A Song to Save the Salish Sea

A Song to Save the Salish Sea

Musical Performance as Environmental Activism
Mark Pedelty
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/03/2016
ISBN: 978-0-253-02316-2
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On the coast of Washington and British Columbia sit the misty forests and towering mountains of Cascadia. With archipelagos surrounding its shores and tidal surges of the Salish Sea trundling through the interior, this bioregion has long attracted loggers, fishing fleets, and land developers, each generation seeking successively harder to reach resources as old-growth stands, salmon stocks, and other natural endowments are depleted. Alongside encroaching developers and industrialists is the presence of a rich environmental movement that has historically built community through musical activism. From the Wobblies’ Little Red Songbook (1909) to Woody Guthrie’s Columbia River Songs (1941) on through to the Raging Grannies’ formation in 1987, Cascadia's ecology has inspired legions of songwriters and musicians to advocate for preservation through music.

In this book, Mark Pedelty explores Cascadia's vibrant eco-musical community in order to understand how environmentalist music imagines, and perhaps even creates, a more sustainable conception of place. Highlighting the music and environmental work of such various groups as Dana Lyons, the Raging Grannies, Idle No More, Towers and Trees, and Irthlingz, among others, Pedelty examines the divergent strategies—musical, organizational, and technological—used by each musical group to reach different audiences and to mobilize action. He concludes with a discussion of "applied ecomusicology," considering ways this book might be of use to activists and musicians at the community level.

Author Bio

Mark Pedelty is Professor of Communication Studies and Anthropology and Resident Fellow in the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. His books include Ecomusicology: Rock, Folk and the Environment and Musical Ritual in Mexico City: From the Aztec to NAFTA.


A Song to Save the Salish Sea offers valuable insight into the ways that a diverse community of environmentally oriented musicians, and musically oriented environmentalists, engage with a variety of key issues. ”
 — Notes

“Invaluable for its capacity to arouse musical activism, A Song of the Salish Sea introduces a group of musicians whose dedication, courage, and longevity stand as an example of how to motivate action through music. . . . Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

“Mark Pedelty’s A Song to Save the Salish Sea is an engaging and accessible examination of contemporary environmentalist popular music in the Salish Sea region of the Pacific Northwest.”
 — Journal of the Society for American Music

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Table of Contents

1. Bellingham’s Dana Lyons: The Artful Activist
2. Victoria’s Raging Grannies: An Unstoppable Force
3. North America’s Idle No More: The Aural Art of Protest
4. Vancouver’s Bobs & Lolo: Raindrop Pop
5. Surrey’s Artist Response Team: ART for Ecology
6. Orcas Island’s Irthlingz: Community Art as Activism
7. Victoria’s Towers and Trees: Together Alone Online
Conclusion: Common Themes and Connections