Sunday, May 10, 2009

A party for Pete

A party without food? A soiree without a drink?! That's what it was last Sunday when we went to Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Party celebration.
There are reviews an views about what the event was like and who was there.

You have to hear alternative voices a lot sometimes for something to sink in, for there to be a shift. As songwriters we should be speaking up. But
everybody, in whatever their work, has an opportunity to speak up. I think it's that cumulative effect that will put all of us together to make that change.
Ani Di Franco
One of the things that keep turning over in mind was the Folk Singing Club at Beaumaris High School and Beth Thompson who introduced me to Pete Seeger.
She had a Pete Seeger songbook and was a self-taught banjo player. I think it was on Tuesdays that we would meet in the music room- about 5 or 6 of us. I cannot picture anyone else other than Beth being there. She would flick through the book and we would have a gutsy sing along of Pete Seeger songs and then any other folk song Beth had the music for. She seemed to me to be so sure of herself- probably the fact that she smoked a pipe and played a banjo had something to do with the view that she was confident! I haven't seen her since school and I haven't really thanked her for the gift of joy she gave me. I really loved our folk singing club. Thank you Beth!

And so..... there on Sunday night was I..... sitting in Madison Square Garden singing along but this time with Pete Seeger himself and Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie and.... the event went on and on. How fantastic to be singing The Internationale with Billy Bragg a few days after May Day- then to cap his performance off he sang Union Maid!

Nothing like a night of protest singers paying homage to Pete Seeger.

All music is folk music, I ain't never heard no horse sing a song!"
Louis Armstrong

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