New Record Update – on the Home Stretch!

last stretchNew Album UPDATE – I think I have only 4 pages of notes left to wrestle through!(but things could change). As with any journey, sometimes the last lift to the summit is the hardest. I think that’s where we are, but it has been a fun and challenging road the last month and a half. I am lucky to have musicians and friends tom mic sing guit too 2like Manami Morita, Dan Green, Alexander Bishop, Bob Sharkey, Zak Croxall, Bob Edinger, Fen Ikner, & Matt Dallow on my team. Man oh man, I do appreciate them all. Trying to do all their fantastic contributions justice. But it might be a few weeks before it’s done, maybe sooner…workin’ away…gettin’ there. Studio image shot by Brian C. Harnick

Rest in Peace Pete Seeger. Your Great Work Will Live On.

A great man is gone. I saw him play a few times. Most recently in 2008 at the chili pepper festival in Brooklyn and even at 90, he was amazing. Like a banjo playin’ James Brown in terms of commitment and soul. You will never forget Pete Seeger if you see that documentary, “The Power of Song.” SEE IT! Forgive the long post, read if you want. But to me, Pete Seeger was as important as Louis Armstrong or Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry. But he was, in many ways, more consequential. And I only know about one-tenth of what he did. Maybe not even! But his brilliant, soulful, uncanny, tireless mixture of music and social activism was fairly unique. Who was Pete Seeger? He was many things, but among those things, he was a roving song catcher, songwriter, great banjo player, a man with deep concern for humanity and the planet who also helped teach America about its soulful song traditions that lived and breathed out of the mainstream, songs found in the shade of a mountain home somewhere, or being strummed and sung in the dank of a hollow waiting to be discovered and preserved. I thought he was sort of a corny banjo playin’ folk singer when I was a kid. Though I knew he wrote “If I Had a Hammer” and “turn, Turn, Turn,” I didn’t know much else. As I got further into more folk kinda stuff through Dylan, I learned about Woody Guthrie. But then I slowly saw what cataclysmic force Seegar was. His parents were classical musicians and they took their young kids into Appalachia and the deep south in the 1920s to try and “culture” the poor rural folks about music. Little did they know it was THEY that were gonna be schooled in deep American roots and folk music. They were blown away by the singin’ and playing of these remote people. It lit a fire in young Pete. He did go onto Harvard, but didn’t finish. Obsessed with music and the banjo and social he started a relatively itinerant life as a song catcher. He befriended Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Paul Robeson, many others. He not only introduced great songs to a wider audience, he constantly tried to weave together social justice and music, seeing them as parts of the same fabric of humanity. He had a big hit in the early 1950s with his folk singing harmony group “The Weavers” with Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene.” Though they sanitized the song a bit, the success brought greater opportunities to share what he felt was great American music. But due to his decades long association with left wing causes and earlier interest in his college years with communism, he was subpoenaed to testify before congress about his beliefs and asked to name names. He refused to offer anything, (as was his right) and was cited for contempt and his professional music career was destroyed and new TV show offer rescinded. He was blacklisted and by the late 1950s with a wife and children and a home on the Hudson, broke and blacklisted, he resorted to teaching banjo. He taught hundreds of people the banjo. Also during this time he not only met the young Martin Luther KIng, jr.,(where he introduce a song he had discovered, “We Shall Overcome” to King) Also during the late 1950s, he went to Africa and other parts of the world with his family and a film camera to look for songs and learn. He brought back “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which he learned in Africa. By the early 1960s his influence reignited in a big way. A folk boom was happening and he was its godfather. He helped create the Newport Folk Festival. Was an important early booster of the young Bob Dylan? Peter, Paul, and Mary had a massive hit with Pete’s song “If I Had A Hammer.” He also subtlety, with what little money he had, videotaped get togethers with such greats as Mississippi John Hurt for a small station. By 1965, though he was still not welcome on TV, the Byrds had a huge hit with his song “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Along the way, Seeger was always keeping Woody Guthrie’s songs alive in his performances. During the Viet Nam era, he wrote “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy.” It was this last song that he was invited to perform in 1968 on “The Smothers Brothers” show. But CBS did not want him on. Eventually the show did air with the steely-spined protest song that metaphorically taunted Lyndon Johnson failing and bloody strategy in to Viet Nam. By the late 1960s into the 70’s he grew more and more indignant about the degradation of the environment. He founded the “Clearwater Festival” to raise awareness about what had been done to the might Hudson. He is arguably one of the critical leaders to draw attention to the destruction of such jewels as the Hudson River and his tireless concern led to the Hudson slow, continuing, revival. I could go on, but I will stop. He was a great American artist and citizen of the world. His life makes most of us look like we neber got up out of bed. But his charge is that you d! And that you live and listen and sing and care. Things are more connected than we sometimes want to remember, but it is in forgetting THAT truth that creates a lot of our problems. In the vital present we can honor the past and the good traditions it offers and still create new things live for a better future. Thanks, Pete.

Two Shows this month.

We are rehearsing for the December 20th Spike Hill show. BUT also- we get to do a four hour set on New Year’s Eve at the Olde Castle on West 57th St., so that will be a great opportunity for the band to stretch out.

THE LAST NIGHT at The LIVING ROOM! 10pm set this Sat Oct 26th!! Come raise a glass!

Mercury Lounge Show Sun Oct 6th at 9 PM

mercury lounge oct 6