Ryan Harvey
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Ryan Harvey

Baltimore, MD | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Baltimore, MD | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Folk Punk





Folk legend Woody Guthrie once rented an apartment from Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, in a “middle class” housing project that was backed by the Federal Housing Administration. While a tenant, Guthrie became troubled by the racism of his neighbors and the fact that black people were excluded from living in the project known as Beach Haven.

Trump embraced a racially coded guideline the FHA had, which encouraged landlords to avoid “inharmonious uses of housing.” Intended to discourage black people from renting apartments in “middle class” housing, the guideline was a part of the structural racism inherent in the FHA’s New Deal project.

Guthrie wrote lyrics for a protest song against “Old Man Trump,” and now Ryan Harvey, Ani DiFranco, and Tom Morello have taken the lyrics and recorded a version of the song, which was recently released by Firebrand Records.

Harvey sings, “I suppose/Old Man Trump knows/Just how much/Racial hate/He stirred up/In the bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed that color line,” at “Beach Haven.”

DiFranco and Morello join Harvey for the chorus, which is a reworking of the Guthrie song, “Ain’t Got No Home.”

Beach Haven ain’t my home!
I just cain’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain!
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven looks like heaven!
Where no black ones come to roam!
No, no, no! Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!

The driving rhythm of the song makes for an anthem of solidarity with oppressed people. It has this exultant feeling of joy in resisting Trump’s color line.

As a post at The Conversation details, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department brought a case against Trump’s real estate empire in 1973 and 1978 for “racially discriminatory conduct.” For example, doormen were urged to “discourage blacks who came seeking apartments when the manager was out, either by claiming no vacancies or hiking up the rents.”

Guthrie envisioned a breakdown of the racial barrier at the project. He wanted to invite blacks to come live at Beach Haven and to love each other in any way they pleased and get pregnant and raise their kids just as white people did in the project.

Prior to December 1950 when he rented the apartment at Beach Haven, Guthrie recorded racially conscious songs, like “The Ferguson Brothers Killing” and “Buoy Bells From Trenton,” both songs which highlighted the racism of police and the criminal punishment system in the United States. He also wrote several songs inspired by the riots against blacks in Peekskill that occurred after black singer Paul Robeson held a concert in 1949. (Guthrie was present for the aftermath, and witnessed not only an angry mob against blacks but also anti-communist violence from the local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.)

In a video put together for the release of “Old Man Trump,” Morello declares, “I’m standing up against Old Man Trump. Because when it comes to race relations, he’s like an old school segregationist. When it comes to foreign policy, he’s like an old school napalmist. When it comes to women’s issues, he’s like a frat house rapist.” He urges everyone who listens to the new song to oppose the history, which Trump represents.

While Guthrie’s lyrics have particular resonance because Donald Trump is running for president, the song is a marvelous protest song against the legacy of segregation in housing and the need to stand up to racist landlords like “Old Man Trump.” - Shadowproof

"Ani joins Ryan Harvey and Tom Morello on Woody Guthrie cover "Old Man Trump""

Ani joined Ryan Harvey and Tom Morello to produce catchy as all hell cover of the 'lost' Woody Guthrie track, "Old Man Trump."

"Old Man Trump" was recently rediscovered by Will Kaufman, a professor at UK's University of Lancashire, on a visit to the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa, OK. The song had sat, unrecorded, in his notebook for the next 66 years. Now, as the new old man Trump is once again using hate to stir people up for all the wrong reasons, Ryan Harvey, joined by Ani DiFranco and Tom Morello, and with the approval of Woody Guthrie Publications, have recorded Woody's words from all those years ago, which unfortunately, could just as easily have been written yesterday:

"I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
He stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts"

(c)2016 Ryan Harvey/Woody Guthrie Publications - Ani DiFranco

"Tom Morello, Ani DiFranco, Ryan Harvey Cover Woody Guthrie’s Lament Against “Old Man Trump”"

2016 isn’t the only year musicians have sung out against “Old Man Trump.” A somewhat-buried Woody Guthrie track by the same name, written in outrage more than 60 years ago against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s father, Fred Trump, laments the bigotry and injustice of Trump’s housing projects, Beach Haven, in which Guthrie leased an apartment. Now, riot folk singer Ryan Harvey has teamed up with Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello and Ani DiFranco to cover Guthrie’s “Old Man Trump.”

Guthrie’s lyrics make his position on “Old Man Trump” clear:

“I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project”

The folk legend even invokes the apartment by name, singing:

“Beach Haven ain’t my home!
I just can’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain!
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven looks like heaven
Where no black ones come to roam!
No, no, no! Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!”

All proceeds from Ryan Harvey’s cover of this once-again-relevant song will benefit CK Team Relief and the Baltimore Right to Housing Alliance. - American Songwriter

"Baltimore's Ryan Harvey releases 'Old Man Trump' protest song with lyrics by Woody Guthrie"

As a leading songwriter of the politically minded Riot-Folk music collective, Baltimore artist and activist Ryan Harvey is used to writing his own lyrics.

