vietnam vets/musicians Watermelon Slim and Joe Bangert, and younger musicians such as Thurston Moore, Jenni Muldaur, Barry Reynolds, Jim O’Rourke, Stephan Smith, Dean Wareham. David Licht, Lenny Kaye and Curtis Eller.

They will all be performing pieces from The Vietnam Songbook and other examples of anti-war songs from that time. The performers involved intend to highlight parallels between being “waist deep in the big muddy” (to quote a Pete Seeger song) of the war in Vietnam and the current beating of war drums. “Revolution is a continuous and dynamic process if it exists at all” said Bill Homans, aka Watermelon Slim, Vietnam vet whose anti-war songs from 1973 will be featured at the show.

“As far as I am concerned, the reason for doing this is directly tied to the imminent threat of a brand new war which promises to be far more devastating even than Vietnam,” said Dane.
“We need to seize this moment to call attention to the madness of American aggression anywhere on the globe. We owe it to some two to four million Southeast Asians and 60,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War. We also need to make the country aware of the few million guys, now in their 50s, whose lives were wrecked by the war. Look under any bridge or in any lighted doorway at night, near the steam vents in winter and the parks in summer, and you will find them.”

The Vietnam Songbook was compiled and originally published in 1969 (it’s currently out of print) by Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber. It was a comprehensive collection of more than 100 protest songs concerning the Vietnam War featuring songs that’d been written or performed by important artists such as Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Nina Simone, Ewan MaColl, Tuli Kupferberg, Barbara Dane, Richard Farina, Joe McDonald, Matt Jones, Tom Paxton, Thom Parrott, and Peggy Seeger, as well as by U.S. Vietnam veterans, Vietnamese citizens and many others from around the world voicing opposition to this war.

The producers say the event will remind the American public of the power of song to express dissent against national and international government policy and outrage over wartime atrocities and injustice. The presentation is also intended as a call to contemporary musical performers to take an active role in this important tradition.

As part of the documentation of the show, the producers are recording oral histories from Dane and other performers and Vietnam veterans. These recordings are being done with the support of the Alan Lomax Archive and will become part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institution to which Dane and Silber previously donated the catalogue of their record label, Paredon, and related archives in 1991.

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“Songs of Protest:
The Vietnam Songbook”
Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater,
425 Lafayette Street (at Astor Place),
New York City, Saturday, March 1
Showtimes are at 7:00 and 9:30.

(Tickets are available at the box office,
open Sun. & Mon. 1 p.m.-6 p.m.
or Tues.-Sat. 1 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
or through Tele-Charge online at www.telecharge.com
or by phone (212) 239-6200.
Dinner reservations can be made for the first show only at (212) 539-8778.)

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