l-r - David Amram, Pete Seeger, Odetta
and Toshi Regan at The Clearwater Festival, Beacon NY Summer 2008
by Maxine Smith and John Economos -
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Pete on his 90th
Seeger has been a source of inspiration to me since I saw him playing a concert
for Henry Wallace's presidential campaign in the 40's. When we first played together
in the 60s, he was already a role model of someone whose art and life were all
about sharing ones blessings with others and using music as a way of uniting all
Just a few
weeks ago, we were filmed playing a duet as well as doing an interview for an
upcoming PBS show honoring the radio show
Woody's Children, hosted by Bob Sherman of the New York
reminded Pete, after we did everything in one take, with no rehearsal, of how
Woody's son Arlo had often said about Pete "Whenever I play with Pete, we
never rehearse and it always come out right." In a half a century and hundreds
of events with Pete, we still haven't rehearsed yet. That's because Pete is the
consummate musical artist who always knows the right thing to do and puts you
into his world to the extent that you surrender yourself to the music and to the
moment as he does. When you play with Pete, you can't go wrong.
of my favorite unrehearsed moments with Pete was in the 1960s when he invited
my jazz quartet with the great drummer Elvin Jones to accompany him on
his classic song "Where Have all the Flowers
Gone" in a concert we were doing in Tompkins Square Park
master baritone sax player Pepper Adams asked me "What the hell is
that?" drummer Elvin Jones, who was playing in our quartet with Pepper that
night said "Pepper, it's deep. You'll dig it. Just a few chords but a whole
lot of soul. When you hear Pete sing it, you'll know what to do."
the past fifty years, we have played countless benefits, folk festivals, fund
raisers for Native American causes and dozens of events for World Peace through
music and programs for his beloved Clearwater.
Since I live a few miles from the Hudson River, it is incredible to see what Pete
and Clearwater have accomplished.
swim in the Hudson River again, and people enjoy the pristine waters, which not
too long ago were well on the way to becoming a toxic nightmare. Pete, and all
the volunteers he has inspired, made what many considered his dream of cleaning
up the Hudson become a reality.
a whole generation of today's young people, my own three children, have all grown
up with their lives enriched by his music and his philosophy. Today's young people
all know of Clearwater's example of how all of us can make a difference. And that
all of us can and must make a contribution.
my son got married last summer and Pete and Toshi came, we talked a little about
how amazing it was that the ideals which were considered so radical long ago were
now becoming part of the mainstream. And how our children and future generations
would now become involved more than anyone ever dreamed of, in having a sense
of responsibility for the planet's survival.
we reminisced about our playing together with Arlo and a large contingent of Native
Americans in 1978 who had walked all the way across the country for The
Longest Walk to bring attention to their culture and the need for all
Americans to come together and show respect for one another as well as for our
told Pete how Floyd
Red Crow Westerman, with whom I played for forty years, said to me "Dave,
Pete is what we Lakota call a straight arrow. He walks the walk he talks."
am grateful to be playing with the Native American Indian Cultural Alliance,
accompanying Roland Moussa for this historic concert, and such a stellar
group of other committed musical artists who are all gathered together to honor
Pete's glorious selfless ninety years and to benefit the Clearwater, and assure
they say in the South "We are the honey that draws the flies."
of us, from all styles of music, are there to celebrate both Pete and the ideals
that Pete embraces. And to see that the Clearwater continues, stronger than ever.
birthday Pete, you are the embodiment of Dylan's song "Forever Young"
March 20, 2009
Peekskill Hollow Farm
Putnam Valley New York
Of Note! - On January 18th, The Obama Inaugural Celebration concert,
"We Are One" was
performed at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial to a massive throng. Amongst the
cavalcade of performers was legendary singer, songwruter, activist, Pete Seeger.
Along with his Grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Bruce Springsteen
and the Brooklyn Baptist Choir they led the crowd in a galvinising sing-along.
Witness the Power of Song!
Here to watch as everyone joins in on the Woody Guthrie
Land is Your Land."
will be glad to tell what songs I have ever sung,
because singing is my business!"
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