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The Pete Seeger Connection

Page history last edited by Sarah Underhill 13 years, 2 months ago


  I've been very fortunate to have grown up, musically and personally, in Pete Seeger's neighborhood, the Hudson River valley. It was in order to crew on the "Clearwater",  one of Pete's best loved projects, that I came to live in the valley. Being on the boat's crew, being a part of the Beacon Sloop Club where Pete & Toshi and family were so involved, gave me the opportunity to sing and sail with him and be welcome at his home.

  As my Dad once said, Pete "would sing with the bums under the causeway". [ This was after observing Pete and a bunch of us ragtag Sloop Singers on a rainy Pumpkin Sail fest at South St. Seaport in Manhatten, singing away lustily under the overpass there.]  He loved to sing with anyone and everyone, and was always encouraging to other folk musicians trying to make a living in a difficult field which he had managed to survive at but which he saw was becoming if possible even harder for the next generation.

 When Pete was making the second edition of his autobiographical songbook, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone", I was honored and delighted to be able to provide the soundbytes for the melody to "Barbry Allen" in the disc that accompanies the book.  I also ended up in the recording session  for songs on the Grammy award winning album, "Pete Seeger at 89", singing along on "Visions of Children", "Wonderful Friends", "If It Can't Be Reduced", "Tzena, Tzena",  "Or Else", and others.  In 2010 I was recorded singing a duet with Pete on the Bill Staines song "River", which became part of his next Grammy  winner, the album "Tomorrow's Children".

 The year Pete turned 90, he invited me to perform with him [along with a few other local folk musician friends] at the Walkabout Coffeehouse. A few months previously, I had asked him to perform at a fundraiser for Utah Phillips, then gravely ill [this event was organized by my Hospice patient, Michael DMoch]. Pete had agreed to come, and was able to speak to Utah, probably for the last time, via cell phone during the concert. I think that meant a lot to him, and he invited me to the Walkabout partly  in gratitude for me trying to help Utah. Perfoming with Pete at the Coffeehouse was great fun, very well attended. I assumed all the proceeds would go to some worthy cause, as usual.

  A couple of months later I received a check in the mail from the Walkabout Coffeehouse folks. Pete had wanted the money to be shared among the performers. That was the money I used to start the recording project to have "Strange Sweethearts" recorded professionally. Without Pete's help, who knows when I would have started the enterprise, if ever.  Thank you, Pete Seeger, for this and for so much more.


The album "Tomorrow's Children" was reviewed in SingOut Magazine, Vol. 54 #1 Jan. 2011, page 147, excerpted below:

"Among the songs....is a moving rendition of Bill Staines' "River", sung here by Sarah Underhill with help from Pete and other Hudson River Sloop Singers......Here you'll find the true essence of Pete- both making and inspiring excellent music, sharing the spotlight with others and thinking of future generations."



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