Dump the Bosses Off Your Back
Before Whole Foods and biodiesel, before Iraq war protests and WTO riots, there marched Anne Feeney. The native Pittsburgher still champions the same causes of organized labor and social justice for which she's been agitating since the raging days of Vietnam. She tours the country on the frontlines of the struggle against exploitation and oppression (she stopped in 41 states and five countries in 2007 alone), and an appreciation of her commitment should be strengthened by a few spins of her sixth CD, Dump the Bosses Off Your Back.
Feeney is the ultimate protest singer, covering tunes from her contemporaries as well as unearthing late-19th-century protest songs from the Wobblies (International Workers of the World, of which she's a card-carrying member). On several tracks, she ropes in special guests: the Austin Lounge Lizards, singing barbershop harmonies on the gospel-tinged "You Will Answer"; legendary country-rock hippie Commander Cody on the boogie-woogie "Preacher and the Slave"; and Maryland lesbian-folk duo Emma's Revolution on the country-roots "Hillcrest Mine."
Feeney is able to straddle many genres -- those listed above as well as upbeat polka, jazz and swing, and Tex-Mex accordion flavor, on "A Song for Santiago Cruz" (about an organizer of migrant workers who was murdered last year). There's anthemic rock 'n' roll on "We Fought Back" (backed by members of veteran punkers A.T.S.), and even a bit of riotous acousti-punk on "Ya Basta!"
Three songs were written by Feeney for performances of Buried, a play about the Sago mine disaster, and she also includes a sort of sound-collage piece, layering news reports of layoffs over a rendition of the well-known ditty "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum." And a throwback surprise awaits at the disc's end: a bluegrass version of "Whatever You Say, Say Nothing," by Colum Sands (brother of Irish folk legend Tommy), recorded 18 years ago with now-deceased local folk/blues legend D.C. Fitzgerald on guitar.
Overall, you can't get more comprehensively informed about traditional protest music in Pittsburgh than by listening to Anne Feeney, and this album proves her inimitable staying power yet again.
Anne Feeney CD release. 7 p.m. Sat., Apr. 26. Club Café, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $10. 412-431-4950 or www.clubcafelive.com