With the Labor Day weekend upon us, we turn our Friday Night mix series over to two of our favorite musicians and labor activists, Victoria Ruiz and Joey DeFrancesco. The duo’s music, both as Malportado Kids and with the Downtown Boys, is a testament to the class struggles and labor movements of the past, and those that will undoubtedly come. Revolutionaries are their influence, and their music takes a decidedly political tone, but maybe most-remarkably, the two deeply inspire others. Whether through organized labor rallies in their hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, or on stage wherever they may be touring that day, Joey and Victoria are—as Suzy Exposito correctly summarized—the Wonder Twins of the Working Class. So the choice to tab them to curate our Labor Day edition Friday Night was an easy one. They’re explanation rally cry is below. Take heed and enjoy.
Following the violent strikes of the 1870s and the Haymarket hangings in 1886, President Grover Cleveland established Labor Day in 1887 as a nod to the more conservative factions of the labor movement and out of fear for the holiday celebrations of the radical elements. Since then it’s only become more and more a meaningless consumerist exercise, typically devoid of even moderate labor concerns. Correspondingly, when we see Labor Day song lists it’s usually all old tyme Pete Seeger folk noodling. That’s all cool and it’s important, but it’s definitely not what our labor movement sounds like. That music has become safe, train-riding nostalgia for a mythical time when the fight was clearer. Don’t get us wrong, a lot of this shit on this mix is real old! But there’s old shit that speaks to the modern experience. We’re into that. This Labor Day, listen to something dangerous and most importantly get out there and do something that those Haymarket martyrs who really got the holiday going would have been proud of. Get on the picket line at a hotel near you, fuck with a Hobby Lobby, organize your co-workers and go together to your boss to demand your scheduling be more consistent, go to a Ferguson solidarity rally, go to a Gaza solidarity rally.
“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” —Che Guevara
Malportado Kids Labor Day mix track list:
1. Los Prisioneros, “Poder Elegir”
2. Crass, “Systematic Death”
3. Ana Tijoux, “1977”
4. Tijuana No!, “Spanish Bombs”
5. Public Enemy, “Rebel Without a Pause”
6. Shady Hawkins, “Not My Comrades”
7. Norvis Jr., “Nas is Like ft. JusMoni”
8. Bruce Springsteen, “Badlands”
9. Priests, “Incantations”
10. Los Hijos del Sol, “Cariñito”
11. Selena, “Amor Prohibido”
12. Rihanna, “We Found Love (Cumbia Drive Remix)”