Pete Remembers Woody – “I’d say Woody was a happy person. He was an optimistic guy, a thumbs-up guy. He was looking for the silver lining – at the same time he didn’t want to ignore the dark side of the cloud”.
Today, Woodrow „Woody“ Wilson Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – 3. October 3, 1967) and Peter „Pete“ Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) are American Legends but back in September 1941, they were just a pair of rabble-rousing buskers trying to find a gig, pass a hat, raise a few spirits and a little workers’ solidarity. They shared an unyielding bond of friendship, bound in a tapestry of glory and music.
In the history of American music, few relationships are as legendary as that of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. The image of a young Pete and an almost as young Woody, rambling across the country together singing in union halls and work camps and saloons is forever emblazoned in the mind of every folksinger who would follow.
Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was raised in rural Oklahoma by a father who taught him how to hitchhike and to hop freight trains. Peter Seeger was 7 years younger than Guthrie and came from a vastly different cultural background; his was a musical New York City family (his father was a Harvard-educated musicologist, his mother a concert violinist who taught at Juilliard). Woody dropped out of high school. Pete dropped out of Harvard. Both discovered activism and a passion for social justice at an early age and shared a love for Folk Music. Their first encounter was in March 1940, when he was Pete was 20 and Guthrie, 27, at a benefit for migrant workers, called the Grapes of Wrath Evening.
Woody was clearly the senior and by far the more experienced of the two and not only helped show Pete his stock-in-trade as a folk singer but also how to survive on the road by riding the rails, bumming a ride, performing in bars, encountering and influencing people. In the process they developed a friendship and a mutual respect that would span the country and the years. That friendship and respect is evident throughout their musical collaboration.
Woody Guthrie was a seminal influence on Pete Seeger, who eventually became America’s most influential folk singer. Now, on the 54th Anniversary of Woody’s death, we present a collection of material about Pete and Woody’s time together; a rich tapestry of stories, songs and recollections. It is by no means a complete history but taken together, these words paint an engaging portrait of the relationship between these two very different individuals and placing it squarely in the context of the times they were living through.
Pete Remembers Woody – “We all read about music being a part of people’s lives, but I hadn’t seen it in action until I met him. The words that came out of his mouth and the music he made all flowed together with the life that he had led and I was greatly attracted to it and kind of tagged along after him for several months. Woody showed me how to hitchhike and how to ride freight trains, how to sing in saloons.”
Featuring THE WOODY SEZ ORCHESTRA; Mark Hatlie – Banjo… Werner Hummel – Mandolin, Blues Harp… Florian Eisentraut – Contrabass… Katharina Haak – Guitar…Charles C. Urban – Guitar… Samantha Mohr – Vocals… Elena Gallego – Vocals… Derrick Jenkins – Whistling, Vocals & Storytellings… Qi Fan – Percussion… and Special Guest Artist – Dr. Erica Applezweig
In cooperation with: New English American Theatre, Staatministerin für Kultur und Medien, Kulturverein Merlin e.V.
Monday, October 4 at 20:00 hrs in MERLIN