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). So far 2012 has been an exciting and eventful time for both the AHMT and the AHMF with the Tribute events and CD releases…

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

The winning entry of the Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust Song Competition is Penny Stone for her song Breaking the Silence.
We would like to thank all those who entered the competition. The judges all agreed that this was a very difficult task as all the entries were of an exceptional standard. We would like to thank the judges Karine Polwart, Roy Bailey and Peggy Seeger for their expert opinions and for the amount of time they spent judging the competition. Once again many thanks to all who entered.

‘Breaking the Silence’ by Penny Stone is available to listen to on the website https://www.alistairhulett.com/2012/01/alistair-hulett-memorial-trust-song-competition-listen-to-some-great-songs/. Penny performed her winning song at the tribute concert and collected a prize of £100. She was also interviewed for our website, talking about the background to her song, what inspires her and what advice she has for budding political singer songwriters.

David Rovics

It was standing room only at Roxy 171 in Glasgow on March the 11th for the Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust / Left in the Dark collaborative concert. Alt country duo The Dirt provided a fine opening followed by an excellent 100 min set from David Rovics, who’s songs ranged in topics from fracking to the The Saint Patrick’s Brigade, and from Gaza to Alaska. David and Alistair toured and worked together on many occasions, and they were great friends. David is a stirring and highly relevant singer/songwriter, so take Pete Seeger’s advice and “Listen to David Rovics” whenever you get the chance!

David Rovics was awarded Artists Assistant Grant from The AHMT in 2012 to assist him to travel to the various Occupy! encampment sites across the USA as part of his, ‘Occupy Tour’ project. Details of the grant will be available on the website shortly.

2nd Alistair Hulett Memorial Concert at Celtic Connections.

The sell out concert for the second year in a row took place at St Andrews in the Square on the 28th of January on the second anniversary of Alistair’s passing. This years performers were Karine Polwart and Roy Bailey ( both back by popular demand). Also performing were Ian Bruce, Scottish singer and songwriter and renowned interpreter of the songs of Robert Burns and Scottish ballads; Alasdair Roberts and his band with a guest spot from Will Oldham of Bonnie Prince Billy. A review of the concert can be found on http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/jan/30/alistair-hulett-celtic-connections-review

For more information and video links to the artists involved in the tribute concert visit:

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

The last few months have been particularly busy and fruitful for the Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund in Australia. Having been admitted to the Register of Cultural Organisations (ROCO) at the end of 2011 and granted granted Donor Gift Recipient (DGR) status, the Fund was finally able to offer tax deductions to donors, resulting in an immediate increase in donations. This meant that we could green-light both the ‘Songs for Social Justice’ Songwriting Award and the First CD Grant Program.

Entrants to the songwriting award were given little more than a couple of months to write and record their songs, but in spite of this time pressure we received some terrific entries. The three judges – Kate Fagan, Eric Bogle and Judy Small – gave a laudatory citation regarding the quality of entries when they presented their final decision. The recordings and lyrics that the judges were working from were sent to them as blind entries so it was just as gratifying for them to discover the identity of the winner: Steph Miller, who had been a band member along with Alistair in Roaring Jack in the late ’80s.

Steph performed his winning entry, The Riverside, at the final concert of the National Folk Festival in Canberra, and received a grant towards the recording and distribution of the song.

We’re now putting the final touches to the terms and conditions for next year’s award and will be calling for entries very soon. With a closing date for entries on 31 December 2012, there will be a lot more time for the creativity to flow and for the judges to make their decision before the National next Easter. Further details will be announced on the website www.alistairhulett.com , so be sure to keep checking.

As of May 1, 2012, submissions are now invited for the First CD Grant Program, so we’d ask all of you to check out the details on the website https://www.alistairhulett.com/the-alistair-hulett-memorial-fund/first-cd-grant-program/ and think about passing this information on to any musicians you think could benefit from such support and whose music fits the criteria.


A brand new t-shirt featuring the Internationale lyrics is now available to purchase from the store and selling fast! Sizes range from small to extra extra large.

Songs for Social Justice at the Auckland Folk Festival

Over 100 people sang in solidarity with the Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund at the 2012 Auckland Folk Festival ending of course with a stirring rendition of the Internationale. The gig was a celebration of Alistair’s life, music and politics, put together by the Friends of Alistair Hulett.
Some of the Friends of Alistair Hulett knew him personally and all had been touched and inspired by his music. We were delighted to be joined on the day by the legendary Danny Spooner who knew Alistair from his time in Australia.

In the true folk tradition a bucket collection took place at the gig. We raised over $200 with the proceeds being shared between the Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund and Auckland’s Wharfies who are striking against casualisation and for a family life.

