Count Mike Stout among the rare artists who refuses to see the protest style of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie as passe.
Mr. Stout -- a union leader, activist and prolific singer-songwriter -- merely adds some rock 'n' edge on his 11th album, "Time to Build a New World," which will be released Friday.
He opens the record with a call to action in "Where Is the Soul of America?" and the title track, asking "We Are the children of Martin, Malcolm, Chavez, Harriet and Mother Jones?" He then moves on to pressing issues with titles that say everything: "Big Brother's Watching," "The End of Fossil Fuel Man," "I Was Killed by a Drone."
"Songs dealing with social, economic and international issues of war, peace and empire have always been subject matters for songwriters from Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan in past decades to Springsteen, Tom Morello, et al, today," he says. "But not only do my songs talk about things happening now here and around the world, but they prophesize and opine on what our world will look like in the future if we don't change course."
Writing about reliance to fossil fuels, unmanned drones, social alienation and Orwellian surveillance, he says, "I try to give a preview of what the future will hold for our children and their children if we continue down these roads."
The hope comes in the message of songs like "Solidarity Rocks."
"While it might seem trite and rhetorical to some, 'community' is our only answer to chaos and alienation," he says.
With contributions from the likes of Doug Wilkin, Kevin McDonald, Tom Valentine, Hermie GranatiandReb Beach, the music is heavy on Springsteen-style bar-rock but mixes it up with a Santana sound on "Alien Nation" and country rock on "Travelin' Man, Family Man."
"Unlike many songs and CDs that have one or two producers, on these new songs the musicians are the producers, and lend their creativity because they believe in the message of the songs. The arrangements are theirs, as well as mine."
The release show is at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Club Cafe.
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