Free For All

White-haired boomers with turbulent pasts are certain to show up at the Swallow Hill Music Association's Evening to Celebrate Songs From the Anti-War/Peace Movement (8 p.m. Saturday, December 14), but Swallow Hill director Jim Williams hopes the event will attract a younger crowd, too. They're the ones who really need it, he says.

"I participated in the big march downtown recently when [President] Bush was here, and that was a real eye-opener," Williams explains. "I realized what a broad cross-section of the population was actually involved in that event: All these people in their twenties showed up who were very concerned, but still, I didn't see any musicians singing about it. Not to blame a whole generation, but the youth of this particular generation hasn't had to face the life-and-death reality of war. It's not really their fault."

The free concert won't simply serve as a rallying political gathering for folks ignorant of the finer points of public protesting. It's also a musicological tip of the hat to the rootsier roots of American folk music.

"I thought maybe we should do more events about the whole context of folk music, and folk music is basically about lives of common people," Williams notes. "Often it deals with the whole question of poor people fighting wars, usually to protect the private property of rich people. It's easy at Swallow Hill to get caught up in the concerts and the classes; it's easy to lose sight of the larger context of the music," he continues. "With the Iraq controversy and all, it seems like a good time to begin to celebrate music written about that human struggle -- the frustration over going or not going to war."

And to that end, Williams and concert coordinator Julie Davis invited a low-key group of Swallow Hill regulars to perform a blend of protest standards and more current material: "No stars, just local folks -- and all good players, of course," he promises. Who knows? Maybe the new Bob Dylan will show his (or her) face to the world.

Swallow Hill is at 71 East Yale Avenue; call 303-777-1003 or log on to for information.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd