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Les Barker US tour canceled!

28 Oct 06 - 01:12 PM (#1870835)
Subject: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST,Laurie

Well, I am completely beside myself. I was so looking forward to the November 11 Les Barker concert that my little Folk Club was hosting when I got a call that Homeland Security apparently finds him to be a threat to the US and has denied his visa. I guess that's what happens when you try to give friendly, pacifist advice to President Bush...


28 Oct 06 - 01:16 PM (#1870839)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: skipy

That very democratic of them.
Land of the free!
Skipy


28 Oct 06 - 01:35 PM (#1870862)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Maryrrf

This is terrible. I wish there was something we could do to put a stop to this nonsense.


28 Oct 06 - 01:41 PM (#1870867)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Bill D

It's getting hard to sort out the 'safety' issues from the bureaucratic crap about 'cultural diversity'!!!

I KNOW that Rick Fielding had a whole bag of tricks to come here, but a lot of that was Canada not wanting THEIR musicians to go south.

It's truly all beyond me...


28 Oct 06 - 01:45 PM (#1870873)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: John MacKenzie

The inability to laugh at ones self is a terrible affliction.


28 Oct 06 - 02:36 PM (#1870911)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: katlaughing

You can read a message from Les near the bottom half of this thread. It is shameful and embarrassing to have such a government as ours.


28 Oct 06 - 02:41 PM (#1870917)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: lamarca

In the early days of the Washington, DC Irish Festival, we brought in a lot of Cape Breton and Quebecois musicians who told the border police on both sides that they were "going to play at a friend's wedding." Both the U.S. and Canadian sides were really obnoxious about letting musicians travel with their instruments; there'd be a crackdown on one side, and then the other side would retaliate.

As far as Les' tour goes, he's not alone in the English folk community in finding it hard to get a visa. Martyn Wyndham-Read once complained to a group of us that for one tour he had applied for his visa well in advance and heard nothing back from the US Embassy. The only way to contact that department of the embassy was a toll-number, so that you could be put on hold forever and charged for it. Trying to coordinate the visa process with booking flights has become a nightmare; some musicians have been left having to eat the cost of $1,000s worth of pre-paid flights when their visa application is denied.

Les Barker's visa could have been denied for political reasons, or it could have been for something as capricious as a clerk in the Embassy had a fight with his wife the night before and was in a bad mood. Whatever the reason, I wish that our visa rules included a "Cultural Exchange" category...


28 Oct 06 - 02:41 PM (#1870918)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST,Ray

Not surprising, Les used to be a chartered accountant.


28 Oct 06 - 02:44 PM (#1870923)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Ron Davies

Hey, I thought the UK was supposed to be our #1 ally. Do we have any evidence that his visa was denied for political reasons?


28 Oct 06 - 02:46 PM (#1870924)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Bernard

It's getting very silly.

I bet there'd be a serious outcry if our American favourites were denied UK visa privileges in the same way...

Not that I'm suggesting a 'tit for tat' response is the way to go!!

No, the Richard Craniums in the US Visa Department (or whatever title they herald themselves under!) need to see sense very quickly, because they have already lost all their credibility!


28 Oct 06 - 02:49 PM (#1870925)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: breezy

Maybe Les ought to just go on a holiday so as not to waste the airfare.


28 Oct 06 - 02:58 PM (#1870933)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Bernard

Yes - and while he's there he could go and do a free performance for those... erm... people... to let them see exactly why he is unique.


28 Oct 06 - 03:17 PM (#1870958)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Ron Davies

Perhaps the strangest thing about it is that I'm virtually certain that he has already been here at least once. So if he was "culturally unique" then--and, no question about that, based on his songs-- (or poetry, as the case may be)-- he's just as much now.

This may lend credence to the theory of being denied for a political stand taken.


28 Oct 06 - 10:49 PM (#1871051)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: katlaughing

If you listen to the link by Amos in the other thread, it certainly could be political.


29 Oct 06 - 01:47 AM (#1871144)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Liz the Squeak

Or just read some of Les' work.... if you were being pedantic and particularly snitty, he could come over as a subversive - he's certainly good at putting a finger right on the button as it were and pointing out the ridiculousness of certain situations.

Of course, it might just be Bill Gates pulling strings after Les' supremely accurate 'Reinstalling Windows'.

