Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Just like millions of other human I awoke to the news this morning that Pete Seeger had passed away last night (1/27/15) at around 9:30 pm eastern time. Although we know that nobody can live forever, the news was very sad none the less. Pete was as active as anybody could hope to be right up to the end and at the age or 94 it still amazes me that he was out performing and doing what he had always done. Pete was an incredible human being who had a large impact of so many of us,  millions of us in fact. Poverty, Equality, Justice, a Clean Environment, and Peace were the causes that drove Pete’s life and he did it largely through his music and his words, but also with his actions. And right up to his end, he never quit.
There are already hundreds of tributes out there for Pete, soon to be joined by thousands more. Many of these will provide good reading if you don’t know a lot about Pete and his very well documented life. If you don’t know anything about the man except his folk songs, I suggest you go do a little homework. I promise that you will gain something from the learning.
Along with all the tributary writing there will be a very large contribution of “Pete Stories”. Everybody who ever met or has gone to see Pete has a story they treasure. Here in the Hudson Valley, where Pete lived and was very active, there are a lot of folks that know him, both professionally and socially. You don’t have to go very far at all to hear some very personal stories. That is mostly why I am writing this now. As my day progressed I could not help but think about Pete and the ways in which he touched my life. Every time I thought of something, that thought would lead to another, and another. It became hard to focus on the task in front of me and from time to time my eyes would leak a little bit over a particular thought.  I thought back to where I was when I learned each one of his particular songs and all the various versions I had heard over the years. I thought about who I was with when I learned those songs too, as well as what life was like at that time. I thought about the first time I actually saw Pete in person.
July (19th?), 1981 in the small St. Lawrence River town of Clayton, NY. Pete was scheduled to give a benefit concert to support the local “Save The River” foundation. Unfortunately, Harry Chapin had been killed in a car accident a few days prior and Pete was singing at the funeral on Long Island, 400 miles away. I believe most performers would have canceled the show, but Pete decided he was going to make both events. Consequently, he was running late, very late and as I recall we all waited in that hockey arena for over an hour. The only thing we had to kill time was occasional updates on his travel progress, because there was no other performers scheduled for that gig, Pete was the whole show. We waited. Nobody left, nobody asked for their money back (tickets were $3.00 as I recall, but I don’t know why I remember that).
When Pete arrived, he apologized, explained where he had been and talked a bit about Harry and his music and causes. Pete then took off into a full blown show complete with the gathering of children to “come sit down here in front so I can hear you sing”. It was a great day which taught me more about his character and philosophy than about his music, which at that point I was fairly familiar with.
The last time I saw Pete was just 5 months ago, over the hill from out home, at The Summer Hoot at the Ashokan Center. Those of us who had back stage access were asked to give Pete his space when he arrived and not crowd around him. We were all aware of the special treat we were in for and how lucky we were that Pete could come and spend some time with us. I wrote about the experience HERE .
 Looking back now I realize how perfect that last meeting was. If Pete were writing a play and setting the scene, I doubt he would have changed much. It was, after all, the place where Pete loved to be: A warm crowd of almost any size, green grass, a sunny day, barefooted children running around laughing and playing, and music. Good homemade music. Pete smiled broadly as he took it all in.
 When he took the stage I walked over to be where I could really watch him and stood for the whole performance. He voice now only a wisp of what it used to be, he still commanded the crowd as he did in years past as we all hung onto whatever words he had to offer. Nobody cared what his voice sounded like, as long as it was HIS voice that we sang along with. I still get choked up when I think about it.  I will be forever thankful to Mike & Ruthy for making that opportunity available.
It would be easy for me to express my regret at not having gone to see Pete more often, but the fact is, if Pete taught me anything, it is that I should be grateful for what I do have, not what I don’t have. I am indeed very lucky to have lived in a time and place that allowed me to be in Pete’s presence and hear his words and music. I’d like to think he made me be just a little bit better as a person. Even if he didn’t teach me how to sing well, he did teach me to sing loud and let my voice be heard.
The wil never be another like Pete Seeger, but I hope many people try.
Keep The Beat,

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Sorry, it's been a long time since I've written. I took an emotional kick in the gut shortly after that last post and quite frankly nothing seemed like fun to me anymore. I am learning to deal with it now and am back, so to speak, in an altered capacity.
 Just before the holidays I learned that a new young friend of mine, Gabe Terracciano had gotten his most recent project published and I wanted to share it with y'all because you won't read about this one in Rolling Stone. This is actually a colaboration with Samuel Ascher-Wiess who uses the nom de plume of  Shnabubula.
 Now Gabe's name may ring a bell with all 6 of my loyal readers because I wrote of my first meeting with Gabe HERE when he and Sam Weiser (a different Sam, please note) opened up for Rushad Eggleston and I have been a fan of both these young guys ever since.
 So on this project Gabe has teamed up with Shnabubula (Sam) to create a sound track for a soon to be released video Game. Now I will be the first to admit that I don't go out searching for video game sound tracks and it never even occurred to me to consider it. But I can see that a lot of work goes into these and it is similar to doing film scores. This score presents a lovely group of enjoyable surprises for an old guy like me and I am glad I learned of it.
 Before I go any further, you can find the music HERE ON BANDCAMP and listen to the entire album. It is available for download on a 'name your price' basis. The video game this music supports is called American Dawn and information about that can be found HERE. The game is not released yet, and as I am not a gamer, you would need to look elsewhere for any reviews on it. The album itself is actually a fund raiser project to support the games development, which I think is a pretty neat idea.
 As far as the music itself goes, what you will find here is delicate and very refined piano and violin compositions which present a most pleasing atmosphere. Relaxing, thought provoking, and comforting are the words that come to my mind. In some cases the music is perky, but in a playful and fanciful way, uplifting if you will and full of optimism. There is good variety here and if you like very smoothly composed pieces of art, I suggest you check it out. Please note that I am not providing a track by track review here because I believe this is best taken as a body of work and I do not feel qualified to render specific comments on work that is of this level. It's just gorgeous stuff (how's that for a technical musical reference?). Enjoy.
Keep The Beat,
P.S. Happy Birthday Gabe, sorry this took so long.
A blurry Gabe on the left, Sam Weiser on the right.