Oct 2018. A raised fist and a helping hand.

#WSO2018: Now More Than Ever


I was asked the other day if I wasn’t banging a broken drum over austerity, it was put to me that we should stand down as people had moved on.
Well if anything, times now are harder than ever; and as far as I can see the only people who have ‘moved on’ are people who choose to look the other way.
#ToryNeglect is causing widespread suffering in #FoodBankBritain and it isn’t enough to stand idly by.
I read Billy Bragg saying times are far worse now than under Thatcher, and I completely agree. Back then there was unemployment and deprivation for sure, but there was a safety net of welfare and the cost of existing, and I use that word over ‘living’ deliberately, was far lower as a proportion of our income.
In short, what work there was paid a wage which didn’t put you straight back into poverty the day after your pay packet.
A Working Class job then would pay what would be viewed as a Middle Class wage now.
And there was Hope. We believed it was temporary, that we could take down Thatcher and make the country better. That gave us the will to fight. I don’t mean as a pocket of energetic activists, we still have that now; I mean as a NATION.
New Labour killed that.
They showed us the alternative was no better.
They caused widespread alienation and apathy that drove millions away from politics, and their abadonment of their traditional core vote drove thousands into the arms of the Far Right. It was a betrayal of the Working Class which history will judge, because we are yet to see its endgame, and if the rise of fascist and Nazi attacks on our streets is anything to go by, it will get far worse before it gets better.
Today I repaired a young man’s washing machine. He had a toddler running around on a bare concrete floor. His partner was out at work and when she gets home he goes out on nights. Two jobs and he practically wept telling me there still wasn’t enough money left to buy rugs, and their landlord refused to carpet the floor saying: “Take it or leave it. I can soon find another tenant.”
In the words of the great Jack Monroe, when told people were struggling to make ends meet on the new ‘Living Wage’:
“Well it’s not a f***ing Living Wage then is it.”
As Billy pointed out, people are now using food banks and soup kitchens as a daily necessity effectively living like striking miners and their families did in 1984-85.
And this summer holiday, hundreds of thousands of children denied  only got a decent meal because of voluntary organisations and charities.
So no, I don’t think it’s time to move on.
I think We Shall Overcome is needed more than ever.
I think the fall-out over Brexit, and the current US-led Far Right agenda poisoning our streets, is being fuelled by the anger, deprivation and squalor caused by austerity and poverty wages; and I think it’s high time people woke up and fought these problems at their source instead of being led up blind alleys by the daily news cycle.
This needs to be stopped.
And people need our help.
Two fights, one cause.
The future needs us now.
This is the fight of our lives.
Joe Solo

The Raised Fist & The Helping Hand

WSO 2018 Banner

We call it ‘A RAISED FIST, AND A HELPING HAND’ because that’s what it is.
On one level it is a grassroots movement against Austerity; and on the other, a series of benefit gigs helping to alleviate the suffering #ToryNeglect is causing in #FoodBankBritain
We Shall Overcome belongs to everyone who chooses to march under its banner; and in marching with us, you give your event a national voice in the struggle for change; you help make the cries for an end to Austerity a little louder; because the Establishment doesn’t fear random, disconnected events; it fears one thing and one thing only.
We shout loud enough first so they can hear, and then so they are forced to listen.
For that we need numbers, and for numbers we need you.
And that’s the easy part.
The other bit.
The ‘Helping Hand’.
Just slap our logo on your poster somewhere, and make a collection for a local cause. What cause is your choice. All we ask is that it helps people who are struggling out there thanks to the policies of this government. It could be a collection of groceries for your local food bank or soup kitchen; warm clothing for Homeless outreach; cash for a crisis centre; you know your town best, so you decide where the help goes.
Oh, and let us know. That way we can add your event to the others.
All 846 of them so far.
In 142 towns and cities.
In 9 countries.
Across 3 continents.
We Shall Overcome gigs have raised somewhere in the region of £360,000 worth of food, cash, clothing, sleeping bags and bedding, toiletries, sanitary towels; furniture, small electrical appliances and, well, anything people needed and we had the collective power to provide.
Quite something that.
Join us.
Fighting back never felt better.


