It Was a Very Good Year: Pete Seeger

Pete-Seeger (photo by Martin Benjamin)
Pete Seeger (center) with John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews and Neil Young

Photograph by Martin Benjamin

He’s not just a folk music great.

Pete Seeger is the living epitome of an American music icon…

Seeger fans gathered at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady on Sunday, May 12 for one of the most emotional, heartfelt concerts of the year. It was a combination 94th birthday party for Seeger, a 45th anniversary celebration for the venerable Eighth Step and a benefit for Camp Killooleet, a children’s camp in Hancock, Vermont, that was founded by Seeger’s elder brother John.

No, he can’t really sing anymore, but Seeger and his sister Peggy Seeger seemed to have total control over the sold-out crowd, turning the concert into a sing-along hootenanny. Totally mesmerizing. Heck, even on the way home after the concert, Seeger’s message of unity and community echoed along the streets as drivers – usually all too eager to roar home after a show – graciously paused to wave other cars ahead of them in the flow of congested traffic. Now that’s power…

Four months later, Seeger stepped back into the Nippertown spotlight as a surprise guest at the biggest show of the year – the Farm Aid festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Introduced by John Mellencamp, Seeger strode out on stage with his longneck banjo and led more than 25,000 folks – including his onstage back-up singers Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson and Neil Young – through a totally unexpected rendition of “This Land Is Your Land,” underscoring the farmers’ plight with a new anti-fracking verse.

And Pete Seeger wrapped up the year with yet another Grammy nomination – not in the Folk Music categories, but rather his album, The Storm King, earned him a nomination in the Best Spoken Word Album category, where he faces off against stiff competition from a diverse array of nominees, including Carol Burnett, David Sedaris, Billy Crystal and Stephen Colbert.

But 2013 certainly wasn’t all wine and roses for Seeger. In June, he lost Toshi Seeger, his life-long collaborator and wife of nearly 70 years…

Albany Symphony, Pete Seeger Earn Grammy Nominations
LIVE: Pete Seeger @ Farm Aid at SPAC, 9/21/13
LIVE: Peggy & Pete Seeger @ the Eighth Step at Proctors, 5/12/13
LIVE: Peggy & Pete Seeger @ the Eighth Step at Proctors, 5/12/13 (Take Two)

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