Every day this week at noon, Larry will be on the Radio Heartland music stream with
host Mike Pengra to talk about Pete Seeger and introduce a song. Radio Heartland is
a 24-hour roots and Americana music stream from Minnesota Public Radio at
www.radioheartland.org. It’s also on HD radio in the Twin Cities at KNOW 91.1 FM HD2.

Larry Long’s American Roots Revue has been awarded a 2014 Arts Tour Minnesota Grant through Community Celebration of Place (501-C3). American Roots Revue will perform in five greater Minnesota communities for forgotten populations and audiences in partnership with homeless shelters, incarceration facilities, and community and veterans organizations.

In each community American Roots Revue will celebrate in story and song the many nations of people who now call this country home. The performance will draw upon the musical roots of the Anishinabe-Ojibwe Nation, Pete Seeger, Mahalia Jackson, Woody Guthrie, Billie Holiday to the present day.
Featuring gospel powerhouse Tonia Hughes, gifted activist songwriter Larry Long, creative dynamo J.D. Steele, and keeper and singer of the song Waubanewquay – Dorene Day. With Marc Anderson (percussion), Cory Wong (guitar), Billy Peterson (Bass) and Brian Ziemniak (Keyboards).

One day prior to each American Root Revue celebration Larry Long will facilitate a collective songwriting session with those who are served by host community organizations. Their song will be performed by American Roots Revue on performance day.

Performance dates & locations

June 28, 2014: Duluth, Minnesota in partnership with Peace United Church of Christ and Churches United in Ministry (CHUM).

July 31, 2014: St. Cloud, Minnesota in partnership with Hands Across The World, which serves immigrants from East and West Africa, Central Africa, Ukraine, South America, Central America, Nepal, Vietnam, India, Middle East, Pakistan, Iraq and Mexico.

July 24, 2014: Cass Lake, Minnesota in partnership with Leech Lake Boys & Girls Club, Cass Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

August 15, 2014: Crookston, Minnesota in partnership with the Crookston Chamber & Visitor’s Bureau, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee, and Bring a Vet Home.

August 23, 2014 Detroit Lakes, Minnesota in partnership with The Refuge, who runs a regional homeless shelter for men serving Becker, Wadena, Hubbard, Mahnomen, and Otter Tail Counties, called the Compassion House.

msab_logo_colorLegacy Logo ColorFinal

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

For Pete’s Sake: Celebrating Pete Seeger’s 95th Birthday 

A collection of singers, musicians, spoken word artists, social leaders, and filmmakers will honor one of the world’s most influential folksingers, Pete Seeger, May 3rd, 7:30 PM – 9:30 Pm, at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. The event will celebrate the many phases of Seeger’s life in multimedia and with an abundance of music from across the cultural spectrum on what would have been Seeger’s 95th birthday. Members of Pete Seeger’s family will be in attendance. The concert will also be ASL Interpreted.

Pete Seeger was involved at crucial moments in the Civil Rights struggle in the south. In keeping with Pete Seeger’s commitment to social justice, proceeds from For Pete’s Sake will be going to the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School in south Minneapolis.

 TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE FITZGERALD THEATER BOX OFFICE, ALL TICKETMASTER OUTLETS, AND ONLINE AT WWW.TICKETMASTER.COM. TO CHARGE TICKETS BY PHONE, CALL 800-982-2787.  All tickets are $30, plus service fees.

Featuring: ROBERT ROBINSON  PRUDENCE JOHNSON  JOHN GORKA  ESTAIRE GODINEZ  CHASTITY BROWN LARRY LONG  JOYFUL NOIZE  PETER OSTROUSHKO  WAUBANEWQUAY DAY  ANN REED  DAN CHOUINARD  TONIA HUGHES  CYRIL PAUL  KEVIN FUHRMAN   BRIAN BARNES  BRITTANY DELANEY  MITCH WALKING ELK  COURTNEY YASMINEH  AIMEE BRYANT PATTY KAKAC  BARB TILSEN  POP WAGNER  TONY GLOVER  CHARLIE MAGUIRE  MARC ANDERSON  JOE SAVAGE  CAMERON WRIGHT  LORNA HER MANY HORSES  TIMOTHY FRANTZICH and ASL INTERPRETED

Minneapolis filmmaker William Eigen will share footage from his critically acclaimed documentary movies about Seeger.  The event will include words and poetry of Pete Seeger recited by community leaders of the many nations of people who call Minnesota home.

