Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NYC - Day 4 - Pete Seeger Concert

We had intended to do more exploring in NYC, but unfortunately two of the days we were there it was pretty rainy, which slowed us down quite a bit. So our plans for a picnic in Central Park this past Sunday were completely shut down. Therefore, the highlight of Sunday was Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Concert, which is more of a highlight than we could have even asked for in one day. It was phenomenal!

The lineup for the concert was mindboggling. Seriously. Pete Seeger, Ani DiFranco, Taj Mahal, Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, Arlo Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Billy Bragg, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez, John Mellencamp, Steve Earle, Richie Havens, Roger McGuinn (The Birds), Bela Fleck, Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), and many more. I mean, I would have been tickled pink just to see any one of these musicians in a concert by themselves, much less to see them all in one place and performing with each other! It was almost more than I could handle.

The highlights of the concert?

Maybe Joan Baez singing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" (which I have recently been learning how to play by listening to her version).

Or Pete Seeger leading everyone in the audience to a sing-a-long Pete Seeger style to "We Shall Overcome" (to which Andy leaned over and whispered in my ear, "They're singing about the gospel, and they don't even know it.").
Or Billy Bragg leading everyone in "Union Maid" - and hearing thousands of people robustly singing, "Oh you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union, sticking to the union, sticking to the union," just the way you would image a union song being sung.

Or Dave Matthew's version of the old folk song "Rye Whiskey", which was stuck in my head for the next few days after the concert.
Or Kris Kristofferson, Ramblin Jack, Richie Havens, Taj Mahal, and others singing "Maggie's Farm", while contemplating the fact that Pete Seeger himself said he wanted to cut the cords with an axe when Dylan went electric playing this very song at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. And here on stage is this variety of musicians and sounds, both accoustic and electric...
These are just some of the highlights. There are many, many more that I could mention. In fact, with a 4 1/2 hour concert with all of these top calliber musicians on stage, I couldn't give the concert justice. You'll just have to watch it yourself this summer when PBS airs it on national television. But if you happen to be interested right now, here's the set list from the concert.

I do think seeing 90 year old Pete Seeger was the highlight of the show! And after watching a few interviews with him before the show, I have even more respect for him. He said the greatest accomplishment he's had in his life is staying married to the same wonderful woman. He still criticizes the commercialization of music, down to this very show. The proceeds of the concert all went to Clearwater to help clean the Hudson River, not to his own gain. He still wears simple clothes and a baseball cap, and looks humbled by recognition.

1 comment:

Sandman said...

You said it, Alissa! 'Twas an unforgettable show. Thanks to you and Andy for telling me about it in the first place.