Search This Blog

...a glimpse into life on Vancouver Island, needle felting, photography, food, gardening, etcetera...etcetera
"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Friday, January 31, 2014

Song for Friday...The stuff of a legend...

The year was 1989, it was summer and I was volunteering at The Vancouver Folk Festival.
Vancouver Folk Festival 2009
(photo courtesy of
For three summers in July I worked in the kitchen that fed all
of the volunteers and all of the performers.
That meant hundreds of chocolate cupcakes, gallons of coffee,
oodles of noodles and bagfuls of salad.
It also meant that I was able to meet all kinds of interesting and
sometimes famous singers.
One morning I had coffee with children's performer Rafi.
One afternoon I served cappuccino to Billy Bragg.
Other greats included Loreena McKennit, The Sun Rhythm Section (Elvis Presley's band),
Spirit of the West, Lillian Allen.
One of the most interesting groups were 3 women from the North.
Inuit Throat singers.
I wont even try to explain how they'll have to YouTube it to see it.
There was one performer there who really stood out though.
Pete Seeger.
seeger.jpg (357684 bytes)
Part of it was growing up in a folk inspired musical environment.
Part of it was knowing how important he was to so many protest movements.
When I was a kid, our church tried to attract a younger crowd, we had a folk
music mass and sang more than a few of Pete's songs.
That year at the festival, it was a bad one as far as weather goes.
It rained A LOT.
Not just a bit, but ALL weekend it poured.
On Sunday afternoon, Pete was doing a workshop on one of the smaller stages
and at the front where the audience was standing there was a pretty big mud puddle.
No one wanted to sit down and Pete said something about everyone being afraid of a little rain
and could the people in front sit down so the people at the back could see.
 When no one responded, in true Seeger fashion, he himself sat
right down in a puddle onstage until everyone else sat down.
Always sticking up for the underdogs.
But the highlight of the night was on Sunday night.
The finale of the show was Pete's performance.
There was quite a few volunteers and performers hanging around backstage
and in the wings while he did his set.
We were all honoured to be witnessing this folk legend.
For his last song he invited us all onstage to sing with him.
After all, he was the King of singalongs.
As I eagerly joined the crowd, I felt a hand grab mine.
I looked over and there was Pete Seeger holding my hand!
Grinning his infectious smile and leading us all
in a booming version of This Land is Your Land.
I'll always remember that moment of Pete just wanting everyone to join in
and sing your heart out.
Just as he always did.
No matter what.
In hard times, in good times, in sad times, he just wanted to sing about it.
Thanks for your music Pete.
And for taking my hand on that magical evening.
 So sing along and have a great weekend all!
So long Pete!


Nancy Kay said...

Oh my goodness, Kerry, this turned out to be an emotional read for me. What a wonderful experience it must have been to have joined this legend on stage, and he seems like such a compassionate and wonderful man and performer. Loved the video. Tough to say goodbye to such a legend.

Mairéad said...

What a wonderful memory to have. He was one of the good ones.