“For  Pete’s Sake grew out of encouraging hometowns and communities across  the country to honor Seeger on his 95th birthday. And people responded from Israel to Norway,” says Long. “Our celebration was rooted in Pete’s concept to think  globally and act locally. When I look at the bill, I feel like we’ve really accomplished that. If our featured artists — many of whom have national reach – can fill the house, we will have also succeeded in creating  something that can be replicated by others in other communities.”

RADIO HEARTLAND RECORDING CONCERT; PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT THE CHILDREN’S DEFENSE FUND AND FREEDOM SCHOOL

Radio Heartland will record the concert, and in the week leading to May 3, it will feature Pete Seeger and his inspired music. The 24-hour folk, roots and Americana music stream over 89.3 The Current can is available at www.radioheartland.org. It is also on HD radio at KNOW 91.1 FM HD2 in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Pete Seeger was involved at crucial moments in the Civil Rights struggle in the south.

In keeping with Pete Seeger’s commitment to social justice, proceeds from For Pete’s Sake will be going to the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School in south Minneapolis. ** Link to Seeger Interview: http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365165330

For Pete’s Sake: Celebration for Pete Seeger’s 95th Birthday is being produced by Larry Long’s American Roots Revue.

In the past, Seeger has fondly said, “I would be proud to be known as ‘the Larry Long of New York.'” Long has been a longtime friend since the ’70s with the legendary folk singing figure whose towering height and simple banjo-strumming tunes could move thousands of festival goers, or roomfuls of schoolchildren to all sing along. Long was also the only Minnesota performer invited to perform at Madison Square Garden in New York for Pete’s 90th birthday celebration, which included an all-star music tribute (http://tinyurl.com/l58cn9e).

For more information — or to interview Larry Long, or feature select participating musicians in studio — please contact Martin Keller, Media Savant Communications Co., 612-729-8585, mkeller@mediasavantcom.com

 

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*MORE ABOUT PETE SEEGER, FROM HIS NEW YORK TIMES OBITUARY

“Mr. Seeger was a prime mover in the folk revival that transformed popular music in the 1950s. As a member of the Weavers, he sang hits including Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” — which reached No. 1 — and “If I Had a Hammer,” which he wrote with the group’s Lee Hays. Another of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” became an antiwar standard. And in 1965, the Byrds had a No. 1 hit with a folk-rock version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” Mr. Seeger’s setting of a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

A Generation’s Mentor

Mr. Seeger was a mentor to younger folk and topical singers in the ‘50s and ‘60s, among them Bob Dylan, Don McLean and Bernice Johnson Reagon, who founded Sweet Honey in the Rock. Decades later, Bruce Springsteen drew from Mr. Seeger’s repertory of traditional music about a turbulent America in recording his 2006 album, “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,” and in 2009 he performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” with Mr. Seeger at the Obama inaugural

In his hearty tenor, Mr. Seeger, a beanpole of a man who most often played 12-string guitar or five-string banjo, sang topical songs and children’s songs, humorous tunes and earnest anthems, always encouraging listeners to join in. His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left: He sang for the labor movement in the 1940s and 1950s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam War rallies in the 1960s, and for environmental and antiwar causes in the 1970s and beyond. “We Shall Overcome,” which Mr. Seeger adapted from old spirituals, became a civil rights anthem.

READ MORE AT: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/29/arts/music/pete-seeger-songwriter-and-champion-of-folk-music-dies-at-94.html?_r=0

**About the Freedom School

The “Mississippi Freedom Summer Project” of 1964 was organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), two leading Civil Rights organizations.  The Freedom Schools movement was reborn in 1992 under the leadership of Marian Wright Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund’s Black Community Crusade for Children® (BCCC®) program to advance this transforming vision of education for all children through the CDF Freedom Schools program.

 

Links to both Freedom School and Children’s Defense Fun:

 

Sponsored by:   Community Celebration of Place   www.communitycelebration.org

 

Pete Seeger & Larry Long 1980

Pete Seeger was a giant of a man, who walked humbly on this earth.  He changed the course of history by changing the lives of everyone he met.  He inspired us all to be a little less selfish and more courageous in our giving.  He carried the memories of the people in the songs he wrote, the songs he sang, the stories he told, and the decisions he made daily to stand for justice from wherever he stood.   

Pete Seeger co-wrote We Shall Overcome during the Mississippi Freedom Summer campaign in 1964.   He was a World War II veteran who was a champion of the labor and anti-Vietnam War movement, as well.

