show recap: pete seeger
  • MONDAY, JUNE 28, 2010

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Folk legend Pete Seeger took to the stage last week in Manhattan's Gotham Hall for WHY Hunger's 35th anniversary celebration, at which he, musicians Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, and Chicago non-profit Growing Home were honored for their dedication to issues of hunger and poverty.

Off the stage Seeger almost looks his age (a sprightly 91 years), but when he picks up his signature long neck banjo bearing the words "THIS MACHINE SURROUNDS HATE AND FORCES IT TO SURRENDER" or his 12-string guitar, his energy is incredible. His picking and singing are still extraordinary, but the real show is in his attitude. At the risk of sounding insanely cheesy, Pete Seeger has a real knack for inspiring people. He encouraged audience sing-along in most of his short set, although with his casual the-stage-is-my-living-room demeanor it didn't take a whole lot of urging. Rather than playing a set list and maybe giving some background or cracking some jokes in between, he seemed to be just telling an anecdote where sometimes music just worked better than words. Seeing a massive hall full of people unable to stop smiling while Seeger explained how "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" could be made more altruistic was eye-opening, and a demonstration of a really direct connection between music and message. I definitely don't want to belittle Seeger's amazing musical talent and all that he's done for banjos (adding three whole frets! wow!) by going on about his charisma, but they go hand in hand &mdash his personality and his music feed off of one another, bringing the already beautiful, classic folk songs to a new level. Check out some more photos from the show here.


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Pictures: Pete Seeger
MP3: Beans, Bacon and Gravy
Pete Seeger on Myspace

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