Thank you for dropping in for a visit. This month I share “The Last Folksinger”, my new song about an encounter between a young musician and an old man with a guitar.
Taking a break at the Keene Music Festival.
This Month’s Music:
Click the above image to play the video.
Last month, in the wake of all of the adulation honoring the life and music of Michael Jackson, I learned of the death of two special folksingers – Sandy Paton and Mike Seeger. Their passing in relative quiet reminded me of Bill Bonyun, another folksinger who strongly influenced my love for traditional folksongs. Thinking of Sam Hinton, Pete Seeger and other living national treasures of folk music, I imagined a time when there are no more ‘real’ folksingers… a time when rumors persist about an old folksinger who still lives but can not be found. (Ed: The day after I posted this song, Sam Hinton died. The irony is painful.) This song imagines a young musician of that time, perhaps someone like Billy Bragg or Bruce Springsteen (pictured on the wall behind me as I performed this song at Savoury Lane in West Acton, MA.) Both of these popular contemporary musicians were strongly influenced by the likes of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. In my song, I describe an encounter between this imagined young musician and an old man with a guitar. In some ways, this song is also an allegory for my personal experiences as I came to know Bill, Sandy, Mike, Sam, Pete and other folksingers.
Sandy Paton, 1929-2009
“Come Love Come”
Performed by Sandy Paton, with his wife Caroline and son David.
Thanks to Ed McKeon for sharing this video.
With his wife Caroline, Sandy Paton co-founded Folk Legacy Records. He was a great advocate for folk music and musicians, and he had a huge repertoire of folksongs. I had the good fortune to meet Sandy several times at folk festivals. Our conversations and his performances occupy a warm place in my heart. My very first memory of Folk Legacy Records was driving down the road on Westport Island Maine, sitting next to Bill Bonyun. Bill dropped a cassette tape into the slot. It was New Golden Ring – Five Days Singing. Sandy and Caroline Paton with many of their friends sang for five days while a recording machine listened. These recordings produced this wonderful two-volume record. I agree with Victory Review when they wrote “This is what folk music heaven will be like.” For the next decade I may have bought sufficient Folk Legacy records to pay their electric bill.
Mike Seeger, 1933-2009
Performed and discussed by Mike Seeger.
In 1958, Mike Seeger, with John Cohen and Tom Paley (and later, Tracy Schwarz) formed The New Lost City Ramblers. Their recordings are hugely influential among musicians interested in old-time music. Mike also had a long and illustrious solo career. As the younger half-brother of Pete, Mike was less well known by the general public. He spent his entire musical life helping us to know the old-time music and musicians that inspired him. He seemed to deflect personal fame favoring to reflect the music of others.
I send my condolences to the families of Sandy Paton and Mike Seeger. Now that they are gone from this earth, I take comfort in singing the songs they taught me.
“I pass my guitar. It’s the bell, you’re the ringer.
Ring on! is the hope of the last folksinger.”
(I invite you to leave a comment. Just scroll down to the end of this page.)
Sept. 12, Saturday 8:00 pm at the Lizard Lounge, “Main Event”, Cambridge, MA. $10 cover, 21+. Doors open at 7:00 and I am told this show typically sells out so you may want to arrive before the show starts. Also performing is my daughter, Mally Smith. (See below)
Some interesting shows coming up in the fall and winter. Click to view these and all upcoming shows.
Featured Charity: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Please help my son, Andrew Smith, reach his goal of $2100 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training. Andrew is training for his first marathon and dedicating his effort to support this worthy organization. Andrew says, “All of us on Team In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I am running this marathon in honor of all individuals who are battling blood cancers, and my friends and family who’s lives have been touched by cancer.”
Please click to contribute.
If you have a charity to suggest for an upcoming issue of The Kitchen Musician please send me an e-mail.
Never Too Old
This Saturday, Sept. 12 at 8:00 pm I will join about two dozen other winners of the Lizard Lounge Open Mic Competition for a single-elimination sing-off. The phrase out of my comfort zone comes to mind; and since my daughter Mally Smith is also in the same competition, there is also the possibility that she and I may be paired up against each other in the random draw. Fortunately, host Tom Bianchi keeps the competition very light hearted and friendly. If you are in the Cambridge area, come on down and say hi! This is a 21+ event, but I am hoping to stack the crowd with 50+ folks… folks with gray hair and a predisposition to applaud for old folksingers.