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State Theatre - Ithaca, NY

Billy Bragg was born in a district of Essex that is now part of Greater London. He grew up in the district of Barking, which he has always considered his home. However, his successful career was to take him across the globe, singing songs of freedom and advocating social change. He is still associated with his London roots and is sometimes known, jocularly, as 'The Bard of Barking.'
Billy Bragg was described by London's The Times newspaper as a 'national treasure'. In the two and a half decades of his career Bragg has certainly made an unforgettable mark on the conscience of British music, becoming perhaps the most stalwart guardian of the radical dissenting tradition that stretches back over centuries of the country's political, cultural and social history.
Bragg was 19-years-old when Punk made its indelible contribution to English popular culture, in 1977. Bragg's own particular contribution was to form a band called Riff Raff, who released a series of indie seven-inch singles including the wonderfully titled I Wanna Be a Cosmonaut.
Riff Raff eventually split in 1981. Perhaps remarkably, given Bragg's Punk antecedents, he briefly joined a tank regiment of the British Army before buying his way out with what he later described as "the most wisely spent £175 of his life."
Between time working in a record store, and absorbing his newfound love of blues and politically inspired folk music, Bragg launched himself on a solo musical career. Armed with a guitar, amplifier and voice, he undertook a maverick tour of the concert halls and clubs of Britain, ready at a moment's notice to fill in as support for almost any act.
His songs were full of passion, anger and wit. He has been referred to as a 'one man Clash'. This was not, however, what the major record companies wanted at the time - the Punk attitudes of the late-Seventies had long since given way to the escapist rise of the New Romantics.

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Bragg managed to grab some studio time, courtesy of the Charisma label's indie subsidiary, Utility. The result was 1984's Life's a Riot with Spy Vs. Spy, which hit the UK Top 30. It was an early indicator that Bragg's work would be infused with genuine insight and humor, as well as a sustained and personal commitment to political and humanitarian issues.
After seeing how the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher was changing the fabric of British society, particularly with the decimation of the mining communities, Bragg's songs became more overtly political. He became a fixture at political rallies and benefits, particularly during the 1984 Miners Strike. His second album, Brewing Up with Billy Bragg (1984), opened with the fierce It Says Here, a strident song of political solidarity.
The album went Top 20 in the UK. Bragg was on something of a roll and even had a Top 20 hit with the Between the Wars EP, the title track of which he played live on BBC's Top of the Pops - something virtually unprecedented in those days of miming on television.
It took another two years before the release of his next album. Much of his time was occupied with Red Wedge - an initiative to persuade young people to vote for Labor in the 1987 General Election - for which he toured with such luminaries as The Style Council, Madness, The Communards and The Smiths.
His credentials as a songwriter, however, were confirmed when Kirsty MacColl released her classic version of Bragg's A New England, a UK Top 10 hit in 1985.
Bragg's third album, Talking with the Taxman About Poetry, was released in September 1986. It was his most successful and accomplished release to date, spawning a hit single, Levi Stubb's Tears, as well as Greetings to the New Brunette, a collaboration with The Smiths' guitarist, Johnny Marr. The album was a Top 10 hit.
Two years later Bragg found himself with a surprise hit - albeit on a double a-side single with the band Wet Wet Wet. As part of a children's charity project, he recorded a version of The Beatles' She's Leaving Home, accompanied by Cara Tivey on piano. This was subsequently released with Wet Wet Wet's With a Little Help From My Friends, reaching number one in May 1988.
In September 1988, Bragg released his fourth album, Workers Playtime. More focused on matters of the heart than political issues, the album also saw Bragg move away from the sparse arrangements that had characterized his earlier work. The public approved - the album was a Top 20 hit in the UK.