LTS


29 Oct 06 - 02:38 AM (#1871155)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: The Fooles Troupe

Taking into account that the USA has now just bullied (by financial muscle) the Olympics to have the Swimming Events run at Morning local time instead of the traditional Evening time - that the athletes have structured their training lives around -

That's probably the last straw for me in tolerating US international 'bullying' - when the Olympics were held in the US, the events were put on to suit them - when they are held elsewhere with a different time zone, the US gets then shifted to a time more convenient to THEM...

And people WONDER why the US is burning up international Good Will!!!

I will now black ban ALL Olympic Events - and not only this upcoming one - from my TV.

If I Really want to know - I will get the medal totals from the News!

Robin


29 Oct 06 - 02:51 AM (#1871160)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Liz the Squeak

Wish I could do likewise.. I'm in east London and I'm sick to the back teeth of the Olympics already. We haven't even built the stadium yet!

LTS


29 Oct 06 - 03:16 AM (#1871166)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Anne Lister

Tempting as it may be to think of this as a political issue, I think from all I've heard from Les and other folk musicians who've had the same problem, that it's more of a bureaucratic mess than conspiracy theory. Doesn't make it any better for Les or for people who wanted to hear him on this tour, of course. Quicksilver (Hilary Spencer and Grant Baynham) have also been denied visas on the same ground and so has Andy Irvine .. the official ground being "not culturally unique enough", as the major criterion for a P3 visa is to be culturally unique. Yes, I know - it still makes no sense with these performers, but I doubt if any of the bureaucrats concerned have any knowledge whatsoever of the poems or music of the artists they're dealing with.
Getting a visa, as I know from my own experience, is a time-consuming paperchase with costs, and even when it all runs relatively smoothly it can still have the performer tearing out chunks of hair as deadlines approach.
If any Mudcatters feel they know anyone with any clout in the US who might be able to help I'm sure lots of UK performers would be grateful. It's certainly been a factor restricting my visits to the US, and everything has become far more difficult after 9/11.

Anne


29 Oct 06 - 08:01 AM (#1871274)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: alanabit

It is the reason why people like myself can never hope to play in the US - even at a very low level. Even at the smallest level, we run the risk of arrest and confiscation (read "theft") of our meagre earnings if we get booked for working illegally. As a busker and now an occasional club/pub performer, I have always had to take some money just to be able to afford to do it. I just do not have the financial resources to fly to America, travel around and then return with no money. I never will be that well off, so I can effectively forget about ever going there. Neither do I have the financial resources, time or clout to overcome an obstacle course of bureaucratic red tape.
Compared to most of those who are helped by record companies and agents, Les Barker operates at a very low level. In the small scene, in which we operate, he is however, a weighty name. If it is made imposssible for Les Barker to work in the US, there is effectively a blanket ban on all entertainers, who work below a certain income level. Of course, in Les Barker's case, his tendency to speak uncomfortable truths will make it that little bit more difficult for the US authorities to view his application benignly.
I am beginnning to feel the same way about US authorities, as I once felt about entering Eastern European states. There is a clear message to us to stay away.


29 Oct 06 - 08:02 AM (#1871275)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: nutty

The PC police will be after you Robin. I believe you can ban but isn't 'black' banning a nono.


29 Oct 06 - 08:19 AM (#1871282)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: kendall

I'll write a letter to Senator Snowe.


29 Oct 06 - 01:37 PM (#1871498)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST

Note that Les Barker's Little Rock, Arkansas concert was to begin just before the November 7 elections. Little Rock is a stone's throw from Tennessee which is the site of one of the nastiest political campaigns I've ever seen. Since there is a real chance that the Republicans will lose their majority in the House and the Senate, I can't believe that this is just a coincidence.

The idea that Les Barker isn't culturally unique, and I don't care what ignorant paper pusher is making the judgement call, is simply absurd. This wasn't an issue when he toured back in January of 2003.

We are going to try and get him back in February. We are fortunate that the Folk Alliance is located in Memphis where I reside and can send a letter of support this time around. I'll let you know what happens...


29 Oct 06 - 04:19 PM (#1871594)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST,Tinker in Chicago

I had Mr. Barker booked for a house concert, after years of keeping track of his schedule to see when he would be in town. So yes, I'm upset about this, too. But I think we give the folk community too much credit when we conclude that the government is afraid of the influence a British poet might have on the American elections. Face it, Mr. Barker wasn't going to play to tens of thousands of voters in Little Rock, Arkansas. He's not that big over here. (Heck, the government has more reason to ban Bono, but they never have.)

