We’ve had a good response to our previous appeal for volunteers to help out for 4 hours or more over the weekend of Saturday 11th September, not only on the day of the festival itself, but also on Friday the 10th to help prepare the festival site, and on Sunday the 12th to help clear up the site. That said, we still need a fair few more on the day of the festival to ensure its smoothing running, so can you help us? If so, please fill in our Wigan Diggers’ Festival Volunteer Application Form and let us know as soon as you can. Ta.
Due to last year’s festival being postponed because of the situation with Covid, we hope you will help us make the 10th Wigan Diggers’ Festival this year, one to remember. Full details of line-up etc to follow shortly. Stay safe people and we hope to see you all at this year’s festival, it’s going to be a cracker.
Here’s a memory from 2019’s headliners ‘The Men They Couldn’t Hang‘, with the wonderful Joe Solo joining them on stage, sadly we lost guitarist and vocalist Stefan Cush earlier this year, he will be greatly missed and he will always live on in our hearts and in his music…
Come and join on Saturday for the biggest and best annual get together of North West Trades Unionists, Socialists and other radicals from across the Left at this year’s Wigan Diggers’ Festival. The FREE all day event starts at 11.30am at our usual Wiend venue in Wigan town centre with a symbolic re-enactment of the digging undertaken by Gerrard Winstanley and his companions at St. George’s Hill, near Weybridge in Surrey in 1649, in which the Wigan born radical outlines his views on the common ownership of land and conception of the world as a “common treasury for all”.
Festival goers can expect not only some decent weather, as you can see from today’s BBC Forecast, but a day crammed packed with stuff to suit everyone including live music and poetry across two stages, more than 50 stalls, British and Caribbean, vegan and conventional catering, plus an excellent choice of real ales, fruit beers, traditional ciders and award winning lagers.
GFTU General Secretary Doug Nicholls will also be giving a talk in the Parish Church from 12.30pm to 2.00pm on “The Wisdom of Winstanley’s Words”
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:
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.
EACH 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.
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.
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.
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.