Bragg, however, entered the Nineties with his most political work to date. The Internationale mini-album, released in May 1990, included such tracks as The Marching Song of the Covert Battalions, Nicaragua Nicaraguita and Bragg's very personal rendition of the William Blake poem, Jerusalem as well as the Socialist anthems, The Red Flag and the title track, The Internationale.
The following year, 1991, Bragg issued the critically acclaimed Don't Try This at Home, which reached number eight in the UK chart. With musical contributions from such stellar talents as Johnny Marr and, from REM, Peter Buck and Michael Stipe, the album ranged in themes from personal tragedies to a strident condemnation of racists and football hooligans. Among the songs was the hit single, Sexuality.
A long time was to elapse before Billy Bragg made another album. One of the reasons for his absence was fatherhood - Bragg took time out to concentrate on his family. When he did return, in 1996, the resulting William Bloke album showed Bragg balancing his political and personal commitments, an unsentimental examination of his life and values.
The album also marked a return to the stripped-down Bragg, often no more than Billy and his guitar. William Bloke, a Top 20 hit, was to be the last album of Bragg's own songs in the Nineties. What followed next, however, was an extraordinary and unexpected project.
Woody Guthrie was the dean of American folk artists, the author of such classics as This Land is Your Land, Pastures of Plenty, Deportees, I Ain't Got No Home In This World Any More and Rueben James. His giant influence on the entire course of American popular music, not least Bob Dylan's acknowledgement of his debt to Guthrie, made him one of the seminal artists of the 20th Century. At the time of his death, in 1967, however, Guthrie left behind some 2500 unfinished songs, the lyrics to which were belatedly discovered many years later in the archives. Guthrie's daughter, Nora, first became aware of Billy Bragg in 1992, when he performed at New York City's Summerstage birthday celebration for Woody.

"Although he had come out of a punk rock background, he could sing along with the country and western singers, the folkies and just about everyone else who appeared in the show," says Nora Guthrie.
"When he accompanied the rappers Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy on Vigilante Man, we were blown away. He seemed open to anything and everything. His wry sense of humor, reminiscent of Woody's, also caught our attention immediately".
Nora Guthrie decided that Bragg was the perfect candidate to set new music to the unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics. There was no record of any music being written, thus Bragg was given the task of 'reinventing' original Woody Guthrie songs. The lyrics - about New York City streets, film star idols, drinking, loving, dying and even spaceships - were specifically chosen because they presented a completely different aspect to Woody Guthrie's public persona. Bragg's role was to provide the musical platform for a previously 'unexplored' Guthrie.
Bragg's collaborators on the project were American alt-country rockers, Wilco. The result was Mermaid Avenue, released in 1998. Recordings began in Wilco's hometown of Chicago and then in Dublin, where English fiddler Eliza Carthy and blues man Corey Harris made their contributions. Natalie Merchant also added her talents when Bragg was finishing the recordings in Boston.
So much material was recorded during those sessions that Mermaid Avenue Volume II was issued two years later, in 2000. Both albums were nominated for Grammy Awards. A rift with Wilco over mixing and sequencing of the album led to Bragg recruiting his own band, The Blokes, to promote the album.
The tour worked so well it was inevitable that The Blokes would be a permanent band, playing with Bragg in the U.S. and the rest of Europe.

Billy Bragg's current touring and recording band, The Blokes, feature the great talents of Ian McLagan, who plays Hammond Organ and Piano. In a previous life he has played with The Small Faces, The Faces, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and nearly every other musical legend you can think of. The other musicians in The Blokes were Ben Mandelson (lap steel guitar); Lu Edmonds (electric guitar and vocals) who has played with The Damned, Pil, The Mekons, and Shriekback; Drummer Martyn Barker who also played with Shriekback; and Simon Edwards (bass) who played with Fairground Attraction, Talk Talk, Kirsty McColl and Shriekback.
Following the release of Mermaid Avenue Volume II, Bragg moved home from London to Dorset, in the southwest of England. It didn't, however, take him long to involve himself in the politics of the area - just before the UK General Election in June 2001 Bragg launched a tactical voting campaign to unseat the Conservative MP in Bragg's Dorset constituency.
Bragg also turned his attention to campaigning for reform of the House of Lords - the UK's second chamber - by writing and publishing A Genuine Expression of the Will of the People, a political pamphlet on the subject. It is available in electronic form from the votedorset website.
He proposed a scheme of democratic reform for the House of Lords, promoted tactical voting during the 2001 UK general election in an attempt to unseat Tory candidates in Dorset, and has developed an interest in English national identity.

