A couple of months ago I was looking at the Birchmere's fall lineup and saw "Woody Guthrie Tribute" on the list for October with Pete Seeger first on the list of performers. I didn't stop to see if I recognized any of the other artists. I just bought tickets. Pete Seeger. I mean, like, really: PETE SEEGER.
I suppose it could have been a let down. After all, after all the years of listening to his music and reading about him, my expectations might have been inflated beyond what any reality could live up to. I mean, his voice could have been shaky. He could have seemed small. He could have been somethng other than what I had imagined. But I think what amazed me most was how familiar everything seemed. There was Pete Seeger up on stage in a green shirt, looking tall and healthy, his banjo hanging from his right shoulder. His voice sounded just like it does on the records. After the intermission when he was answering questions about Woody Guthrie posed to him by Joe Uehlein, I knew his voice and his speech patterns.
The other artists were good too. Even though I'd never heard most of them before, some of their names were familiar. They were all talented musicians, and I will probably pick up an album by Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irions at some point. And because it was a Guthrie tribute I knew most of the songs. But, like most people in the audience, I was there to see Pete. I'd never seen him live before, and since he's 87 and not touring much, I figured this was my chance. It really was the perfect way to see him--surrounded by other singers who complemented his singing and playing style.
And then at the end everyone on stage and in the audience sang "This Land is Your Land," with Pete calling out the words to the verses in front of the song. Absolutely perfect.
We're off to Chicago for a weekend of pizza and dinosaurs!