Thursday, 19 April 2018

Celebrating Pete!

With Pete Seeger’s birthday just around the corner, on May 3, we decided to celebrate his music and memory at last night's monthly show at the Free Times Cafe. Our favorite saying of his is that he always wrote songs that people could sing along to and getting the audience to sing along is more or less the mission of our 60’s Folk Revival show.

The biggest challenge with a Pete Seeger night is in choosing which songs to play from his vast catalogue. He wrote, re-wrote or covered so many songs of the era. His career from 'hoboing' with Woody Guthrie to the Almanac Singers to the Weavers to the McCarthy blacklist and then back as a solo artist is almost the story of the folk revival itself.

Throughout his career he maintained a sense of fairness and social justice. As he wrote or updated songs, he always ensured that his co-writers and or heirs to public domain songs received both creative and financial credit when he filed copyrights. As a result, Joe Hickerson (Where Have All the Flowers Gone) and the family of Jose Marti in Cuba (Guantanamera) among others have benefited from the popularity of those songs.     

So we made sure we played the ‘obvious’ Pete Seeger songs like 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone?', 'Guantanamera', 'Turn Turn Turn', and 'If I Had a Hammer'. We also added some edgier deep tracks like 'Waist Deep in the Big Muddy' (which got him censored on the Smothers Brothers Show). But in covering Woody’s 'Deportee', Malvina Reynolds’ 'Little Boxes', the traditional 'Michael Row Your Boat Ashore', Florence Reece's 'Which Side Are Youn On?', and  Lead Belly’s 'Goodnight Irene', we realized just how big a reach Pete had. These songs are as closely associated with him as with the writers. Even Phil Ochs’ 'Love Me I’m a Liberal' gives Pete Seeger a shout out… “he sure gets me when he sings those songs”!

Even with all these songs, we didn’t get to other songs he sang frequently like 'Joe Hill', 'Union Maid', 'We Shall Overcome' and 'John Henry' to note a few. The Pete Seeger celebration will just have to be a year around endeavor!

We’ll continue the Pete Seeger celebration at our next show on May 3 at the Artword Artbar in Hamilton.

We’re back at the Free Times on May 16 and it’s a good bet we’ll be playing more Bob Dylan tunes than usual in honour of his big day on May 24!

APRIL 18 - Set List
Set 1
Set 2
Green, Green                               
Walk Right In                                 
500 Miles                       
Which Side Are You On
Michael Row Your Boat Ashore
Where Have All the Flowers Gone  
Tom Dooley                                
Goodnight Irene
A World of Our Own   
Turn Turn Turn
House of the Rising Sun
This Land Is Your Land                  
Waist Deep in the Big Muddy
Love Me I'm A Liberal
The Times Are a-Changin'   
Until Its Time For You to Go
Steel Rail Blues
Un Canadien Errant
Eve of Destruction
You Were On My Mind                
What Have They Done to the Rain/ Little Boxes
If I Had a Hammer                          
Puff the Magic Dragon
Tell It On the Mountain