Alistair Hulett’s Sporadic Newsletter.

Welcome to the latest edition of the Gallows Rant, the sporadic newsletter first started by the late Alistair Hulett and now dedicated to ongoing news about his music and from the Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust (UK) and the Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund (Aus). 2011 has been an exciting and eventful time for both the AHMT and the AHMF with the launch of a number of initiatives on the themes of social justice and song.

News from the Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust (AHMT), UK

2011 saw the launch of the annual Song of Social Justice Award and the Social Justice Festival, an initiative in partnership with the Scottish Trades Council, details below. The winners of both initiatives can be seen at the Alistair Hulett Tribute Concert on the 28th January.

Scottish Trade Union Congress(STUC) Social Justice Festival

Wednesday 26 January will see the first showcase event of the joint Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC)/AHMT sponsored schools’ Songs For Social Justice songwriting festival. We have received 13 entries from 8 different schools, which is very encouraging given the tight timescale. The event will take place at the STUC headquarters in Glasgow with a panel, including Jerry Dammers (formerly of The Specials), who will give their input to the entrants after hearing recordings of their songs. AHMT members have run a number of song writing workshops in Glasgow schools over the last few months and all of these schools have entered songs.  The STUC have organised a DJ night later for participating students and their friends in Glasgow Barrowland including a set by Jerry Dammers. We hope these events will encourage more schools and students to take part in next years festival.

‘Connecting Classrooms’ British Council schools workshops

The AHMT is involved with delivering workshops as part of the ‘Connecting Classrooms’, a British Council initiative which aims to build lasting partnerships between schools in the UK and others around the world. The Trust has been working primarily in high schools in disadvantaged areas introducing the concept of songs for social justice through music from different genres to young people and assisting them to write songs on issues relevant to their lives. The project aims to get young people to see themselves as creators, and the idea that they can make a contribution and a difference and come to the understanding of the importance of protest songs and their power to agitate, organise and celebrate.

Artist Assistance Grant

The Trust was delighted to be able to award political singer songwriter, David Rovics a grant to assist him to travel to the various Occupy! encampment sites across the USA as part of his, ‘Occupy Tour’ project. For Dave’s tour dates visit The Trust welcomes applications by artists who require assistance to enable them to continue their professional practice. Details of the AHMT Artist Assistance Grants will be made available on the website shortly.

Message from the Chair, AHMT

Hi All,
January once again and getting everything prepared for the 2nd Alistair Hulett Memorial Concert at Celtic Connections. The concert will take place at St Andrews in the Square on the 28th of January which is on the second anniversary of Alistair’s passing.

The concert in January 2011 was a great success and a sell out gig. Performing were Roy Bailey, Karine Polwart, James Fagan, Nancy Kerr, Dick Gaughan and Rory McLeod, with an opening set from Gavin Livingstone, Phil Snell and Jimmy Ross. It was truly a memorable night.

This year, back by popular demand are Karine Polwart and Roy Bailey who have become true friends and great supporters of the AHMT. Also performing are Dave Swarbrick and Ian Bruce. Dave Swarbrick and Alistair made a number of albums together and toured the UK, Germany and Australia. Ian Bruce is a great Scottish singer and songwriter and fine interpreter of the songs of Robert Burns and Scottish ballads.

Also performing with his band is Alasdair Roberts, a personal friend of Alistair and myself. If you have not heard of him before then you must check him out on Youtube. Ally and I were big fans of his work.

This year the AHMT set up a song competition, Songs for Social Justice requesting people to write a song of social justice and the response was amazing. We had 21 entries from all around the UK and the quality of the song entries were truly exceptional.

The songs were judged by AHMT patron Peggy Seeger along with Karine Polwart and Roy Bailey. The winning song entitled ‘Breaking the Silence’ by Penny Stone is available to listen to on the website Penny will also be performing the winning song at the tribute concert and will collect the prize of £100. For more information and video links to the artists involved in the tribute concert visit:

My best wishes to all,
John Hamill,
Chair AHMT

News from the Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund (AHMF), Australia

2012 is off to a great start with the Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund achieving Donor Gift Recipient (DGR) status, which means that all donations to the Fund are tax deductible. We’re also delighted to announce the first two initiatives of the Fund: the establishment of the Songs for Social Justice Award and also the First CD Grant Program.

Songs for Social Justice Award (AUS)

Following the lead of the UK Trust, the Australian Fund will sponsor this national songwriting competition in Alistair’s memory as an annual event.

  1. The competition is open to songwriters and musicians based in Australia and will focus on songs promoting equality and social justice.
  2. The AHMF has recently been listed on the Australian Register of Cultural Organisations (ROCO). In applying for such recognition we defined social justice broadly as being “anti-discriminatory and egalitarian in seeking to achieve equal rights and opportunities for all people including the poor, the oppressed, the marginalised and excluded”.
  3. Entries should be recorded on a CD with an accompanying lyrics sheet and sent to The Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund, PO Box 109, Glebe NSW 2037. Further information about the Award and conditions of entry will be available on the AHMF website at The closing date for entries to be considered for the 2012 Award is 5 March 2012.
  4. The entrant should be the owner of the intellectual property in both the words and the music and the song should not have been recorded previously.
  5. The AHMF will appoint a select panel of judges from among experienced songwriters and singers and the Trustees will decide the award based on the panel’s advice. Several musicians who performed at the 2011 Alistair Hulett Tribute Concert at the National Folk Festival have indicated their willingness to assist the Fund by acting on a judging panel.
  6. The award will include: performance of the song at the National Folk Festival (April 2012 in Canberra) to give the song profile; summary feedback from the judging panel to songwriters for all entries; a monetary grant to the award-winner for use in furthering dissemination of the song such as recording expenses; and a suitable certificate /plaque to mark the award.
First CD Grant Program

The Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund (AHMF) announces its ‘First CD Grant Program’ which offers small grants to assist musicians whose work has a social justice focus. The first round of awards begins in 2012.

