Review: David Rovics Live and Virtual House Concert

Watching a livestream broadcast of a concert is an interesting proposition for me, since I prefer my concerts actually live. David Rovics is undoubtedly at his best at a concert, so I joined the broadcast of his house concert expecting that (as I have found with his youtube broadsides and radio broadcasts) the abstract nature of the audience would detract from the show. I was pleased to discover that I was wrong.

Two aspects of the broadcast contributed to its success. The location, and the inclusion of a local audience.

There was an audience was in David’s living room, giving the concert an intimate atmosphere that went a long way to overcoming the sense of distance created by watching a live show via a camera. The camera was set up so we virtual participants “joined” the audience, and David could address both simultaneously. There was a message board that David (and all of us online) could see and respond to, so we were included in that unique rapport with the audience that he always builds with a live show.

There were also some special moments experienced just by the virtual audience. David has written songs about the grandparents of a friend of his in Hamburg, and he played both of them. That granddaughter was watching the show from Denmark, and responded with appreciative comments on the message board. It was interactions like this which took the virtual concert from “nearly as good as live” to having a unique value of its own, one impossible to attain with an actual live audience.

The interaction between global and local are a unique feature of today’s technology, and artists are often to be found there, experimenting with the tech and the show. This particular fusion of live and virtual worked very well, and I look forward to joining more concerts like this one, either (and this is a change!) virtually- or really.

The Wakes and David Rovics, “Bethlehem2Belfast” EP

The Bethlehem2Belfast EP is a joint project from Glasgow based folk-rockers The Wakes, and US radical singer-songwriter David Rovics. It is well worth the price just for the music. However, it is not just a musical contribution you will be making.

You will also be contributing to the Bethlehem2 Belfast Project.

“This summer (August 7th and 8th) a group of youth, both boys and girls, aged between 16 and 21 will make the journey from Aida and Deheishe Refugee Camps in Bethlehem to Belfast, passing through checkpoints, bus terminals and airports. These young people will be representing Palestine in the Anti-Racism World Cup.”

This event, politically and symbolically, contains a great deal of significance for a historian with a bent for international solidarity movements (that would be me). I would like to mention just one, here.

While discussing The Palestine Football Authority’s recent proposal to the FIFA General Assembly that they sanction Israel on the grounds that ”the travel restrictions and checkpoints, imposed by the Israeli government has made the development of Palestinian soccer nearly impossible”, Dave Zirin wrote in The Nation:


In this case, the Israeli Football Association is saying, “Do not use sports as a way to argue for statehood. Sports is not the place for that kind of rhetoric.” The Palestinian FA is saying, “We can’t compete because the politics of the Israeli occupation makes developing soccer a near-impossibility.” This is a very tough argument for the Israeli FA to win. If sports and politics were truly kept separate, then the Palestinian Football Authority would be able to travel freely, receive foreign visitors, and enter international tournaments without the fear of not being able to show up. As I’ve argued here many times, attacking the ability of Palestinian soccer to develop is also about attacking fun, play, and hope.


The Palestinian national football team, at a Melbourne press conference during the Asian Cup last January, described the way the restrictions made playing professional football a seriously risky business. Every time they have a training session, or a match, they know that not only is it likely they will be prevented from attending, but that if they do get permission, they may never be allowed to return home. It’s a lot to go through for a sport, you might think, until you remember that they get treated this way because, and only because, they happen to be Palestinian. Every Palestinian in the Territories, Gaza and the West Bank lives under the same restrictions. This state control of peoples movements is a necessary method of controlling an occupied people, and both the Irish and the Palestinians are familiar with it, historically.

So buy the EP, and cheer for Palestine and “fun, play and hope”. Show your appreciation for Irish-Palestinian solidarity. And, of course, acquire some great music.


Pipeline to Oblivion

A Topical David Rovics Set

for Fossil Free: Global Divestment Movement Showcase, February 13th and 14th 2015

“Global Divestment Day is an opportunity to showcase the rapid global spread of the divestment movement. Let’s take it to the next level in confronting the rogue fossil fuel industry driving the climate crisis.

Our common message:

Fossil fuels = History

Renewables = Future


Through our creative actions we will represent the shift needed away from dirty old fossil fuel dinosaurs to the shining symbols of hope like wind mills and solar panels.”