Reasons to be cheerful – This year’s Diggers’ Festival headliners – THE BLOCKHEADS

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STARTING out as the band behind Ian Dury, The Blockheads are a legendary outfit that has grown in stature from the early days of the Stiff tour in 1977, right up to the present day. Backing up Ian Dury’s poetic lyrics, this is the band that brought you ‘Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick’, ‘What A Waste’, ‘Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)’, and ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’, among many others.

Rarely off the road since the demise of Ian Dury in 2000, but now with Derek Hussey fronting the band, The Blockheads are still one of the most underrated British bands of all time, with a legion of fans of all ages.

Their last studio album, ‘Same Horse Different Jockey’, was released on 23rd November 2013, which was also the 35th anniversary of the release of ‘Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick’ and continues to show both their diversity and supreme quality, as well as showcasing their uniqueness. Derek Hussey’s lyrics in the bands’ new songs keep the combination of poetry, word play, earthy humour and deadly-accurate observations of everyday, British working-class life, that Ian Dury had perfected, but with an added bite for the 21st century.

Hussey is known to the bands followers as Dury’s best friend and minder, memorably singing with Ian and the band at a televised concert in the late 90’s.
Their album release campaign was supported by a hugely successful Kickstarter project, with the fans getting involved and enabling the band to make music videos in association with Free Seed Films (www. freeseedfilms.com). You can see the videos from ‘Same Horse Different Jockey’, ‘Express Yourself’, ‘Boys
Will Be Boys’ and ‘Confused’ on The Blockheads YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/blockheadsofficial

In addition, there has also been a remake of the classic ‘Blockhead Watch’, but for the modern generation, with a ‘Blockhead Clock’ available for iPhones from the Apple app store. As a companion piece to this album, the band released a remix album ‘Same Song Different Mix’, containing a remix of each track. To create this album, the stems (the individual instruments) were made available, giving anyone a chance to submit a remix for the album. The best one for each song was selected to create this interesting new take on the material.

The band are now currently finishing off a new album to complement the upcoming documentary ‘Beyond the Call of Dury’, due for release later in November. As well as through their own new material, interest in “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”, the
recent biopic of their erstwhile front man Ian Dury, the performance of ‘Spasticus Autisticus’ at the 2012 Para-Olympic Opening Ceremony, and the musical ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’, has seen a resurgence in the bands popularity over the past couple of years and they continue to go from strength to strength.

Along with some new material from the upcoming album, you can expect to hear “Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick”, “Wake Up And Make Love With Me”, “Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3)”, “What A Waste”, “Clevor Trever”, “Sweet Gene Vincent” and many more from the illustrious back catalogue.

The Blockheads are fronted by Derek ‘The Draw’ Hussey, and Chaz Jankel, Norman Watt-Roy, John Turnbull and Mick Gallagher still remain from the original band. The current line-up is augmented by John Roberts on drums and a rolling line up of saxophonists that includes Gilad Atzmon, Terry Edwards and Dave Lewis.
Visit http://www.theblockheads.com for further information.

The Blockheads will be performing at 8.00pm until the end of the festival.

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Joe Solo to receive 2018 Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award

JoeSoloEACH year the Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee presents a Gerrard Winstanley Spade award to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the socialist cause. Previous winners include Tony Benn, Ken Loach, Maxine Peake and Jimmy McGovern. This year the Diggers’ Festival Committee have decided that the socialist singer/ songwriter Joe Solo receive the award. Through his music and dedication to helping others, Joe works tirelessly across the nation and in the Committee’s opinion undoubtedly deserves it.

Joe Solo is an award-winning musician, writer, poet, activist, broadcaster and washing machine engineer from Scarborough. His musical career began in 1987 and has seen him play seven countries either as lynchpin of pop-punk upstarts Lithium Joe or hammering out his unique brand of Folk, Punk and Blues supporting great causes along the way such as the miners, the International Brigade, Hope not Hate and many homeless charities.

