Billy Bragg covers Joanna Newsom, announces US tour

Billy Bragg is one of punk rock’s last great heroes, and the last thing that probably comes to mind when you think the UK legend is Joanna Newsom. Well, not anymore.

As previously reported, The Voice Project is a “song-driven movement inspired by the women of Uganda who are using their voices as vehicles for change in the war-ravaged region of Northern Uganda, Southern Sudan, and Eastern Congo, an area that has been marred by violence for the last 24 years.” The project utilizes the talents of some notable musicians — like Peter Gabriel — and has them partake in a game of musical tag. So, for example, Joe Purdy recently covered REM, who, in turn, covered Bill Bragg. The Voice Project then puts these videos on their website and uses the money from donations, sponsors, and advertisers made there to support programs on the ground which aid in the peace, reconciliation and rebuilding efforts. Pretty simple, right?

Bragg’s contribution, which was unveiled today, is perhaps the most unique cover yet. After all, he chose to cover Joanna Newsom’s song “On A Good Day”. (Remember the part about him being punk rock’s last great hero? And you all know Joanna Newsom is a harpist, right?)

According to Bragg, “This song has been running around my head for the last couple of weeks, ever since I bought Joanna Newsom’s latest album… I think she’s a great songwriter. Her lyrical imagery is just amazing… I find it very intriguing. A chance to play this song, I’m very thankful for that.”

Bragg’s rendition is just as subdued as the original, with the only differences being the thick British account found in place of Newsom’s angelic vocals and the acoustic guitar that replaces the harp as the musical accompaniment. Again, this is probably the last thing you’d expect to hear Billy Bragg cover, but he nails it, so props to him.

Also, let’s hope he brings it out with him when he hits the road later this summer. In addition to two separate UK legs, Bragg has also mapped out plans to tour the US this September. Launching at Seattle’s Bumbershoot on September 5th, the trek will take the musician across the Midwest until he concludes his travels in Washington, DC on September 19th. Tickets to select dates are currently available via

Billy Bragg 2010 Tour Dates:
07/18 – Tolpuddle, UK @ Tolpuddle Festival
07/30 – Lulworth, UK @ Camp Bestival
08/20 – Clapham, UK @ Rhythm Festival
08/21 – Powys, UK @ Green Man Festival
08/22 – Ottery St. Mary, UK @ Beautiful Days Festival
08/29 – Shrewbury, UK @ Shrewbury Folk Festival
09/05 – Seattle, WA @ Bumbershoot
09/08 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Culture Center
09/09 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
09/10 – River Forest, IL @ Dominican University
09/11 – Ann Arbor, MI @ The Ark
09/14 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
09/16 – Knoxville, TN @ Bijou Theatre
09/17 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
09/18 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
09/19 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
12/01 – Hatfield, UK @ Forum
12/02 – Nottingham, UK @ Rock City
12/04 – Preston, UK @ 53 Degrees
12/05 – Penrith, UK @ Penrith Leisure Centre
12/06 – Glasgow, UK @ The Arches
12/08 – Norwich, UK @ University of East Anglia
12/09 – Leamington Spa, UK @ The Assembly
12/10 – Bexhill on Sea, UK @ De La Warr Pavilion
12/12 – Bournemouth, UK @ O2 Academy


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