  • Aims: The aim of this program is to assist with the production of a first album (normally a CD) by a musician or musicians who have already written and performed but have not yet been able to publish and distribute their work. The awards are open to performers of all musical genres and cultural origins, however the music should have a significant social justice content. The music may, for example, promote equality, justice and diversity through music, it may include multi-cultural music, focus on indigenous people, asylum seekers and refugees, disabled people and the homeless or help promote other egalitarian values, consistent with the legacy of Alistair Hulett.
  • Awards: The AHMF, on reviewing applications, will award one or more grants of between $3,000 and $5,000 each per year, to successful applicants. It is expected that these funds will go towards the publication and distribution of the indicated musical work, normally including the production of a CD. If this CD is commercially successful, we ask that you consider a voluntary donation to the AHMF, to help other musicians.
  • Criteria & Process: 
Applications will be assessed by reference to their artistic quality and potential, and in relation to the values set out in the aims above. The AHMF will decide on applications after consideration by a panel which will include AHMF members and artistic advisers. Decisions of the AHMF are final. A short acquittal of the funds (accounts) will be required of each successful applicant, after their work is produced.
  • Applications: Each application should include (i) a letter of up to three pages, explaining how the proposed work meets the program criteria and (ii) recorded samples (on CD or DVD) of up to three songs or performances. Applications will be received between May 1st (the opening date) and June 30th (the closing date) of each year. Decisions will be announced in August. 

Interested persons should send applications to:
 The Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund
 PO Box 109, Glebe, NSW 2037

Alistair Hulett Tribute Night, Celtic Connections 28th January 2012

The annual Alistair Hulett Tribute concert will be held at St Andrews in the Square Tickets can be obtained through Artists include Dave Swarbrick, Roy Bailey, Karin Polwart, Alasdair Roberts and Ian Bruce.

New Website

The Trust would like to thank Stewart Powles for his sterling efforts in the redesigning the new website. The site has proved to be highly popular with fans.

Australian Broadcasting Commission, (ABC) Radio Tribute 28th January 2012

At 5pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time) on January 28, 2012, the second anniversary of Alistair’s death, ABC Radio National’s ‘Into the Music’ will again run the hour-long tribute they first aired on November 27, 2010. More details about this program can found on Radio National’s website at

New ‘ Internationale’ T-shirts

New t-shirts featuring the international anthem of the working class, The Internationale will be available in the next few weeks. For advance orders, prices and style log onto the website All proceeds go to the AHMT and the AHMF.

New pressings of old favourites

The double Roaring Jack CD featuring ‘Through the Smoke of Innocence’, ‘Cat Among the Pigeons’ and ‘Street Celtibility’ and the ‘Dance of the Underclass’ CD are now available for purchase. Payment can be made through Paypal and available from the website shop.

Donations and Benefit Concerts

Thank you to the Traditional Music and Song Association in Scotland and the Irvine Folk Club for holding a benefit for the Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust in October 2011. Thanks also to the performing artists Peter Nardini, George Boyd, Alasdair Roberts and Jimmy Ross and Findlay Alison.

Thank you to the Folk Federation of South Australia (and particularly Peter Rooke) for the wonderful Benefit Concert they held in May 2011 to raise money for the AHMF. Performers who generously gave their time and talent included: Eric Bogle, Danny Spooner, Bob & Margaret Fagan, Ken Stewart, Graham Wilson, Adrienne Lovelock and Peter Day.

From the Archives

Happy New Year and all best wishes for 2012 of course, but I am left wondering just where 2011 went! Things have been hectic indeed for the Trustees, and I have not advanced the Archive anything as much as I had hoped to do. So rather than pick a topic from the Archive, as in previous Rants, I thought I would spend a couple of paragraphs letting you know what I have in store for the coming year.

The Alistair Hulett website is looking great and working well, so my main task as Archivist will now be to establish on the site a webpage for the Archives to act as a central point of reference for all archival related content held elsewhere on the site, such as the Archived Documents page, the Song Book, and the Archived Posts area.

I also intend to carry on sorting and listing physical materials held in the archive, and to get these lists up on the Archive page as soon as possible. Please do remember to get in touch if you have any materials – in whatever format they may be – that you would like to lodge in the Archive.

During this year I want to start a programme of gathering oral testimony from people who knew and/or worked with Alistair in any area of his life. Oral testimony is being increasingly recognised as an important part of archival activity. Again, do please get in touch if you would like to be included in the project.

So, more of a manifesto of intent about plans for the coming year, rather than a look at materials in the Archive, but, unlike most of the politicians who knock out manifestos at this time of year, I will do my best to keep to mine!

John Powles
AHMT Archivist