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Part of the revolution

Green Corn Rebellion band celebrates namesake’s 100th anniversary

A hundred years ago, Oklahoma was a pretty crazy place.

In the early days of August 1917 a crowd of a few hundred socialists and tenant farmers gathered at the farm of John Spears. He’d recently planted a bright red workers flag on the hilltop by his house in Sasakwa in Seminole County, Oklahoma.

This rag-tag bunch of misfits burned bridges and cut telephone wires by the river. They made plans to march from Spears’s house to Washington, D.C., eating barbecued beef and unripe corn they would pick along the way.

On August 3, 1917, the Green Corn Rebellion—as it’s known today—ended when a posse surrounded with guns, killing three and escorting the rest to a local jail. There’s an absurdist quality to this melodrama—Samuel Beckett meets Abbott and Costello—but the strength of its memory lives on today.

At Soul City on August 4, the day after 100th anniversary of the Green Corn Rebellion, one local band will celebrate the movement’s emotional legacy—and their namesake.

Chris Foster, lead singer and founder of the 11-piece band, Green Corn Rebellion, feels a connection with the event’s history.

“People have been asking me, ‘Why did you name the band Green Corn Rebellion?’ It wasn’t for political reasons. The way [the rebellion] happened … the sort of misinformation and zeal without a real clear defined goal kind of summed where I was at the time in my own life—writing songs about the mysteries that I couldn’t even solve and the heartbreak that I was going through. The final kicker was that the 75th anniversary of the demise of the Green Corn Rebellion—when they were arrested—was my actual son’s birthday. So I’m like, ‘we have to do this.’

“We’re gonna do four sets of music,” Foster said. “We know several hours of music now, all originals … and the double record that we haven’t finished. The new record’s gonna be called Rebellion … Pete Tomshay and I wrote about nine songs each and I think Adrienne Gilley has written three or four songs for it. It’s a nice
collaboration and, thank goodness, some different styles besides my own.

“We actually started this thing in 2013. So we’re about four years old. Not really a hundred, though I don’t mind the deception. It’s part of the revolution. Don’t worry. We won’t be armed.”

Green Corn Rebellion 100th Anniversary Party
Featuring Molten Sun Projections
August 4 | Soul City
1621 E. 11th St. | 9pm–11pm
$10. Free CD with entry.

For more from Damion, read his article on the Teacher Innovation Fellowship.

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