Also see: http://www.ryanharveymusic.com
I been performing in social justice activist circles for nearly ten years, sharing the stage with many underground and mainstream performers.
I spend a lot of non-work time supporting Iraq Veterans Against the War through an organization I co-founded called The Civilian-Soldier Alliance, helping members strategize, do outreach events and stay sane in the half-crazed world of trying to fight for justice.
I dabble in journalism and writing and have a blog where I post my writings called Even If Your Voice Shakes. I write for the Baltimore-based Independent Reader and have been published by The Nation, Common Dreams, ZNet, and others. I am currently studying history and working on various writng projects related to my organizing work.
I've been spending some of my free time lately writing songs for a new album and for a punk band I recently was part of forming, tentatively called Bouncing Betty.
I come from a middle class family in Towson, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. I dropped out of a large public high school at 16 and entered the wide-world of activism and learning from the world. I got into veganism and animal rights organizing in 1998 or so and started setting up local events such as anti-fur protests and teach-ins about animal rights. After the Seattle WTO shut down I was swept along with many others into the larger global justice/anti-free trade movement and did a lot of organizing work around that.
Sometime around when Bush got appointed the first time I started playing guitar and singing songs. Actually, I believe it was right after I first heard the early recordings of Phil Ochs. I still consider the Baltimore-area my home but I travel on occasion and live in other areas at times.
I got into writing music and lyrics through punk bands like Rancid, Crass, Operation Ivy, Conflict, Aus-Rotten along with local bands like Chaotix and A//Political. After hearing radical folk music via Phil Ochs I realized how good an avenue it is for social change. Punk bands have a history of socially active songs and messages and I wanted to relate that anger and urgency through the easy medium of the acoustic guitar. I always wanted to be in a punk band but it was always too hard to find a drummer and a practice space and keep up energy...but now I love acoustic shit anyways.
I consider my music and songs as much a part of my activism as I do an event I would help put together. I'm not really interested in opening my soul to the masses or putting my emotions out on the line. I also never developed the type of writing style where I could open up as to better understand my romatnic emotions. I'm not at all opposed to emotional music but there is a fine line between emotional seriousness and self-indulgence. I think a good song-writer who combines politics and very personal stories and reflections together in a way that people can relate to, find beauty in, and gain inspiration can really help you deal with hard times and stay grounded emotionally.
I guess my style of song comes from bands like Crass that give you such outright alarming and angry songs that you are moved to action. When I used to get depressed in high school and come home and fight with my parents, I'd go in my room and listen to loud-ass punk music until I felt better. Anger is really powerful and we misuse it too often. I bottled mine up and now I'm unleashing it against the shit I see in this world that makes me sick. As Rage said, Anger is a gift.
So that’s me. I organize, work, set-up events, hang out, and do all the other things other folks do. I tour on occasion and prefer to mix music sutff with a grounded life. Tour can really sweep you away from reality and make you forget how hard you’ve gotta work and how important it is to be surrounded by friends.