2018 T-Shirt

It’s here! The We Shall Overcome t-shirt for #WSO2018 is now available via the good people at Philosophy Football and we could not be happier with the design. From the amazing ‘loudhaler’ logo by Marcus Henfrey, it looks cracking on a classic black tee and we can’t wait to see you out there wearing it.

There are three ways to get your hands on one.

First up you need this link:


From there you have three options.

  1. STANDARD PRICE You pay the Philosophy Football standard price of £22.99 plus postage and 10% goes to fighting austerity through WSO causes.
  2. SOLIDARITY PRICE You choose the ‘Solidarity’ option and your shirt costs £29.99 but £10 then goes to our causes.
  3. ARTISTS AND ORGANISERS DISCOUNT If you are an artist, an organiser, or are helping in any way, large or small, to run a WSO event then there is a discount code on all orders of two or more shirts which reduces the price to 50% making it effectively a 2 for 1. To get the code just email me at joesolomusic@hotmail.co.uk and I’ll message you back asap.

We hope that somewhere in there is an option which will help you wear our 2018 shirt with pride.

We can’t wait to see the selfies landing.


We Shall Overcome: Your Country Needs You!


We Shall Overcome is a grassroots movement fighting the impact of austerity on our communities and pointing the finger of blame for this suffering where it lies.
Anyone can join us. Absolutely anyone. We have all kinds of events from your traditional three-band bills, all the way to bake-offs and history walks. Whatever talents you can bring to the party are more than welcome here. All you need is the will and we’ll help you find the way.
We Shall Overcome events raise everything from food and cash, to clothing, bedding, furniture, small electrical appliances, toiletries, sanitary products, tents and sleeping bags. Where there is a need we try and tailor events to fill it.
And here’s the beauty of it. You know your own towns, your own streets, better than we do. So you choose where your help goes. The help you raise stays in your town and goes direct to the front line of need. So if your food bank is struggling, then collect food and cash for them; if your friends run a soup kitchen, then do it for that; if your town has a crisis centre or a homeless outreach project in desperate need of help, then go for that. We don’t dictate. We want you to take control of it and see it home.
We are effectively a banner to march under. We unite a series of otherwise separate events in order to give them a national voice and highlight just how much work is having to be done at the grassroots to keep people alive. You may run similar events locally, and we applaud that from the bottom of our hearts, but why not stick the logo on your posters and let us know what you’re up to? That way you have a national voice for your local gig and you join together with thousands of other people saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH to austerity.
You can message me on here, or email me at joesolomusic@hotmail.co.uk if you want to get involved.
Stourbridge 1
#WSO2018 is 108 gigs strong, and since October 2015 we have collectively run 822 such events and the actions of our artists and organisers together with the amazing people who supported them with voices and applause and donations, have genuinely helped save lives out there.
This is not charity.
This is solidarity.
Please spread the word.
Hull Adelphi

#WSO2018 is coming!


