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April 21, 2010 by  

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Four days before the General Election, award-winning band Show of Hands will take to the stage at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall to make their feelings clear about the BNP, bankers and bonuses, MPs and expenses.

On Sunday, May 2 England’s finest acoustic roots duo – singer songwriter Steve Knightley and multi instrumentalist Phil Beer will take part in Folk Against Fascism’s “Village Fete” day at the Southbank Centre – lining up for an all-star evening concert alongside Bellowhead and Chumbawamba.

They’ll be no prizes for guessing they’ll be singing the title track of their latest album Arrogance Ignorance and Greed – a no-holds-barred swipe at the perpetrators of the current financial meltdown. In February it won the Best Original Song gong at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and they subsequently performed live on BBC-1’s Breakfast News.

Another surefire number will be Knightley’s song Roots, a rally call to the English to get behind their culture and musical heritage like other nations – “without our stories or our songs, how will be know where we come from?” Described by the Daily Telegraph as “a terrific song about loss of identity” it was also nominated for Best Original Song at the 2008 BBC Folk Awards and was alighted on by the BNP who used it on a campaigning video but later removed it on request.

With Phil Beer’s past music also turning up on the BNP merchandising site on The Best of British Folk compilation album, Show of Hands opted to add their weight to the recently formed Folk Against Fascism organisation –a movement set up “to counteract attempts by the far right to appropriate the UK’s traditional music, song and dance”.

Knightley, who was interviewed on Radio 4’s The World Tonight about the issue said the first he knew about the BNP using his song was when a fan alerted him. He says: “We try to make music that’s inclusive. And when organisations like the BNP come along and say ‘this music is ours; this isn’t for black people or Jewish people’ or whatever, that’s a betrayal of what you’ve been working for.”

BNP spokesman John Walker was reported as saying they were under no obligation to seek permission from musicians whose recordings they played. “We use a product to raise funds for our party – whether the musicians like the BNP is irrelevant.”

A trailer for an AGB Films in-production documentary Folk the BNP can be seen at including interviews with Steve Knightley, Jon Boden of Bellowhead and Boff Whalley and Jude Abbott of Chumbawamba.

Show of Hands will appear at Queen Elizabeth Hall, together with regular guest Miranda Sykes, as part of the action- packed “Village Fete” day on the banks of the Thames which will kick off at noon on the QEH terrace. It will include a traditional Maypole, Morris dancing, stalls and games and two of the country’s top ceilidh bands – The Old Swan Band and the Oyster Ceilidh Band. Also rumoured to be involved are folk singers Jackie Oates (as May Queen) and Jim Causley (as a fortune teller!). The afternoon Club Peripherique concert will feature artists from the edge of folk – Cypriot-British musician Dogan Mehmet and Irish traveller singer Thomas McCarthy.

All the afternoon events are free. Only a few tickets remain for the evening concert, available from the SouthBank Centre’s box office on 0844 875 0073, price £20.

Show of Hands will take a break from their current Standing Room Only UK tour (April 14-May 16) for the special May holiday event. The tour takes in standing gigs in towns including Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield, Brighton, Norwich, Leicester, York, Manchester, Wolverhampton and Cardiff. More information at

The triple Albert Hall sell-out band who have headlined at festivals from WOMAD to Glastonbury will be accompanied on tour by Miranda Sykes and will be making first time appearances at half the venues.

Special guest will be rising indy folk star Ruarri Joseph who has been described as a British Jack Johnson. Edinburgh-born, Cornwall-based Ruarri has made past appearances with David Gray, Paolo Nutini and Seth Lakeman and supported Show of Hands at their own Abbotsbury festival and on their first UK standing tour, in 2008. Early copies of Ruarri’s inspired new album Shoulder to the Wheel will be on sale on the tour.

• Folk Against Fascism is shortly releasing its first compilation album on which the song Roots appears, among many others. It is available for pre-order, price £10 from their website.



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