One of my earliest memories was hearing my parents play and sing together. My dad played the piano, while my mother played the violin. Sometimes they sang together in performances, not just at home. I started playing piano at the early age of five, gradually adding in violin and French horn.
Many times I sang and played with them. I remember when I was as young as five (maybe even younger), being part of their performances. As an adult, I added even more instruments – guitar (both folk and classical), recorder, lute, organ, balakaika, koto and on and on – and I kept on singing.
When my brother came along, he sang along with us with, sometimes playing his trumpet or piano. A few weeks ago, my brother posted about the sheet music he has from that era. I still have some of those pieces, also.
In a musical family, it’s no surprise that there are piles of music all over. They take up all the storage space in my living area. Periodically I go through these stacks and reorder them according to my passion du jour.
This past week, while rearranging my music one more time, I pulled out old sheet music from the twenties and thirties, music my parents played and passed on to us. Sad to say that many of the covers had been torn off; I think it was to make it easier for them to keep it on a music stand while they played. I’ve made copies of those not destroyed.
I also have stacks of music from my teen and early adult years of the forties and fifties, as well as from the era of my hippie days in the sixties and seventies. Each of these generations of music has its own particular flavor, as you know. Maybe I’ll show covers from those eras another time.
My mother and my brother share January as their birthday month (Happy Birthday, bro!), and she would have had her 96th birthday this month if she had lived. Although she was quite musically talented, I believe her creativity in other areas often became stifled, not because of the era but because of the expectations required of her as a pastor’s wife. She and my dad passed their creative genes to my brother and to me. It is up to us and future generations not to let it die.
My hope is that my own musical children remember hearing and playing music in our home from their early years, and that they have passed it on to their children and grandchildren.
My brother recently posted about the concert he attended in Florida. Because he mentions that it was more about his sister’s era (that’s me!) I thought I would share it with you. Of course, watching the video clips he chose certainly did bring back a lot of memories. Since many of you don’t read my brother’s blog, he has given me permission to repost it here!
Enjoy!! And let me know if you are in my era, too! Thanks, Hilton!!
Work o’ the Weavers at St. Pete Palladium Side Door
A few nights ago, a friend called and said, “We’re going to the [Work o’ the] Weaver’s concert Thursday night at the Palladium. I know you like that kind of music. Do you want to come, too.” I said yes immediately.
And…I am old enough to remember seeing Joseph McCarthy on someone’s television (we didn’t have one then). I mention that because the Weavers and other folk singers of that time, as well the classical composer and American legend, Aaron Copland, were all hauled before McCarthy’s committee and interrogated. And, yes, they were definitely left-leaning sympathizers and supporters of Henry Wallace for president.
Thursday night’s concert by the contemporary tribute group, Work o’ the Weavers (see workotheweavers.com), was one of the most enjoyable musical evenings I’ve had in a long time. If you ever get a chance to hear the group, go. Their appeal is not limited to folks my age; I saw a number of teens and young adults there who were bobbing and swaying and singing “Good Night Irene” along with us of the blue-rinse set.
My guess is the only demographic group not represented–or if they were there, they kept on the down low–were Tea Party members, because the tradition of the Weavers, which the Work o’ the Weavers is all about, is definitely tied to the Progressive movement during the Great Depression and World War II. So many of the songs that were sung then, and last night, are unfortunately still appropriate now during the Great Recession, especially the pro-labor and pro-peace songs.
The concert was in two parts. In the first part, every song was woven into a detailed narrative of the history of the (original) Weavers. It really was a complete history of the group, the music, its composers and lyricists, and the times. It was not just a series of songs by the Weavers. It was educational in a very real sense.
The second part of the concert followed the dictum of Pete Seeger, who is close to the members of the group and endorses it, to not just look backward, but to sing also what the Weavers would sing now if they still existed today. What a wonderful idea. Three songs from that second half were my personal favorites for the night: Red Goes the Vine/In Dead Earnest, We’re Still Here, and My Peace. They’re all on a CD called We’re Still Here. That’s a link to the MP3 “album” which just costs a hair over 1/2 what the actual CD sold at the concert cost. I recommend it, highly.
The Work o’ the Weavers website has plenty of information and videos. Here’s one, Work o’ the Weavers – Distilled, that gives you a good feel for the group.
The lyrics of the aforementioned song, “My Peace,” was written by Woodie Guthrie just after he was hospitalized with Huntington’s Disease and set to music by his son, Arlo Guthrie. Here it is being sung by the Guthrie Family – My Peace:
If you’d like to see some video of the original Weavers, here’s The Weavers – Around The World:
Here’s a Youtube presentation of them singing the first song the Weavers ever recorded, The banks of Marble – The Weavers (that’s Pete Seeger singing solo on first verse):
The words of that song are so appropriate today, maybe more than ever before. Here’s a more recent recording just by Pete Seeger and with a more meaningful video — Banks of Marble:
And…thrown in for good measure and having almost nothing to do with The Weavers or Pete Seeger or The Work o’ the Weavers other than it’s authentic, old-timey American folk music is this video I stumbled upon while looking up the other videos — the Best Bluegrass Clog Dancing Video Ever Made. Unfortunately, that has to be watched on Youtube, itself and can’t be embedded. So, please click on the link. That’s old style clogging. I promise you will not be able to hold your body still. I just LOVE that music!!!!!
If you make a purchase through any of the Amazon links in this article, I make a few cents but your cost is not increased in any way.