When you think “Pete Seeger” and all you think about is the Clearwater Festival or the sloop of the same name, you’re not thinking enough.
Sure, Seeger founded the Clearwater organization and launched the ship that helped lead to the Hudson River’s rebirth.
But there’s oh, so much more, to the folk singer who calls the Hudson Valley home. That’s what I came away with after watching this week’s American Masters on PBS that took a long look at Seeger’s life. I knew some of it. But when you sit down and let his life’s story just roll over you, its depth is amazing.
There’s his involvement in the labor/union movement, weathering the
1959 1949Ã‚Â riot outside Peekskill against Paul Robeson, being blacklisted after appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee, founding the Newport Folk Festival, active in the Civil Rights movement – and the list just goes on.
If PBS replays the show or you ever find it on DVD, it’s worth a look. (Update: Looks like it’s on again on March 6, Channel 13, 8 p.m.)
It’s filled with historical clips and appearances by Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie and others. Guthrie, by the way, recalls folks poo-poohing Seeger’s idea for the Clearwater – saying building a sloop won’t attract anyone to the Hudson. The link above to the show has a collection of clips, etc.
This Rolling Stone interview is worth a read and LoHud’s sister paper, the Poughkeepsie Journal, has some videos.
As a last note, Seeger was born in Patterson in Putnam County.
More update: Check below in the comments for Frank’s Seeger recollection and then check out the photo below.
Here’s the caption we have from TJN photographer Mark Vergari: The sixth grade chorus under the direction of Frank Squillante from the Ardsley Middle School, join Pete Seeger and his grandson Tao Rodriguez Seeger, as they sing a brand new song called “Take it from Dr. King” during the Clearwater Festival Saturday, June 15, 2002, at Croton Point Park.