Occupy Guitarmy Prepares To March to NYC

Occupy Guitarmy Squad leader Stephen Carl Baldwin and Paul Stein lead the 99 Mile March in “One Guitar” as they prepare to set out from Philadelphia to New York City on July 5th. The march raised awareness about the range of Occupy Wall Street issues, celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birth, and advocated for funding music education in the schools, which has been severely cut back in recent years. Steve and Paul took part in the beginning and end of the march and are in awe of those occupiers who marched all seven days.

Occuponics at Union Square North: Dancing In The Rain

The Occuponics – along with The OWS Sax Man, Guitarmy and the OWS Pulse Drum Circle – provided musical support to the second annual Animal Rights Day ceremony in Union Square Park this past Sunday, June 3rd. Toward the end of our concert, it began to rain, but folks kept right on dancing, and this short video captures of the magic of dancing in the rain!

Occupy Guitarmy: 2nd Rehearsal

The Occuponics have been consulting and playing with The Occupy Guitarmy, an open source music collective that allows musicians of all stripes to perform socially conscious songs together.

There is a lot of work that goes into organizing The Guitarmy, but also a lot of fun when we can put down our Word Docs and Spreadsheets and jam together. The following video captures the Guitarmy’s second rehearsal together; the song performed is Florence Reece’s “Which Side Are You On.”

In July, The Occupy Guitarmy will lead a 99-mile musical march between Philadelphia and New York City in solidarity with the Occupy National Gathering. Over at http://occupyguitarmy.tumblr.com, you can learn more about participating in this exciting event.

GUITARMY In The “Freedom Cage,” May 5th, 2012

Braced by its success on May Day, Occupy Guitarmy made its way to Federal Hall this past Saturday to jam on the steps of the building where the Bill of Rights is housed, guarded by General George Washington. One-half of these steps has been designated by federal authorities as a “First Amendment Area,” and this small space, ringed by barricades, has been dubbed “the Freedom Cage” by demonstrators.

Here, the GUITARMY jams on a chant-oriented song loosely based on the Pointer Sisters’ 1972 hit, “I’ll Take You There.” The Guitarmy version simplifies the song to a C-F chord progression, accompanied by whatever lyrics are on protesters’ minds at the moment.


The really cool part is when that gang of high-schoolers comes through and cheers. That truly made everyone’s day.

Video streaming by Ustream

GUITARMY on Danny Schecter (The News Dissector) PRN Radio Show

The Occuponics’ Stephen C. Baldwin had the pleasure of being with the GUITARMY today on veteran progressive media critic Danny Schecter’s weekly radio show on PRN (the Progressive Radio Network).

Long before Occupy Wall Street appeared, Danny was pointing out how the corporatization of media was endangering democracy in the U.S.A. You can listen to the show below. Also included is a video shot by Robert K. Chin on the big GUITARMY March on May First, 2012.


A companion article on Guitarmy was published on Truthdig:

Thanks To All Musicians Who Joined GUITARMY on May 1

I’m happy to say that the GUITARMY’s first major action this past Tuesday, May First, 2012, was a success.

GUITARMY’s seven Squad Leaders were able to deliver participating musicians safely from our point of departure (Bryant Park) to our destination (Union Square). This was a big challenge because yesterday’s march was “unpermitted,” which meant that everyone had to stay on the sidewalk and carefully heed directions issued by the NYPD, but everything went smoothly. Nobody was arrested, the music was sweet, our Guitar Medic kept people supplied with strings and picks as they broke or disintegrated, the playing was timely and tuneful, and the singing was soulful and on-key.

I can say that everybody who was a part of this felt great at the end of the day: they had mastered some classic protest songs (including Florence Reece’s iconic “Which Side Are You On”), felt more confident as players, and had experienced first hand the joy and excitement of playing music within the meaningful context of a significant protest march. It was especially important that Tom Morello was able to there supporting GUITARMY. The vast majority of musicians who’ve supported Occupy Wall Street over the winter aren’t famous and never will be, and it’s a big boost when a celebrity like Tom is there because the media pays more careful attention.

GUITARMY will be out and about again. If you’d like training as a Squad Leader, please get in touch with the group and someone will show you the ropes. You can reach GUITARMY via e-mail by sending mail to the Occupy Wall Street Music Group (music@nycga.net) and also by following them on Twitter: @owsmusicgroup. Guitarmy’s Tumbler site (which contains our set list, lyrics, chords, and other resources) is here: http://occupyguitarmy.tumblr.com/

A nice story was written on the Guitarmy’s Rehearsal Section here:

The following video from GlobalPost is very well produced and discusses Guitarmy within the context of the evolution of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The only real complaint is that one must endure a 30-second spot commercial before viewing the content.

Occuponics to Participate in GUITARMY Musical March, May Day, 2012

Guitarmy, AKA “The Thousand Guitar March,” has been busily preparing for the forthcoming May Day March from Bryant Park to Union Square. There will be many guitars, and many guitar heroes, including Tom Morello, leading this peaceful, musical charge.

This past Tuesday, available Guitarmy Squad Leaders converged to come up with a suitable kickoff song. We tried to make it easy and open-ended so that beginners could play the song easily but advanced guitarists could riff and improvise above it, as well as any horn players or other accompanists that might show up. We decided on “Which Side Are You On,” by Florence Reece, based on the traditional folk song, “Lay the Lily Low.”

This rehearsal captures us trying to capture the song and make sure it can be played by as many guitarists that show up. We also added some updated lyrics (below the video). If you play guitar or can make a joyful noise please come to Guitarmy – we need musicians! There are also additional performances of “Which Side Are You On” here.

Guitarmy Squad Leaders will be out early on May 1 in Bryant Park to teach you anything you need to know about playing all the songs in the set list. We tried to keep them all to a maximum of three chords, so that everyone can play and sound good.


The basic root chord of this song is drone on Em (E minor).

Beginners should strum on Em all the way through and ONLY switch to the B7 just once, toward the latter part of each verse

Advanced guitarists might want to play a D chord over the Em at a certain point.

We are the guitar army, we”re marching from this place
We march for peace and justice, to save the human race
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

Hey, hey – May Day!
Hey, hey – May Day!
Hey, hey – May Day!
Hey, hey – May Day!

We are the guitar army, our eyes are on the prize
Musicians have no chance in life unless we organize

We are the guitar army, we’re marching side by side
We’re march for those who suffer, we march for those who’ve died

Oh people, can you hear us, oh people, do you care?
You’re either with the ninety nine, or you are with the Mayor

Original version:

Come all of you good workers, good news to you I’ll tell
Of how the good old union has come in here to dwell

My daddy was a miner, he’s now in the air and sun
And I’ll stick with the union, till every battle’s won

They say in Harlan County, there are no neutrals there
You’re either in the union, or a scab for J.H. Blair

Oh workers can you stand it? Oh tell me how you can?
Will you be a crummy scab or lend us all a hand?

Don’t scab for the bosses, don’t listen to their lies
Us poor folks don’t have a chance unless we organize