But “Old Man Trump,” a song he released last month, is a unique exception.

The words were written by folk legend Woody Guthrie in the early ‘50s, but only recently did Harvey — along with his famous collaborators Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine/Prophets of Rage) and Ani DiFranco — put the words to music.

Ryan Harvey, 'Old Man Trump (feat. Tom Morello and Ani DiFranco)'
The video for Ryan Harvey's protest song "Old Man Trump" was shot in Baltimore.

For context, a brief history lesson: In 1950, Oklahoma native Guthrie signed a lease for a Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment owned by Fred Trump, father of Donald. Soon after, Guthrie grew disillusioned by what he considered housing discrimination and segregation against black people, according to recent findings by Will Kaufman, professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Central Lancashire.

Newly published journals found Guthrie expressing his frustration through lyrics, including the lines: “I suppose / Old Man Trump knows / Just how much Racial Hate / he stirred up / In the bloodpot of human hearts / When he drawed / That color line / Here at his / Eighteen hundred family project.”

Harvey, who co-founded the national Riot-Folk collective in 2004, contacted Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, about using her father’s lyrics for a modern song against Donald Trump, reports Baltimore Magazine. Morello, who launched Firebrand Records with Harvey in June 2015, and DiFranco provided background vocals and a guitar solo.

“I’m standing up against Old Man Trump because when it comes to race relations, he’s like an old-school segregationist,” Morello says in a YouTube video promoting the song. “So let’s not elect that guy, and I want you to stand up against Old Man Trump, too. Not just him but the history that he represents and the policies that he put forward.”

The single is on sale on iTunes and is streaming on Spotify. Baltimore’s Right to Housing Alliance announced on Facebook that Firebrand pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from single purchases to the organization. - Baltimore Sun

"Old Man Trump: Tom Morello gives new life to Woody Guthrie's protest song"

More than 60 years ago, Woody Guthrie bemoaned his landlord – Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump – in unrecorded song lyrics. Now a group of artists has turned his writing into a modern protest song as Trump’s son Donald continues his candidacy for US president.

Three artists have collaborated to finish and produce Old Man Trump, Guthrie’s song inspired by Fred Trump. The track, which had never been previously recorded, was released last week by Firebrand Records just months after the lyrics were re-discovered and publicized. Old Man Trump was recorded by riot folk singer Ryan Harvey with Ani DiFranco and guitarist Tom Morello.

“You’ve got Donald Trump talking about making America great again ... and so here’s Woody Guthrie, one of the definers of American history, coming out after his death and saying ‘No, it wasn’t a great era and in fact your father was part of the problem,’” Harvey said.

Guthrie, a pillar of American protest music most famous for the alternative national anthem This Land Is Your Land, signed his Brooklyn lease with Trump senior as his landlord in 1950. The real estate developer inspired song lyrics and other writings, whose existence and relevance remained forgotten until recently.

In January, Will Kaufman, a Guthrie expert and professor at the University of Central Lancashire, brought to light Guthrie’s impassioned writings about Trump. Kaufman said he found the Guthrie’s writings before Donald Trump had announced his candidacy while doing research for an upcoming book about Guthrie. After Kaufman re-publicized Guthrie’s writings, Harvey began looking to record the song for the first time because of the lyrics’ enduring relevance, he said.

“It’s about how stuff was racist in the 50s and how stuff is racist now,” Harvey said of the song. “This is a modern song that just happened to be written in the past.” Harvey found enthusiastic collaborators looking to stand against the “politics of hate”.

In a video introduction to the song, guitarist Morello implores listeners to “stand up” against Trump.

“When it comes to race relations, he’s like an old-school segregationist. When it comes to foreign policy, he’s like an old-school napalmist. When it comes to women’s issues, he’s like a frat-house rapist,” Morello says in the video. “So let’s not elect that guy.”

The elder Trump was Guthrie’s landlord for two years in the 1950s. The public housing complex, named Beach Haven, was built near Coney Island and almost exclusively housed white tenants. (Kaufman described the neighborhood as “lily-white”.) Trump, who built Beach Haven using federal loans, made significant profits from the project.

In 1954, after Guthrie had already moved out, Trump was the subject of a federal investigation for overstating the cost of developing Beach Haven and pocketing the $3.7m difference. A Village Voice investigative series published in 1979 looked at the Trumps’ real estate empire, including the cases brought by the US justice department alleging “racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents”.

Guthrie’s writings focus in particular on the racial segregation within the housing complex: “I suppose/Old Man Trump knows/Just how much/Racial Hate/he stirred up/In the bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed/That color line/Here at his/1800 family project”.