Since beginning his crusade for reform of the House of Lords, Bragg was invited to present his ideas to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, to promote the idea of proportional representation in the House and to drive up the numbers of people voting in an attempt to combat voter apathy.
Running concurrently with all this political activity, however, Bragg was also working with The Blokes on a new album England, Half English. The album, which explored Bragg's notions about identity and Englishness, was released on March 4, 2002 - by sheer coincidence the precise 20th anniversary of Bragg's first-ever solo gig, the Sociology Disco at North London Polytechnic in 1982.
A year later, in 2003, Billy Bragg celebrated his long career with a double-CD retrospective called Must I Paint You A Picture?, released in October. The album featured 40 of the tracks that have defined his music and approach through the years. Initial copies of the album also feature a third, bonus, CD chock full of Billy Bragg collectibles and rarities.
In 2004 he collaborated with Less Than Jake for "The Brightest Bulb Has Burned Out," a track included on the Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1 compilation.
A bigger Bragg retrospective, however, came with the release of Billy Bragg Volume 1 - a boxed set featuring seven CD's and two DVD's with a wealth of rare and previously unreleased tracks - in March 2006. It was followed by Billy Bragg Volume 2, which was released in October.

The themes that pervade England, Half English have been further amplified in The Progressive Patriot: A Search For Belonging, Bragg's first book, published by Bantam Press on Monday 9 October, the same day Billy Bragg Volume 2 is released. The Progressive Patriot is part autobiography and part polemic on the meaning of national identity in modern Britain.
2008 saw the release of Mr. Love & Justice, Billy's first solo effort in six years. Although The Blokes served as Bragg's backing band on the album, a limited-edition package also included a second disc comprised of intimate solo recordings.
It was the tour supporting this album that brought Bragg to the State Theatre in Ithaca, NYwith opening act The Watson Twins.
Dawn and I arrived early and caught up with Billy Bragg a couple of hours before his show.
Sitting in on his sound check, we heard Billy poking fun at his sound guy and production manager as he told us music jokes like, "What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft? A flat minor."
He ran through several classics while chatting with us and the others waiting for the sound check.

When sound check was finished and all was set, Billy introduced us to Grant, his manager and told us not to be afraid of "our Aunty Granty." Grant then led the group of people, including eight people from the Slope Media department of Cornell University, down to a small room in the bowels of the old theatre.
In the hallway, Dawn and I prepared our cameras, both still and video, for the interview. Unfortunately, the video camera battery had died and it was of no use.
Five minutes later, Grant had us follow him to a different room where we would be doing interviews. With about 10 of us shoved into a back-corner dressing room underneath the stage, Billy got a little rowdy when his road manager continued to pester him about getting dinner before the show. In the background we could hear The Watson Twins going through their sound check. Being a veteran interviewer, I was ready to begin and the Slope Media crew was still setting up their equipment. So, Billy and I decided to begin and the Slope Media crew would just join in when they were ready.

Billy Bragg Interview - October 18th 2008
State Theatre - Ithaca, NY

Tom: Its been nearly 25 years since your début and many think of you as a solo artist, and you have been referred to as "the one man Clash", but for your last release you teamed up with The Blokes, how did that come about?
Billy: Basically it's a knock down effect from working with Wilco. When I went into the studio with Wilco to make Mermaid Avenue it was a lot of fun, because normally, it's a little bit like what you saw in sound check you know, its just me, and everything waits for me to do stuff. In the studio everything stops and, I'm the guy that has to come up with all of the answers. Whereas working in the studio, with a collaboration, if I don't go in for a day, they carry on working. They do good stuff. So, its much more conducive. Since Mermaid Avenue, I've found it more conducive to work with a band in a studio.
Tom: Speaking of Mermaid Avenue, what was it like having to be reinventing Woody Guthrie songs?
Billy: Well, I don't think it was a matter of reinventing, I think it was more a matter of collaboration. Nora Guthrie is incredibly generous, and she said we should go in there, and work with her father and not be intimidated by him…
A knock at the door interrupts us as the tour manager comes in with a cup of hot tea for Billy.

Billy: Here comes my cup of tea. Thank you very much. We'll be fine. Dinner will be in a minute… Don't worry. I'll eat. He's like my mum, ya know what I'm saying…
And so consequently, Nora was very, very generous. She allowed me and the guys to, more or less, instead of actually doing past ages Woody, to actually take the little guy and run with it, and take him forward.

Tom: Since your last album, you have been working on some other projects including the Jail Guitar Doors With Mick Jones of The Clash. Tell the viewers what that's about and how that's going.
Billy: Well, basically, this guy who was doing rehabilitation work in a British prison lived about an hour away from where I am. He got in touch with me to say he was doing really great work with the inmates; unfortunately, he only had one guitar, and could I help him get some more guitars. So, I sorted him out about a half a dozen acoustic guitars. And it seemed to me they would be other people working within the system who were doing this work. If we can find those people, and supply them with instruments, we might be able to make a contribution towards rehabilitation.
Like the American system, our prisons are overcrowded and understaffed. And as a consequence it's very difficult to actually change rehabilitation, which strangely enough, our system tries to make happen rather than retribution. As a consequence of this, I've since become with people like Mick and other musicians. It's become very, very fruitful in to about 18 or 19 prisons in the last year and a half.
Tom: You've even got some people from the States involved in this now.
Billy: I have, I have. Not just activists In Washington DC and in Kansas. Chris (Shiflett) from Foo Fighters was recently in touch. He's come to England with his band Jackson United and he is interested in doing some stuff as well. So the word is spreading, and it is an eminently global idea.
Tom: Have you guys seen a good response to it in England?
Billy: Well, in some prisons, the work is done by volunteers. In some prisons, the best ones, the work is done by the prisoners themselves. And they write to me and tell me the connection they get with the men is stronger than ever before. One of them wrote and said, 'I've never had this thrill in eighteen years of working in the prison system.' So I'm assuming its helping to bridge that gap.

Tom: Besides making music, you've also written books and political pamphlets. What is that like, and how is the creative process different than song writing?
Billy: You have to keep writing longer with a book. (Laughs) With a song, after you've written a couple of pages, you tend to stop. With a book… it's a totally different discipline. Ultimately it's still about communicating.
The huge crew from Slope Media, the college TV station, finally got their gear set up and working and joined in on the interview.
The TV crew asked Billy if their microphones were a bit too technical and he replied, "No, no, it's not the technology. I think it might be the eight of you. Normally, it's a little more laid back."
After a few final adjustments, we continued with the interview.
Slope Media: How are you enjoying playing with The Watson Sisters?
Billy: We only started last night. So, it's all new. I have watched the set from last night. We were in State College, PA. It sounded beautiful.
Slope Media: And on this new album, the political influences are much more subtle. Do you feel that you, in some way, have already kind of articulated your political views?
Billy: No, no. I think... This album comes after I wrote a book, which was very political. I think what's happened is that I spent so long working hard on the politics of what I was doing that, when I finished the book, then I began to write love songs. The love songs kind of came to the fore. I think that's the reason.
Slope Media: And the solo version that you did of…

Billy's manager enters the room and interrupts.
Billy: Go away!

Slope Media: What is the importance of keeping that style? You know, the one man with a guitar...
Billy: Well, it's very important to me. I think one of the problems about playing with a band is that everyone plays for the band, And so you just become a bit run-of-the-mill. But the power that you can get… The way you get people's attention onto one idea because your one person performing is very powerful. I'm not saying I prefer one or the other, because I like touring with The Blokes, but it does allow me to move the set around every night as I'm playing it, which is nice to have.
Slope Media: And, does that sort of bring a focus on your words more as a poetry concept?
illy: Well, certainly in the fact that I'm not a very good guitar player. Yeah, I'm not that good. My son has just learned to play guitar. I taught him how to play the chords to "Another Girl, Another Planet" by The Only Ones.
After he had mastered that, he said, 'OK, now show me how to (imitates guitar sound).' And I said, 'Your dad is not that kind of guitar player.' And he said, 'What do you mean? You play the guitar.' I said, 'Yeah, I can. But I am a rhythm player. I'm like Johnny Ramone. I just play rhythm' He's into the Ramones… 'You never hear him play lead guitar, do ya?' And he said, 'No, you're right. All right, Dad.' He suddenly realized the limitations of his rock star dad.

