Archive for September, 2008

At 89 – New Pete Seeger CD Now Available

Appleseed Records released “At 89” a collection of old and new songs by Pete Seeger on September 30th.  Here is the cover art and a track listing:

1. Nameless Banjo Riff
2. False From True
3. Now We Sit Us Down
4. Pete’s greeting (spoken)
5. Visions of Children
6. Wonderful Friends
7. The Water is Wide
8. Pete talks about Clearwater (spoken)
9. It’s a Long Haul
10. Throw Away That Shad Net (How Are We Gonna Save Tomorrow?)
11. Song of the World’s Last Whale
12. The First Settlers
13. The D Minor Flourish / Cindy
14. Pete’s intro to If It Can’t Be Reduced (spoken)
15. If It Can’t Be Reduced
16. Spring Fever
17. Pete speaks about World War II (spoken)
18. When I Was Most Beautiful
19. Bach at Treblinka
20. We Will Love or We Will Perish
21. The story of Tzena, Tzena, Tzena (spoken)
22. Tzena, Tzena, Tzena
23. One Percent Phosphorous Banjo Riff
24. Pete speaks about involvement (spoken)
25. Or Else! (One-a These Days)
26. Waist Deep in the Big Muddy
27. Little Fat Baby
28. Arrange and Re-arrange
29. Alleluya
30. Pete’s extroduction (spoken)
31. If This World Survives
32. How Soon?


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Seeger Eager

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Pete Seeger on David Letterman Show September 29th

Pete Seeger will be a guest on the David Letterman Show on CBS on Monday, September 29th, at 11:30 PM.  His new CD “At 89,” is being released the next day.

Update:  The song Pete Seeger sang on the David Letterman show was “Take It From Dr. King.”  It is available on Appleseeds Recordings’ “Seeds: Songs of Pete Seeger Volume 3.”  It is not on the new CD, “At 89.”

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Vic Schwarz Passes Away at 76

Arnold Victor Schwarz

         Arnold Victor (Vic) Schwarz of Cold Spring, New York, passed away on Wednesday, September 3rd at Hudson Valley Hospital following a 14-year battle with cancer. He was 76 years old.

        Vic was born on April 21, 1932 in Kingston, New York, to Arnold F. Schwarz and Helene Lawless Schwarz. He was raised in Newburgh and worked in his Father’s pharmacy in Beacon when not attending school. He graduated from Newburgh Free Academy in 1950.

        Following his graduation from Pratt Institute in 1953, Vic was drafted into the Army and served in Korea as a field photographer in the Corps of Engineers. Upon returning to the United States, he was stationed in Mineral Wells, Texas. After an honorable discharge, Vic returned to the Hudson Valley where he met Linda Schuler when both were singers in the Philipstown Chorale. They married on January 4, 1959, and settled in Cold Spring, New York, where they raised their three children.

         An accomplished musician, historian, and conservationist, Vic and longtime friend Pete Seeger collaborated to realize their vision of inspiring and mobilizing people to save the Hudson River from pollution and neglect. Their combined vision brought about the creation of the sailing ship Clearwater, a replica Hudson River Sloop that continues to be used as an environmental educational tool. Their activities in support of Clearwater were the beginning of Riverfests and are acknowledged by historians and conservationists as being the birth of the environmentalist movement in the United States, as well as inspiring similar projects around the world.

         Vic’s interest in bookmaking and printing led to his career as a book designer and hobby of wood engraving and printing. He owned and operated Mt. Taurus Press, a working restoration of a 19th century print shop in Nelsonville, New York, for over ten years. There he created a series of Hudson River prints that became classic representations of his work as an artist and a print maker.

         Vic returned to his musician-environmentalist roots with his active participation in the formation of the Little Stony Point Citizen’s Association. This grass-roots organization of local people is dedicated to the preservation and care of Little Stony Point, one of the very few sandy beaches along the Hudson River. As president of the Association, one of his proudest achievements was pursuing and obtaining the funding necessary for the replacement of the formerly condemned bridge, which was the only access to the site. The beach is now a very popular recreation area on the Hudson River.

          When Vic was diagnosed with cancer in 1994, he decided to devote his time to what made him happiest. Vic established a small business as a luthier, repairing and building acoustic stringed instruments. His business as a luthier led many musicians to his door, and Vic became an enthusiastic performer with friends, his group, Acoustic Workshop, and became a fairly regular performer at the legendary Guinan’s in Garrison, New York. As Vic’s declining health curtailed many of his activities, a dedicated group of friends would often gather at Vic’s house to play music with, and sometimes for, him.

          Vic is survived by his wife, Linda Schuler Schwarz; his son Carl Victor Schwarz of Lake Carmel, NY and grandchildren Tyler and Elliot Schwarz; his daughter Maria Joy Schwarz Rodriguez and son-in-law Oscar Rodriguez of Blue Point, NY and grandchildren Carl, Lauren, Melanie, and Arlo Rodriguez; his daughter Julann Mae Schwarz Cobb and son-in-law John Cobb of Beacon, NY and grandchildren Ethan and Miles Cobb.

