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John O'Connor at Bright Hill

Written By Editor on 10/16/17 | 10/16/17

Bright Hill Press & Literary Center of the Catskills is proud to welcome a Catskills region favorite, singer-songwriter John O'Connor, on Saturday, October 21, at 7:30 pm, as he launches his new album, Rare Songs.      Suggested donation to this event, held at Bright Hill Center, 94 Church Street, is $12, a portion of which will benefit Bright Hill's community programs. Free refreshments will be served. For more information and directions call 607-829-5055 or email wordthur@stny.rr.com.
     In 1983, while living in Seattle, John O'Connor sent a batch of his songs off to Flying Fish Records cold and -- almost unheard of in the music business at that time -- landed a contract to make an album of his powerful original songs. Songs For Our Times came out in 1984 and was named one of the best albums of the year by the Washington Post and several folk publications and radio stations.

   O'Connor's music has always been inseparable from his involvement in working class politics. He began his involvement in the labor movement right out of high school when he went to work in the factories of Waterloo, Iowa. An interest in folk music and Woody Guthrie led to a 30-year career as a folk singer and a cultural educator, performing in concerts, coffeehouses, schools and colleges, union education programs, and political action events.

     He recorded three albums with Flying Fish Records, one of them with the political quartet, 'Shays Rebellion', and a CD on the Chroma label. He also recorded a CD produced in conjunction with Collector Records called "We Ain't Gonna Give It Back", which is regarded by many as one of the best collections of original songs on the American labor movement. The late Joe Glazer said of John, "He writes the best songs about labor you are likely to hear." The St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch said of John's music that it is "songwriting...right out of the same well that slaked Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger," while Britain's Southern Rag has said that "John O'Connor deserves to be numbered with the all-time greats of contemporary folk music."

     Some 40 years after walking through the gates of his first factory job, O'Connor is still stalwart in his focus of fighting for the working class and inspiring them with his music and their music. He has traveled the U.S. performing for labor education classes, high schools, colleges and folk audiences. His powerful songs have always, as Tony Harrah of the Guardian said, "mixed seamlessly with the old songs." John's songs have been recorded by numerous singers from around the world. In 2009, the French topical singer, Renaud, adapted and recorded O'Connor's song of deindustrialization, North by North, which went to number one on the French charts.

     O'Connor is also an accomplished poet, publishing his emotionally-charged poems in dozens of  literary magazines and journals. He has won the Associated Writer's Program's Prague Prize and has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. His book of poems, Half the Truth, won the Violet Reed Haas Poetry Award in 2015.
      Bright Hill's 2017, 25th-anniversary-yea
r programs are made possible by grants from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; Otis  A. Thompson; A. Lindsay and Olive B. O'Connor; Dewar,and Tianaderrah Foundations; Stewart's Shops; the Abraham Kellogg Education Funda; the Delaware Youth Bureau, through the auspices of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services; the Delaware National Bank of Delhi, Delaware County Office of Economic Development, the Delaware National Bank of Delhi, and with the support of Bright Hill's friends.Bright Hill has been a supporter of National Poetry Month since its founding.       

       Bright Hill's facilities include the Bright Hill Community Library, home to more than 12,000 books and literary and art periodicals that may be borrowed by local residents; the complete catalog is online at http://bhc.scoolaid.net/bin/hom. The library is a member of the South Central Regional Library Council of New York. The organization and library are located at 94 Church Street, Treadwell, NY 13846. Contact 607-829-5055 or wordthur@stny.rr.com for more information.

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