Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Concert

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Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Concert

Postby Arlene » Mon May 04, 2009 8:34 am

Keith and I attended the Pete Seeger 90th birthday concert in NYC's Madison Square Garden last night. I originally wrote this for the Emmylou board so there's an emphasis on Emmylou's performances but I thought I'd cross-post, in case anyone was interested:


I was lucky enough to attend Pete Seeger's 90th birthday concert in NYC at Madison Square Garden last night. The show was over 4 and a half hours long and it was filmed by PBS so most of you will probably be able to see an edited version.

There were over 50 performers and most sang in groups with some interesting combinations. Some of the numbers might have used additional rehearsal but the spirit and joy of the artists and audience members was a thing to behold.

As for Emmylou, it's always great to hear her perform songs you've never heard her sing before and there were two last night. She was the lead singer on The Water Is Wide with Teddy Thompson doing harmony vocals and a gaggle of McGarrigle family members singing backup (Kate, Anna, Martha and Rufus among others). She also dueted with Arlo Guthrie on a song written by Pete Seeger called Precious Friend You Will Be Here-- Arlo was on guitar but they were backed by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and it was fun to see Emmylou dancing along with the brass and horns. Emmylou also joined in with many others in a number of songs including We Shall Overcome, This Land Is Your Land and Goodnight Irene but she didn't have any verses in any of those songs.

The show itself had numerous highlights and I'll be really curious to see what is looks like on TV. Among the special moments were Richie Havens' version of Freedom/Motherless Child; Joan Baez singing Where Have All The Flowers Gone and Jacob's Ladder; Pete Seeger leading 20,000 in 3 part harmony on Amazing Grace; Taj Mahal and Tom Morello on Waist Deep in the Big Muddy; Bernice Johnson Reagon leading lots of performers on We Shall Overcome and This Little Light of Mine; Roger McGuinn singing Turn, Turn, Turn; Steve Earle, Taj Mahal and Pete doing Sailing Up, Sailing Down; Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello dueting on The Ghost of Tom Joad; The McGarrigle/Wainright Family (Kate, Anna, Rufus, Martha and others) on Fare Thee Well My Honey; Arlo Guthrie and Del McCourey on O Mary Don't You Weep; Kris Kristofferson, Taj Mahal, Ramblin' Jack and Richie Havens on Ain't Gonna Work on Maggie's Farm No More; and Steve Earle,Taj Mahal and Warren Hayes on a blues number I'd never heard before that was terrific.

Other performances included Ani DiFranco and Bruce Cockburn dueting on Which Side Are You On; Kris Kristofferson and Ani DiFranco singing There's A Hole in The Bucket; Dave Matthews singing Rye Whiskey; John Mellencamp on If I Had a Hammer; Tom Morello and Tom Paxton on John Henry; Arlo Guthrie and Ramblin' Jack Elliot on It Takes A Worried Man; Dar Williams and Billy Bragg on Union Maid; Tommy Sands on Little Boxes, and lots of lots of others.

Ordinarily I hate stadium or arena shows but this one was really special.

Arlene
Last edited by Arlene on Mon May 04, 2009 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Concert

Postby Rob » Mon May 04, 2009 9:58 am

Arlene wrote:Ordinarily I hate stadium or arena shows but this one was really special.

Sounds like it was a great show even if you'd rather see the performers in smaller venues. Always fun to see different combos that you might otherwise never see. Bet there was plenty of "Bruuuuuuucccce" for both Springsteen and Cockburn. I read Springsteen's hilarious intro of Pete:

"He's gonna look a lot like your granddad that wears flannel shirts and funny hats. He gonna look like your granddad if your granddad can kick your ass,"

I used to work the Clearwater Festival and remember seeing Pete play many times. When he wasn't playing, he'd be walking around picking up garbage. At the end of the day you might catch him playing for everyone as you left.

