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Vol.3, Folk And The Roots Of American Music (3-CD)

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Deutschsprachige Ausgabe: BCD17227

3-CD Digipak mit 112-seitigem Booklet, 63 Einzeltitel. Gesamtspieldauer ca. 233 Minuten

Along
with folklorist Alan Lomax, Pete Seeger was a primary figure in seeding
and shaping the American folk music revival. He never viewed himself as
an entertainer, nor was he particularly comfortable as a solo
performer. Yet his evangelical zeal for folk music and progressive
social change inspired and nurtured three generations of
singer-songwriters.

Born May 3, 1919 in New York City, Pete
Seeger was the third and youngest son of Charles and Constance Seeger,
instructors at the New York Institute of Musical Art. The couple
divorced when Peter was eight years old. In 1932 Charles married his
student, Ruth Crawford, now hailed as a major 20th century composer. The
couple had four children; of them, Mike and Peggy Seeger also became
significant figures in American folk music.

In summer 1936,
Charles and Ruth took the 17-year-old Peter to the 'Mountain Dance And
Folk Festival' near Asheville, North Carolina. The youth was fascinated
by the square dances and especially Bascom Lamar Lunsford's and Samantha
Bumgarner's driving five-string banjo styles. Seeger spent the next
five years perfecting his own banjo technique.

After dropping out
of Harvard University, Seeger became involved with folk music, labor
organizing and politics. Alan Lomax encouraged the youth, hiring him to
catalog race and old-time music recordings held by the Archive of
American Folk Song in the Library of Congress. As Seeger's confidence
and musical skills grew, Lomax invited him to participate on his CBS
radio show. In March 1940 Seeger met balladeer Woody Guthrie at a New
York fundraiser for displaced migrant workers.

In January 1941
Seeger, Lee Hays and Millard Lampell formed the Almanac Singers,
performing folk songs and incisive topical songs at meetings, private
functions, and labor rallies. Singing in natural, unaffected voices and
driven by Seeger's clawhammer banjo, the Almanacs fused the essence and
excitement of rural Southern string bands with the passion of labor
songs and the dry, clever wit of New York's cabaret entertainers. This
appealing music hybrid defined the sound and style of the American folk
revival, and their records inspired a generation of young musicians.
During the group's brief existence, the Almanac Singers' revolving
roster included Woody Guthrie, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Josh White,
Bess Lomax Hawes and Agnes 'Sis' Cunningham.

While serving in the
army during World War II, Seeger envisioned a national movement
unifying songwriters, performers, choral leaders and labor unions into a
force for political and social change. After returning to New York in
fall 1945, Seeger formed People's Songs. Initially drawing upon members
of New York's leftist folk, theatrical and literary scenes, the
organization soon opened offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and Cleveland.
Two years after its founding, 2,000 folk music enthusiasts attended
People's Songs' first national convention in New York.

However,
People's Songs emerged as anti-Communist fervor grasped America. Many
activists within the movement were or had been members of the American
Communist Party. In 1948, People's Songs embraced the third-party
Presidential bid of former Vice-President Henry Wallace, who advocated
co-operation with the Soviet Union. Members who mistrusted the
Communists broke away from the movement, while those who remained ?
particularly Seeger ? became easy targets for right-wing zealots.

The
Wallace campaign bankrupted People's Songs. To pay off its debts, the
remaining activists held a fund-raising hootenanny at a New York theater
in late November 1948. To accompany a folk dance ensemble, Seeger
recruited guitarist Fred Hellerman, his old Almanac Singers vocalist and
song leader Lee Hays, and contralto Ronnie Gilbert. The quartet clicked
musically and further rehearsals refined their sound. Although they had
no long-range professional aspirations, the group performed at labor
functions, political rallies and on Oscar Brand's WNYC radio show,
eventually adopting the name The Weavers. In December 1949 the group
reluctantly accepted a week-long engagement at the Village Vanguard, a
popular lower Manhattan cabaret. The response led owner Max Gordon to
extend the booking through June. , Orchestra leader Gordon Jenkins
caught the Weavers at the Vanguard and brokered a Decca recording
contract. Their first record with Jenkins, Goodnight, Irene backed with
Tzena, Tzena, Tzena, unexpectedly became 1950's biggest hit.

As
their visibility rose, so did the ire of the watchdogs on the right.
Harvey Matuso, a former People's Songs volunteer who fancied himself as a
master of espionage, warned the FBI about the Weavers' Communist
affiliations. 'Red Channels' cited Seeger for 13 Communist affiliations.
Television appearances were cancelled when callers threatened sponsors
with boycotts. The Knights of Columbus forced the Ohio State Fair to
pull the Weavers' booking; the incident received national publicity.
American Legion posts in various cities harassed nightclub owners that
booked the Weavers. With each new Decca release, airplay dwindled. By
1952 the group formally disbanded, although it reunited sporadically for
concerts after 1955.

Seeger resumed his solo performances,
primarily in front of appreciative college audiences. He remained a
target of right-wing super patriots. On August 18, 1955, Seeger was
subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
A polite but hostile witness, he refused to answer questions about his
personal and political associations. His stance led to a March 26, 1957,
indictment for contempt of Congress. For the next five years Seeger was
obligated to notify the federal government whenever he left the
Southern District of New York. In March 1961 a jury found Seeger guilty
and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The first four tracks in
this collection were recorded during this period of uncertainty.

Oh,
Had I A Golden Thread appeared on Seeger's 1960 Folkways collection
'Rainbow Quest.' Seeger later used it as the theme for his mid-'60s
public television series. That album also yielded one of Seeger's
best-loved songs, Where Have All The Flowers Gone. He wrote it in
October 1955, basing it on three lines from a Ukrainian folksong Mikhail
Sholokhov quoted in his 1934 novel 'And Quiet Flows The Don.' He
introduced his three-verse version at an Oberlin College concert, sang
it for about a year, then set it aside until he recorded it in 1959.

Joe
Hickerson, later director of the Archive of Folk Song at the American
Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, attended that Oberlin
concert. Hickerson was an Indiana University folklore student in early
1960 when Folkways released Seeger's 'Rainbow Quest' album. He began
singing Where Have All The Flowers Gone around Bloomington coffeehouses
and hootenannies. Feeling the song was too short for audience
participation, Hickerson wrote two additional verses followed by a
repeat of the first verse. He introduced his expanded circular version
the following summer at Camp Woodland, a progressive youth camp in New
York's Catskill Mountains. At the end of the season, the staff and
campers brought the song to New York City, where Peter Yarrow, Noel
Stookey and Mary Travers learned it for their first album as Peter, Paul
and Mary. The Kingston Trio learned it from them, beating them in the
marketplace with a quickly recorded single.


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