No, I think we're dealing with the big-frog-in-a-small-pond syndrome. Some bureaucratic flunky has precious little power in his or her life, so he or she plays the bully where they can. They'd never have the guts to ban a British ROCK star for any reason, but banning a much lesser known poet does not run the risk of a major societal reaction.

Bottom line is that the government probably doesn't even know Mr. Barker exists, but some small-minded employee had a fight that morning with his or her spouse, and took it out on Les.


29 Oct 06 - 04:58 PM (#1871620)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Joybell

Three years ago I spoke to the Grand Bard of Cornwall when he came here. (to Aus) He was very concerned, but mainly sad, about conditions put on him before his American tour a few months before. Although he was allowed to attend a Cornish festival there he was told that he was not allowed to sing any Stephen Foster songs. (Beautiful Dreamer,Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair) Stephen Foster was and still is very popular with Cornish people - probably partly because of the great migrations from Cornwall in the 19th Century. His songs tap into a time of nostalgia and a longing for home.
A slightly different problem, probably, but somehow relevant I think.
Cheers, Joy


29 Oct 06 - 05:24 PM (#1871629)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST,Laurie

With all due respect Tinker, I don't think that we give the Folk Community enough credit with our political influence. It was only by an incredibly slim margin that George W. Bush was elected President. Only a handful of votes in Florida decided the outcome of that election so it doesn't need to be tens of thousands of voters attending a concert to sway an election.

Joy, I'm intrigued with your comment about the Grand Bard not being able to sing Stephen Foster songs. Do you know why? There was a very popular CD of Stephen Foster songs "Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster" released a few years ago with such performers as Alvin Youngblood Hart, Roger McGuinn, Allison Kraus and John Prine. A Kentucky Derby tradition is the singing "My Old Kentucky Home". Granted, the lyrics are a little more "PC".


29 Oct 06 - 05:42 PM (#1871639)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: kendall

I just sent a message to Senator Olympia Snowe about this paper curtain that the immigration people have dropped on one of our best allies. I asked her what bureaucrat makes the decision that Les Barker is not culturally unique enough to grant him a visa.


29 Oct 06 - 05:55 PM (#1871658)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Herga Kitty

Send in the clones?

Kitty


29 Oct 06 - 06:34 PM (#1871687)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Joybell

Hello Laurie, Strange isn't it? There is nothing offensive in Beautiful Dreamer - as it was written - or Jeanie, or for that matter any the songs Stephen Foster wrote after his early ones. (Even these were written, by a young song-writer, with regard to the style of the times.) Anyone who has taken even a brief look at Foster knows there are many false assumptions made about him.
- But back to the present -   No I don't know why the Bard was told not to sing them. And yes many of Stephen Foster's songs have remained standards. Everyone sings "Hard Times Come again no More" for example.
Cheers, Joy


29 Oct 06 - 06:48 PM (#1871695)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST,thurg

In the context we're dealing with, it sounds like the gent from Cornwall may have been told not to sing those songs because if he did, he would not be "culturally unique" - those songs could be sung adequately by Americans ...


29 Oct 06 - 07:03 PM (#1871712)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Gurney

I am sorry for all who might have gone to Les' shows. You will have great trouble finding someone as culturally unique as he is, from an American point of view, or as funny from anyones.

Terrible thought. Can it be that America will only allow tours by Zulu dancers or Mongol formation yogurt-makers in the future? How about Russian orchestras, will they be forced to play Russian composers? No Beethoven?


29 Oct 06 - 08:07 PM (#1871742)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Ref

As a casual fan of Les's particular brand of nonsense, I'm appalled by this. Of course, I'm appalled by a lot that "our" government does these days. Foostroupe, i doubt that it's "The US" that twisted arms to move swimming finals to the morning. It was most likely the TV networks that want to show Americans winning medals in primetime here. It would serve them right if the Americans got trashed, but it isn't likely.


