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Basic Folk: Billy Bragg

May 9, 2024

Basic Folk: Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg joins hosts Lizzie and Cindy on board Cayamo to talk about songwriting, social justice, punk rock and, of course, The Little Guy (Bragg’s nickname for Woody Guthrie). In our interview, we talked about Billy using humor as a way to connect to his audience, so that he can bring up his political activism – such as fighting for transgender rights, the importance of unions and abortion rights. It’s interesting to hear how he wants the Americana audience to remain as relevant as he does. Billy talked about his place as a British ​artist ​in ​the ​genealogy ​of ​folk ​music and how working on Mermaid Avenue with Wilco allowed him to be a part of the folk tradition.


He also shares how he overcame anxiety as a teenage musician. Standing in front of a crowd playing with his friends in a band really boosted his confidence. Meanwhile, the old school “stiff upper lip” of British culture created an emotional barrier between Billy’s and his parents’ generations. The older generation grew up with the cultural heritage of separating oneself from any emotion. When Billy was a teen, his father was dying. The doctor recommended not telling the patient or talking about it at all. Several decades later, his mother insisted that everyone talk to and about her terminal cancer diagnosis.

Bragg also gets into the merits of socialism, why nostalgia rubs him the wrong way and his favorite English treat. Spoiler: It’s marmite. Gross.

Photo Credit: Peter Dunwell

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Basic Folk: Billy Bragg
Basic Folk: Billy Bragg