Trans-Atlantic Mix


Cotton, Music and Freedom Unstoppable

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Music from Manchester/Footage from New Orleans

Music: Voodoo Ray: A Guy Named Gerald (Manchester, England)
Video: Hubie Vigreux (New Orleans), Ken McCarthy (New York)
Edit: Ken McCarthy and Matthew Lipscom (Montreal, QC)

What’s this about?

If you know your 19th-century economic history, you’ll know these three cities were joined at the hip financially.

New Orleans shipped the cotton, Liverpool took it (and financed and outfitted the slave trade), and Manchester practiced the first form of industrial slavery in its “satanic mills” producing at one point 80% of the world’s finished cotton.

So there was blood on that cotton twice…three times if you count countries like India that had their indigenous textile industries gutted by slave-produced goods (sound familiar anyone?…China.)

But this is only part of the story.

In a little-known episode that really should be in every history textbook on earth, Manchester mill workers who were victims of a system every bit as brutal as Delta slavery wrote to Abraham Lincoln encouraging him to continue the fight for Abolition – in spite of the fact that many of them were starving as the result of a cotton shortage created by the American Civili War.

The Connection

About ninety years later (perhaps a delayed “thank you”), a tidal wave of New Orleans music hit Liverpool and Manchester transported disc by disc in the duffle bags of merchant seamen and US military. The Beatles were just one of the byproducts of this musical invasion. (The first song John Lennon learned was “Ain’t That a Shame” by Fats Domino.)

Roughly forty years after that, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Delta dwellers – then living in Chicago and Detroit – discovered electronic music, and thus House and Techno music was born. Nowhere was this music more enthusiastically embraced than Manchester which invented and popularized the Rave.

Flashback 200 years to New Orleans…Congo Square…the only place in the North American continent where drumming and mass dancing – and all that it implied – was permitted was…New Orleans.

From Congo Square to the Hacienda.

History is not a straight line, it’s a circle.

(Thanks to all Jazz on the Tube viewers whose donations helped support the New Orleans-Manchester Project)


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