One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.

2019 Tour

 “After more than three decades of travelling around the world in a van, or spending all day flying vast distances to play a gig, I’m looking forward to having some time to explore cities that I usually only get to see between the soundcheck and the show. And this three night stand format is a way of keeping things interesting, both for me and the audience. I tried it out in Auckland recently and had a lot of fun revisiting my back pages.” Billy Bragg 2019

In each town Bragg will perform three unique shows on consecutive nights.The first night’s performance will feature Bragg’s current set, which ranges across his 35 year career. The second will see Bragg perform songs from his first three albums: his punk rock debut Life’s a Riot with Spy Vs Spy (1983), its similarly raw follow-up Brewing Up with Billy Bragg (1984) and Talking with the Taxman about Poetry (1986). The third performance will see Bragg perform songs from his second three albums: the positively jangled Workers Playtime (1988), the pop classic Don’t Try This at Home (1991) and the back-to-basics William Bloke (1996).

Thank you @billybragg for the opportunity to table at your shows this weekend ❤️🌹

My thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Lyra McKee, senselessly killed while doing her job as a journalist.

This shocking attack is a reminder of the vital importance of protecting the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland peace process.

I’ve learned this week that addressing climate change needs to be about everybody doing something they can.
And that, tragically, many people still want to make it about nobody doing everything they could.
So, thank you @ExtinctionR.

Fri Apr 19th, 2019

Billy Bragg

This brilliant short video is a message from the future. Presented by Naomi Klein, drawn by Molly Crabapple and narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it imagines how the planet was saved by the implementation of the New Green Deal. It comes in a week which has seen Extinction Rebellion take to the streets in a massive campaign of non-violent direct action to bring attention to the climate emergency, 92 year old David Attenborough launch a new programme on the threat to biodiversity posed by climate change and 16 year old climate strike activist Greta Thunberg address the EU Parliament.

It’s also been a week in which I have flown across the Atlantic from London to Chicago, then on to Minneapolis to play three shows in the Twin Cities before flying back to Chicago to do the same there before flying home again. Given the damage that flying does to the climate, I’m aware of the irony involved in posting this video clip. To those firing up their keyboards to call me a hypocrite, I feel I should set out how concern for the environment has changed the manner in which I do my job.

The live music industry has a responsibility to address the issue of its considerable carbon footprint. Based on his tour accounting, the tour manager/sound technician I work with, Rubes Harman, has figured that the average band on a tour bus will get through a staggering 1500 plastic water bottles a month on the road. Obviously, it’s a smaller number for a solo performer like myself, but it’s not unusual to find 48 plastic bottles in the dressing room as part of the rider. I’ve recently taken to using a reusable water bottle onstage and asking venues to supply a water butt, rather than four dozen single use plastic bottles.

Research has shown that the majority of the carbon footprint for a music tour is generated by the distance that fans have to come to the show. If, in response to climate concerns, I stopped flying to the US and only did shows in the UK, just two fans flying to London to see me perform would double the carbon emissions that would have been generated by me going to play in their US city. So, although I recognise it has implications for the climate, refusing to cross the Atlantic any more won’t necessarily help the environment.

Having recognised that, I’ve focussed my efforts on changing the way that I travel. In the past, it was not uncommon for me to do a fly & play tour across the US. Distances are so vast here that flight is the only option to reach some dates in time. Even as a solo performer, my touring party in the UK consists of four people: me, a tour manager, a sound technician and a merch seller. Four flights across the Atlantic and every day around the US is a lot of carbon. In recent years, I’ve managed to cut my US touring party to two people: me and Rubes, who is both my sound technician and my tour manager.

It’s impossible to cut out flying across the Atlantic - doing the trip by boat would create an even bigger carbon footprint - but once in the US, I’m working to keep my flights to a minimum. The three night stand format that I’ve developed does not require us to travel vast distances every day. This two week tour will involve just two internal flights between Chicago and Minneapolis. When we come back in September to play three nights in DC, New York and Boston, Rubes and I will be driving between shows.

I recognise that many of us have jobs that generate carbon in some way and that it is impractical to cut out our emissions completely, but this shouldn’t stop us from working actively to minimise the damage that we do to our environment. We all have a role to play in stemming the tide of global climate change, and responsibility begins at home.
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© Billy Bragg 2019