|The Flames of Discontent
Hometown: Beacon, NY
Web site: http://www.flamesofdiscontent.org
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THE FLAMES OF DISCONTENT
Alternative Protest ensemble The Flames of Discontent---John Pietaro (Electric and Acoustic 5-String Banjos, Vocals, Percussion) and Laurie Towers (lead Electric Bass Guitar, backing vocals), augmented by Rafael Figueroa (Congas, Snare Drum, Percussion, Vocals). Their repertoire combines daring reconstructions of classic protest music along with original topical songs, spoken word pieces and improvisation. Their sound adapts strains of 60s pop, rockabilly, post-punk, neo-Beat poetry, jazz and roots music to the folk/protest genre, producing a mix that is simultaneously edgy and familiar. With the September 2005 release of their first CD, "I Dreamed I Heard Joe Hill Last Night...A Century of IWW Songs" (credited to John Pietaro & The Flames of Discontent; the name has since gone democratic!), the Flames have been regularly performing their brand of radical song throughout New York's Hudson Valley area and for special events in New York City and beyond.
The first CD, described by 'Chronogram' magazine as "kick-ass music for the masses", was recorded in honor of the centenniel of the Industrial Workers of the World and produced in accordance with historian/author Paul Buhle. The CD toured the world as part of Buhle's 'Traveling Wobbly Show' exhibit and lecture presentation of the IWW anniversary. Its official release (9/05) was at the Buhle-organized IWW anniversary event at NYC's City University of New York Graduate Center auditorium.
The Flames second CD is "Revenge of the Atom Spies" and was offically released in March, 2007. It documents today's struggle for social justice via metaphors of the Red Scare. Liner notes were written by Paul Buhle. Response to this CD has been excellent, with some glowing reviews and frequent airplay. 'The Daily Freeman' newspaper called the Flames "Hudson Valley heroes" for "singlehandedly bringing back protest songs" while a reviewer from the UK's 'Whisperin & Hollerin' offered that this CD contains, "Riffs enough to cut through the US deficit". WDST-FM (Radio Woodstock) laughingly proclaimed "John Pietaro is our favorite Commie", after airing one of our tracks. Further, a recent quote from their Morning Show host Greg Gattine stated, "This is not the time for complacency--this is time for the Flames of Discontent". Two selection from this CD were selected to be a part of Neil Young's 'Living With War Today', achieving first-column status.
The Flames' music has been heard live on the air on a coast-to-coast Pacifica Radio broadcast during the 2007 Clearwater Festival, and locally on WBAI-FM (NYC), WDST-FM (Woodstock NY)--a station that regularly invites them on the air for music and political discussion as well-- and WVKR-FM (Poughkeepsie NY). Their CDs have been broadcast on many radio stations including WDST, WBAI, WVKR, WKZE (Red Hook NY), WJFF (Jeffersonville NY), WBAI-FM (New York, NY), WSUR (Eau Claire WI), KDHX-FM (St. Louis, MO), KAOS (Olympia WA), Radio Labourstart (internet broadcasts from London, UK), WIN (Workers Independent News), and on Oscar Brand's esteemed folk music program on WNYC (New York NY), among many others. Selections from the first CD were also heard on websites unionist.org and biglabor.org, both of which aired portions of the album as 'Song of the Week'. The Flames have performed in clubs and other spaces throughout the Hudson Valley area as well as in New York City. Some highlights include performance at the 2007 West Point Peace Rally while being accosted by angry rightist counter-protestors (Highland Falls NY 5/07), hosting and performing 'Solidarity: A May Day/Cinco de Mayo Benefit Concert' (Kingston NY, 4/07), the CD release party for "Revenge of the Atom Spies" (Beacon NY, 3/07), A Phil Ochs Birthday Tribute (Woodstock NY, 12/06), Folk the Vote! (Kingston NY, 11/06), and The Dissident Folk Festival (Beacon NY 10/06), performing for area political fundraisers, opening up 'The Rally To Take Back Congress' - in honor of John Hall (Poughkeepsie NY 10/06), performing for The Sick-of-Bush Festival (New Paltz NY 9/06), two seperate performances for the Woodstock Fringe Festival of Theatre and Song - including a Labor Day Concert (Woodstock NY, 8/06 and 9/06), performing for the convention of the Retail and Dept Store Workers Union (Orlando, Fla, 7/06), the Rosendale Street Festival (Rosendale NY, 7/06), the Anti-Bush West Point Rally (Highland Falls NY, 5/06), the New Paltz Peace Rally (SUNY New Paltz, 3/06) and the 100th Anniversary of the Wobblies (CUNY Graduate Center, New York City, 9/05). Additionally, they were performers/producers of various May Day events (multiple dates), tribute concerts in honor of noted protest musicians such as Woody Guthrie and Phil Ochs (multiple dates) and a memorial concert in honor Sis Cunningham (New York City, 10/04) and numerous labor rallies and progressive gatherings.
Club performances include NYC's 'Brecht Forum' and 'Sidewalk Cafe'; Woodstock NY's 'Colony Cafe', 'Byrdcliffe Theatre' and 'Joshua's Java Lounge'; Kingston NY's 'Backstage Studio Productions (BSP)', 'Mezzanine Cafe' and 'Alternative Bookstore'; Beacon NY's 'Howland Cultural Center' and 'ChThonic Clash'; Rosendale NY's 'Rosendale Cafe'; High Falls NY's 'High Falls Cafe'; New Paltz NY's '60 Main'; Cairo NY's 'Wave Farm'; Poughkeepsie NY's 'Cubbyhole'; and at progressive and community events in Beacon NY (May Day 2006, 'Holiday Hoot' 2006), Poughkeepsie NY (Labor Day 2005 and 2006, Candlelight Vigil 2005, Music for Peace Project 2006, 'Friday on Main' street fair 2006) and Albany NY (Nurses' Rally, 2005 and 2006), among many others.