Slope Media: This year you wrote an op-ed for the New York Times.
Billy: I did.
Slope Media: And from what I read of your information, it's about regulation of organizations bringing music through the Internet to young people. What do you think about the MySpace Generation?
Billy: I think MySpace, in general, has great potential for the young artists to be able to get their music and their art out there without having to go through the traditional gatekeepers, and without having to compromise what they want to do in order to appeal to some A&R man's idea of mass marketing.
But, having said that, the protections for unsigned bands and artists out there are very, very slim. And my problem with MySpace was around the idea of ownership of the material posted. Their terms and conditions implied that they own residual rights to the stuff that was posted on there. What I said was… I was taking my music off until this was clarified or changed. They responded by saying that they have Madonna on MySpace and they clearly don't own her stuff. To which I responded, 'Yes, but she's got a lawyer and a publishing deal.' The majority of people don't have those things. The only deal they've ever entered into his I clicked on those conditions. Now I don't want a situation where every kid has to sit there with an attorney before they can get something posted on the net. In the spirit of the Internet, people should understand that they can use the platforms to disseminate their art without being afraid that they're going to lose their rights, so MySpace did ultimately change. They didn't really change their terms, but they clarified it. They put at the beginning, at the first sentence, a clear statement saying that you own whatever you post. The ownership resides with you. That's really, really important. There is another clause in there that says…when you…uh…

Billy's manager comes to the door of the room and sticks his hand through the transom at the top and waves it around, signaling to Billy that he wants to go eat.
Billy excuses himself, jumps up from his chair, and slaps the hand causing everyone in the room to laugh.
After returning to his seat, he continues with his thought.
Billy: …when you remove your stuff from MySpace the deal ends. That, to me, seems to me a good way of doing it. I think, the last time I looked, maybe it has changed, the MySpace proprietary rights rules seems, to me, to a good industry standard as a starting place. There are some websites, MTV Plus, that invite unsigned bands to put material like music and videos on there, with the view to get it on the whole MTV platform. I still think that they would own residual rights. They would own your rights if you did that. There is no ending clause, there is no ownership statement. I would be very, very careful in doing that.
I'm not saying that I have a problem with the Internet, I think we have to find out a way to make music paid. Whatever the answer is it is definitely not criminalizing our audience. Those people are not pirates. They are Billy Bragg fans. I want them rounded up and gotten out of prison. There have models out there like the commercial radio model. What is on the radio music comes out of the radio and it's free. Isn't it? You don't have to pay for it. Do you? But the people who made that music do get paid, don't they? Where do they get their money from? From advertising revenue. How much does MySpace make advertising in a year? 300 million dollars. You think they might be able to split a little bit of that paying for the content? They do that on the back of free content and that's got to change. Artists have got to come together because the labels are not protecting us, they're protecting the old business models. The old foolish model of "you have to sign an record label if you want your record to come out a shop in Ithaca you have to sign to a worldwide deal" because they have to physically make it and get it to you. Now, that's just "click & drag" today.

