The Melting Pot: Five Best Protest Albums of 2017

 

Mavis Staples – If All I Was Was Black
Mavis may have lived through the Civil Rights era to see the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of new white supremacy, but the 78 year old singer hasn’t turned despondent or bitter. The album includes quietly joyful songs such as “We Go High” (quoting from Michelle Obama), and the firmly dedicated-to-fight evil songs like “Try Harder.” My favorite: “No Time for Crying,” with the lyrics “We’ve got no time for crying/We’ve got work to do.”

 

 

 

 

 

Various Artists – Detroit Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The film was based on the true story of white police officers shooting black men, sparking the 1967 Detroit riots. The soundtrack actually is mostly nonpolitical—smooth Coltrane jazz, R&B love songs from Marvin Gaye and Martha Reeves—but it perfectly evokes the moment in time. Standout tracks are the political, contemporary ones: “It Ain’t Fair” by The Roots and “Grow” by Algee Smith—but enjoy the mix of old and new as you contemplate how the Detroit story isn’t that far removed from the woes of today’s Ferguson, Baltimore, and too many other cities.

 

 

 

 

Rhiannon Giddens – Freedom Highway
Rhiannon is the vocalist, banjo and violin player from the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Her second solo album stays in the roots sound as she offers songs about slavery (“At the Purchaser’s Option” and “Julie”), touches on the civil rights era (“Freedom Highway” and “Birmingham Sunday”), and addresses modern police brutality (“Better Get It Right the First Time”). The styles range over banjo fiddle Americana to blues to sheer beauty.

 

 

 

 

Las Cafeteras – Tastes Like L.A.
It can’t be easy to be a Mexican-American band in Trump’s America, but the LA based Las Cafeteras sound joyfully defiant rather than despairing or angry. Their acoustic folk sound cover of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” includes handclaps and shouts of “Wheeee!” The more somber “If I Was President” lays out a platform that would include free education for all, a living wage for all, clean water, ending mass incarceration, and “My first lady/Would be my mom/Cause she’d slap me/At the first thought of drone strikes/And dropping bombs.”

 

 

 

 

Various Artists – Marshall Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Rhiannon is the vocalist, banjo and violin player from the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Her second solo album stays in the roots sound as she offers songs about slavery (“At the Purchaser’s Option” and “Julie”), touches on the civil rights era (“Freedom Highway” and “Birmingham Sunday”), and addresses modern police brutality (“Better Get It Right the First Time”). The styles range over banjo fiddle Americana to blues to sheer beauty.

Honorable mention: “Song on the Times” by Windborne: This is out of my normal comfort zone—my tastes don’t normally lean towards acappella quartets—but the band caught my attention when they filmed themselves outside of the Trump Tower in the snow, singing “We are so low but soon we know that the low folk will arise/And the tyrants in their tow’rs of gold shall hear the people’s cries!/No more shall they hold us in thrall; their lies we will not heed./But every heart shall hear the call, and the people will be free!” Watch the 45 second clip here and you’ll understand why I left my comfort zone—and perhaps you will too. The album was produced by crowdsourcing rather than through a traditional corporate record label, and appropriately so: the songs are the songs of the laboring classes from the last 400 years. The revolution done in a classical manner!

 

Molly Pitcher hosts “The Melting Pot” every Tuesday from 8 to 10 a.m. on KZUM. Like the program on Facebook and listen to archives of recent episodes via Radio Free America.

 

2018-01-16T21:10:21+00:00 January 8th, 2018|SigningOff2017|

Upcoming Events

Fri 19

LSO: Anton & Tchaikovsky

January 19 @ 7:30 pm
Lincoln NE
United States
Sat 20

Just Breathe Tour

January 20 @ 7:00 pm
Lincoln NE
United States
Sun 21

KZUM Soup & Songs: Freakabout Acoustic Duo

January 21 @ 5:00 am - 7:00 pm
Lincoln NE
United States
Sun 21

Dead Country Gentlemen, Happy Hazard, PolyFaze

January 21 @ 9:00 pm
Lincoln NE
United States
Wed 24

Programming Committee Meeting

January 24 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Lincoln NE
United States

No playlists available.

  • The Thom Hartmann Program