The late folksinger 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.
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.
The Whallonsburg Grange Hall in Essex is set to honor the 100th birthday of 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. 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 pm – 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 pm – 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 4 pm open to everyone, with the Adirondack Children’s Community Chorus, Dan Berggren and special guests.
All events will be held at the Whallonsburg Grange, 1610 NYS Route 22 in Essex, NY (corner of Whallons Bay Road). For more information, click here or call (518) 963-7777.
Photo of Whallonsburg Grange Hall provided.