Colorado folk punk band Ludlow gives insights into the real happenings inside the history books of America while continuing the folk tradition of storytelling through song.
On April 20, 1914, at least 26 people lay dead following a gun battle that broke out in the tent city mining camp at Ludlow, Colorado. The miners had been evicted from their company housing for striking against the harsh mining conditions and low pay they faced while working for the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. At some point during the strike, shots were fired on both sides and many miners, women and children were killed by the Colorado National Guard stationed there as security for the mines.
This event in American history often goes untold in history courses. Those who take their courses through a different route are tipped off to the massacre by the great Woody Guthrie in his 1944 song “Ludlow Massacre” in which he details the events of the killings
Born out of the memory of such a massacre, and a possible nod to Mr. Guthrie himself, the band Ludlow assures their listeners that some events in the world will not go unnoticed or forgotten.
Shortly before a brief stop in Taos to begin their recent tour, Ludlow released “Destroy What Destroys You,” an excellent example of anarchistic folk punk to challenge the status quo of the social climate in the 21st century.
Ludlow opens the album with “Paperclip,” a call to action to fight against the countless injustices done throughout the history of the world and stand for a better tomorrow. The song uses simple banjo chord progression to get the listener focused on the lyricism, which is a flashback to the history of both the United States and the world, and begs the question, “Why were we such cowards who refused to act?”
The song gracefully opens the album and runs directly into “Trust No Cop,” a message and reminder of the politics of the band. Possibly the most memorable line in the entire album is delivered by this song, as the band chants, “No rights were ever won sitting quietly waiting for justice to come.”
“Greenwashed” is another important song on the album that throws the question of ethical work environments into the discussion. Food and produce often have a difficult story behind them, especially when farm conditions in parts of the world are less than fair so that the First World nations can feast on their fruit. The anger and passion in the song reflect the band’s efforts to try and educate their fan base about the unethical treatment of farmers and the workers who are needed to put food on all of our tables.
As with any band traveling and getting their music to new ears, stories of the road are most likely going to make the cut on an album sooner or later, and “Peanuts” begins as such. The song continues on as a nudge in the direction of cutting ties with the mainstream society and just getting outside. One great thing about the aesthetic of Ludlow is their DIY ethos and their drive to just be free. Bands often fall into the cracks of the “man” or mainstream sound when working on a full-length album and this band has directly said they will remain against the grain with songs like “Peanut.”
Overall, the best way to experience “Destroy What Destroys You” is to spin the album on repeat and get familiar with the textbook of lyrics available on their Bandcamp website for free. Messages conveyed with bands like Ludlow must be analyzed, studied and well-understood. These are not catchy pop songs with a fun hook and great beat, for a good reason. The album makes the listener get deep into the background of the songs and even prompts a Google search or two to either verify facts or dive deeper into interesting subjects.
If the content in the album teaches anything or encourages one person to make a change in their lives for the better, the band may have achieved their goals. The provocative lyrics are well-thought out and paint a picture of a better world that is indeed possible through work and dedication.
Ludlow is one of the most interesting bands to have come through Taos in some time, using elements of traditional folk mixed with the relatively new sound of folk-punk. Incorporating a banjo, guitar, bass and singing saw, the music on this album could stand all on its own, however, the addition of the band’s lyrics completes the package for anyone looking at a different approach to the history of music in general. Download a copy of their latest album for free or catch the band on their recent tour.
Check out “Destroy What Destroys You” at ludlowmassacre.bandcamp.com/.