Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Huddie!

January marks the 120th anniversary of Huddie William Ledbetter, the American folk and blues musician better known to the world as Lead Belly, King of the 12 string guitar.

No one knows for sure his date of birth, or even the year. Some say it was as early as 1885, though his gravestone sets the year as 1889.

Lead Belly, an ex-convict who was "discovered" by Alan Lomax went on to influence many musicians, including Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.

For a quick rundown on Lead Belly's life, check out this Wikipedia article

Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep From Singing?

For those of you who haven't heard my 3-part radio series, Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep From Singing?, we're gearing up for a second run this May 3rd in honor of Pete's 90th birthday.

Stay tuned for updates on when and where the program will be running in your area.

If you can't wait that long, you can always purchase the 3-CD set at my website,

If you're a Program Director who is interested in running this series, you can contact Rick Raab-Faber at for details on where the series is available. If you'd like to listen to samples or just read a little more, check out the series website,

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pete sings with Bruce Springsteen at the Obama Inauguration

[UPDATE: Original YouTube video from German television was pulled for terms violation. Here is the HBO version]

Watch more Dailymotion videos on AOL Video

My associate Rick noted that "it's a great day in America when Barack Obama, Pete Seeger, and Bruce Springsteen appear before the world from our nation's capital." (Rick's a huge Springsteen fan.)

Thanks to and HBO for keeping this video up.


Here's some old footage of Pete singing Guantanamera. I'm not sure of the exact origin of this video posted on You Tube.

I have an old archival recording I made when I was about 14 years old at Camp Abellard in New York. Pete came and sang to us campers and I had a chance to record it on reel-to-reel tape. After the performance, he signed some autographs and chatted with the kids. I had a chance to introduce him to one of the campers there, Cesar, a young man from Cuba who wanted to play a song for Pete. That song was Guantanamera, a Cuban folk song from a poem by Jose Marti, and it was the first time Pete heard it. In the recording, Pete asks the Cesar to write the lyrics out for him, and he asked me to send him a copy of the recording.

A Nobel Prize for Pete Seeger?

A January 19th article -- by Peter Dreier in the Huffington Post, no less -- notes the growing call for Pete Seeger to be given the Nobel Peace Prize.

There's also a website -- -- where you can sign a petition to honor this man for his uncompromising and unyielding dedication to to goals of peace and justice. The important thing to note here is that the prize is only given to living individuals. Pete's 90th birthday is coming up in early May, so time really is of the essence.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dispatches from the front

I'm on the road today, in California's great Central Valley. We had to put on the A/C because it was getting so warm.

We've spent several delightful days along Route 66, but now we're heading up to San Francisco State, where I'll be teaching a broadcasting course for a few months.

In other news, my manuscript of "A Route 66 Anthology" is off at a publisher. This book is a collection of stories by well-known authors that are set along the great mother-road.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Grammy Nomination for Pete

Pete Seeger's been nominated for a Best Traditional Folk Grammy for his "At 89" CD released earlier this year. Among others, he's up against Appleseed labelmate (and sister) Peggy Seeger for her album "Bring Me Home."

Others nominated in this category are Kathy Mattea,Tom Paxton, and Rosalie Sorrels.