Music with meaning resonates in every heart

— Protest songs have enlivened the musical landscape since at least the 18th century when an anonymous British “lady” published a pioneering feminist tune called “The Rights of Women” sung to the tune of “God Save the King.”

Songs promoting social justice, racial equality and peace continue to raise the consciousness of listeners and to inspire activism.

The seventh annual Liverpool Public Library Folks Music Series, four free concerts which I help produce, will expose its audiences to music ranging from the bi-lingual anti-war songs of Colleen Kattau, to the civil rights anthems of Kim and Reggie Harris, to Jamie Notarthomas’s exposés of crass commercialism and environmental threats. The series concludes with a tribute to progressive American troubadour Woody Guthrie by Oregon folksinger-fingerpicker Adam Miller.

The protest songs ring out starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, when songwriter Jamie Notarthomas takes the stage at the library’s Carman Community Room, 310 Second St., here in the village. Admission is free; lpl.org; 457-0310.

‘Politically articulate’

An integral part of the independent underground music scene since the 1980s, Notarthomas performs an average of 200 shows a year at all variety of venues throughout the eastern U.S. Over the years, his thought-provoking lyrics and electrifying shows have established him as one of the most well-known performers in the region.

On his recent disc, “The Crow Convention,” a song called “Silence” sings the praises of unsung local heroine Kathleen Rumpf, a dedicated prison protestor and anti-war activist. “Silence” is a quiet yet truly revolutionary tune which advocates turning off our TVs, radios and PCs. Another track, “Deet Deet Deet,” makes an onomatopoeic commentary on the gizmos that define life in the 21st century. But the songwriter also tackles the tougher issues on “I Don’t Want to Be Part of That,” a no-holds-barred critique of American materialism.

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