The Whallonsburg Grange Hall in Essex, New York will honor the 100thbirthday of the late folksinger Pete Seeger, joining communities across the US and the world to sing together and celebrate his life and music. The Grange events include a lecture on April 30, birthday concert on May 4 and a children’s music festival on May 18.
Pete Seeger spent his life spreading music to audiences of all kinds. From “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “We Shall Overcome” to traditional folk songs of different languages and cultures, he got people singing and left an indelible mark as one of this country’s most influential musicians. Seeger’s lifelong commitment to civil rights, the environment, social justice and peace was reflected in his songs.
The Grange events are part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Year of Song, celebrating Pete Seeger’s life and music. The schedule of events includes:
Tuesday, August 30 at 7:30 – Lyceum lecture, Pete Seeger at 100: Singing for Change, multi-media presentation by Grange board member Mary-Nell Bockman.
Saturday, May 4 at 7:30 – Pete Seeger’s 100th Birthday Bash, featuring acclaimed Hudson Valley folk duo Mike + Ruthy, who played with Pete Seeger in the last decade of his life and carry on his musical traditions. Tickets $12 / under 18, $5.
Saturday, May 18 – Music With a Message Children’s Music Festival, open to youth ages 7-17. Workshops with Adirondack folksinger Dan Berggren, Young Tradition Vermont musicians, art projects and more. Directed by Jennifer Moore. Free. Community Sing Out at 4pm open to everyone, with the Adirondack Children’s Community Chorus, Dan Berggren and special guests.
Pete Seeger had a long connection to the North Country, beginning as a 20-year-old member of the Vagabond Puppeteers, according to Whallonsburg Grange board member Mary-Nell Bockman. In the summer of 1939, the group traveled to rural communities all over upstate New York, including St. Lawrence, Franklin and Clinton counties, performing in support of dairy farmers on strike against the big milk monopolies. Bockman said, “One of Pete’s first original songs was ‘The Farmer is the Man Who Feeds ‘Em All,’ which he wrote on this tour. He played his banjo and also the part of a wise cow who urged farmers to join the Dairy Farmers Union. That summer spent with the dairy farmers had a profound impact on Pete’s political views and on the way he engaged with audiences.”
Seeger was good friends with the artist Rockwell Kent and his wife, Sally, and visited Asgaard Farm several times. After meeting Adirondack folklorist Marjorie Lansing Porter at a folk festival in Schroon Lake, he worked with her to record an album of traditional regional tunes called Champlain Valley Songs in 1960. He performed at Plattsburgh State, Clarkson University, and other colleges in the region numerous times in the 1960s.
All events will be held at the Whallonsburg Grange, 1610 NYS Route 22 in Essex, NY (corner of Whallons Bay Road). More information is available at www.thegrangehall.info or by calling 518-963-7777.