Entry No.60;May 2014
A DAY IN THE LIFE
In preparation for several upcoming gigs at the Capt. Lawrence Brewery, Garcia's and more... Deni Bonet, Adam Roberts and I spent 4 hours running through numerous original songs, including many off my upcoming record, Irish and Appalachian fiddle tunes, old country blues, Old & In the Way, and even a little jazz. We played about 50 tunes in all, finishing around 5pm, at which time we all trucked into the Big Apple where I met my mandolin teacher and mentor, Barry Mitterhoff.
Barry's the virtuoso multi-instrumentalist that's been playing alongside Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna) for um-teen years or more. He's a great teacher and often turns me on to a bigger, more satisfying world of American music. He also loaned me a tenor banjo (a 4-string like Ayodele plays) and turned me on to an old R. Crumb/Jerry Zolten album called "Chimpin' The Blues".
Later, I met Deni again at Coogan's, an atmospheric Irish Pub on 169th and Broadway. We had dinner with the owner, Peter Walsh, who's also an amazing singer. We talked about doing some live music at Coogan's sometime soon with Fred Gillen Jr., Deni and I. I'll keep you posted on that.
I strummed that 4-string banjo all the way back to Hastings-on-Hudson to the rhythm of the rails and the wheels and the train.
What a great day! Gracias a la vida!
Entry No.59;February 2014
When I first heard about Pete Seeger I was 6 or 7 years old. I listened to a record called Pete Seeger Sings Folk Music of the World. As a child, to me he was a magical person who pushed air and came to me through vinyl. It was the first time I heard "Kisses Sweeter than Wine" ... WOW!
The first time I met Pete I was in college at NYU and in a band called The Hour. We were playing at a small music festival in Beacon, NY. I was about 19 and he was with his wife Toshi. We went on before him and when he took the stage we said hello to each other and I introduced myself. His performance blew me away. His storytelling was so compelling and his ability to get everyone singing was gripping and incredibly moving. I knew I had stepped into living history.
I met Pete again a couple of years later when my mother introduced me to him. She had photographed him and Pete and Toshi both liked her pictures. For years, whenever I saw him, Pete would always ask about my mom!
The first time I worked with Pete, he invited me to join a chorus called the New York Street Singers. We met once a week for 18-ish months. I sat at his knee, learning as much as I could, including how to lead a song and sing together. We would concertize together and sometimes I would drive. We drove to Philadelphia together, and to Lincoln Center, Central Park, Avenue C & 5th Street, Union Square, St. Marks Church, schools, parks, and many more.
The day we lost Pete Seeger I woke up with a melody in my head. I walked into my studio to lay it down and turned on my recorder. Because it's on my phone I saw a bunch of texts that Pete had passed. I quickly recorded the tune and then had to go and tell my wife and just sit still for a while.
Pete loved children and when we put homeless kids from Westchester together with him, he was oh so very happy. Singing with people, especially kids, really lifted his heart. That made me very happy and I want to keep Pete's legacy alive through that tradition. I loved him and his wife Toshi dearly and will carry on!
Please take a look at this video. Recorded live in Dobbs Ferry, NY on December 10, 2009, Pete sings with the Take Me To The River Children's Community Chorus.
peace, love and music,
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