The New England Farm Relief Concert
featuring Pete Seeger,
Tao Rodríguez-Seeger and Guy Davis
Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 7 p.m.
The Latchis Theatre, Brattleboro, Vermont
In a rare public appearance, legendary folk singer Pete Seeger will perform, together with his grandson Tao Rodríguez-Seeger and blues artist Guy Davis, in a fund raising concert on September 13 at 7 p.m. at Brattleboro’s Latchis Theatre, co-produced by Strolling of the Heifers and Twin Cloud Concerts.
The event will benefit a new micro-loan program to help New England farmers, which is being established by Strolling of the Heifers, Inc. in partnership with The Carrot Project. Strolling of the Heifers is best known for its Strolling of the Heifers parade, held each year in June, in which dairy cattle and other farm animals lead an agriculturally-themed parade along Brattleboro’s Main Street to an all-day “dairy fest” on the grounds of the Brattleboro Retreat.
Seeger, at the age of 89, is a veteran of seven decades of performance and political activism. He has recorded dozens of albums and has written hundreds of songs, including “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Turn, Turn, Turn.”
In recent years, he has been on the performing stage very infrequently, having turned most of his attention to Clearwater, an organization he founded, which operates the sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River in order to advocate for a clean environment.
Seeger received the Presidential Medal of the Arts, the nation’s highest artistic honor, in 1996. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in 1996 for his album, “Pete.”
Rodríguez–Seeger first performed with his grandfather in 1986 when he was a young teenager. He was a founding member of the band The Mammals, together with Michael Merenda and Ruth Ungar. With the Mammals he recorded five CDs. Rodríguez–Seeger plays guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmonica.
Singer and guitarist Guy Davis, a long-time Seeger family friend, refers to Pete as “Uncle Pete” because of the closeness of their relationship. He has made appearances ranging from syndicated radio programs “Prairie Home Companion,” “World Café,” and “Mountain Stage” to television’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” His album, “Legacy” was picked as one of the best CDs of the year by National Public Radio, and the lead track on it, “Uncle Tom’s Dead,” was chosen as one of the best songs of the year.
In announcing the concert, Strolling’s executive director, Orly Munzing of Dummerston, said, “We’re truly honored that Pete Seeger has chosen to benefit Strolling of the Heifers and our microloan program in one of the very few appearances he will make this year.”
Explaining the need for a New England micro-loan program for farmers, Munzing said, “It can be very difficult for New England farmers to get loans to grow their businesses.”
That’s because there are major micro-loan funds set up to benefit third-world farmers, but until recently, there were none in New England. Strolling of the Heifers, which is working with The Carrot Project, an organization based in Somerville, Massachusetts, hopes its micro-loan program will help support farmers with solid businesses, who may nonetheless have difficulty accessing credit.
The Carrot Project hopes to roll out the New England loan program with Strolling of the Heifers next winter, according to Dorothy Suput, Carrot Project’s executive director. At that time it will make available guidelines and information on how farmers may apply.
Strolling of the Heifers was founded in 2001 to promote awareness of the importance of agriculture in our daily lives, and to provide funding for educationally oriented agricultural programs for youth.
The micro-loan fund represents an added direction for the organization, according to Munzing. “Strolling of the Heifers focuses particularly on farmers using organic or other sustainable practices that are increasing the availability of local food in the community. Often, they have small projects that traditional lenders like banks can’t really help out with. Our program will help these farms increase their profitability and their viability. We can’t afford to lose any more farms.”
Muzing added, “Pete Seeger and his friends instantly recognize this real need. They recently helped raise over $65,000 on their sold-out tour in Ontario for USC-Canada, an organization dedicated to helping Canadian farmers.”
Strolling is aiming to raise at least $100,000 for the fund. The program has already received two large grants toward that goal, from the Thomas Thompson Trust and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. “We hope this concert will put us over the top,” said Munzing.
The Carrot Project is a not-for-profit organization that provides financial assistance to small and mid-sized farms, farms with limited resources, and farms using ecologically-friendly practices. They provide loans, loan guarantees and help explore equity options for the farmers.
According to Munzing, “The Carrot Project and Strolling of the Heifers share the same goal of increasing the amount of financing available for small-scale farmers in New England and increase the number of lenders working with smaller farms.”
Tickets to the New England Farm Relief Concert will be priced at $50 for front orchestra seats; $40 for rear and side orchestra seats, and $30 for balcony seats. For an additional $15, ticket holders at any level may attend a post-concert reception with the artists. Seating general admission in each ticket level section; there are no individual reserved seats. The show begins at 7 p.m.; doors will open at 6:15 p.m.
Tickets may be obtained online from www.brattleborotix.com; at the Latchis Hotel or Vermont Artisan Designs, both on Main Street, downtown Brattleboro, Vermont; or at Dynamite Records, 150 Main Street, Northampton, Massachusetts. Cash or checks only at the Latchis, Vermont Artisans and Dynamite Records.