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Billy Bragg Performs Spontaneous Concert Near Ferguson, Mo.

Billy Bragg
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Your social media is likely consumed by one of two things: the light-hearted ice bucket challenge campaign that is raising awareness and millions of dollars for ALS research, or the much more serious and alarming situation that continues to take place in Ferguson, Mo. An artist who is no stranger to social causes, folk singer Billy Bragg put his sights on the latter and performed an unplanned show in St. Louis at a pub about 12 miles from Ferguson.

A student of the life and music of famed singer and political activist Woody Guthrie, Bragg performed for more than an hour with touring partner Joe Purdy at the Royale on Kingshighway Boulevard Tuesday night (Aug. 19). In an interview with Rolling Stone, Bragg says, “If we’re going to be true to [Guthrie] — more than just singing ‘This Land Is Your Land’ — then doing something that brings a bunch of people together and raises some money for a struggle is much more like the work that he and Lead Belly did. It’s a no-brainer.”

According to the River Front Times, owner of the Royale Steven Fitzpatrick Smith asked for concertgoers to contribute “canned goods, toiletries, school supplies and first-aid kits” as the price of their ticket. Smith plans to distribute the collected items through “various organizations” to benefit the Ferguson community.

The night wrapped up with Bragg and Purdy’s performance of Bob Dylan‘s ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’.’ As the song wraps up, Bragg says into the microphone — much to the delight of the crowd, “And liberty and justice for all.” Watch a few of the night’s songs below.

Billy Bragg Sings ‘The Times They Are a-Changin” in St. Louis

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Billy Bragg, ‘Hangknot, Slipknot’

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Billy Bragg, ‘There is Power in a Union’

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