Friday, May 12, 2023

Tribute: Celebrating the Music of Pete Seeger and the Clearwater on May 13 in Saranac Lake

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger’s banjo is inscribed with the words, “This banjo surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.”

On May 13, 2023 at 7 p.m., people will gather again at the First Presbyterian Church of Saranac Lake’s Great Hall to celebrate Pete’s life work by sharing his music together. Over 50 years ago Pete and his wife, Toshi, spearheaded an effort to build the Hudson River sloop Clearwater. They hoped if people had intimate knowledge of the pollution on the Hudson and could feel the wind and the water, they would be inspired to solve big problems one song at a time.

The Clearwater project’s efforts helped to pass the Clean Water Act in 1972. The act’s preamble declared that the nation’s waters would be swimmable and fishable within a decade, with no discharges of pollutants within a dozen years but our public waters remain under threat. Clearwater continues to be a leader in ensuring clear water for all people. Pete stated, “I guess I’ve learned more from the Clearwater than anything else. All I did was help plant a seed.”


This occasion marks the 7th Earth Care Coffeehouse: Pete Seeger Tribute and on the evening of May 13, local performers are freely offering their energy to celebrate Pete Seeger’s life and to help continue to clean the water and the earth. All are welcome to come celebrate Pete’s life work for the environment in song. Travis Jeffery a former captain of the Clearwater and friend of the Seeger’s will share stories and will perform. He will be joined by Keith Gorgas, Duane Gould, Lisa and Klaus Meissner, Tom Techman and Slo’ Jam, Carl Rubino, Bruce Thompson and others. Free refreshments will be provided by the bakers of the Presbyterian Church.


This event is free, and donations to the Hudson Sloop Clearwater Project will be accepted.


Interested parties can learn more about the Clearwater and its mission at

The First Presbyterian Church of Saranac Lake is a Certified Earth Care Congregation. To obtain and retain this certification it not only continually upgrades its facility to reduce carbon emissions and pollution, but also actively works to help its members and our community to care for God’s creation. The First Presbyterian Church of Saranac Lake is located at 57 Church Street in Saranac Lake, NY.


Photo at top: Pete Seeger. Photo provided by Lisa Meissner of Rustic Riders.

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2 Responses

  1. Kevin Brennan says:

    I was lucky enough to have seen Pete make an appearance at Binghamton High School auditorium in 2004. I actually got to see Pete arrive out front in his red Volvo station wagon carrying his legendary inscribed banjo. He performed all the verses of “This Land is Your Land”. It gave me shivers. Most intimate and memorable performance I’ve ever been blessed enough to be part of. God rest His immortal soul!!!

  2. Peter McKee says:

    Pete’s banjo was actually inscribed with the words, “This machine [not “banjo”] surrounds hate and forces it to surrender”. It was Pete’s more gentle variation of the slogan Woody Guthrie had on his guitar during WWII – “This machine kills fascists.”

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