Last time I saw him was a few years back along with his grandson Tao at Guilderland High School, just outside of Albany. There were plenty of venues in Albany and I wondered why he was playing a high school auditorium in one of Albany's wealthier suburbs. Turns out it was a benefit for a local cause. That's Pete.
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Postby keith from ny » Mon May 04, 2009 11:34 am

I thought it was really cool that they created a stage that looked like a boat deck for the event, with long strings of white lights behind the performers outlining the shape of a huge mast and sail. Not sure I would classify "Jacob's Ladder" as too special myself (zzzzzzz...) and I could have lived without that DiFranco/Kristofferson duet on "There's a Hole In My Bucket" too, but there was certainly no shortage of wonderful moments, not the least of which were the audience sing-alongs led by Pete himself.

Thanks to Arlene for talking me into attending despite my aversion to arena shows. I do hope they put this on TV so I can watch it without all the idiots in our section constantly getting up for beer and food during the songs.
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Postby keith from ny » Mon May 04, 2009 11:38 am

Also wanted to mention Oscar the Grouch singing "Garbage", definitely a highlight for me! :D
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Postby Arlene » Mon May 04, 2009 12:34 pm

keith from ny wrote:Not sure I would classify "Jacob's Ladder" as too special myself (zzzzzzz...)

The purity of Joan Baez's voice still gives me chills.

I also enjoyed Springsteen's whole introduction-- I loved it when he said of Pete: "Watching the transfer of presidential power, was like, ’ Pete, you outlasted the bastards, man.’ It was so nice."
"You've got to sing like you don't need the money, love like you'll never get hurt. You've got to dance like no one is watching. It's gotta come from the heart, if you want it to work."
~Susannah Clark

"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." ~Molly Ivins

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
~Tallulah Bankhead

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Postby keith from ny » Mon May 04, 2009 4:38 pm

Arlene wrote:I also enjoyed Springsteen's whole introduction-- I loved it when he said of Pete: "Watching the transfer of presidential power, was like, ’ Pete, you outlasted the bastards, man.’ It was so nice."

That was a very poignant story. The NY Times went so far as to cast Obama as the missing centerpiece of the show, which I think is grossly overstating the case. But it is wonderful to have someone in the White House who shares many of Pete Seeger's priorities and appreciates him for the hero and patriot he is.
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Postby Arlene » Mon May 04, 2009 5:23 pm

keith from ny wrote:
Arlene wrote:The NY Times went so far as to cast Obama as the missing centerpiece of the show, which I think is grossly overstating the case.


The NY Times's review pissed me off to no end, especially this quote: "Here rising to the occasion...meant more than showing up and breezily soldiering through a classic protest tune or two, as plenty of singers — Arlo Guthrie, John Mellencamp, Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Emmylou Harris — gladly did, in performances that often felt dutiful, not exuberant."

What concert was this clown attending??? And BTW, in my view, most of the the performers he mentioned didn't even sing any protest songs. The Water is Wide; Precious Friends; Turn, Turn Turn-- these aren't protest songs. WHAT an a-hole....
"You've got to sing like you don't need the money, love like you'll never get hurt. You've got to dance like no one is watching. It's gotta come from the heart, if you want it to work."
~Susannah Clark

"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." ~Molly Ivins

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
~Tallulah Bankhead

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Postby Arlene » Tue May 05, 2009 6:26 am

I prefer the review below in The Nation, which I felt really captures the
spirit of the event:


Springsteen to Seeger: "You Outlasted the Bastards" posted by Katrina vanden Heuvel on 05/04/2009 @ 10:14pm

I think that was my favorite line at the rollicking birthday concert celebrating Pete Seeger's 90th!

There were other uplifting, astonishing moments Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, at a five-hour concert which Seeger only OK'd because it raised much-needed funds for his Clearwater project--a non profit organization which the oft-maligned bard started in 1969 to clean up his beloved, polluted Hudson River.

Fifteen thousand people, of all ages, (okay, median age was probably 55) danced, clapped and sang along as Seeger did a soaring version of "Amazing Grace" and the saintly looking Joan Baez sang " Where Have All the Flowers Gone."

