The Tasmanian Grassroots Union Choir
The Tasmanian Grassroots Union Choir is a non audition group of music lovers dedicated to ensuring that workers songs, old and new, are being sung and heard in Tasmania. The group meets every Monday at 5.15 at Unions Tasmania 379 Elizabeth Street North Hobart to learn songs under the expert guidance of Annie Parsell.
The group also boast the support, guidance and musical talents of Peter Hicks.
Historial Theme for Grassroots Choir
The Tasmanian Grassroots Union Choir is currently in rehearsal of an exciting new work based on a Tasmanian connection to the famous Tolpuddle Martyrs story.
In 1834 in south-west England, six agricultural labourers were arrested on their way to work for congregating together to discuss a series of crippling wage cuts imposed by their employers. Fearful of a peasant uprising akin to the Revolution in France, local officials colluded with the landowners and the men were charged with an ancient offence of ‘uttering illegal oaths' and sentenced to seven years transportation to Botany Bay. By chance their spokesman George Loveless, a lay Methodist preacher, is separated from his colleagues and sent to Van Diemen's Land instead. Back in London, the public outcry is unrelenting and the men eventually receive pardons, having endured several years' banishment for holding a meeting. The Tasmanian Grassroots Union Choir has taken the story of George Loveless' life in Van Diemen's Land and transformed it into a performance piece featuring eight original songs penned by Peter Hicks, Geoff Francis, Simon Cocker, Maureen Lum and Matt Woolley; with musical direction by Annie Parsell and script by Simon Cocker.
Set in the roiling colonial outpost that was known as Hobarton or Hobart Town in 1834, ‘Loveless in Hobart Town' features the little-known story of George Loveless' exile in Van Diemen's Land including numerous clashes with Governor Arthur and his administration over his innocence. Loveless worked at the Government Farm at New Town as a convict, and at Grass Tree Hill near Richmond after his ticket-of-leave was granted. A stone cottage occupied by Loveless is still in use as offices by the Tolpuddle Vineyard (Glen Ayr).
The choir has been invited to perform ‘Loveless in Hobart Town' at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Dorset, England in July 2011. The Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival is an annual event which celebrates trade unionism and labour politics. As well as a Radical History School and a street parade of Trade Union Banners from all over the UK, the Festival features regular appearances by musicians with a social justice perspective such as Billy Bragg, Dick Gaughan, David Rovics and Graham Moore. The Tasmanian Grassroots Union Choir will also be performing with Billy Bragg on the final day of the Festival.
The Choir will give the premiere performance of 'Loveless in Hobart Town' at the 2011 Cygnet Folk Festival in January. Check your Cygnet program for your chance to see this exciting production prior to its international tour.
For more information about the Tolpuddle Festival see http://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk/index.php?page=2010-festival
For information about the Cygnet Festival please see http://www.cygnetfolkfestival.org
Earlybird tickets are on sale now.
Oh No John
|"John who" is the cry as the 11 wasted years of government become just memories. This song penned by Peter Hicks and Geoff Francis asks the questions of those on the receiving end of Howard policies who will remember him. Originally recorded by the in Graasroots in 2003 and included on the CD No Blood for Oil – Australian Voices for Peace.|
If it weren't for the Union
|Another Peter Hicks and Geoff Francis calling on all workers to support their union as the defender of all rights but only as strong as the will to fight. Recorded in 2006 and released on the CD 888 Australian Union Choirs.|
Call Centre Blues
|Penned by choir member Maureen Lum and inspired by the series of employer outrages perpetrated on call centre workers including banning of pictures of family on desk tops and the sacking of Sally who went to the toilet once too often in late pregnancy. Recorded in 2006 and released on the CD 888 Australian Union Choirs.|
Please click on the songs below to view/download the song sheets: