Brian S Green’s Rich Folk “Happy Hour at the Red Flag” Liberates
This International Worker’s Day Canadian alternative folk and country musician Brian S Green presents his album “Happy Hour at the Red Flag”. This is a musical journey through themes of hope, struggle, and liberation theology set against the revolutionary movements of the 1980s. The album art, featuring what a Cuban pub, sets the tone for a collection of pieces that transport you to communities of struggle in Central America and southern Africa. The album features excellent musicianship from Nicky V (guitar and banjo), Tim McDonald (piano and accordion), and Alison Jenkins (vocals).
Brian who hails from Vancouver was with the band Lone Crow Jubilee eventually moving to rural Gabriola Island, British Columbia. He also runs Birdsong which hosts house concerts and songwriting residencies for musicians on Gabriola Island, BC. His music is rooted in alternative country, folk, and rock and roll. They style maybe traditional but it’s revolutionary potential is as relevant as ever. Being a trade unionist and consciously political, his music has a strong revolutionary flame in the tradition of Woody Guthrie to The Clash. Brian S Green’s songwriting is rooted in his personal experiences and he brings those experiences to life with his music.
The album kicks off with “Jesus Christ and Fidel Castro” a stunning song that sets the stage for the rest of the album. Brian’s songwriting and singing are vivid, and the vocal harmonies and Nicky V’s guitar and banjo add an extra layer of depth to the song. Lyrical references to Che Guevara and Jesus and Fidel “entering” into the bar point to the liberation theology theme of the album. The album takes a Christmas turn with “Bethlehem, San Juan del Sur,” a Christmas song set in the context of the 1980s Nicaraguan revolution. The guitar, accordion, and banjo licks and melodies are memorable and catchy here.
“Crown of Thorns” features great accordion and piano work that weaves rich tapestries of melodies and chords. The album takes a more melancholic turn with “Bourbon,” a sad folk ballad that showcases Brian’s songwriting ability. “Resurrection” and “Never Was That Way” round out the album, and they are both excellent songs in signature harmonically rich folk arrangements of Brian. Alison Jenkins’ vocals on “Jesus Christ and Fidel Castro” are particularly noteworthy.
The arrangement of the songs are done using a standard organic template. However, the sheer beauty in the chord work, melodies, harmonies would blow you away. Brian’s lyrics show emotional power and emancipatory potential. In dialectical manner, the words and music work together to craft a record points to the links between the socially liberatory potential of spiritual movements when combines with mass struggle. Happy Hour at the Red Flag is a collection of songs that attempt to liberate you spiritually and politically. One could not get a better gift this May Day! Workers and Listeners of the world unite!