Reflections from the Lantern Society, Hastings’ Candlelit Acoustic Club, by Trevor Moss

The Lanterns seemed that much brighter this month, as did the sense of society, as a select crew of determined adventurers sheltered from the raging blizzard. ‘I’m going outside for a cigarette, and I may be some time.’

A few days later, still basking in the glow of human togetherness, I was surprised when a Lantern newcomer felt it necessary to warn me that I may see political content on his online profile that I could find disagreeable. The Lantern as an organisation has no political policy, but I was disturbed after an evening of such social and musical harmony to know it was enjoyed by someone who shares, among other things, former leader of the EDL Tommy Robinson’s online propaganda.

Folk clubs have long been synonymous with left-wing politics. Folk music is the music of labouring people, singing to express and relieve their hardships and those of others. Adopting the form but betraying its spirit leaves me feeling cuckolded.

Folk-punk poster-boy Frank Turner was ‘exposed’ as a right-winger by the Guardian and called ‘a twerp’ by Labour MP Kerry McCarthy after giving an interview stating ‘I think socialism is retarded’ and that the people who signed the Lisbon Treaty ‘need to burn in (expletive) hell’. Turner’s comments shouldn’t have surprised us, he is an Eton educated son of an investment banker, but can you really tour arm-in-arm with Billy Bragg and not expect people to feel deceived? Just because he looked like a duck, quacked
like duck, and became famous selling records to duck fans, he never actually said he was a duck after all.

There is an inherent contradiction when anti-establishment musicians become successful and wealthy to form the new-establishment. This was masterfully satirised when in 2007 the reformed Sex-Pistols decided to trade the leather and safety pins for tweed plus fours. We’d prefer to romanticise a pure and steadfast Karen Dalton dying penniless in a trailer than to ever again see Joan Baez on Good Morning Britain talking about her relationship with Steve Jobs.

The quest for purity is unachievable and a little fascistic. Dalton died embittered by her lack of success. The Lantern that hangs above our stage isn’t a paraffin mining lamp dating back to Appalachian gold rush, it runs on rechargeable batteries and was made in China. There are some white lies we can accept and some far-right lies we should not. 

The next Lantern Society is Thursday 5th April, and takes place every first Thursday
of the month at the Printworks on Claremont Rd.

Tune in to the Lantern Society Radio hour on Conquest Hospital Radio and online.

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