Tom: Then, you have people like Attila The Stockbroker, who are going against the record company and posting stuff on MySpace anyway, free to download. Its kind of a big (gives the Finger) you to the record company.
Billy: That's the thing… When artists do have the opportunity two decide how to disseminate their stuff, they do often go more radical routes than the record label. I think, the way Attila is doing it, the Radiohead did it, that's what I want. Because, Atilla, hopefully, will be doing that in twenty years time, because he'll have the right to do it.
Tom: I pray it's so. I love that man.
Billy: I hope so as well. Its those people who signed a long-term recording contracts, who do not have access to their back catalogue, who can't… long after the public interest has waned. There is a possibility for you make your own stuff and get it, and disseminated around the world.
Once more, the tour manager pops open the door and sticks his head in and tries to get Billy to go to dinner.
Billy: What?!
Manager: First… Wow, it's really hot in this room!
Billy: Yeah?
Manager: And secondly… It's about time…
Billy: Yeah, OK. Another five minutes…
Manager: OK. I'm gonna hold you to five minutes.
Billy: Yeah, OK! My handlers, they're very strict aren't they? And he does handle me from time to time. (Laughs) You had a question?
Slope Media: Yes. It's a little more than two decades after your recorded "Help Save The Youth Of America." What advice do you have for us today? In what ways do we still need saving?
Billy: Well, I think it's pretty obvious. It a matter of weeks you will have the opportunity to save yourselves. To bring to an end that long period of Republican eclipse and start a new type of America, a new way of looking at the world. I don't think the youth of America need a great deal of help from me at the moment. Except to be reminded to be engaged and to get involved. I think the reason I wrote that back in the day was young people didn't seem all that interested in politics. Now, I think, more young people are engaged an organizing for Obama that I have ever seen in any other American election.
Tom: One of the things I have been seen in Syracuse is that they have these buttons that say "Engaged Citizen," but a lot of the guys are taking them and taking a marker and writing an "R" over the "G" so that they say "EnRaged Citizen."
Billy: That's good, that's cool.
Tom: It's making a statement. Along that line I would like to ask you some advice. What would you, Billy Bragg, give as advice to the next President of the United States? What advice would you give him if I could sit down with him?
Billy: Well, if he wants to send a simple message to the rest of the world about the way things have changed, within the first 100 days: close Guantánamo Bay. Simple as that. That would send such a clear message around the world. When I came into town today, we're walking up State Street passed the VFW, and outside they have got a MIA-POW flag. Now, if 40 years after the Vietnam War, the idea that there may be some American citizens still held in jails in Vietnam is enough to be a kind of litmus test for the patriotism of a minority of American citizens. Imagine what the notion that there are hundreds of Muslims being held incognito by the United States of America. Imagine that knowledge. They have their own, the Muslims their own POW-MIA campaign. We are talking about tens of millions of people around the world who are outraged by this. Guantánamo Bay is the recruiting sergeant for Al-Qaeda. And closing it down and standing on the Constitution… The constitution does work. People say it doesn't, but it does. That's why Guantánamo Bay is in Cuba and not in Alabama. The Constitution damn well works. It doesn't stop the President and the executive from trying to pervert it. But it does work.
Slope Media: Over your career how has your worldview changed? Has it changed?

Billy: Of course it's changed. In twenty-five years, I mean, things have happened. If they happened, you'd have to change your worldview. The Soviet Union has disappeared. Margaret Thatcher isn't prime minister anymore. And I'm somebody's dad. Any one of those would force you to change your worldview. The fact that all three of them happened in as many years… Of course I changed my worldview. But, in a sense of how I articulate what I'm saying, I think that's changed and then I don't talk any more than ideological language. I talk now in a much more humanist language. I'll be speaking that way tonight. Instead of talking about socialist society, I'll be a talking about compassionate society. I'll probably declare that our greatest enemy, those of us who want to make the world a better place, it's not actually Republicanism, or capitalism, or conservatism, it's actually cynicism. We have to fight our own cynicism, never mind before you can begin to go to anyone else's. We have to fight our own cynicism. By cynicism I mean that group of people who, not only have they given up the struggle, but they want you to give up as well. Let me finish up by just giving you a warning. If our dreams come true and Obama does become President; within a year some of your close friends who also wanted Obama to be President, some of the people you respect and write in the media will be writing articles and saying that Obama is no different than Bush…

