This land is your land

“I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good... I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what colour, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.” 

- Woody Guthrie

By Fiona MacGregor readers are invited to celebrate the centenary of the great protest singer Woody Guthrie with a special offer of 2 for 1 tickets to a tribute concert, Songs of Struggle, featuring some of Scotland's favourite traditional singers at the Assembly Rooms this week.

In his 1962 “Song To Woody” Bob Dylan paid tribute to the role of the legendary folk singer and political activist Woody Guthrie for using song to highlight social injustice and promote political change with the words: “There’s not many men have done the things that you’ve done.”

Guthrie was hardly the first traditional musician to sing about situations he believed needed changing. But his undisputable talent, born into the desperate hardship of 1930s Dustbowl America and raised as advances in communication technology made his work accessible to a new generation, saw him become the archetypal protest singer in a world ready for change.

From the protest songs of the civil rights movement in early 1960s America, through to Joan Baez singing alongside Vaclav Havel during Czechoslovakia’s 1989 Velvet Revolution, to Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing This Land Is Your Land at President Obama’s inauguration concert – the contexts may have been different, but Guthrie’s influence helped inspire the soundtrack for some of greatest political moments of the last 80 years with songs of protest, struggle and optimism.

And as Scotland prepares for its own great political moment and the referendum for independence in 2014, some of this country’s favourite traditional singers are celebrating the centenary of Guthrie’s birth with a concert in the Capital.

As part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, two Songs of Struggleconcerts will take place in the Assembly Rooms this week (on 10 and 11 August)  featuring some of Scotland’s finest singers, including Dave Anderson, Arthur Johnstone, Alastair McDonald and Sheena Wellington.

The shows form part of a new direction for the Assembly Rooms at the fringe. Taken over this year by The Stand Comedy Club’s Tommy Sheppard, a distinctly political with a small ‘p’ edge is showing, said a spokesman for the venue.

He added:  “A number of items at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival indicate a revival of a political involvement in cultural and artistic activities.

“Of course Edinburgh’s Festivals have always been open to political input, directly so in the case of the Scottish Parliament’s ‘Festival of Politics’, and in the 10th Anniversary of the Edinburgh People’s Festival, but the number of events (in both collective venues and stand-alone) does seem to signify a revival. The appearance of ex-Minister, Tony Benn and the tribute to folk singer and political activist, Woody Guthrie, both at the Assembly Rooms typify this trend.

“Guthrie’s enormous influence on Scottish folk song has helped inspire generations of campaigners in the fight for fairness and social justice. This quartet have almost two centuries of performance experience between them and continue to enthuse a new generation of activists.”


Songs of Struggle, The Assembly Rooms, (Aug 10, 11, 21:00)

2 for the price of 1

4 Tickets Per Person Maximum

Call Box Office 0844 693 3008

Quote : Yes Scotland

Offer subject to availability.