I’ve had the privilege of sharing the stage with many wonderful and famous musicians over the years – from Isaac Stern and Jean Pierre Rampal to Margaret Whiting and Patti Page to Tal Farlow and Charlie Byrd. But on October 5th I got to perform with one of America’s greatest living legends – Pete Seeger. At 87 years old Pete is as powerful as ever and the sold out crowd at the Birchmere was all ears and appreciation for Pete and all the rest of the musicians performing the Woody Guthrie Tribute.
There’s a review here.
Pete told some wonderful stories about his times with Woody and though his voice was a bit wispy at the beginning of the show he was booming by the end. The man loves to talk about the state of things and is a convincing communicator. He’s also wonderful to look at. He still looks great and is always photogenic. With his Clearwater cap and banjo slung over his shoulder, jeans and work shirt he looks much as did when I last saw him over 30 years ago. His singing is clear and, of course, the audience needs very little encouragement to sing along with him. His banjo playing is as sparse and elegant as ever.
There were many fine musicians on the program and we all played together and in various combinations. I was there with Baldemar Velasquez and Jesse Ponce representing FLOC. I’m playing on their new CD which should be out soon – all sales go to support FLOC’s work. The show was MC’d by Cathy Fink who, with Marcy Marxer, introduced us to some of Woody’s wonderful children’s songs. Woody’s granddaughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie and her partner Johnny Irion were the charming duo of the evening – beautiful singing and playing. The program was organized by Joe Uehlein and his band The U-Liners provided some kick-ass playing for the evening. Watch out for their young, hot guitarist Avril Smith – she’ll be making waves soon.
The Birchmere is a wonderful place to play. They take good care of the musicians and it’s smoke-free and people go to listen to the music instead of socialize (signs on the tables request that you not talk during the performance).
All in all it was one of the most uplifting concerts I’ve been involved with for a long time.