For the past year the Sheffield-based Americana band The Payroll Union have been working alongside our historians to explore the ways in which we tell stories about the past. An event was held at Library Theatre in Sheffield on 30th May, where the band performed all 13 songs and complimented the performance through images, lyrics and text. A discussion panel was also present to explore the themes of the project.
You can read the band’s personal account of the project here.
The Payroll Union’s official website
TICKETS: Free, please register at http://writingmusicwritinghistory.eventbrite.co.uk
SPEAKERS AND PERFORMERS: Dr Andrew Heath, History Department, Pete David, Michael J Tinker, Greg Davies. Featuring a performance from The Payroll Union & more.
Building on the collaboration between the critically-acclaimed Americana band The Payroll Union and the Sheffield History Department, this event brings together historians and musicians to consider how we tell stories about the past. Andrew Heath (Dept. of History) and Pete David will be joined by musicians to talk about how they’ve used research to develop their art. The panel talk and Q&A will be followed by a full performance of the Faith and Fear in Philadelphia project, including a set of new material from The Payroll Union, a creative interpretation of direct primary sources from the period, and more!
Pete David, singer-songwriter of the acclaimed Sheffield Americana band The Payroll Union, finds inspiration in an unlikely place: the nineteenth-century United States. The band’s first album, The Mule and the Elephant (2012), explored the seventy years that followed the Declaration of Independence, with songs about democracy, slavery, and empire-building. Now, with the help of an Arts Enterprise grant, Pete has joined up with filmmaker Cathy Soreny from Optical Jukebox and Andrew Heath in the History department to work on an album set in antebellum Philadelphia: decades in which a city founded by Quakers as a haven of religious tolerance became (as one contemporary put it) “the most anarchical metropolis on this side [of] the Atlantic”. Focusing on the racial, religious, and social strife that brought civil war to the city’s streets, the project combines film, music, and historical scholarship while asking questions about how we tell stories about the past. After previewing some of the songs at the Sensoria Festival in September, The Payroll Union officially launched Faith and Fear at the Harley on 21 October, and over the next few months there will be several events leading up to the recording of the album in April. If you’re interested in finding out more, please get in touch with Andrew Heath.