Pete Seeger would have been 100

The Pete Seeger Centennial Concert will be held Thursday, May 23 at The Egg in Albany.

Pete SeegerAt some point, I estimated that I saw Pete Seeger perform 32 times. The first time may have been at a George McGovern for President rally at SUNY New Paltz in the fall of 1972.

Pete would show up at various antiwar and environmental events up and down the Hudson in the 1970s.

I believe the only time I ever spoke to him, other than saying, “Hi, Pete!” was at an anti-apartheid rally in Albany in 1981; it was pouring rain. I saw him at a concert at Page Hall in Albany in April 1982. And I was on the Clearwater once.

I’ve written about Pete quite a bit, with some nifty links. I mentioned Goodnight Irene by the Weavers last week, and tomorrow will feature another Pete song.

So if you don’t know who he is, I’ll recommend:
Smithsonian Folkways biography
National Public Radio pieces
Songwriters Hall of Fame page
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame page; he was rightly inducted in 1996 as an early influence
All Music bio
Wikipedia page
Pete Seeger music
IMBD page, which has this quote: “His life since then has been one social cause after another, buoyed by an almost indefatigable career as a self-described ‘sing-along leader.'”

There are a number of Pete-themed centennial concerts this month, including one in Albany today featuring Happy Traum at the Linda. The Pete Seeger Centennial Concert will be held Thursday, May 23 at The Egg in Albany. Arlo Guthrie will be joined by a baker’s dozen of artists.

Listen to:
The Nation: Pete Seeger’s Top Ten Songs. “Musically, Seeger was both a songwriter and, like his idol Woody Guthrie, a great interpreter of America’s most resonant folk traditions.”
Rolling Stone: 20 Essential Tracks.
Greatest Hits, which is a bit of misnomer
Forever Young – Pete Seeger –
He Discusses “Turn, Turn, Turn” from If I Had a Hammer: Songs of Hope and Struggle
A Never-Before-Heard Pete Seeger Recording

A fortnight of years of blogging

“There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an ‘aspiring writer.’)

14 ballIt’s another anniversary at Ramblin’ with Roger. If 14 days is a fortnight, is fourteen years a fortnight of years? Probably not. Don’t care. (Not to be confused with Fortnite, which I’ve never played.)

You may have noticed that I’ve changed the look of the blog in the past month or so. This was not done for aesthetic reasons but rather operational ones. My old design was clashing with some PHP function – too boring to explain, frankly.

So I changed to some WordPress in-house style called Twenty Sixteen. I like that it does the pull quotes, that the comments are on the side, and the basic clean look. I need to tweak it eventually.

Of course, earlier posts may look “off” – pictures too wide, notably. But I don’t foresee changing the previous output any time soon.

I came across this article called The State of Blogging: Post Length and Publishing Frequency Trends. “The proportion of bloggers who typically write posts under 500 words has steadily declined since 2014.” The vast majority of my posts are under that threshold.

“…while the proportion of bloggers who typically write posts longer than 1,000 words has steadily increased.” I doubt I have five posts TOTAL out of over 5000 that have over a thousand words. I am a blogging dinosaur; so be it.

I am occasionally reminded why I blog. One of the factors was the Inaugural post of the late Steve Gerber, who wrote, among other things, The Defenders, Howard the Duck, and Man-Thing.

He wrote back on April 4, 2005: “There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an ‘aspiring writer.’ A writer can aspire to sell or publish, but only non-writers aspire to write.)”

Less than a month later, I started this blog, which proves that I am susceptible to suggestion. It makes me a good hypnosis subject and a dogged daily blogger.

Image by wisconsinpics from Pixabay

Amazing Grace: Aretha Franklin

See Mick Jagger seated in the church audience on night two.

Amazing Grace. Aretha FranklinAmazing Grace is a previously uncompleted documentary of Aretha Franklin singing gospel music. It also features the legendary Reverend James Cleveland, and the Southern California Community Choir under the direction of a guy named Alexander Hamilton. It was recorded over two nights in January 1972 at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles.

Director Sydney Pollack had filmed several TV series episodes and movies such as They Shoot Horses, Don’t They. But he “was totally inexperienced in shooting music documentary and shot without clapper boards snapping shut at the beginning of each take to help synchronize sound and picture in post-production.”

In short, Pollock never could make the film and in 2007, “dying of cancer, Pollack finally handed the documentary project over to producer and music enthusiast Alan Elliott.”

The film, even with its technical flaws, is tremendous. See Mick Jagger seated in the church audience on night two, occasionally out of focus. There’s Pollack waving at various technicians to get camera and still shots.

A couple things bugged me about the audience at the Spectrum Theater in Albany, where my wife and I viewed the film. One was the irritating folks across the aisle who talked incessantly unless there was music going on, and who turned on a flashlight so another of them could see her cellphone to turn IT on. Grrr.

The other thing I was able to recontextualize. It was the laughter in the audience when people at Aretha’s show “in the spirit.” It wasn’t necessarily even big gyrations.

For instance, Clara Ward, gospel music goddess sitting in the audience next to Aretha’s father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, stood up, put her hands up in the air, then fell back in her seat. This is funny?

This audience included people who obviously never went to a gospel music church service, never saw one on television. I became fascinated by what drew them to this film. Was this film providing them with a greater awareness, or are they stuck in the mocking phase?

After the film, I stood in the back waiting for my wife. As she walked out, the one other black person in the audience gave me a look I took to mean “yeesh, these people!”

As Aretha’s father said, Aretha Franklin NEVER left the church. And the Amazing Grace soundtrack album came out back in 1972. It was “the biggest selling disc of Franklin’s entire fifty-plus year recording career as well as the highest selling live gospel music album of all time.”

Listen to:
Wholly Holy (Marvin Gaye)
How I Got Over (Clara Ward)
Precious Lord, Take My Hand / You’ve Got a Friend (Thomas A. Dorsey, Frank Frazier/Carole King)