Welcome to THE CULTURAL WORKER, a blog dedicated to arts of the people, from the radical avant garde and free jazz to dissident folk forms, punk and popular arts . The Cultural Worker celebrates revolutionary creativity and features a variety of essays, reviews, fiction, reportage, poetry and musings through the internet pen of this creative writer, journalist, musician and cultural organizer. Scroll straight down and you'll also find an extensive historical Photo Exhibit of cultural workers in action, followed by a series of Radical Arts Links. The features herein will be unabashedly partisan---make no mistake about that. The concept of the cultural worker as a force of fearless creativity, of social change, indeed as an artistic arm of radicalism, has always been left-wing when applied with any degree of honesty at all. No revolutionary act can be truly complete in the absence of art, no progressive campaign can retain its message sans the daring drumbeat of invention, no act of dissent can stand so strong as that which counts the writers, musicians, painters, dancers, actors, photographers, film and performance artists within its ranks. Here's to the history and legacy of cultural work in the throes of the good fight...
john pietaro

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Introducing RADIO NOIR

Introducing RADIO NOIR...

The Art Deco-damaged protest music of Radio Noir will be debuted at this year's Dissident Arts Festival. The new group, helmed by John Pietaro will offer a 1930s-tinged vision of so-called New Music by incorporating jazz, cabaret and early swing, into a format of protest music for today, reflecting the fervent radicalism of the Depression years while celebrating the post-punk free improv sounds of downtown. As per the call of the Festival for songs of revolution offered in new and daring ways, Radio Noir's set will be comprised of an adaption of the Brecht-Eisler classic "Song of the United Front", an original avant blues by Pietaro entitled "Langston" , an adaption of Woody Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty", a free improv over Hanns Eisler's statement against HUAC ("Fantasia in G-Men") and they will close with an exciting version of the dance standard "Temptation" by Nascio Herb Brown. Currently in rehearsal at 17 Frost Performance Theatre in Williamsburg Brooklyn, the band exudes an excitement that thrives on the agitated vibe of such combined time periods.

The line-up is as follows:

---Xylophonist John Pietaro’s work reflects the xylophone soloists of the 1920s and a century of rogue percussionists and revolutionary composers, and is further driven by protest songs, out jazz, punk rock and Marxism. He has performed with Alan Ginsberg, Fred Ho, Pete Seeger, the Flames of Discontent and others and is a contributing writer for ‘Z’, ‘Political Affairs, ‘the Nation’ and his blog ‘The Cultural Worker’. He works professionally in the labor movement.

---Clarinetist Quincy Saul , is a performer and social activist immersed in a radical vision of his instrument even as he reaches into its rich jazz heritage. He is a member of Scientific Soul Sessions in Harlem, a research associate for the ecosocialist journal 'Capitalism Nature Socialism', and a writer with a blog at A student of saxophonist/composer Fred Ho, Quincy performs throughout the NY area.

---Guitarist Javier Miyares is a performer, composer and producer. Currently he is the creative director of 17 Frost Theater Of The Arts in Williamsburg Brooklyn, and performs with Sineparade, The Phonometricians On Cosmic Fire, and Radio Noir. Visit: for more information

---Bassist Laurie Towers, a featured soloist with the Flames of Discontent, embraces traditions for the electric bass in jazz, R&B, rock and experimental music and has forged a ‘lead bass’ style which is reflective of her musical influences including Carol Kaye, James Jamerson, Jaco Pastorious and Charlie Haden. Towers is a feminist, an activist and an entrepreneur and has served as a mentor to girls at risk and victims of domestic violence.

See this powerful new ensemble at the Dissident Arts Festival, Aug 13 2011, 4PM - 11PM (Radio Noir should hit the stage around 8:30), the Brecht Forum, NYC


  1. Hello, John... really fine website, glad I discovered it. It brings back so many memories from my early years, reminding me of the people I either knew or met at one time or another (Robeson, Guthrie, James Baldwin, Loraine Hansberry, Brecht, and on and on)... I'm even in one of the photos (well, my right EAR is, at any rate) - standing in the photo of the Hollywood Ten at the airport, I'm the one holding the sign saying that Alvah Bessie is going to jail... Keep up the great work... my best, Dan Bessie /

  2. Hi Dan, So good of you to write in and thanks much for the kind words. I agree that arts of the Left need to be sustained and have been doing my part for some years now. But I am quite fascinated by your own background and would love to have the chance to interview you about Alvah Bessie (LOL--sorry I could not find your ear in the pic---I guess you were one of the kids? Bessie was your father I assume? ). My ongoing project is a book entitled THE CULTURAL WORKERS: REVOLUTIONARY ARTISTS AND RADICAL ARTISTS and of course the amazing filmmakers and others persecuted by HUAC feature highly in it. Each time I think the book is nearing completion I end up finding new reasons to add more data, but is is necessary: the history of progressive arts is at least as vast as the history of all progressive philosophy. Please let me know if you are interested in having your memories become a part of this. peace, john

  3. Inspirational site thank you :D
    Hoping to contribute to the consciousness raising underway and eventually achieve a cathartic critical mass…
    thought you might like my machinima version of A Christmas Carol