On September 9th 2016 I was contacted by Les Moore of 'UK Miners Pension Scheme for Justice and Fair Play Association' to write a song which would help pay back a 'Debt of Honour' he felt they owed the thousands of people around the world who clubbed together during the darkest days of the 1984-85 Strike to give them a Christmas they have never forgotten.
Les had seen the poverty austerity was inflicting upon his community first hand. He had friends using the local food bank as they simply couldn't make ends meet, and decided enough was enough- it was time to repay that debt.
I'd met Les and the Hatfield Brigade after I'd sung at the 30th Anniversary commemorations, and I'd soaked up all their stories via conversations, emails, phone calls and loans of archive footage which had resulted in me releasing an album 'NEVER BE DEFEATED', the story of the Miner's Strike through their eyes.
The whole thing was an absolute joy start to finish, so I was only too happy to rise to this new challenge. I sent him the lyric two days later. And the recorded backing track the following weekend. Encouraged by the enthusiasm and energy of lawyer and campaigner Peter Stefanovic whose absolute belief that this should be No.1 for Christmas spurred us to new levels of mischief, we got to work.
On Sunday October 30th we assembled an ad hoc choir of former miners and their families at Stainforth Central Club, right in the heart of the South Yorkshire pit villages. I set up a mic, handed out some lyric sheets, and pressed record. The whole day was filmed by Michael Lee Toas of MLT Productions who created the music video, and a crew from BBC Midlands.
It was a fantastic day of community spirit and solidarity and I think that is captured on both film and record. The single is released on download, via all the usual suspects (Amazon, I-Tunes, Spotify etc) from Monday November 28th and we plan to take it to the top.
All money raised will go to those struggling to make ends meet in Food Bank Britain. This is one mining community, but it could have come from any of them. The spirit of togetherness, of determination, of brother and sisterhood, remains as strong today as it did before Thatcher wreaked her havoc; and if the Tories think they have the miners beaten, then they really don't know them at all.
"Beaten?" said one. "We're only just rolling our sleeves up!" That is the spirit of this song, and that is the spirit the rest of us need as we face down a new generation of Tories intent on waging war on our communities.
Please join in with this little bit of history. Download the song, share the links to videos. Be a part of our community and march on with your banner held high. The fight has only just begun. 'Merry Christmas From Hatfield Main' by Joe Solo & The Hatfield Brigade is released on Monday 28th November. Support it.