A Banjo Head for Haiti

January 27, 2010, 3:50 pm
A Banjo Head for Haiti
New York Times

Pete Seeger, the tireless folk troubadour and environmental advocate, isn’t among the pop artists featured on the “Hope for Haiti Now” fund-raising CD. He is, however, lending his voice — and his beloved banjo — to the cause.

Mr. Seeger has put his banjo head on the eBay auction block to raise money for environmental work in Haiti.

The banjo head is ringed with the words “This machine surrounds hate and causes it to surrender,” a motto inspired by one of his folk heroes, Woody Guthrie, who had painted his guitar with the words, “This machine kills fascists.”

Pete Seeger performed at the Obama inaugural celebration concert in January 2009.The well-worn head had been on his banjo for more than 30 years and was in his hands when he played Mr. Guthrie’s classic “This Land Is Your Land” with Bruce Springsteen at a concert before President Obama’s inauguration.

R.J. Storm, Mr. Seeger’s longtime banjo repairman, and Mr. Seeger said the auction proceeds would go to the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan woman who started an environmental movement that has planted 30 million trees in Africa. Mr. Seeger said he hoped Ms. Maathai could teach her land restoration methods to the people of Haiti.

The auction, which ends on Friday, has drawn 17 bids. As of this posting, the top bid for the item was $4,350.

Mr. Seeger also raised at least $19,000 for Haiti at a concert event sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Hope in Ossining, N.Y. CNN iReport posted a clip of Mr. Seeger on stage with Tom Chapin at the event.

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