So here’s the first of a few articles on some of the lesser known festival gems that have been popping up over the UK over the last five and have more to offer than your average weekend dancing while plastered in wellies….
Merthyr Rising is a music, arts and ideas festival that celebrates working class culture and resistance at the birthplace of the red flag.
The very nature of politics, like music is rooted in conflict and harmony. The heart of music is the interplay of the physical and the mental, as the compromise between them forms a cohesive whole. Compromise is also the heart of the political process, trying to find common ground and consensus solutions to problems of society through open communication. Both seek to inspire their targets, and both have made great use of the other to advance their ideas.
The relationship between music and politics has existed for centuries, sometimes harmoniously, and other times not as much. Songwriters have always turned to their craft when confronted with social and political injustice, and give birth to songs that seek to shine a light on the perceived inequities of the day. From protest songs to voter campaigns, campaign rallies to musical endorsements and musicians campaigning, there’s been no shortage of love between music and politics. It is this intrinsic link between music and people’s rights that makes Merthyr Rising both interesting and unique.
The location Merthyr Tydfil is one of the most historically fascinating and beautiful regions in South Wales. It is situated between the breath taking Brecon Beacons National Park and the Welsh capital Cardiff. It takes place during the anniversary of one of the very first organised uprisings by workers in 1831 known as the Merthyr Rising where it is believed that for the first time the red flag of revolution was flown as a symbol of the workers’ revolt.
Now in its fifth year Merthyr has grown steadily but still retains its close links with trade unions and the local community. It has hosted speakers and performers from around the world including Alabama 3, Teresita de Jesus Vicente Sotolongo – the UK Cuban Ambassador, George Galloway, David Rovics, Stereo MC’s, Francesca Martinez and Craig Murray. The aim is two-fold to both celebrate working class culture and encourage resistance to inequality through music, arts, culture, talks and debates and to encourage more political awareness and activism at grassroots level.
While politics is at the heart of the festival, the musical line up has been just as considered. Catering for different tastes and genres and selecting acts which have a history of political expression, the 2019 line up so far includes Black Grape, Cast, The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Vant, Tom Hingley & The Karpets, The Now, The Pagans S.O.H and Charlie Says and with full weekend and camping tickets being just £60 I reckon this little Welsh wonder will grow and grow.
Find more info here
And for tickets here