          Vic’s life will be honored in a gathering of his many of friends and loved ones, sharing music and fond memories in his honor.  Friends are invited to participate in this celebration of Vic Schwarz’s life on Sunday, October 19th at 2:00 p.m. at the Garrison Fish and Game Club.  In honor of Vic’s legacies, charitable donations may be made in his name to Little Stony Point Citizen’s Association or to Clearwater, Inc.  For information about the memorial celebration or making donations, go to: or call (631)891-9701.

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Pete Seeger at Chile Pepper Fiesta on September 27th

What could be better than eating hot chile peppers and listening to Pete Seeger (yes, that Pete Seeger!) at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens’ annual Chile Pepper Fiesta on Sept. 27? Well, if Seeger and spice isn’t enough for you, how about gumbo by the Sauce Boss? Or the “indie Hindi” sounds of Indian singer Falu? Or chutney-making sessions? Or flame eating (actual flame eating) by Robbins and Ringold? There are even arts and crafts for kids (who love hot chile peppers, you know).

The 16th annual Chile Pepper Fiesta, Sept. 27 at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (1000 Washington Ave., just south of Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights). Call (718) 623-7200 for info.

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Seeger, Grandson & Guy Davis Play a Pair of Benefit Shows

Seeger, Grandson & Guy Davis Play a Pair of Benefit Shows

By Michael Witthaus-Contributing Writer
Friday, September 12, 2008 7:18 AM
When someone creates a musical Mount Rushmore, Pete Seeger’s face will be on it.

There’s probably not a soul alive who doesn’t know at least one of his songs, like “If I Had A Hammer” or “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” He’s been named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and been given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award. Not many folksingers can make that claim.

David Crosby, who recorded Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!” with the Byrds, interviewed 50 of his musician friends for a book about musical activism. He says he asked each of them, “‘Where did you get this idea from?’ And the first name that came out of their mouths was Pete Seeger.”

Bruce Springsteen devoted an album (“The Seeger Sessions”) and a world tour to the man and his music. After a career that began before World War II, it might seem he’d be ready to relax and enjoy a few tribute concerts — from the audience.

But apart from a pared-back schedule, he shows no signs of slowing down.

Seeger has a new album due out September 30, called (fittingly) “At 89.” Accompanied by his grandson, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, and bluesman Guy Davis, Seeger will perform three shows in the region this weekend, all benefits.

The mini-tour stops at the Lebanon Opera House Friday, and will raise money for the New England Farm Relief Fund, an organization that’s also the beneficiary of Saturday’s (sold out) show at Brattleboro’s Latchis Theatre.

New England Farm Relief funds micro-loans for small family farms. The small cash infusions help them transition between planting a crop and bringing it to market. Though little noticed, Seeger considers these, and similar community-level efforts a vital part of the nation’s fabric.

“Most newspapers don’t report it because it’s all such small things,” he said recently. “A dozen people here and a couple of dozen there, or three or four somewhere else…Nobody is writing about them. But I think that is the big news of this decade.”

Rodriguez-Seeger says, “My grandpa talks about small organizations being the key to change, the key to making a difference, and I agree. We’ve got too many suits and ties making decisions about what we eat,” he told the Boston Globe last week. “I think that decision needs to be put back in the hands of local people. We need to get back to a less corporate lifestyle.”

The Lebanon show also benefits the Haven homeless shelter, and patrons are asked to donate a non-perishable item for their food pantry.

Seeger is the sort of “community organizer” who gives sneering critics like Rudy Giuliani night sweats. When he, and his band the Weavers, were blacklisted after the McCarthy hearings in 1956, Seeger fought a four-year court battle to stay out of jail – and emerged unrepentant.

“I still call myself a communist,” he once said, “because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it. But if by some freak of history communism had caught up with this country, I would have been one of the first people thrown in jail.”

In 1959, he recently told columnist Gene Myers, “I really could have kicked the bucket and 90 percent of my life’s work was done.”

He says his satisfaction came from proving “you didn’t need to make a living by singing in nightclubs, or singing on television or radio. You could sing songs that really meant something.”

In the early 1960’s, while performers like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell picked up his musical mantle, Seeger turned his attention to the issues of the day. During the civil rights movement, Seeger marched with Guy Davis’s parents, the actors Ruby and Ossie Davis, forging a bond, both of music and friendship, which has lasted a lifetime – Guy calls Seeger “Uncle Pete.”

Seeger later worked for environmental causes and protested the Vietnam War, for which he saved one of his best songs, “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy.”

The controversial tune got him booted from CBS’s “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in 1967, although he did perform it on a later show. The network had a policy forbidding “appeals for active support of any cause” — a quaint notion in today’s unregulated media world.

In 1966, Seeger created the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a floating classroom devoted to waterway cleanup, which still operates in upstate New York.

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Toshi Seeger

According to recent published reports, Pete’s wife Toshi has been very ill.  A good friend of the family emailed me this morning that she is now doing better and should be OK.  Please remember Toshi and the Seeger family in your prayers. 



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