Great to see #WSO2018 underway already, and the help getting out there to people who need it.
Our weekend is set for October 5th, 6th and 7th and any gigs you can add over that weekend (or as close as you can) will be very VERY welcome. New t-shirts and merch will be along over the next couple of months, and, as ever, if you see a We Shall Overcome post on social media please share it. Let’s make Facebook and Twitter work for us. The more we use the hashtag #WSO2018 and the more we use the We Shall Overcome 2018 group to report where we are with our various activities, the more the algorithms work in our favour, so please remember that and click ‘Share’.
One of our primary objectives when we set off with this three years ago, was for it to eventually take on a life of its own. We understand that people are used to festivals, charity events and the like being rigid and laid out for you; and that WSO being none of that made it a big leap of imagination for some; but this was designed as a genuine People’s Movement of street-level, grassroots initiatives put together by good folk who realised their own power to change things. It is YOURS to run with and WSO is only limited by the extent of our collected imaginations. In short, take that logo and use it. Make the world a better place whenever and wherever you can.
I say it often, but EVERY gig counts. If you only raise 50p, that 50p matters. No gesture is insignificant. The fact that you put on that gig, put your town on the map, and stood in solidarity with the 775 other WSO events that have taken place since October 2015, MATTERS. You were there. You have our admiration and our respect, because when it mattered you didn’t stay silent, you stood up and you tried.
No gesture is insignificant because when you add them all together they become something very significant indeed; something built by thousands of us, together, because we gave a damn.
That is We Shall Overcome.
Let’s do it again.
-Joe Solo (26th April 2018)

650 GIGS and counting…..

WSO 2017 Jez T-Shirt logo banner

We Shall Overcome just clocked up its 650th anti-austerity event in just short of two years. It is worth pausing to consider that a moment. SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY.
Each was organised locally and run locally, for local people and by local people. All of the help raised stayed in the community which raised it going straight to the front line of the fight against State-inflicted poverty in our communities.
Over the last two years that help has taken many forms- cash, non-perishable food, toiletries, clothing, bedding, furniture, electrical appliances, help with removals, or just a good old shoulder to cry on- and EVERY gesture, no matter how small, has all added up until at present we estimate it has reached somewhere in the region of £230,000 worth.
All from people like you and me. No celebrities, no mainstream media, just hundreds of people in 135 different towns and cities, across 9 countries on 3 continents who were tired of looking the other way and chose to be that someone somewhere who did something about it.
If you want to join us you are are more than welcome. It’s easy. Either join the Facebook group at WE SHALL OVERCOME 2017 or message Joe at joesolomusic@hotmail.co.uk
We are running over the weekend of Oct 6/7/8 and looking for people to run gigs up and down the land. If that could be you, then roll up your sleeves and pitch in.
The world won’t change itself.

Happy Birthday to us!!

WSO Huddersfield

It’s our 2nd Birthday today.

Two years have seen us take We Shall Overcome​ from an idea on a Facebook thread to an international anti-austerity campaign fighting for communities everywhere.

We have run upwards of 550 events now, in 135 different towns and cities across nine countries on three continents and the estimated £225,000 worth of food, cash, clothing, bedding and furniture raised has helped change lives up and down this country, it has got the homeless off the streets, it has rehoused young children living in slums and it has forged long-term bonds between musicians, poets, organisers and activists which have led to the movement changing, evolving and making the leap from protest/benefit gigs to feet on the ground 24/7 working in tandem with dozens of other campaigns to help the poorest and most vulnerable at the point of need.

WSO Wigan

Sadly though, if anything, we are needed now more than ever and it is in this spirit that I appeal to you all to rise again and start planting your red stars on our map.

We are running all year now, but the main focus of our work is the weekend of Friday 6th to Sunday 8th October. If you can bring your town to the party that would be fantastic.

WSO Chesterfield 1

Remember, We Shall Overcome is not about me or our committee or any individual in this group; We Shall Overcome is about us, ALL of us, and what can be achieved when we all pull together and add our single gigs into one massive festival. It is a celebration of community solidarity, and a demonstration of how incredible it is when a few thousand people all decide together they will be that someone somewhere who does something about it.

Please message me on joesolomusic@hotmail.co.uk or tag me in a post or comment on this thread if you are willing to come back for more or have confirmed dates we don’t yet know about. It’s vital we are able to paint some kind of picture as to what we have out there. We know only too well some of you will have changed circumstances and won’t be able to join us; we also know some of you who were there in 2015 couldn’t make last year but will return full on for #WSO2017. Old friends and new friends are all welcome here.

Come on folks. Roll up.

The world won’t change itself.

Bring it on.

Chesterfield 2