Pete Seeger was truly a remarkable man.  He cared deeply for his neighbors, and we cared for him, because the entire world was his neighborhood.   His kitchen table was filled with letters that arrived daily from those who loved him.  He would separate those letters in piles and meticulously go through each one of them with hand written responses in the margins or on postcards with a sketch of a banjo by his name, Pete.

I met Pete Seeger through the former Farmer-Labor Governor of Minnesota, Elmer Benson.   After singing songs in support of the family farmer in the American Agriculture Movement’s strike office in Appleton, Minnesota, Governor Benson said, “You remind me of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.   Pete and Woody use to travel through Minnesota and sing for the lumberjacks and miners who were on strike.”

One month later, after arriving in Washington DC on a hundred mile long tractorcade for parity, I get a call from Pete Seeger through Governor Benson’s prompting, who shared stories with me about singing for striking dairy farmers at our nation’s capitol and gave me encouragement to keep singing for the people.

When they honored Governor Elmer Benson at the Prom Center in St. Paul in the late 70’s Pete brought me up on stage to sing with him.

I loved him as a father.  I loved him as a friend.   I would call him up on the phone at odd hours from the road. Sometimes we would talk for hours. Other times for only a few minutes, but no matter how long we talked, I always felt a whole lot better after we did. Conversations with Pete had no end, they just kept flowing into laughter and inspiration to keep on trying to make this world a little bit better than what it was when it was handed down to us.

I was asked to perform at Madison Square Garden with Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Ramblin Jack Elliot, Kris Kristofferson, Richie Havens, and others for his 90th Birthday celebration, which raised funds for the Clearwater Project Pete founded to help save the Hudson River. The moment most remembered was when Pete Seeger sang Amazing Grace and all 20,000 people stood up singing.

Pete Seeger gave us all a voice and the encouragement to keep on singing and making a

difference.
As Pete told me years ago,  “Try and do a good job with the people you know near you. It’s nice to travel. But – and I suppose while you’re young it’s the best time to travel. You can learn by traveling. The world can be your University, as Maxim Gorky once said.  But in the long run, find this part of the world that you really like that you can stick to.  It might be the same town you were raised in, but it might be another place. It might be a valley, it might be a desert, it might be a swamp, but find some area that you really like enough, so you’re going to stick there the rest of your life.”

Pete then shared, “Everywhere I go I tell this: When I meet somebody who says there’s really no hope – – you know, things are going to get from worse to worse, and this is the last century of the human race, I tell them: ‘Did you expect to see our great Watergate president leave office the way he did?’ They say, ‘No, I guess I didn’t. I say, ‘Did you expect the Pentagon to have to leave Vietnam the way it did?’ They say, ‘No, I didn’t.’ I say, ‘Did you expect to see the Berlin Wall come down so peacefully, the way it did?’ They say, ‘No, I really didn’t expect that.’ Then I say, ‘Did you expect to see Mandela head of South Africa?’ They say, ‘Oh no, no I really didn’t expect that, I thought he’d rot in jail forever, the rest of his life.’ ‘Well,’ I say, ‘If you couldn’t predict those things, don’t be confident that you can predict there’s no hope.”

It’s now our turn to carry that torch of justice, equity, and freedom out into the world. We’ve got work to do.  There’s a job to be done.  The future of our children depends upon it!

For Pete’s Sake

For Pete’s sake keep those rivers clean
The Hudson, Amazon, Volga, Nile, Yangtze, Ganges, Mississippi

(Chorus)
There ain’t no body in the whole wide world like Pete (2x)
There ain’t nobody in the whole wide world
Like each and every boy and girl
There ain’t nobody in the whole wide world like Pete

For Pete’s sake find a place you love to be
Stick with it, care for it
The whole world depends on it
All it takes is one good song
To help the world sing-a-long
(Chorus)

Sail away, sail away, sail on Clearwater
Sail away, sail away, sail on Clearwater

Words & music by Larry Long

Copyright Larry Long 2014 / BMI

 

American Roots Revue is returning to the Dakota this January for two shows on January 18. If you missed their last shows in November, now is the perfect opportunity to experience this amazing group of musicians all on stage at the same time. From the press release:

Back by popular demand after two sold-out shows at the Dakota in November, gospel great Robert Robinson; the unstoppably creative dynamo J.D. Steele; R&B powerhouse Tonia Hughes and gifted songwriter Larry Long will return with a band of musicians second to none on Saturday, January 18th. Together for an explosive new show at the Dakota, they will warm up your January with their powerful and heart-warming performances from the vibrant traditions of gospel, jazz, rhythm & blues, folk and rock. For this Martin Luther King weekend, join them in celebrating the ties that bind us together through a shared love of music rooted in the American experience. 

