February 17 FFM concert benefiting Veterans for Peace

This article appeared in the February 2 edition of the Press-Citizen.

The Family Folk Machine is pleased to present a benefit concert for Chapter 161 of the Veterans for Peace on Sunday, February 17, at 3 p.m. in the beautiful new building of the Unitarian Universalist Society on Oakdale Road in Coralville. We hope you can join us to support a great local cause and to sing along with some familiar peace and social justice songs while learning a few new ones.

The Family Folk Machine will perform May 11 at the Englert.
The Family Folk Machine will perform May 11 at the Englert. (Photo: Contributed photo)
The local chapter of the Veterans for Peace is one of the organizations that serves as the conscience of our community. As individuals and as a collective, the members of VFP keep our attention on our government’s war-making and urge us all to work for peace. They write letters, they bring in notable peacemakers to give public lectures, they bring traveling exhibits to our libraries, and they have hosted a weekly rally for peace for many years now. Ed Flaherty, one of the local leaders of VFP, introduced me to a new way of thinking when I heard him say that it is not enough to hate war—we have to learn how to wage peace. The VFP are actively engaged in waging peace, and they call the rest of us to think about what we are doing to increase the cause of peace in our world.

In this benefit concert, the FFM would like to introduce you to some songs you can use in your own efforts to wage peace. We’re happy to be highlighting three songs by local artists in this concert. One is a new song called “Presidents’ Day” by Folk Machinist Gayla Drake. The song was inspired by the walk-out of Iowa City schoolkids last February in response to incidents of gun violence. We will bring back the Awful Purdies’ song “Lament to Apathy,” which we were honored to perform with the Awful Purdies two years ago. And we’ll present a choir version of the 2017 song by Iris Dement called “We Won’t Keep Quiet,” for which you can find a beautiful video on YouTube featuring lots of Iowa Citians.

Along with these newer songs, we’ll sing classics like “If I Had a Hammer,” “Down by the Riverside,” and Bob Dylan’s “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.” We hope you can join us for uplifting songs supporting a good local cause. We’re suggesting a $10 donation at the door, and I’m sure the VFP would be pleased to accept larger donations as well.

We’ve started work on the songs for our spring FFM session, “Many Voices/One Voice: We Are One Community.” We’ll present a concert at the Englert Theatre on Saturday, May 11, at 2 p.m. We’re excited to be learning a wide variety of challenging music for this concert about neighborliness, unity, and our community responsibilities. We’d love to see you on February 17 and on May 11!

Jean Littlejohn lives with her family in Iowa City and directs the Family Folk Machine.