On top of releasing fifteen albums since 2004 most inspired by socialist causes, Solo has written books and had them written about him; runs a research project on the Hull Pals Battalions in the First World War; has worked with underprivileged children to help them write their lives in song; hosts a weekly radio show; and still found time to open for the likes of David Rovics, Attila the Stockbroker, Otis Gibbs, Robb Johnson, Edgar Broughton, TV Smith, Paul Simmonds, Emily Portman, Pete Wylie, The Blockheads and Billy Bragg; whilst his songs have been played by John Peel on BBC Radio One, Mike Harding on BBC Radio Two and Tom Robinson on
BBC 6 Music.

In May 2015 Joe helped create WE SHALL OVERCOME, a campaign pushing for a positive response from the music community to the poverty and hardship inflicted on ordinary people by the Government’s austerity program. Since October 2015 the movement has organised more than 700 gigs in 142 towns and cities across 9 countries on 3 continents raising an estimated £350,000 in cash, food, clothing and bedding for those hardest hit. WSO scooped the ‘People’s Choice’ gong at the annual Yorkshire Grassroots Music Awards, and on the back of his efforts The Morning Star named Solo ‘Human Being of the Year’.

In October 2016 Joe was awarded the ‘Outstanding Songwriting’ prize at Yorkshire Gig Guide Grassroots Music Awards for his work on the album ‘Never Be Defeated’ telling the stories of the men and women of Hatfield during the 1984-85 Miner’s Strike; and their song together – ‘Merry Christmas From Hatfield Main’ – raised much-needed cash for a Hardship Fund set up to help those struggling in the former pit communities of South Yorkshire. Just before Christmas 2016 they performed it on stage together with a very special guest, none other than Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

After 30 years of writing and gigging, Joe made his Glastonbury debut in June 2017, taking to the Leftfield stage a skip in his step and a tear in his eye. As he said later: “It only took 30 years! Imagine what I could do in another 30!”

It is with great pride that Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee awards this years’ Gerrard Winstanley Spade to Joe Solo.

An Invitation to the 7th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – Saturday 9th September 2017

Here’s the second of the three videos commissioned by the Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee, produced for us by First Take in Liverpool. This one features many familiar faces from our annual event, as well as the excellent new song “Come on England” composed by Festival Committee member Bob Kettle, performed by local band and former festival headliners Merry Hell. Hope to see lots of you there again this year.

This Year’s Festival Flyer

Eyup folks, here’s this year’s festival flyer, which we will be distributing at this weekend’s Manchester and Salford May Day events, including Saturday’s ‘Defend Our NHS March’ which assembles at 11.00am at All Saints, Oxford Road, Manchester, for those of you who can make it.

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6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – A resounding success!

Quite definitely our biggest and best so far, this year’s Wigan Diggers’ Festival was a resounding success. Here are some photos of the day’s proceeding (courtesy of Al Balmer) which saw our best ever line up of live entertainment, five excellent educational talks, two puppet shows, over 60 stalls and a terrific speech from this year’s Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award recipient, veteran Socialist fim director Ken Loach (see below). The weather, food and beer were pretty good too.

Lots more photos on our Facebook Page.

Video of Ken Loach speaking at the Festival. What a brilliant speech.

More photos and video clips to follow.

 

6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – Saturday 10th September 2016 – Final Programme Announced

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Come & enjoy our best ever line up of live entertainment.

More educational talks – lots of new stalls – more stuff for the kids – and a presentation to Ken Loach

Here are the final details of the programme for this year’s Wigan Diggers’ Festival, which coincides with the 340th Anniversary of the death of Gerrard Winstanley, the Wigan born leader of 17th century radical movement known as “The Diggers“, who were referred to by the late Tony Benn, as the “first true socialists“.