We hope to see you there! And to keep up with all the latest updates on the show, be sure to visit Larry on Facebook.

American Roots Revue is giving away two free tickets for Friday’s 9pm show at the Dakota. All you need to do is head on over to the American Roots Revue Facebook page, hit that nifty Like button, and enter. We’ll pick the winner at noon on Thursday, so get while the gettin’ good!

I want free tickets >

Larry performed the song “Redskins” today on KFAI’s Truth to Tell radio program (kfai.org/truthtotell). The song, which decries the use of the name “Redskins” by the Washington Redskins, was written for the  upcoming Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington football game at the Metrodome Nov. 7

NOVEMBER 7th Schedule:

4:30 PM at the American Indian Movement Interpretive Center 1113 E. Franklin Ave. Minneapolis, 55404 for cultural presentations before the March.

5:30 PM March to the Metrodome: We will be leaving from the American Indian Movement Interpretive Center and marching West on Franklin Ave to Chicago Ave to the Metrodome.

6 PM Rally at the Metrodome: There will be speakers and cultural presentations from the Four Directions of Mother Earth.

PRESENTATIONS AND SPEAKERS INCLUDE:  Midnight Express, Billy Mills (Makata Taka Hela) 10,000 Meter Olympic Gold Medalist, Kalpulli KetzalCoatlicue: Aztec and Nahuati Dance and Culture, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Mitch Walking Elk, Larry Long, and Clyde Bellecourt.

About Redskins recording:

Larry Long & Crow Bellecourt
Words & music by Larry Long
Copyright Larry Long Publishing 2013/BMI

Honor Song by Crow Bellecourt
Copyright Crow Bellecourt 2013/BMI

Recorded, mixed and mastered at Creation Audio, Studio A, Minneapolis MN
Engineer: Steven Wiese
Assistant: Ali Branjord

You can listen to the song below:

American Roots Revue Presents Larry Long, Robert Robinson, JD Steele and Tonia Hughes at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant

November 22, 2013 – 7pm and 9pm shows
Tickets: $30.

With Cory Wong (Guitar), Brian Ziemniak (keyboards), Yohannes Tona (bass), and Michael Bland (traps)

Start the holiday season with a musical feast! Join four regional powerhouses as they take you on a journey through the heart of America—bringing together gospel, reggae, Cajun, country, swing, folk, R&B and rock.  You’ll be treated to the “volcanic talent” of Robert Robinson, the “artistic range and gifted storytelling” of Larry Long,  “Midwest’s best kept secret” Tonia Hughes,  “world renowned” JD Steele, and a band of musicians second to none. Though uniquely different, these friends and artists all share the same soul and passion for music.  Join them on November 22nd at the Dakota Jazz Club for a night of love, laughter and song.

For More Information:

Buy tickets >

Facebook Event Page >

Larry & Fiddlin’ Pete Watercott will be playing at the Festival of Giving with Dean McGraw, Marc Anderson, Louis Alemayehu, and Alex Goldfarb, September 7, 2013, 11:00 – 3:00 at Common Ground Meditation Center, 2700 East 26th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406.

The event is offered free of charge though donations are appreciated ( all goes toward local non – profits).

The Festival of Giving is a community event put on by Common Ground Meditation Center: http://commongroundmeditation.org/
in Minneapolis 2700 East 26th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406

Common Ground Meditation Center

Larry Long & Fiddlin’ Pete Watercott have been playing music together for over 40 years. They have played music extensively throughout the United States—hitchhiking and hopping freights—and in the mid seventies they traveled in the much-beloved Lone Prairie Schooner and the Red Caboose down the back roads of America, passing the hat for a song. Since those early days, they’ve both become established and notable artists in their own right.

Though these friends now live thousands of miles apart, they continue to get together twice a year to play music and celebrate life with family and friends.

Thursday, September 5th, at Merlins Rest, is one of those rare occasions that shouldn’t be missed. Other musical friends and family who’ll be joining them include Prudence Johnson, Joe Savage, Larry Dalton, Melvin James, Bobby Vandell, and Melvin III.

