The The Kitchen Musician is seven years old! Let’s also celebrate the 95th birthday of the late Pete Seeger. Join me this month for a song and a dance.
Photo: Dan Tappan, taken at Amazing Things Arts Center
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My daughter Mally is home from her Indonesia adventure and riding a little wave of enthusiasm for her solo CD, Mally Smith and the Fertile Void. It has been getting some radio air play on WUMB and other local stations. You can see Mally at Club Passim’s Campfire Festival on Saturday May 24 and Sunday May 26, and she also opens for the Edie Carey and Sarah Sample CD release show at Club Passim on Friday, June 20th. Learn more about Mally, her music and other interests at MallySmith.com.
This Month’s Music
It Could be a Wonderful World
By Hy Zaret and Lou Singer, as performed by Pete Seeger
Additional verse by Tom Smith
Lyrics in the comments section below.
Last Saturday (May 3rd) would have been Pete Seeger’s ninety-fifth birthday. Following his death in January, I have participated in several tribute concerts. What a joy it is to sing songs that Pete has written or made popular! The biggest problem is always deciding which few of the thousands of songs to choose. This month I share one of the songs I first heard on his Folkways record Folksongs for Young People. It Could be a Wonderful World seems to embody Pete’s optimism for a future built upon mutual respect. From time to time, Pete would add or change lyrics when he felt they fit current circumstances, so I think he would forgive me for adding a third verse. This song was performed yesterday at Ellen Schmidt’s open mike at Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts in Concord, MA. (Auto-focus is a good thing, except when it decides to focus on the backs of the audience heads – but the warm feeling in the room comes through. Sometimes one take is all you get.)
A highlight of my shows last month was the Pete Seeger tribute at the New England Folk Festival (also known as NEFFA). I got to represent the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston, joined Tony Saletan (Michael Row Your Boat Ashore, Kum Bay Ya, and many others), Lorraine Lee Hammond (New England folk treasure) and the sweet and true voices of Merle Roesler and Lori Fassman. We were bolstered by a singing audience of eight hundred and the warmth of Pete’s presence.
Pictured above are just some of my “performer” badges for past New England Folk Festivals. I have been performing there since about 1972. This year NEFFA celebrated it’s 70th folk festival, and I figure I have performed at about half of them!
Contra dancing takes place in many remote New England locations. Every April most of those folks seem to converge on NEFFA to celebrate their love of dance. I tend to think of it as my End-of-Winter festival. Shortly after our Pete Seeger tribute set, I walked down the hall with my phone camera to capture some of the infectious atmosphere. For about a week after every NEFFA, I tend to walk in 6/8 time.
At 7 minutes long, you may be tempted to just play the first minute or so of this video, but I encourage you to slow down, turn up the volume and embrace the hypnotic energy of the dance. I have often thought that if we would send a good dance caller like Bill Olson and a band like La Benane Enchantée to the US congress, perhaps it would inspire them to abandon self-interests and work together for the common good.
“Eleanor’s Reel” by Bill Olson
Music: La Banane Enchantée (Peter Buchak, Edward Wallace, Julie Vallimont)
Used with their gracious permission.
Happy birthdays to The Kitchen Musician and Pete Seeger, and Happy End-of-Winter to all fellow citizens of the Northern Hemisphere!
(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)
Thursday, May 8, 2014: Providence, RI
I feature at The Mediator Stage open mic, 50 Rounds Avenue, Providence, RI. Open mic starts at 7:00. My 40 minute set at 9:00.
Friday, July 18, 2014: Groton, MA
Looking down the road, I feature at the Acoustic Cafe Open Mic, joined by Mally Smith and perhaps a special guest. Main Street Cafe, 159 Main Street, Groton, MA. Doors open 6:30. We start at about 8:00. BYO beer or wine when you order a dinner from thei
r great menu. I love this open mic. Great positive energy.
Click to view details for all upcoming shows.
If you would like to suggest a venue or to host a house concert, please contact me.
Featured Non-profit: Sloop Clearwater
“For over 45 years, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. has been at the forefront of the environmental movement as champion of the Hudson River, working to pass landmark legislation like the Clean Water Act, and providing innovative educational programs, environmental advocacy, and musical celebrations, including the renowned annual Clearwater Festival, to inspire, educate, and activate millions of people.
Today, Clearwater is carrying forward Pete Seeger’s legacy, partnering with schools and community leaders to raise the bar of environmental education, realizing that this time the health of the Hudson River must go hand in hand with creating a sustainable world of green jobs in a green economy. Clearwater’s unique approach to public outreach has made the sloop Clearwater a symbol of grassroots action through hands-on learning, music and celebration.”
Please join me in supporting the important work of Sloop Clearwater.