petePete Seeger; Musician, Activist, Humanitarian.  94 Years Young………

 May 3, 1919 To January 27, 2014

On some other post, I would love to write a little more about Pete Seeger. For now, I would just like to leave a humorous little story about “one day…”

My own personal story is from a few years back at the Newport Folk Festival. I was standing in the corner of the small stage area watching an ensemble of folk singers. There was Dar Williams, John Gorka, and Ellis Paul. The performers were taking turns singing one of their songs. At one point, Dar Williams, in her introduction of Ellis Paul was talking about how she and some of her neighbors were working on a project to clean up the Hudson River. Suddenly, there was a pause and she pointed almost right at me. She then said “hey, there’s one of my neighbors now.” Obviously, she was not talking about me, but 10 feet next to me stood Pete Seeger; all 92 years of him, straight up with his banjo slung around his shoulder with an unpretentious piece of rope. He had waltzed under the tent unnoticed. Immediately, the audience lost all quiet reverence for the musicians, and let out booms of applause and cheers for a prolonged amount of time. Nobody seemed to mind the interruption of the program; especially those on stage. Pete did a few songs and left as peacefully as he had come, minus a second round of thunderous applause, whistles and screams (note to self; “Zulu; take new mandolin out of case, and learn to play ANYTHING!”). As if that wasn’t enough for the Newport memory banks, it was Dar William who stole the show next. Dar recounted how when she first started out playing and performing on a more professional basis, she would go out on the folk circuit; playing anywhere anyone would have her. She mentioned that there were more than a few singer-songwriters who would travel the same circuits together, especially the open mike nights. As luck, and luckless would have it, she was often in the same places as her fellow stage mate Ellis Paul. Dar said that it was “bad’ enough that she was just perfecting her craft, but she often had to play after Ellis. What was the problem? Well, among other things, Ellis was an amazing performer with a gifted voice, and creative stories to sing about. Let’s add some more “charges” she said. He was tall, gorgeous, and all the women swooned as he played. He was like the Mick Jagger of folk. She told how inevitably she would have to take the stage, as a woman, who at the time, musically was nowhere near as talented or as captive to her audience. Then she said “well, it finally took karma long enough to catch up to me, but I wonder how Ellis likes to have to play after Pete Seeger?”

Dar, Ellis, and the whole tent  had a huge smile on their face!

22 thoughts on “A MAN WALKS INTO A TENT……

  1. Lovely story Zulu Delta. I attend the National Folk Festival here every year (though will miss this year’s because I’ll be in the US and Canada). How wonderful it would have been to have Pete Seeger turn up at the back of a tent like that!


  2. Thank you, Zulu Delta, for posting on my blog. I am glad to include your link – great story. I never met Pete Seeger, but my wife did when she was a girl. She still has a couple of old 45s bearing his signature – precious memories, indeed.


  3. Thank you for the memory of Pete and these two wonderful folk singers. And thank you for the “like” of the post on Views from the Edge. We need to keep singing, keep his spirit alive in the world.


  4. Wonderful story thanks, had a ticket to see Pete, I think it was 1983 in Vancouver. The night before the festival my co-worker tripped over an 8 year old, playing Capture The Flag…he broke his arm, so I could not go. The 8 year old was unharmed. Dear Pete- what a Hootenanny there must where he has gone!!


  5. My Old Man HATED Communists. As in, “The only Good Red Is A …”. Literally. It wasn’t ideological with him so much as it was personal. Almost two years in a POW camp (Korea) seeing his comrades die and be broken. Being interrogated by special Russian interrogators used for high-grade propaganda/intel captives. The guys that wrote the book on interrogation that we today, having met the enemy and become them, use in Gitmo, Abu G, and only our guv knows else where – we the peeps don’t have a “need” to know. But when my older sister learned to play guitar under his intermittent and irascible tutelage they used a Pete Seeger songbook. The only concert I ever remember him attending was one he took me to in the 60s. Pete Seeger. Guess my dad was surrounded by Pete’s machine and forced to surrender.


    • Thanks for your story. I have been to Gitmo twice; It was bad enough to have the stigma of unanswered questions as why we can talk to North Korea but not Castro, but the nonsense with the illegal prison there is so wrong……..Zulu.


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  8. Pingback: Letter A- Airline to Heaven- Billy Bragg and Wilco | Zulu Delta 45

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