Arlo Guthrie reminded us that Pete, like his father Woody, "believed in the power of the people singing songs to change the world." Richie Havens reminded us why "Freedom" is a great anthem for all times. Tim Robbins and his son, strumming the guitar, to "Michael, Row The Boat Ashore." Ruby Dee entranced with her enchanting reading of a poem (for peace) written by Pete's uncle before he joined the Foreign Legion. In between, a startlingly youthful Emmylou Harris recounted correspondence she had with Pete as a young folk singer; Tom Morello and Taj Mahal teamed up on "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy"), and John Mellencamp offered up "If I Had a Hammer." Congressman John Hall, once the lead singer for one of my favorite groups, "Orleans," joined in several rounds.

Toward the end of the five-hour Seeger-apoza, Springsteen announced to the crowd, "Pete's gonna come out," and "He's gonna look like your granddad--if your granddad could kick your ass." If character and integrity keeps you youthful, and I believe it does. Seeger looked all of 25--of strong backbone and spirit and moxie and with keen eyes which are the stronger for having seen the best, and the worst, of our country's history.

In so many ways, Pete is a repository of American history in himself. As Springsteen said, he has a "stubborn, nasty, defiant optimism," and he serves as "the stealth dagger through the heart of our country's illusions about itself."

Springsteen also told the crowd about his own youth, growing up in a town that endured race riots, and how times have changed: "Pete, you outlasted the bastards, man."

He spoke about "This Land is Your Land," which he said Seeger moved from an anthem of the labor movement to one of the civil rights movement, and he described preparing for their duet on the song at Obama's inauguration, in freezing weather,( Pete had packed his long underwear), when Seeger said: "I know I want to sing all the verses--all the ones that Woody wrote, even the two that usually get left out."

"There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me; Sign was painted, it said private property; But on the back side it didn't say nothing; That side was made for you and me."

As Springsteen and Tom Morello sang a rousing, yet sober, version of " The Ghost of Tom Joad," it seemed that there was enough humanity in that one concert hall to fill all of nation with amazing grace in these hard times. As New Jersey's and the nation's bard summed it up: "Pete sings all the verses, all the time--especially the ones we'd like to leave out of our history as a people."


And here's a bunch of clips from the concert: http://tinyurl.com/dd7c5t



Arlene
"You've got to sing like you don't need the money, love like you'll never get hurt. You've got to dance like no one is watching. It's gotta come from the heart, if you want it to work."
~Susannah Clark

"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." ~Molly Ivins

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
~Tallulah Bankhead

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Postby TontoBronto » Fri May 08, 2009 7:49 pm

From another site---
Here's an updated setlist with a few corrections and additions based on various reports, photos of the show, and a mighty enjoyable listen. I've also numbered the tracks here as they are numbered in the torrent.

DISC ONE
101 - Video montage intro - Pete Seeger & kids from the Beacon School
102 - Menomonee Love Song - Pete Seeger w/ Native American Indian Cultural Alliance (Tom Pacheco, Vernon Masayesva, Bill Miller, Joanne Shenandoah, Joseph Firecrow, David Amram, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, & Margo Thunderbird)
103 - If I Had a Hammer - John Mellencamp
104 - A Ride Back Home - John Mellencamp
105 - Tribute to Pete - Tim Robbins
106 - You Are Still Mine - New York City Labor Chorus
107 - Which Side Are You On - Bruce Cockburn, Ani DiFranco
108 - John Henry - Tom Paxton, Tom Morello, Eric Weissberg, Jacob Silver
109 - Dear Mr. President - Michael Franti, Patterson Hood, Laura Cortese, Eric Weissberg
110 - Oh, Freedom - Patterson Hood, Toshi Reagon, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Abigail Washburn, Guy Davis, Jacob Silver, Eric Weissberg, New York City Labor Chorus
111 - Internationale - Billy Bragg
112 - Union Maid - Billy Bragg, Mike & Ruthy Merenda, Dar Williams, Lenny Pickett, Molly Mason, New York City Labor Chorus
113 - Sailin' Up, Sailin' Down - Pete Seeger, Taj Mahal, Steve Earle, Toshi Reagon, Warren Haynes, Tao Rodríguez-Seeger
114 - False From True - Steve Earle, Warren Haynes, Guy Davis
115 - The Water is Wide - Emmylou Harris, Teddy Thompson, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Rufus & Martha Wainwright, Sparro Day, New York City Labor Chorus
116 - Dink's Song - Bruce Cockburn, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Rufus & Martha Wainwright

DISC TWO
201 - Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (video montage) - Pete Seeger and others
202 - Banjo Medley (unknown > Blue Skies > unknown > Happy Birthday) - Tony Trischka & Bela Fleck
203 - Waist Deep in the Big Muddy - Tom Morello, Taj Mahal
204 - Where Have All the Flowers Gone - Joan Baez
205 - Intro by Tim Robbins
206 - The Torn Flag (poem)/Jesu Joy of Man's Desires - Ruby Dee w/ Bela Fleck
207 - Bring 'Em Home - Tyler Ramsey, Ben Bridwell, Patterson Hood, Warren Haynes, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Preservation Hall Jazz Band
208 - We Shall Overcome - Pete Seeger, Emmylou Harris, Joan Baez, Toshi Reagon, Bernice Johnson-Reagon, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Billy Bragg, Keller Williams, Ani DiFranco, Ruby Dee, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New York City Labor Choir
209 - INTERMISSION
210 - Norman Lear reading an excerpt of President Obama's letter to Pete
211 - Amazing Grace Intro - Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Pete Seeger teaching and leading the audience in harmony
212 - Amazing Grace - Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Pete Seeger, Jacob Silver
213 - Garbage - Tom Chapin, Michael Mask, Oscar the Grouch
214 - There's a Hole in My Bucket - Kris Kristofferson and Ani DiFranco

DISC THREE
301 - Little Boxes - Tommy Sands and his Irish Band
302 - Michael Row the Boat Ashore - Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Tony Trischka, Jacob Silver, Casey Driessen, Tim Robbins, Miles Robbins, New York City Labor Choir
303 - Freedom/Motherless Child - Richie Havens
304 - Jacob's Ladder - Joan Baez, Mike and Ruthy Merenda, Scarlett Lee Moore, Jay Unger, Molly Mason, Larry Long, Jacob Silver, New York City Labor Choir
305 - Oh Mary Don't You Weep - Arlo Guthrie, Del McCoury, John Hall, Tony Trischka, Preservation Hall Jazz Band
306 - Worried Man Blues - Arlo Guthrie, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Jay Unger, Molly Mason, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Bill Nershi
307 - Gather Round the Throne - Ben Harper, Ellen Verdries, Sue Chase, Tom Morello
308 - Intro to Letter to Pete (Reading) - Peggy Seeger
309 - Letter to Pete (Reading) - Peggy Seeger
310 - Maggie's Farm - Kris Kristofferson, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Richie Havens, Warren Haynes, Taj Mahal, Keller Williams, Jay Unger, Molly Mason

DISC FOUR
401 - Turn, Turn, Turn (to Everything There is a Season) - Roger McGuinn, Ben Bridwell, and Tyler Ramsey
402 - Precious Friend - Emmylou Harris, Arlo Guthrie, Tony Trischka, Preservation Hall Jazz Band
403 - Rye Whiskey - Dave Matthews
404 - The Ghost of Tom Joad - Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello
405 - This Land is Your Land - Pete Seeger & All
406 - Happy Birthday - All
407 - When the Saints Go Marching In - Preservation Hall Jazz Band
(ENCORES)
408 - We'll Make the World Go - All
409 - This Little Light of Mine - All
410 - Goodnight Irene - Pete Seeger & All

The House Band included (from the Saturday Night Live Band)
Shawn Pelton (drums)
Lenny Pickett (saxophone)
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Postby TontoBronto » Sun May 10, 2009 4:49 am

Apparently, Pete included a revival of "Fiddler on the Roof" in the show, and his version of "If I Were a Rich Man" was a big hit--

Image

Some overheard him saying "Now you can kiss my skinny white butt, Topol"

Oy Vey.
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Postby Russell » Sun May 10, 2009 9:37 pm

Tonto Yoder wrote:Apparently, Pete included a revival of "Fiddler on the Roof" in the show, and his version of "If I Were a Rich Man" was a big hit--

Image

Some overheard him saying "Now you can kiss my skinny white butt, Topol"

Oy Vey.

:lol:

So, why weren't Peter, Paul & Mary at this Shindig?
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