When I saw the news of Pete Seeger’s death earlier this week, I tried to think back to the first time I heard a Pete Seeger song. It’s hard to pin down. Typically what I heard were covers by other artists: “If I Had a Hammer” and “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” sung by Peter, Paul and Mary; “”Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is A Season)” sung by the Byrds, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” sung by The Kingston Trio — you get the picture. I think “Little Boxes” may have been the first song I heard Pete sing, and you might know that one was actually written by someone else. To be honest, I thought for years that it was a Bob Dylan song. Apparently I’m not the only one who wasn’t sure who wrote what. I was long grown before I understood who Pete Seeger was and had some insight into the depth of his contribution to American folk music.
Pete Seeger was a controversial figure whose music was an expression of his political beliefs. He was nominated multiple times for a Nobel Peace Prize (at last count one petition had reached 3,000 signatures), but he did not receive one. He appeared to be embarrassed by the attention.
Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, an annual fundraiser started by Pete and his wife Toshi in the late 1960s as the Hudson Valley Folk Picnic, is still in full swing today, supporting the work of a nonprofit organization formed to educate people about Hudson River environmental issues.
David Dunaway’s biography of Pete was aptly named: How Can I Keep From Singing? As long as there were issues to be confronted, Pete was there with his voice and his banjo.
Democracy Now’s story includes interviews with Pete from 2004 and from a few months ago. NPR has made available their 2005 “Sing Out!” concert, featuring Pete Seeger and others at the Keswick Theatre in Philadelphia.Read More Add a Comment
The Savannah Music Festival has announced its chosen participants for the 2nd Annual Acoustic Music Seminar (AMS), a mentorship program involving five days of hands-on instruction for promising and talented young musicians (ages 15 to 22) in acoustic music. Led by acclaimed mandolin player Mike Marshall, this year’s students will also study with world-class musicians and artists such as jazz guitarist and composer Julian Lage, bluegrass fiddler Darol Anger, multi-instrumentalist Bruce Molsky and cellist Rushad Eggleston.
Of the 2013 AMS participants, Associate Director Mike Marshall says, “I was overwhelmed by the caliber of the applicants this year. The sixteen students we have chosen really do represent some of the finest young musicians I’ve seen, some of them right at the cusp of their careers taking off. I can’t wait to see what they bring to the program, and I know Savannah is going to be blown away.”
The AMS 2013 participants, in alphabetical order, are: Sterling Abernathy, 19, Nashville, TN (Mandolin); Erik Alvar, 22, Tallahassee, FL (Double Bass)l David Benedict, 20, Clemson, SC (Mandolin); Catherine (BB) Bowness, 22, Koitiata, New Zealand (Banjo); Mairi Chaimbeul, 19, Skye, Scotland (Lever harp); Xavier Foley, 18, Marietta, GA (Double Bass); Tatiana Hargreaves, 17, Corvallis, OR (Violin); Gary Hultman, 19, Johnson City, TN (Dobro); Ethan Jodziewicz, 20, Olympia, WA (Double Bass); John Mailander, 22, San Diego, CA (Violin); Mila Phelps-Friedl, 15, Arlington, MA (Cello); Chase Potter, 20, Columbus, OH (Violin); Matthew Taylor, 16, Maryville, TN (Guitar/Mandolin); Molly Tuttle, 20, Palo Alto, CA (Guitar/Banjo); Leah Wollenberg, 20, Canyon, CA (Violin) and Matthew Witler, 21, La Crescenta, CA (Mandolin).
After a week of master classes also including Dobro master Jerry Douglas, British violinist Daniel Hope and mandolinist David Grisman, along with workshops and jam sessions, AMS culminates in a sensational showcase for festival audiences, entitled Stringband Spectacular. The production includes premieres of new work by AMS participants, performed by breakout ensembles including the clinicians. Tickets are $15-50 for the April 6th production at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts, and can be purchased online or by phone at 912-525-5050. More information on the AMS can be found on the AMS page.
The 2013 Savannah Music Festival takes place from March 20th through April 6th in intimate venues throughout Savannah’s historic district.Read More Add a Comment
If you follow national music news, you don’t need me to tell you that world-renowned bluegrass banjo artist Earl Scruggs passed away on Wednesday at the age of 88. If you’re a bluegrass or country music fan, you don’t need me to describe for you his style of banjo picking and the resulting sound. But I thought I would pull together some of the articles I read while looking for more about the life of this performer I used to watch occasionally on my parents’ country music television picks.
So here they are: The Tennessean, with its story (my personal favorite) of the man who brought people of all music styles together by simply playing music right along with them; The New York Times; the Los Angeles Times; celebrity tributes on CBS; and NPR’s The Record, including the accompanying radio clip.
Rest in peace, Earl. Rest in peace.
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English folk musicologist Cecil Sharp and his secretary Maud Karpeles spent several months of 1916-1918 on multiple trips through the Appalachian Mountains collecting folk songs, largely those Sharp believed to be of British origin. Sharp’s Appalachian diaries are the focus of an upcoming residential project sponsored by the English Folk Dance and Song Society and the Shrewsbury Folk Festival.
Participants include British folk artists Steve Knightley, Jackie Oates, Andy Cutting, Jim Moray, Patsy Reid and Kathryn Roberts; American folk artist Caroline Herring and Canadian folk artist Leonard Podolak. The week-long project begins March 18 and is intended to result in new folk music works. Concerts and a CD release will follow.
[Photo © rosta – Fotolia.com.]Read More Add a Comment
At the recent National Folk Festival in Canberra, the Australia Council for the Arts presented the Don Banks Music Award to folk artist and publisher Warren Fahey. The award is given only once to a particular artist. Among Fahey’s many accomplishments are the founding of the Larrikin folk music label and the Folkways music retail business, the writing of numerous books and the collection and recording of bush folk songs and folk stories….Read More Add a Comment
In case you haven’t already seen it, there is a series in progress over at the Open Salon site about Bob Dylan and the musicians who influenced him. Three posts so far, all thought-provoking for anyone interested in early folk music and blues. The author plans to take this through ten posts in all over a period of several months. If you start with the introductory post it contains links to the others.Read More Add a Comment
It’s not often someone gets to hear their own death announced over the radio. It seems someone started a rumor of the death of Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot and too many people believed the news and passed it on. Lightfoot was quick to inform the world that he was alive and doing just fine, thank you very much. We’re glad to hear it.Read More Add a Comment
Journalist and photographer Stephanie Ledgin has released her latest book, Discovering Folk Music. Ledgin is a former board member of the International Bluegrass Music Association. In addition to directing folk festivals, running radio shows and writing extensively about bluegrass and other forms of roots music….Read More Add a Comment