Where: Merlins Rest Pub, 3601 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN 55406   (612) 216-2419  www.merlinsrest.com  When:   Thursday, September 5, 8:00-11:00 PM

Larry Long

On Saturday, September 7th,  Larry Long and Fiddlin’ Pete Watercott will be playing for the Festival of Giving, from 11am-3pm, at Common Ground Meditation Center, 2700 E 26th St  Minneapolis, MN 55406.       Contact:  651-528-2937  <commongroundmeditation.org>

The Festival of Giving is a day of music, food, and community. Other acts include Dean Magraw, Marc Anderson, and Louis Alemayehu. It’s a free event with donations gratefully accepted in support of 6 wonderful non-profits doing good work in our neighborhood and the world: Buddhist Global Relief, Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy, Juxtaposition Arts, St. Stephen’s Human Services, Seward Longfellow Restorative Justice Partnership, and Wellshare International.

 

1

We Fest 2013:  Larry will be showcasing his new song, Welcome Home, in honor of deployed veterans and their families, at We Fest in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, this Saturday evening, August 3rd.   Long will be performing from main stage with a Color Guard before Carrie Underwood’s performance.   Rod Volker, a Marine Vietnam War Veteran, is the inspiration behind ‘Welcome Home’.

Welcome Home

Serving those who serve us
Welcome home! Welcome home!
Serving those who serve us
Welcome home! Welcome home!
Serving those who serve us
In times of need can’t give enough
Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home!

From the Army, the Marines
Welcome home! Welcome home!
From the Air Force, the Navy
Welcome home! Welcome home!
From the National Guard
Who serve us when times get hard
Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home!

From Iraq, Afghanistan
Welcome home! Welcome home!
From Korea, Vietnam
Welcome home! Welcome home!
From across the seven seas
From Japan to Germany
Welcome home! Welcome home!  Welcome home!

Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home!

Time to study war no more
Welcome Home!  Welcome Home!
That’s what we’ve been fighting for
Welcome Home!  Welcome Home
To our mother’s and our dad’s
Time to lend a helping hand
Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home!

Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home!

With a job for honest pay
Welcome home! Welcome home!
In the good ‘ole U.S.A.
Welcome home! Welcome home!
To our daughter’s and our son’s
Always know you are loved
Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home!

Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home!

Yellow, black, white, red, and tan

From every nation of this great land

Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home! (3x)
Words & music by Larry Long
Copyright Larry Long Publ. 2013/BMI

 

On Friday, July 27th, I performed with Soul Asylum on their finale song, Stand Up & Be Strong, as part of Skyline Music Festival.  Michael Bland  and Dave Pirner asked that I bring other singers with me to join them, center stage, on the 3rd base line of Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins!  The other singers included my son, Jake Long; Adara Thomas and Rachael Okerlund from remarkable faith based vocal group, Joyful Noize; and traditional Anishinaabe songwriter and vocalist, Dorene Waubanewquay Day.

I love Target Field.  I love baseball and I love Soul Asylum.  10,000 people were on their feet in the bleachers singing “Stand up and be strong!”   It was a power surge that hasn’t stopped.

Maybe it’s the endorphins kicking in.   Maybe it’s just the pure joy that music brings – the bliss of happiness that promotes the healing.

In late June I had laser surgery to remove a polyp on my vocals cords.  It’s been quite the healing process, both physically and emotionally.  Long periods of silence, unable to answer the phone, minimizing laughter, and communicating one on one through writing on clipboards and computer screens.  Fearful that the polyp might return, after momentary lapses of laughter, screams, and moans.

One thing I’ve found through this journey is the more I keep my mouth shut, the more my heart keeps singing.  I’m still not supposed to talk on the phone, in a room with television on, or in the car.  I’m still not supposed to force my voice beyond the breath, nor whisper, but allow it to glide out with ease. Talking is actually harder on the voice than singing.

My vocal coach has me doing vocal slides three times a day with ascending and descending scales.  She has given me permission to sing publicly, but only with a microphone and no more than one or two songs.

Since this permission was granted, I’ve sung at a dear friends memorial service, Steve O’Neil, in Duluth, but had to flee as soon as it was over, so I wouldn’t be in a crowded situation talking.

Now three days after singing with Soul Asylum,  I woke and sat in the sun with my guitar on the front steps of my home and worked on two new songs I’ve been writing.  I discovered that my range has increased by at least one full octave since this operation on my vocal cords.