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This year’s main festival sponsors are HeinzBranchStampA big thanks to them, plus to all our many other trades union branch and regional sponsors, stall holders, artists, speakers and festival volunteers for making our annual FREE to the public event to celebrate Gerrard Winstanley & The Diggers possible.

Facebook Event Page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1027519810669157/

PLEASE SHARE & INVITE YOUR FRIENDS

THIS YEAR’S GERRARD WINSTANLEY SPADE AWARD WINNER

is film director, campaigner and lifelong socialist KEN LOACH

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Ken will receive his “outstanding contribution to the Diggers’ cause” award at around 1.00pm from previous winners Maxine Peake (2014) & Jimmy McGovern (2015) on behalf of the Festival Committee.

TonyBennTolpuddle  Tony Benn was the first recipient of the award in 2013.

6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – More about this year’s performers.

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Diggers’ Festival – Site Map & Stall Location, etc

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FESTIVAL SITE LOCATION IN WIGAN TOWN CENTRE

Wigan Diggers' Festival Site Map

The Diggers’ Festival site (A) is less than 5 minutes walk from Wigan Bus Station (between Market Street & Hallgate) and both of the town’s railway stations. Turn left out of Wallgate station, right out of Wigan North Western.

The best place to park your car (if you’re coming by car) is in the multi-storey car park on Wallgate immediately adjacent (left hand side looking from front) to Wigan North Western railway station. It’s only £3 all day and again less than 5 minutes walk away from our main festival site.

 

WIGAN DIGGERS BOOKLET 1THIS YEAR SEES A NEW FESTIVAL BROCHURE with A MESSAGE OF SUPPORT from LABOUR PARTY LEADER JEREMY CORBYN, plus local MP Lisa Nandy.

It’s packed with background info about The Diggers, Levellers and OUR LOCAL HERO Gerrard Winstanley, also about how to get involved.

Here are a few extracts. You can view the entire brochure at: New – 6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival Commemorative Brochure

A MESSAGE OF SUPPORT from JEREMY CORBYN & WELCOME……….

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WATCH THIS SPACE FOR FURTHER UPDATES

 

6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – Saturday 10th September 2016 – IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Scene from stage during Merry Hell's performance at last year's Diggers' Festival.
Scene from the stage during Merry Hell’s performance at the 2014 Diggers’ Festival.

Calling all politically progressive bands and performers! Have you got what it takes to perform at this year’s Digger’s Festival?

If you think you have, then our music & entertainment committee would like to hear from you. Just download the application form, fill it in, and e-mail it back to us via: diggersstageentertainment@gmail.com

Closing date: 1st April 2016

Application for playing at Wigan Diggers Festival 2016

Want to put on a stall at this year’s Festival? Then here’s the 2016 Stallholders’ Application Form

We are now taking stall applications for the Wigan Diggers’ Festival 2016. The number of pitches available is limited, so please please send your completed application form, and a cheque for the appropriate amount, as early as possible to avoid disappointment. All cheques payable to Wigan Diggers’ Festival.

You will hear if your application was successful by no later than 31st July

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Want to Volunteer to help out before, and/or on the day?

Every year we need rafts of volunteers to help out with a variety jobs and roles, both before, and on the day of the festival itself, and this year will obviously be no exception. If you can help out any time during FRIDAY 9th SEPTEMBER 2016 when we will be erecting our Marquees, Beer Tent, and preparing the entire festival site, and/or alternatively are prepared to help out for AT LEAST FOUR HOURS on the day of the festival on SATURDAY 10th SEPTEMBER 2016 as a festival steward, or in helping to staff our stall, running errands, as a first aider, or working behind the bar, then you should message us via our Facebook page Wigan Diggers’ Festival stating in what capacity you’d like to help, and on what days and times, and we’ll get back to you.

If you’d like to help out a lot more than that and become a member of our growing, and welcoming Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee then why not come and join us every 3rd Monday of the month, in the private meeting room of The Anvil pub, Dorning Street, Wigan. 7.30pm k.o.