Guthrie penned Old Man Trump at a time when he was thinking deeply about race and segregation in the US, Kaufman said. In a letter to his friend activist Stetson Kennedy, Guthrie described the Beach Haven complex as a “JimCrow [sic] town”.

“His landlord Fred Trump is in essence the mayor of ‘JimCrow town’, this segregated town,” Kaufman explained. Guthrie lived in Beach Haven for two years until his wife broke the lease with Trump when Guthrie became increasingly ill after being diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. Kaufman said he returned to Guthrie’s writings on Fred Trump as Donald Trump began to discuss race on the campaign trail. Trump has proposed banning all Muslims from the US and said an Indiana-born federal judge was biased because of his Mexican heritage.

“I think it is really important that Woody is speaking to us from beyond the grave now,” Kaufman said. - The Guardian

"Tom Morello slams candidate in intro to Ryan Harvey version of Woody Guthrie's "Old Man Trump""

This week, activist and folksinger Ryan Harvey released "Old Man Trump," a new song featuring damning, eerily prescient lyrics that Woody Guthrie wrote more than 60 years ago about Donald Trump's father, Fred. Tom Morello, who guests on the track along with Ani DiFranco, has filmed a strongly worded video introduction suggesting that Guthrie's critique applies perfectly to the younger Trump.

"I'm standing up against Old Man Trump," the guitarist declares. "When it comes to race relations, he's like an old-school segregationist. When it comes to foreign policy, he's like an old-school napalmist. When it comes to women's issues, he's like a frat-house rapist. So let's not elect that guy."

Guthrie's words for "Old Man Trump" were unearthed by Will Kaufman, a professor at University of Lancashire in the U.K., during a recent visit to the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the original lyrics, Guthrie called out Fred Trump for racist rental policies. (According to the Village Voice, Trump's organization was sued by the the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in 1973.) "I suppose Old Man Trump knows just how much racial hate he stirred up in the bloodpot of human hearts," Guthrie wrote.

The lyrics eventually made their way into the hands of Harvey, who added a trenchant folk-rock arrangement, complemented by DiFranco's steel guitar and soaring backing vocals, and Morello's spirited solo. "Some say there are two Americas," Harvey told Rolling Stone in a statement. "I'd say there are a lot more than that. Woody Guthrie's egalitarian dreams represented a country vastly different from the racially segregated one of Old Man Trump.

"As we push forward today like so many did before to confront oppression, Guthrie's lyrics serve as a snapshot of ourselves in other moments, and of today, of Americans meeting in the streets, workplaces and tenement buildings that have long served as not only spaces of oppression, but also of struggles for political, social and economic change."

"Woody Guthrie understood America," DiFranco said. "He traveled around and got to know America. He loved and served America. How apropos that he should come back from the grave to warn us about one of the greatest threats America has ever seen. This is how fascism happens, people."

"Old Man Trump" is out now via Firebrand Records, the label co-run by Harvey and Morello. Both artists will appear in Denver on July 23rd at a show protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership. On August 19th, Morello begins a lengthy tour with Prophets of Rage, a new supergroup featuring his Rage Against the Machine bandmates Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk along with Public Enemy's Chuck D and Cypress Hill's B-Real. - Rolling Stone


Still working on that hot first release.



"It's a good feeling knowing Ryan Harvey is out there living and giving voice to the global struggle for peace and justice." - Ani DiFranco

“Ryan Harvey is one part activist and two parts radical riot-folk musician, he packs a punch like The Clash fronted by the songwriting prowess of Woody Guthrie” - Tom MorelloRage Against the Machine, The Nightwatchman

"Every time I see Ryan Harvey perform I am captivated. There is a vulnerability to his voice that pulls me in, a real power to the art he creates, and a real impact from the work he's doing." = Chris #2Anti-Flag

Ryan Harvey captures the unplugged story-telling of American folk & the compassionate alarm of early punk. 

Ryan Harvey captures the unplugged story-telling of American folk & the compassionate alarm of early punk.

In the 2016 Ryan Harvey collaborated with Ani DiFranco, Micah Nelson, Tom Morello, and the Woody Guthrie family. Performed with Ani DiFranco, Joan Baez, Tom Morello, and Rancid’s Tim Armstrong. He has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Guardian, SPIN, American Songwriter, BILLBOARD, and the San Francisco Globe.

Bringing a James Dean feel to the American traditions of folk and punk, Ryan Harvey's music has been compared to legendary folk punk band Chumbawumba, early Dylan, and an "urgent, angry, Woody Guthrie."

Ryan Harvey has performed in the epicenters of recent global uprisings from the Arab Spring to the Spanish Indiginados movement, the Greek "OXI" anti-austerity movement to uprisings in France, Iceland, and Occupy Wall Street encampments around the globe.

In 2015 Ryan launched Firebrand Records with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello as a platform for politically radical artists.

Band Members