I hope most of you got a chance to view the PBS American Masters showing of the new bio on Pete Seeger. It was pretty nice, with glimpses into several facets of Pete’s musical career. It also contained some rare video footage of old friends of mine, including Fred McDowell
(from Como, Mississippi) and Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers from St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. If you missed it, watch for re-runs or take the time to rent the DVD, it’s highly recomended.
The first time I met Pete, I was living in Chicago and working at the Field Museum of Natural History – sort of nice going to a job in a Roman Temple located right on the lakefront. By lucky accident, I had run into an old friend of Pete’s from WW II army days, Robert Parrish and his wife Dorothea, who had a house on Chicago’s north side near my one-room apartment. Bob was a writer and magician, working with Pete entertaining the troops. It was in the fall of 1961 that Bob, Dorothea, and I went to a concert billed as a Seeger family reunion, which included Pete, Penny, Peggy and Mike Seeger. I still remember a night of great music, and being able to talk to Pete afterwards. It was the Parrishes that told me about the newly-formed Old Town School of Folk Music which apparently is still going strong. Music is about connections. . .
[Robert Parrish, writer and magician]
Two years later, I again encountered Pete at a folk festival at UC Berkeley, where he condicted workshops and was part of a show at that campus’ Greek Theater. Lots of fine music.
[Pete Seeger at the Greek Theater, Berkeley]