The Friends of Alistair Hulett New Zealand 30th April

Straight from their success at the Auckland Folk Festival the Davenport Folk Club featuring Paul Brown, Tony Rickets and Jenny Kilpatrick, Jean and Andrea Reid, Bill Morrison and Chris Holland came together to celebrate Alistair’s great songs at the The event and raised $200 for the 1,000 locked out meat workers. Talley’s/AFFCO has locked out the workers in an attempt to force them and their union, the New Zealand Meat Workers’ Union, to accept changes to their collective agreement – changes which will make it easy for the company to impose individual contracts on workers and thereby to set wages unilaterally. For more information on the dispute go to www.mwu.org.nz/

Songs of Alistair Hulett Concert

Cobargo Folk Festival, Australia 2012 a review by Ken Stewart
Cobargo Folk Festival 2012 was the biggest and best attended in its 17 year history. It was a joy to be there and to perform with such a great collection of Australian and overseas talent. I was charged with the task (well I volunteered for it actually) of putting together a concert as a memorial for Alistair Hulett.

I was given an hour of stage time at the main Mumbulla stage and called the session “the Songs of Alistair Hulett”. All tuned up out the back of the stage we waited primed to go. An introduction from Bob Hart and I am called to start. I talk about those wonderful days in the eighties at the Sando (Sandringham Hotel Newtown in Sydney) where I first met Alistair and where the legend of Roaring Jack began. I started with “Framed” about the attempt to stitch up Tim Anderson for the Hilton Hotel bombing. A song that Roaring Jack famously played outside the courthouse, on the back of a truck in 40 degree heat, while the trial went on inside. The audience is settling in and in good voice and good pitch. Next was “Everyone I know” a song that perfectly describes the destabilizing effect of economic rationalism on the working class. “Whose job is next for the chop?” By this time the tent was full and so for another Roaring Jack song “Yuppietown” about the gentrification of Newtown and Balmain.

I introduce Martin Pearson and he goes on to recount some fond memories of Alistair. He describes an encounter that came down to a “greenie” and a “red” arguing politics all night. It sounded a bit like how I remember Alistair and I discussing affairs of state into the wee hours. Martin reflects that at least red and green are both nice colours and begins with the “The Swaggies have all waltzed Matilda away”. Next is “He fades away”, a beautiful song about a desperately tragic part of industrial and environmental history and the safety of workers from the worker’s wife’s perspective. Then to end his set on a cheery note it’s “Suicide Town”. It’s funny how it sometimes takes a great humourist like Martin to convincingly perform the most tragic and beautiful of songs.

Now it’s time for Graham Wilson. Graham confessed to me that he had only briefly met Alistair so I introduced him as the token Scot that should be there at any memorial for Ally. Graham is a consummate performer of traditional Scottish songs and this is where he has gotten to know Alistair far better than he thinks. When you begin to learn, memorize the words, and play Alistair’s songs you get very close to the heart of the man. “Among Proddy Dogs & Papes” is the grand start to Graham’s set followed by “Sons of Liberty”, and he finishes with “Ways of a Rover”.

I then introduced the amazing Danny Spooner. Danny launches into “Destitution Road” a song that is so well written that it works powerfully in whatever accompaniment is used. It was a big favourite for Roaring Jack fans and in Alistair’s solo performances as well. Danny uses his concertina to lead the 300 or so voices of the audience to sing this song from start to finish.

Recounting Alistair’s early songwriting history and their mutual respect for a local songwriter John Warner, Danny called Martin, myself and Graham back on to the stage to sing “Bring out the banners” It was a thrill and an honour to again share the stage with these great performers. Then in respect of Alistair, and the anthem that he always finished his set with, everyone was upstanding as we listened to Alistair sing the “Internationale” from a CD played through the public address system. We all joined in and sang along. It was an emotional finish to a wonderful hour that not only remembered some of Ally’s brilliant songs, but where we had the opportunity to pay tribute to the passionate and selfless life of Alistair Hulett.

It was a great privilege to be a part of this show and proud that it would be one of the many highlights of the 17th Cobargo Folk Festival.

Still Life: Tales from the West Bank

For Glasgow folk, the AHMT will be sponsoring this song and word presentation,
on Saturday 9th June at the Govanhill Baths, 99 Calder street. Show begins 7.30 and admission is via donation. The 75 minute show performed by Karen Chalk and Penny Stone is based on our experiences as human rights observers with EAPPI in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Three months, two human rights observers and countless accounts of occupation distilled into an hour of song, story and image. The two women performing ‘Still Life’ volunteered with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI – www.eappi.org), working alongside Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers for three months. They lived in the villages of Jayyous and Yanoun in the northern West Bank, witnessing and experiencing everyday life in the occupied Palestinian territories. Catch a glimpse of the struggle and humour of village life under occupation.