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The big Bob collects the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  How awesome is that?

I wonder about the timing in light of the threats to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but maybe it’s appropriate.  Wasn’t that a Time is a documentary about the Weavers named for the song.  It was filmed shortly before Lee Hayes’ death and was released at a particularly formative moment for me.  It highlights the breakup of the band in the 1950s due in large part to the financial problems caused by the group’s blacklisting, and their last reunion at Carnegie Hall.  It’s on KEET tonight at 7:30.

Here’s a clip with an interview with Holly Near (raised on the north coast – what is she doing these days?)

In searching for video clips I came across t his reenactment of the HUAC testimonies of Pete Seeger and Lee Hayes interspersed with verses of the title song.  Is it a Mime Troupe presentation?  They used to perform a number of pieces like this at the Lincoln Brigade reunions.

Also recommended and available on Netflix is the biographical documentary about Pete Seeger entitled Power of Song.  Make sure you watch the extras.

The treasures of Youtube!  Since losing the last relative of my family’s communist generation a few weeks ago, I’ve been feeling a little bit nostalgic.  I was raised on this music.

The first is a rare clip from the late 40s or early 50s, before their blacklisting, probably 1949 when the song was a national hit.

This one is from the documentary Wasn’t that a Time (available from Amazon on VHS – not yet DVD unfortunately), filmed in the early 1980’s.  Same song. The performance at Carnegie Hall was Lee Hays’ last.  He died of diabetes related complications before the documentary was released.

I don’t know when this was recorded.  I suspect it’s from the Carnegie Hall performance.  I’ve heard Ronnie Gilbert sing Venga Jaleo live on several occasions, and it’s something to hear.  Her voice was so powerful, she had to be careful so she didn’t drown out everyone else.  Lots of Weavers in the VALB youtubes.

Gilbert, Hellerman, and Seeger are all in their 80s and 90s now.  Probably won’t be any more reunions.

It’s happening as I type.  See you there!

Addendum: A beautiful day and a great turnout.  I worked the kitchen for most of the afternoon, but I made the rounds ahead of time and got to see the kids sing.  They sang 1492 as they did a few weeks ago at Cecil’s.  It’s a song written by Nancy Schimmel (daughter of Malvina Reynolds).  Fear not comrade.  It’s all part of our reverse indoctrination program designed to spawn and grow kids to hate America.  Question not the wisdom or we’ll send you off to reeducation camp!

I found a couple of Malvina Reynold’s vids.

Here she’s jamming with Pete Seeger and Ramblin Jack Elliot, although she doesn’t do much more than keep time.  But the

Somebody just drew my attention to this early S&G video. Simon looks like he’s trying to pump himself up to stay awake. Garfunkel has his hands in his pockets and looks like he’s dying of boredom. The audience looks catatonic. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs ever written. But they ought to at least look like they’re having a good time.

Reminds me of that scene in Blow Up where the Yardbirds are singing Stroll On to an audience just glaring at them without so much as tapping toes, except for one colorfully dressed couple, before Jeff Beck breaks his guitar. Let’s see if I can find that on Youtube.

Yeah, here it is. Never understood how that scene figured into the plot. Then again, I never understood how the plot figured into the plot.

I saw the film for the second time a couple of years ago and I wondered if maybe Pete Townsend had stolen the idea of breaking his guitar from the movie. But the movie is dated 1966, whereas Townsend actually broke his first guitar in 1964. Apparently it was an accident the first time.

Okay, I got bored waiting for a phone call which I guess isn’t coming. Time to go home for dinner.

Arlo Guthrie and his children and grandchildren are playing at the Van Duzer on April 17th at 8:00 p.m. as part of “The Guthrie Family Legacy Tour” – celebrating four generations of music. It’s being described as a “multi-media concert.”

It’s of course a Center-Arts event. I used take advantage of their bulk rate ticket offerings in a remote lifetime prior to children. I’m thinking one of us might go with my son who’s just about at the right age to appreciate the music.

The flier I happened on cites the All Music Guide as saying “(Arlo) is the best interpreter of his father’s songs…” Probably true, but while I’ve always enjoyed Woodie Guthrie’s work, I’ve never found it particularly deep or difficult to comprehend. But maybe I just haven’t listened to the right lyrics.

Of course, red diaper (grand)babies like myself have always appreciated the irony that the Boy Scouts and other youth group campers often sing a song written by a fellow traveler. Of course, they never get to the “good stanzas.” Well, I’m sure they did at Camp Wo Chi Ca (attended as children by my father-in-law and his childhood friend David Horowitz).

Photo is from Guthrie’s website.


July 2019
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