Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Lowell Folk Festival is no Place for a Song Making Light of Domestic Violence

Billing itself as "The largest free folk festival in the nation, with continuous music on five outdoor stages in historic downtown Lowell" and claiming to be "a family friendly event", the Lowell Folk Festival "...has presented an international array of folk music, ethnic foods, craftspeople and artisans, as well as kid’s activities, to enthusiastic New England audiences every summer for over 26 years..." The festival, in booking the Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice bluegrass band from Virginia and North Carolina let its family audiences and the Festival itself down this year.

On the festival's Market Street stage the band performed "I'll Whip You With an Old Bicycle Chain." Watch a video of the song the band performed at 10th Annual Big Lick Bluegrass Festival in Oakboro, North Carolina this past April.

In the intro, and on the Market Street stage, Junior attempted to sell the audience on the idea that the song is not about striking one's partner with a bicycle chain, "I haven't worked out exactly what to say about this song, it's meant to be humorous and humorous only, we're not supporting any kind of abuse. And if you listen closely it never happens, it's only a threat."

"Only a threat?" That in itself is a form of domestic violence. Domestic violence is real and no joking matter. It has no place in a city park performed to an audience including children by a band hired with federal funds.

The band owes the public attending the Festival an apology, and perhaps should donate 100% of the proceeds from the song to Lowell's Alternative House or other appropriate organization, or, if it ever returns to the area, perform a benefit concert.

The mission of Alternative House is to facilitate the creation of a society in which violence against women will no longer exist. As a means to this end, we offer shelter, support, options, counseling and legal advocacy for all battered women (and their children) who seek our help. We are committed to the empowerment of women toward self sufficiency. We do not discriminate against any race, class, culture, age group or sexual orientation.

Update 11/25/13

In an article titled Censoring in a World of Political Correctness! - A Prescription Bluegrass Editorial Prescription Bluegrass has penned an opinion piece about this violent song

Read the full article here.


Ron Roberto said...

That's egregious. John Lee Hooker would be very upset.

Ron Roberto said...

That's egregious. John Lee Hooker would be very upset.

Prescription Bluegrass Blog said...

The comments in our editorial posted on 11/25/13 (Censoring in a World of Political Correctness! - A Prescription Bluegrass Editorial)mentioned above is really a comment on censoring more so than any reflection on Junior Sisk and his recent song about Bicycle Chains. However, the fact that the song produced some controversy was mentioned in this editorial, the real comments concerning the song are posted in an earlier editorial. SEE: CONTROVERSY IN MUSIC - A PRESCRIPTION BLUEGRASS EDITORIAL