Church to present Irish music of resistance

WEST BRATTLEBORO — A St. Patrick's Day Irish music concert to celebrate Irish political resistance and emigration at All Souls Church UU on Saturday, March 17, will add support for current asylum seekers who face many of the same issues as their Irish counterparts in years past.

Musical storyteller and political satirist Charlie King will join Peter Blood and Annie Patterson of Rise Up Singing fame for a special benefit concert at 7 p.m. at the church at 29 South St. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Community Asylum Seekers Project, which supports those fleeing violence and oppression in their home country and legally seeking asylum in the U.S.

Entitled “Irish Songs of Wonder, Emigration & Resistance,” the concert will be produced by the church's Social and Environmental Action Committee and sponsored by a plethora of area social support organizations, including Song & Solidarity, Act for Social Justice, Indivisible Brattleboro, the Putney Huddle, and GunSenseVT.

Ticket prices range from $5 to $25, but organizers emphasize that no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Tickets can be purchased at Everyone's Books in Brattleboro, at Village Square Booksellers in Bellows Falls, and online at

In the Irish tradition, the concert will combine performance and group singing with audience participation. Acknowledging recent headlines on the many acts of protest and resistance toward the current administration, especially in regard to immigrants, the concert will lean heavily on the body of song that grew out of the Irish resistance to British rule.

The performers will also conduct a workshop on “building community and resistance through song” at the church starting at 1 p.m. and concluding with a simple supper at 5.

CASP, the beneficiary of the concert, finds local homes for individuals and families seeking asylum and supports them with food, shelter, and other daily needs as they settle in their new community. It also assists them in navigating the asylum claim process with the goal of eventual independence. (More information about CASP is available at

King is a musical storyteller and political satirist. He sings and writes passionately about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Pete Seeger hailed him as “one of the finest singers and songwriters of our time.” He has been at the heart of American folk music for over half a century and has been writing songs for the past 45 years.

Last year he received the annual Phil Ochs Award, in recognition of his music and activism for social and political justice in the spirit of Phil Ochs.

King's latest recording is Life & Love, Tears & Laughter, released in 2017. He has recorded a dozen solo albums since 1976, as well as three albums with the touring ensemble Bright Morning Star and numerous compilation albums with other artists.

In addition to a full-time career of concert touring, King has sung in support of numerous groups working for peace, human rights, environmental sanity, and alternatives to violence. This St. Patrick's Day concert follows in that tradition.

Patterson and Blood have been partners for 32 years, but their love of folk music predates their marriage vows. The couple compiled, arranged, illustrated, and annotated “Rise Up Singing,” with Pete Seeger penning the forward. Since its publication in 1998, the collection of lyrics and guitar chords for 1,200 songs has gone through 14 printings.

Patterson and Bloodrecently published Rise Again, a companion volume of an additional 1,200 songs following the same format as the original collection. Seeger contributed a preface before his death.

When not singing with Blood, Patterson is a singer songwriter, banjo frailer, and jazz vocalist with the swing trio, Girls from Mars, which just released a new CD.

She has performed and led music retreats at folk festivals, coffee houses, schools, and camps throughout North America, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the British Isles. An accomplished performer and vocalist, Annie sings old songs and new.

Blood focuses on the publishing side of their music business. For example, he worked closely with Pete Seeger to edit Seeger's autobiography, Where Have All the Flowers Gone. But Blood is no stranger to protest. He traveled to Mississippi in 1966 to help with voter registration.

After Martin Luther King's death in 1968, he organized a Quaker group to live and work side by side with the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.C.

Anyone looking for more information about the concert or the workshop can contact George Carvill at [email protected].

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