by Michael Robinson, guest writer, Spirituality and Social Justice crew
When I first heard it a couple years ago, Ryan Harvey’s music politicized me. Ryan has been a member of the Riot Folk Collective, an anti-profit mutual-aid collective of radical artists and musicians, since it initially began in 2004. He started playing organizing and playing folk within social justice activist circles around the same time the Supreme Court appointed George W. Bush president. For me and many others, it’s impossible to listen to Ryan’s music (or anyone from the Riot Folk Collective, for that matter) and not be inspired by the power of its content, and I kept this in mind as I booked his show for Sage Café. His music is aimed to support those working for positive change and to educate people about issues of peace and social and economic justice.
After dropping out of high school when Ryan was 16, he got involved in organizing around animal rights issues. The Battle in Seattle of 1999 swept him up along with many others into the larger global justice/anti-free trade movement. Along with dabbling in journalism, today Ryan spends a lot of non-work time supporting Iraq Veterans Against the War through an organization he co-founded in 2007 called The Civilian-Soldier Alliance, which involves civilian allies who organize and work with veterans and active duty service members to build a GI resistance movement towards a just foreign policy.
Just as activists and organizers are inspired by Ryan’s music, his music draws inspiration from the soldiers and activists with whom he works. Following the tradition of Phil Ochs and Woody Guthrie, his music represents an integral part of his activism just as much as everything else he does.
Soon, Ryan will be touring the Southeast in February and March sharing stories and perspectives from Occupy encampments around the country and their counterparts in Europe, and helping stir up energy for the Occupy movements “Spring Offensive”! He is also touring to promote his new album Ordinray Heroes, a collaborative work with violinist/journalist/documentarian Michael Fox. The recording, dedicated to historian and activist Howard Zinn, emphasizes and celebrates social movements as a means of overcoming injustice.
If you want to come see a wholesome show full of justice and fun, Ryan Harvey will be playing at Sage Café at 9:00PM on Friday, February 17, and the next day in Firestorm Café at 8:00PM. I encourage you to come check out his show, and you can find his music online at riotfolk.org/ryan.