Billy Bragg, Carl Barat and more confirmed for Camden Rocks 2016

Billy Bragg promo

Camden Rocks festival have confirmed a host of new acts for 2016 including Billy Bragg and Carl Barat & The Jackals.

Over 200 bands will be performing at venues across London’s Camden Town for this year’s event, taking place on Saturday the 4th of June. Other new acts confirmed for the festival include Creeper, the Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock, CC Smugglers and Tellison.

Billy Bragg will be in conversation about his new lyric book, A Lover Sings, with Daniel Rachel, acclaimed author of Isle of Noises: Conversations with Great British Songwriters, punctuated with songs and Q&A in what promises to be a very special performance.

“Its great to be taking part in Camden Rocks this year and I’m really looking forward to discussing my lyrics and playing a few songs,” says Bragg. “Camden remains at the heart of where generations of new music got its start and I’m proud to be a part of that tradition.”

Acts already confirmed include Hands Off Gretel, Louise Distras, Young Guns, We Are The Ocean, InMe, Ginger Wildheart, New Years Day and SikTh, alongside The Virginmarys, Warrior Soul, As Lions,The Dirty Youth, Shvpes, Queen Kwong and Forever Never.

Every prior Camden Rocks festival has sold out and 2016 looks to be no different!

Tickets are available now via camdenrocksfestival.com.

Camden Rocks 2016 Poster No2

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Billy Bragg campaign to lift prison ban successful

Billy-Bragg-2014

A campaign led by Billy Bragg has successfully seen prisoners in British jails be allowed to use steel stringed guitars.

Musicians such as Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Philip Selway, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and Johnny Marr also supported the campaign to overturn the ban.

Bragg, who founded the Jail Guitar Doors rehabilitation initiative said: “As an incentive to engage in rehabilitation individual access to steel strung guitars can really help the atmosphere on a prison wing. I’ve had a number of projects involving guitars on hold which now will be able to go ahead, and will allow those using music in prisons to get on with this important work.”

In a letter published in The Guardian earlier this year 12 musicians, whose number also included Richard Hawley, argued that “music has an important role to play in engaging prisoners in the process of rehabilitation” and that this was being undermined if inmates were not allowed to practice.

The campaign was also led by Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan, who commented: “This is a victory for common sense and I’m pleased after months of campaigning the UK Government has listened. The power of music to help prisoners to rehabilitate is well documented. I started the campaign after prisoners wrote to me explaining how they had saved from their small prison wages to buy guitars and how therapeutic learning to play the guitar had been for them before the ban.”

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Album review: Louise Distras | Dreams From The Factory Floor

Louise Distras Dreams From The Factory FloorOur Verdict: 5/5
Release date: Out now
Find it at: Louise Distras’ official store
Find out more at: Louise’s official website

“The living, breathing, screaming embodiment of the best that the punk spirit has to offer. Only with hard work, self-knowledge, passion and singular vision do you record an album that is as powerful, punkish and so thrillingly alive.”

In these days of economic turmoil, where the world’s most wealthy still so often treat it’s most poor and needy with contempt; where the rise in popularity of proto-fascist politicians and their fear-fed, simplified soundbites result only in further civil and social unrest, the questing, protesting spirit of punk is more vital and necessary than ever.

Stand up and be thankful, then, for UK punk siren Louise Distras; the living, breathing, screaming embodiment of the best that the punk spirit has to offer.

In the darkest of days, it’s often the case that our artists become our beacons of hope and agents of change; the brave and bold few who have the guts and the intellect to hold a mirror up to societal ills, and work hard enough and shout loud enough to get people to take note. More so than politicians, business magnates, clerics or celebrities, they become our means of holding on to the little we have left; our representation of what it means to be free. Distras is one such artist.

Louise Distras - MalcBeck“The music that brings us together, is the same thing that tears us apart. Stand strong together, with unity in your heart,” she belts out with a raging fire on album opener, ‘Stand Strong Together.’ And the vocal roar that she musters over the top of her frenetic acoustic guitar work let’s you know she means every single word.

It’s little wonder that the likes of Billy Bragg are giving their patronage to Louise, but it’s another artist from across the pond that springs to mind when second song, ‘Bullets’, careers into view. In it’s tackling of the obligations of familial ties, and it’s burning, soulful, uptempo sound, there’s something of Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town about the track. Darkness’… shadowy, emotional scars are there, too: “Mother your demons made me broken and betrayed. Your bitterness feels sick in my stomach. I only love you coz you’ll never go away.” It’s a brutal but honest truth, and a far cry from our stately and sanitised Western view of what it means to be bound by blood.

Everywhere you look on this record, the downtrodden and dispossessed are raised up, championed, supported and urged to keep fighting, as with “Love Me The Way I Am”, Distras’ latest single and the story of a friend who attempted suicide before coming out. Thank goodness the friend survived to tell the tale and now, in interview after interview, Louise describes it as the most important song that she has ever penned or sung. With 82 countries in the world still known to have legislation criminalising same sex relationships, it’s little wonder that it has struck a chord. The fact that it’s a belting, melodic thrash, as well as a statement of solidarity and a call for change, simply makes it all the more powerful.

Louise Distras - Dave Winter“Equal rights aren’t special rights. When you let go of who you are, you become who you will be. Open your eyes, what can you see? Closing your heart won’t set you free. Love me the way that I am.” Quite.

Wakefield residents will no doubt connect with the picture that Louise paints of her hometown in “Shades Of Hate”, with it’s references to the city’s infamous Westgate run on a Friday night, where “the girls are in their Friday best” and “the men are wearing anger.” It’s a vivid, poetic, relevant and relatable portrait of a kind not often seen in music these days; at least not in mainstream channels overrun by vacuous sex and an anodyne vocabulary. Here is the story of a thousand disenfranchised young people, laid bare in viperous and vitriolic song.

Later in the album’s running order, Springsteen’s spectre raises it’s head again with impassioned, spoken-word howl of title track, ‘Dreams From The Factory Floor’: “You work you work you work, the human machine void of soul. No feeling, no thought, no reason, no rest. You dream of happiness, life without pain. They say that dreams never come true. Well I say that they do.” It’s the contemporary, prose-poem version of The Boss’ own ‘Factory.’

Louise Distras - MalcBeck 002But let’s not get carried away with comparisons. Distras is no Springsteen copyist. She has voice, opinion, musicianship and style all of her own. ‘Love me the way that I am’? Damn right we do. You can’t be this good if you spend your life trying to be someone else. Only with hard work, self-knowledge, passion and singular vision do you record an album that is as powerful, punkish and so thrillingly alive as Dreams From The Factory Floor.

When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing left to lose. It’s something that Dreams… suggests Distras knows all too well. But maybe, just maybe, when you’ve got nothing, you might still have hope; with a little courage and a lot of strength, you might still make a difference. As the albums closing lines implore: “If you should fall from grace and have nothing left to believe, bring exploitation to it’s knees.”

Goddamn it, Louise; with your help, we will.

You can buy Dreams From The Factory Floor at Louise Distras’ official store. Find out more about Louise at Louise’s official website

You can watch the official video for Louise’s latest single, “Love Me The Way I Am”, below.

Photo credits: Malck Beck and Dave Winter, drawn from Louise’s official Facebook page.

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Louise Distras releases double A side “Love Me The Way I Am/Bullets”

LDfrontUK punk siren Louise Distras has today released a double A side single, “Love Me The Way I Am/Bullets.”

Taken from her debut album, Dreams From The Factory Floor, the songs have seen Louise gain patronage from the likes of protest punk stalwart, Billy Bragg.


But, insists Distras, “I don’t view myself as a protest singer, I view myself as a young woman passing on the message for the next generation.”

Hailing from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, last year Louise swapped songs with Bragg at Glastonbury, and supported both New Model Army and UK Subs. She also played an extensive tour in Canada with Mahones.

You can watch the brand new video for “Love Me The Way I Am” below.

The single is available now via Street Revolution Records in CD, download and limited edition vinyl formats, and features an alternative version of “Love Me The Way I Am.”

Distras is set to play a series of dates throughout Europe, with confirmed shows as follows:

May 23: Strummercamp Festival, Manchester
May 24: Bearded Theory Festival, Derby
May 25: Nice & Sleazy Festival, Morecambe
May 30: Ruhrpott Rodeo – Hünxe, Germany
Jul 20: Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival – Tolpuddle
Jul 25: Työväen Musiikkitapahtuma – Valkeakoski, Finland
Jul 26: Karma Rock Festival- Harjavalta, Finland
Aug 07: Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
Aug 08: Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
Aug 09: Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
Aug 10: Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
Sep 14: Walfisch – Freiburg, Germany
Sep 21: Undercover Festival, Bisley
Dec 12: Polish Club, Barnsley

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