Kronos Quartet “Long Time Passing: The Kronos Quartet and Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger” (Smithsonian Folkways, 2020)

This is an excellent recording that manages to celebrate and capture the essence of Pete Seeger the man, not just Pete Seeger the musician, while enhancing the already impressive reputation of the Kronos Quartet. While Pete Seeger’s name is well known in the folk and roots music world it is sometimes forgotten just how groundbreaking his work was as a musician and that he was a prime mover in forging a link between folk music and radical politics. He was born in 1919 to parents who were classical musicians. His father, Charles Seeger, held various roles under Roosevelt’s New Deal initiatives in the 1930s, and it was while accompanying his father on a field trip that he heard first-hand and for the first time the music of the banjo in North Carolina. Continue reading “Kronos Quartet “Long Time Passing: The Kronos Quartet and Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger” (Smithsonian Folkways, 2020)”

AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Gordon Sharpe

This week Gordon Sharpe provides the twentieth contribution to AUK’s continuing quest to find the top ten americana albums ever. As always it is a fascinating and educative experience as Gordon delves into the back catalogue of this thing we call americana. We are now turning into the home straight with this, but there are still many writers waiting to share their wisdom and suffering with you. Once they have finally all contributed we will have our shortlist from which the final collective AUK writers’ top ten will be chosen. Take it away Gordon…. Continue reading “AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Gordon Sharpe”

Kronos Quartet & Friends celebrate the music of Pete Seeger

The GRAMMY-winning Kronos Quartet has announced its new album ‘Long Time Passing: Kronos Quartet and Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger’, a tribute to the music, political philosophy, and social impact of Seeger, which is due out 9th October on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Joining the  group are Sam Amidon who appears on Kronos’ 2017 album ‘Folk Songs’ (which came out on the Nonesuch label), Maria Arnal, Brian Carpenter, Lee Knight, Meklit, and Aoife O’Donovan. The artists give voice to the plainspoken songs of struggle that Seeger both wrote and collected in his seventy-plus years as a musician, while Jacob Garchik and Kronos’ arrangements translate his banjo-playing for the group’s two violins, viola, and cello. Continue reading “Kronos Quartet & Friends celebrate the music of Pete Seeger”

Pick of the Political Pops: Pete Seeger “Freiheit”

This week we have been pondering the Spanish Civil War which broke out in July 1936. It was and, for political historians, remains a fascinating conflict the complexities of which present a head-scratching challenge to the best of us. Essentially at its core it’s a good old story of the fight between right and left (we say ‘good’ but somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 souls perished so not that good). Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Pete Seeger “Freiheit””

Mat Callahan & Yvonne Moore “Working-Class Heroes: A History Of Struggle and Song” (Free Dirt Records, 2019)

You know times must be tough when an album of pre World War 2 working class American songs sounds topical. ‘Working- Class Heroes’ finds folk singers Mat Callahan and Yvonne Moore revisiting 20 songs mainly culled from ‘Hard Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit People’, a book compiled by Alan Lomax with notes on the songs from Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, which was published in the sixties. It’s a reminder that times were certainly tough back then and also that the American working class were much more radical with communism and anarchy popular while strikes were often broken with savage violence by the forces of capitalism. Continue reading “Mat Callahan & Yvonne Moore “Working-Class Heroes: A History Of Struggle and Song” (Free Dirt Records, 2019)”

Pete Seeger’s political sailboat heads for DC

God it’s a great feeling in the era of presidential toddlers to have people like Pete Seeger still with us. Billboard reports: “Five decades after the late folk music icon Pete Seeger sailed to the nation’s capital to call for passage of federal Clean Water Act, his Hudson River sloop Clearwater has again cast off for Washington, D.C. to challenge President Trump’s rollback of environmental protections. Musicians and activists gathered June 17 during Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, a two-day folk-rock festival on the river’s edge in New York’s Westchester County, and loaded the sloop with a “cargo of concern” — petitions, municipal resolutions, and testimonials from individuals, citizen groups and elected officials.  Continue reading “Pete Seeger’s political sailboat heads for DC”