Archive for July, 2012

Breaking barn: Pete Seeger helps sloop, museum celebrate

Breaking barn: Pete Seeger helps sloop, museum celebrate

                    by Lynn Woods on Jul 26, 2012 • 5:08 pm  — Kingston Times

Pete Seeger performs at River Day. (Photo by Phyllis McCabe)

When Pete Seeger first sailed into Kingston on the sloop Clearwater in 1969, shortly after the ship’s launch, “it was a bit of a mess. The gang cleared the debris away, we built a beautiful bonfire and people danced around the fire,” he recalled. Musicians played. It was perhaps Kingston’s darkest hour: Urban renewal had just about completed the clearing away of most of downtown Rondout, leaving a spectacle of utter devastation. But the arrival of the Clearwater marked a new beginning. It sparked the revitalization that slowly transformed the waterfront into the bustling place of cafés, parks, boat docks, galleries and enterprising commerce we know today.

But the purpose of Seeger’s surprise visit to the Hudson River Maritime Museum during its River Day festival, held on Saturday, July 21, was not to look back, but celebrate. The occasion was the groundbreaking of the new maintenance barn and educational center for the Clearwater, which, starting in November, will be berthed at the museum during the winter.

Looking youthful in jeans and a wide-brimmed hat, the 93-year-old iconic folk singer, songwriter and activist wielded one of the shovels at the ceremonial ground-breaking (strictly a photo op — the foundation of the barn has already been dug, as evident from the nearby massive disturbance of earth).  Later, he played a few songs with guitar player and singer Rick Nestler, strumming his well-worn banjo and prompting the small crowd to join in. It was impossible to resist his cheerful overtures, an evocation of the spirit of togetherness that has proved to be such a powerful impetus for Seeger’s political protests over the years, not to mention the launching of the sloop and the founding of a significant environmental organization.

‘A beginning thing’

The barn, a dream come true, marks a new, auspicious chapter for the Maritime Museum and the Kingston waterfront, noted the speakers, who stood before a backdrop of berthed tugs and a restored wooden Pennsylvania Railroad barge, open to the public for the event. “The Clearwater has been in the forefront of the future of the Hudson River and the Maritime Museum has been in the forefront of the history and heritage of the river,” said Patrick McDonough, who is the museum’s new executive director. “The museum has been the anchor of the renaissance here in Rondout and with Clearwater as a partner, greater things are happening.”

“Today we have a beginning thing,” noted Jeff Rumpf, executive director of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, who jokingly likened the day’s event to a wedding between the two organizations.

Jack Weeks, a local physician who is vice president of the HRMM’s board, noted that the groups’ success at raising $1 million to fund the construction was “nothing short of miraculous.” The funds include a $125,000 state grant obtained with the help of Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (who could not be at the event and was represented by Kingston Common Council Majority Leader Tom Hoffay), although most of the money consists of private donations.

Much of the wood for the structure has been salvaged from oaks and other trees downed in the freak snowstorm last October, said Allan Shope, president ofClearwater’s board and co-chair of the barn building project. He noted that the building will provide the winter maintenance crew with heat and plumbing for the first time in the ship’s history.

It’ll also be a model of green building designed for future challenges. The barn will be raised so as to avoid damage from flood waters, which are expected as a result of global warming. Weeks said he is in discussion with local suppliers about installing solar panels on the roof, and heat will be provided by a radiant system in the flooring.

Raising in September

The building will be erected in an old-fashioned barn-raising on Saturday, Sept. 15, with volunteers gathering at dawn. It is scheduled to be fully functional six weeks after, at which time the sloop will be placed on a barge to undergo repairs to the aft section, of which two thirds must be replaced.


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Pete Seeger at Byrant Park (NYC) on July 18th for New Book Signing


Wednesday, July 18, 2012
12:30 – 1:45pm
Pete Seeger and co-editors Sam and Rob Rosenthal, Pete Seeger: His Life in His Own Words
With a special musical tribute by David Amram, who wrote the forward to the book
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer makes a rare appearance to chat with his co-editors about his incredible life as a musician and activist. Please know that Pete Seeger will only be signing copies of his new book – no memorabilia – at this event.
“Word for Word Author” is an outdoor reading series that features bestselling authors, celebrity writers, and expert-panelists sharing anecdotes, answering questions from the audience, and signing copies of their latest books.
Location: The Bryant Park Reading Room located on the 42nd Street side of the park – under the trees – between the back of the NYPL & 6thAvenue. Look for the burgundy and white umbrellas.  Bryant Park phone number: 212-768-4242
Rain Venue:  Library of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen
20 West 44th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenue)

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Pete Seeger in His Own Words — New Book Just Released by Paradigm Press

Pete Seeger in His Own Words

Edited by Rob and Sam Rosenthal and Published by Paradigm Press

Long an icon of American musical and political life, Pete Seeger has written eloquently in books and for magazines, activist movements, and union newsletters. Although he has never written an autobiography, his life story is nowhere more personally chronicled than in the private writings, documents, and letters stored for decades in his family barn.

In Pete Seeger: His Life In His Own Words, we hear directly from Seeger through the widest array of sources—letters, notes to himself, published articles, rough drafts, stories, and poetry—creating the most intimate picture yet available of Seeger as a musician, an activist, and a family man—in his own words and from his own perspective. From letters to his mother written when he was a 13-year-old desiring his first banjo to speculations on the future, this book covers the passions, personalities, and experiences of a lifetime of struggle—the pre-WWII labor movement, the Communist Party, Woody Guthrie, the blacklist, the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King, the struggle against the war in Vietnam, Bob Dylan, travels around the world, cleaning up the Hudson River, Granny D, Fidel Castro, Bill Clinton, and countless uncelebrated activists with whom Seeger has worked and sung. The portrait that emerges is not a saint, not a martyr, but a flesh-and-blood man, struggling to understand his gift, his time, and his place.

Here is a link to the publisher’s website where the book can be purchased:

It is also available from the usual online booksellers, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, etc.

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