5 Hills Out at Silk Mill Rally

Unite's Ben Liverman and his 'folk-punk' band return to Silk Mill Rally

Reading time: 4 min

A day of speakers, music and more takes place in Derby next weekend as the Silk Mill Rally returns to the town.

The rally commemorates the struggle of Derby Silk Mill workers who, in 1833-34, were locked out of their work for refusing pay cuts and for forming a trade union.

The rally is organised by Derby Area TUC, Derby People’s Assembly and Midlands TUC, and is a full day of activities with a colourful march of banners and flags through the town. The march is led by Deep Down Brass, followed by a rally and people’s festival, packed full of trade union and community campaign stalls, kids’ activities, live bands and refreshment stalls.

Speakers include Unite East Midlands regional secretary Paresh Patel and Frasier McGuire from Unite Hospitality.

Returning to play their second Silk Mill Rally are 5 Hills Out, fronted by Unite member Ben Liverman (pictured main), who is a digital manufacturing engineer at Rolls-Royce. He’s been a member of Unite and legacy unions since joining in 1997.

Ben and the band (pictured above) are looking forward to playing again and taking their message to the large crowd at the rally.

Ben explained that he has always been obsessed with music.

“I love the way it makes you feel as a listener and was inspired to do it myself,” he said. “From the age of eight I hounded my parents for a guitar, but started off on piano as they saw it as a safer bet. Eventually at 12 years old I started playing guitar, and then worked hard to keep going.

“I really wanted to emulate the energy, showmanship and destruction of early bands like The Who and Jimi Hendrix but with the political leanings from Bob Dylan, The Levellers and Rage Against the Machine.”

Ben formed 5 Hills Out in 2014, though there have been changes in members over the years and the current line up is only three years old. He describes the band as “folk punk”, which, he says, “is the quickest way to describe it — but the more you look at folk the more punk you realise it is as a genre”.

“Punk references the anger and distortion, but folk has always had a rebellious side to it. Punk is also about the DIY ethos and we are very independent; we have made all our own artwork and recently made our own linocut printed t-shirts and patches that [fellow band member] Bek sewed together.”

Ben likes to think that music can bring about change, and inspire people to make a difference.

“Part of folk songs is telling stories, so one day they hopefully are remembered and sung after we’re gone — that is the legacy of songs and stories. You have to remember events like the Lock Out in Derby and the Tolpuddle Martyrs, and songs are one way we can do this.”

Back to the rally, Ben encouraged anyone thinking of attending to go.

“It’s a great event and celebrates the history of the union movement in the UK. It reminds you that back in 1833-34, they were facing the same issues as a lot of people are today, and that is why you have to rally together to survive. The day is inspiring and entertaining and free!”

This year the rally takes place on Saturday June 8, starting in Derby Market Square and parading through the streets to the festival site at Cathedral Green. Find out more on the rally’s Facebook page here.

By Keith Hatch

Main pic by Keith Hatch

In-text pic by 5 Hills Out