Last night I received a call about possibly singing a new song, Welcome Home, in honor of returning Veterans from overseas at We Fest  in Detroit Lakes with a Color Guard before Carrie Underwood takes the stage.

I feel nothing but gratitude.

 

Steve O’Neil was called the “Mother Teresa of Duluth” for his work with the homeless and poor. His wife Angie and he lived their life in the proud Catholic Worker tradition of Dorothy Day.

Steve and I have been friends for over thirty years. When I heard that he had terminal cancer I drove immediately up to his home in Duluth from Minneapolis to see him.

I expected… the worse, but he was in great spirits. All of his children had come back home to be with him. We sat around the kitchen table with his wife Angie, shared stories, and broke bread together.

When I asked Steve what song was in his heart that had yet to be sung, He replied, “The song that should be sung is from Micah 6, Verse 8, which I have to say, (is) my foundation of life. Micah is a little known Prophet, one of the lay Prophets. Says basically, “What does God want from us? When is God pleased? God is pleased and loved when we as human beings, his creation, work for justice, love mercy and compassion, and walk humbly. If we can work for justice, love people and creation and do it humbly we are on the right path.

On Tuesday at 6:49 PM I received word from Angie that Steve had passed. His memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

Yesterday at three in the morning I completed writing the song that Steve wanted to be sung. From Steve O’Neil with love:

Song of Micah
(Honoring Steve O’Neil)

When I heard the news
Afraid to go inside
With no time to lose
This old friend and I
Broke bread and shared a glass
From a song yet to be sung
From his heart to each of you
From Micah with love

To do justice
To love kindness
To walk lightly
With your God

To fall in love
To not let go
To not stand above
To not stand below

“This the foundation of my life.”
Steve said.
“Upon these words of Micah
I lay my head.”
“What does God want from us?
When is God pleased?
When we fight for justice,
Love, compassion, mercy.”

To do justice
To love kindness
To walk lightly
With your God

To fall in love
To not let go
To not stand above
To not stand below

To do justice
To love kindness
To walk lightly
With your God

Words & music: Larry Long
(Inspired by Micah 7:6-8)
Copyright Larry Long Publishing 2013 / BMI

SONY DSCOn Tuesday, July 9th, the world lost a beloved cornerstone of the traditional music world: Toshi-Aline Ohta Seeger, aged 91. Toshi was the wife of Pete Seeger or–perhaps more fittingly–Pete Seeger was the husband of Toshi.  She passed away just a few days shy of their 70th Wedding Anniversary.

As Mark Moss (SingOut!) wrote in his tribute, “[Toshi] was a mother, an organizer, an activist and filmmaker … and an essential part of all of her husband’s work.” (singout.org/toshi-seeger-passes)

Toshi was a dear friend to many, including me. And she was tough as nails. She had to be.

Pete was on the road performing and doing benefits for countless organizations through most of their married life, and Toshi kept the home fires burning in their modest log cabin home perched above the Hudson River.

Years ago Pete tacked up a cartoon on one of those cabin walls. It showed a very exhausted housewife holding two children in one arm, washing the dishes with the other, wearing a dirty apron, phone pressed to one ear, saying, “No, my husband’s not at home right now. He’s off saving the world.”

Pete crossed out the word “he’s” and scribbled his own name above it.

Toshi worked tirelessly behind the scenes throughout Pete’s public life.  Pete was the sails. Toshi was the rudder that kept them both afloat.  She handled most of the details of their shared life and helped keep Pete humble.

As Pete got older, Toshi made sure that someone was always keeping a close eye on him when he was out on the road.  On one occasion I was elected to be that person.  When she learned that Pete and I would be performing at the same conference in California, she asked me to pick him up at the airport, stay at the same place, and drive Pete wherever he needed to be.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn later years, as this amazingly strong and independent woman needed twenty-four hour care, it was Pete and their daughter Tinya watching over Toshi.

I learned about Toshi’s passing from a neighbor walking her dog by our home yesterday. She asked if I had heard about Toshi Seeger passing away. I hadn’t.

My neighbor heard about her death through what my First Nation friends call the “moccasin express.” A sister had died, and the people knew it.   Which is how Toshi lived her life: Close to the ground and close to the people. Just how it should be.

There will never be another Toshi-Aline Ohta Seeger, but her life and legacy will no doubt inspire countless others to walk their talk in her footsteps.