Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Here’s Jay:

“Pete Seeger played at Malcolm's school this morning as part of a activist/folk music gathering sponsored by a group called People's Music Network.

“He really is marvelous -- gotta be 80 or so by now. I've seen him a handful of times, from the early 80s when he was still in strong voice 'til now, as he sings in a authoritative whisper.

“Anyway, the performance was great (maybe another letter in that), but what happened later was really cool. A Japanese-American story teller (didn't catch her name) did a piece where she taught everyone a Japanese folk song about singing frogs (keke keke keke keke kwa kwa kwa was the refrain -- do re mi fa mi re do) -- a round in four parts. Pete stood in the back, singing along to himself, and as she was finishing up he sat up on a table, grabbed an envelope, quickly scribed as if with a staff, and jotted down the tune. He then ambles over to the poster she was using to lead the audience and jots the words down below the bars. He ran over it again silently mouthing it and stuffed it in his jeans pocket.

“Another song collected.”

JOHN REPLIES: I saw Pete Seeger in ‘90 or ‘91, in Chicago, a concert with Arlo Guthrie. Unforgetable show, Pete’s incredible musicianship, Arlo’s hilarious monologues, the feeling between them.

Pete Seeger is 85 now.

I've been playing a recording of Pete Seeger live at Town Hall (Manhatten) for the kids almost every night for the last two weeks. I've got "Here's to Cheshire" memorized to the point of haunting my dreams! But the show is so great, from the perspective of entertainment, education, and musicology.
Once in a while some little thing happens to remind us how small the world is. I'm Google-ing just now to find a drumming circle in Kalamazoo, Michigan to facilitate an experiential learning, group building thing with teens. One of the links leads me to Jay Sherman Godfrey writing about Pete Seeger at Malcolm's school. Cool! Jay grew up in Kalamazoo - I've known him since he was a little older than Malcolm is now. Last night, one of the kids in the group that will do the drumming, mentioned They Might Be Giants - and I told him about Jay, that he's played on some of their recordings.
I'm going out to lunch now and fully expect to run into Jay's parents to bring this full circle!

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