Protest songs from past and present

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Protest songs old and new are featuring in a concert in Sheffield next week.

Shake the Chains is a new touring show from celebrated UK contemporary folk singer-songwriters that explores the role songs have played in social change, resistance and protest.

From the industrial revolution, universal suffrage and the slave trade through to CND, Rock against Racism and the miners’ strike, songs are a common factor in movements that have sought to instigate change.

The tour features Nancy Kerr, Findlay Napier, Hannah Martin, Greg Russell and Tim Yates. All the tour dates also include a special guest and Sheffield-based star guitarist Martin Simpson will be at Firth Hall next Friday.

Greg Russell said: “It’s a project of protest songs, some of which already exist, and some of which are being written by three of us in relation to things we feel passionate about.

“They are about issues in today’s world and issues in the past.”

The title of the tour refers to lines from Shelley’s 19th-century poem, The Masque of Anarchy: “Shake your chains to earth like dew, Which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many – they are few”.

Greg got interested in the issue when he did a politics degree. He said: “My final year was spent looking at the role music has played in social change. Since uni I’ve been a musician and I wanted to expand what I’d studied in a more artistic way.

“I didn’t want to put on an academic show that people would come to and be read at for 90 minutes.

“I started to talk about it and as soon as I started, different people wanted to be involved in it.”

Tickets for Friday’s concert are available from