Tuesday, January 28, 2014

R.I.P., Pete Seeger

We're doing the podcast a little early this week, because this morning we learned of the death of one of our heroes. Maybe the hero. As you've surely heard by now, the great Pete Seeger passed away peacefully in his sleep. He was 94. Folk musicians often talk about those who went before who influenced them. But they don't talk about Pete so much because his impact on them is just a given. This music -- folk music, roots music, acoustic music, whatever you want to call it -- is what it is today in large part because of the work and the stewardship of Pete Seeger. And it's not only his music. His attitude, his optimism, his inclusiveness and boundless enthusiasm for all kinds of music provided a very fertile field for America's music not just to survive but to thrive. In The Flood, "Uncle Pete" has always in been in the back of our minds. Why, just a few weeks ago, when Chuck Romine dropped by with his banjo, we found ourselves singing "Goodnight, Irene," the song Pete learned from Leadbelly. It was… well, more joyful than it was listenable, and by popular decree, we'll keep that particular track deep in the private collection. However, thinking about how Pete Seeger's influence reaches all the way back to the very beginning of our band, I remembered a concert we were playing 35 years ago, in the first years of The Flood. I remember a pause in the show and suddenly Dave Peyton filled the silence with a beautiful solo on his Autoharp. It was a song I will always associate with Pete, because it was on one of his records that I first heard it, the Shaker tune, "Simple Gifts." Here's that moment.

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