30 Oct 06 - 12:59 AM (#1871899)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Joybell

Cultural uniqueness was not a factor in the case of the Bard of Cornwall. He was attending a Cornish Festival in America. One of his jobs as the Grand Bard. There's only one of them at any one time after all.
Cheers, Joy


30 Oct 06 - 01:25 AM (#1871901)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST,Mike Miller

I am not a fan of the present regime in D.C., nor, do I doubt their ability to bring pressuer on their critics, but we need a little perspective, here. Les Barker is no burr under their saddles. His is not a very loud voice in dissent. It is that our government, and yours, makes it tough to get working permits for alians. When I lived in Ireland, I played in England and Scotland but I never (I blush to admit) applied for permission to enter those countries to work. If I had asked, as others did, I would have had a hell of a lot of trouble. I used to think that they would hassle me because of my association with the Irish Republican movement but, when I spoke to Tom Paxton, he said that his entry had been held up, too. Of course, he was doing major, well advertised, concerts and I was playing clubs, more localized, less advertised.
Frankly, every country has its own little twist on what kind of dance a performer has to do to get temporary working papers.
When I was a young man, I did booking for the Philadelphia Folk Festival and I can tell you stories about trying to get our acts through the maze of red tape.

                         Mike


30 Oct 06 - 03:51 AM (#1871961)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: Anne Lister

Even if you could argue that the INS knew Les's repertoire well enough to know what his views were on your government, you could hardly say the same about Quicksilver or Andy Irvine, who have also recently fallen foul of the same decision regarding cultural uniqueness. To bring Les's political views into this is, I think, a major red herring.
I remain convinced that it's all to do with the bureaucracy switching from the Vermont office to the Californian office. Thank you to those people who have fired off letters and let's hope something gets sorted out soon.
As to the Grand Bard of Cornwall and Stephen Foster songs - there's no room on a P3 visa to put any kind of restriction, so it's a rather odd story. How on earth was anyone going to check up on what he performed? It might be that when he was putting his pile of papers together he was advised not to mention his Stephen Foster material in the interest of proving cultural uniqueness?   Or the festival itself made the request?

Anne


30 Oct 06 - 07:13 AM (#1872063)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: breezy

maybe someone simply typed in Les Barker on a search and the first thing they saw was 'His Advice to Mr Bush' civilised world

Say no more, conclusion reached, descision made.

reject

took all of 10seconds,

next application please,

search ....


30 Oct 06 - 07:22 AM (#1872068)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: breezy

Having just heard Les's peace! I think its a case of shooting oneself in the goallies


Beating the clap out of everyone is not the answer Mr bosh


30 Oct 06 - 07:52 AM (#1872089)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST,Mr Red

I find it just amazing about moving the Swimming schedules - doesn't the whole of the north Amrecian continent suffer this problem and haven't they lived with it since the days of electro-magnetic transmission - (eg telegraph). Why not stop the rotation of the globe - there! no time zone problems - er come to think of it - even that doesn't work.

I personally set the PVR and as soon as I get home set it to play (while recording), skipping the ads, and sometimes catch-up with the live action. Mind you I chose a 250 Gbyte model so there was always something to play back. Like Garrison Keillor...........


30 Oct 06 - 08:58 AM (#1872134)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: jacqui.c

Just a thought - If as many American 'Caterrs as possible were to contact their Senators to comment on this sort of problem would it make a difference?

Sure as hell couldn't hurt, could it?

(I'm putting this post on the both threads current at the moment)


30 Oct 06 - 09:33 AM (#1872162)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST,Laurie

Excellent advice Jacqui. If we could all do what Kendall did and send a letter to our congressmen and women, at least we will have been proactive. Will it make a difference? We won't know unless we try it.

I will also contact the Folk Alliance for assistance.

Thanks to all who wrote in. Maybe we can do something about climing out of this rabbit hole we fell down into.


30 Oct 06 - 10:35 PM (#1872690)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST

His father was a "Puppet Master." Might be a different Les Barker.


31 Oct 06 - 07:49 PM (#1873440)
Subject: RE: Les Barker US tour canceled!
From: GUEST,Yankee Pankee

Is it any wonder the Yanks have so many enemies across the world?

At least some (most?) American musicians oppose the muppet in the White House.

It was good to hear Joanie Madden of Cherish The Ladies make some pithy comments about George W. Bush at a gig in Wimborne on Sunday night.

She got a huge cheer from the sell-out crowd - sounded like every one of them was anti-Bush.

A country that bans Les Barker isn't worth visiting anyway.