Once again, the manager comes to the door and knocks.
Billy: Will you just fuck off!
Manager: Fine.
Billy: Fuck Off! …For fuck's sake! Excuse me. You'll have to put a not-very -neat edit right there. (Laughs) …That's because everyone's expectations are so high when Obama's coming in. Our expectations are through the roof. He won't be able to deliver on all that. But, the things he does deliver on will be really, really important things, and you've got to hang on to that idea. The real thing is going to be different on November the fifth, if he wins: We will live in a world of possibilities. Not all of those possibilities will be realized, but just the very fact that we live in that world, and when I say we I don't just mean you lot, I mean all of us around the world, that we live in that world of possibilities. That is the most important thing you can give us on November the fourth. What becomes of it? There will be disappointments. I helped get a Tony Blair elected. My fellow citizens are now dying an Iraq and Afghanistan because they are supporting your President getting into those wars. But also, we also have peace in Northern Ireland, which Blair also achieved. So, it's not a black and white picture, all good or bad. That's the thing we have to guard against, because I feel a great build up of expectation, particularly for you people, your generation, who've really not known anything other than the Republicans really since you have been politically aware. This will make such a huge difference if Obama wins, but when he wins you've got to hang on even tighter to what you believe in and not stop the day after the election, put down your cameras, get rid of your contacts, give up, and go away. Instead, you've got to make a commitment to try to carry on with the momentum you've built up. Billy's magager showed up again and this time it was for real. We finished the interview and thanked Billy for his time.I had him sign my interview questions and I even gave him a hug!
Dawn and I posed for a few picures with Billy as well.

With that, Grant led up back upstairs and we were free to do what we wanted until the show began. Dawn and I were starving so we walked around the Ithaca Commons, found a nice Chinese restaurant and had dinner. The food was great. We both had shrimp and broccoli and a Coke.
After dinner we walked back to the State Theatre just in time to take our seats for the show.

The Watson Twins are an American musical group based in Los Angeles with country and folk influences. Named for identical twin sisters Chandra and Leigh Watson, the band includes contributions from Aram Arslanian, Russ Pollard, Jason Soda, and Jenny Lewis.
Chandra and Leigh were born on March 28, 1975 in Louisville, Kentucky and raised were raised there. They attended the University of Evansville then moved to Silverlake, California in 1997, where they were founding members of and backup singers for local band Slydell. They also began writing their own music and performing with other musicians, including Orphan Train, Joe Firstman, Fairechild, Rilo Kiley and their singer Jenny Lewis.
In 2006 The Watson Twins released their debut EP, Southern Manners, almost simultaneously with Rabbit Fur Coat, their collaboration under the name Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins. The Watson Twins had previously been known as Black Swan before changing their name to accompany their album with Jenny Lewis. The group have also covered Neil Young's song "Powderfinger" for the American Laundromat Records compilation charity album titled Cinnamon Girl - Women Artists Cover Neil Young for Charity, released in February of 2008. Their album Fire Songs was released on June 24, 2008 on Vanguard Records.
The sisters put on a great show. Both have wonderful voices and play guitar.
After their set, we got to meet them in the foyer of the Theatre.

The Watson Twins

Official Website

Soon, the lights flashed signalling that it was time to reyurn to our seats. Dawn and I returned to the interior of the theatre and I headed up to the press pit to shoot photos.
Billy Bragg took the stark stage and began his set with his classic song "Help Save The Youth Of America" as I snapped away. The song is my personal favorite tune by Billy.
After the first three songs, I headed back to my seat. Dawn's camera has a video feature, so I shot a few songs. The quality of the videos is low, but I worked up a video to post here.
It is the classic Billy Bragg song "Give My regards To The New Brunette." I made it look really old and it seemed to look okay that way, but the sound quality is pretty good and worth watching.
here is the complete set list for the show:
Help Save - To Have - Farm Boy - Greetings - Ingrid - Way Over - Got No Home - NPWA - Sexuality - Save The Country - O Freedom - J. Clash - Faith - Power
Billy left the stage to thunderous applause and a standing ovation. The crowd continued to clapp and cheer until he returned to the stage for an encore. For the final songs he performed Levi Stubb's Tears, Sing, and New England. He received another standing ovation as he thanked the crowd and left the stage, this time for good.
With the show over, Dawn and I gathered up our coats and gear and walked back to the car. The drive back to Syracuse was clear. Dawn and I talked about the show all the way home and agreed that this show will forever stand out in both of our minds as one of the greatest days of both of our lives.




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