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.

Minnesota Nonprofit AwardsCommunity Celebration of Place has been nominated for a 2013 Nonprofit Mission Award for our work in communities and schools. From their website:

Through its Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song™ program, Community Celebration of Place works to eliminate prejudice and racism in society by demonstrating a commitment to pluralism and [inclusivity], and developing unique and thought-provoking strategies to combat racism.

To learn more, visit their website.

Larry Long will be featured on the Mary Hanson Show July 1st, Monday, on Channel 6 at 9 PM,
Metro Cable Network (MCN).   For more information: www.maryhansonshow.com

Richie Havens, Larry Long and Claire ChamberlinRichie Havens was a warm and kind person. He was a strong man, with radiant ebony skin and full beard, a ring on every finger, and often wearing a long, blousy African shirt, draped with necklaces he’d collected from around the world. The man commanded your attention the moment he walked on stage. And he kept it—seated on a stool and playing his acoustic opened string tuned guitar with a large triangular pick he rhythmically strummed like he was playing on an ancestral drum. It was hypnotic.

Richie owned every song he ever played. Be it George Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun, Dylan’s Just Like A Woman, or his own redemptive version of Freedom—immortalized by his performance at Woodstock.

He walked with gentle courage and had a belly laugh that bubbled up out of his very being with an infectious smile that circled the world. I shared the stage with Richie on several occasions through the years. In Central Park at Ben & Jerry’s Folk Festival. On the dry grazing Diné lands of Arizona to support an end to the mining of ancestral land (where, in appreciation, the Hopi people invited Richie into a ceremonial gathering on top of a sacred mesa). The last time I shared a stage with Richie was at Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden, where he once again mesmerized thousands with his soulful gift of musical acoustic wonder.

Richie Havens was a star in the purest sense of the word. His light shone brightly. Not upon himself, but upon the love we all share within our hearts. He will be deeply missed.
By Larry Long
April 23, 2013

Join Larry Long and Community Celebration of Place on May 30, 2013, from 9am to 1pm, for the Youth & Elders’ Circle 2013 to celebrate the elders honored by Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song during the 2012-2013 school year as well as all the elders honored through the EWCS program.

The event will feature Jazz Legends Irv Williams and Cliff Brunzell with brothers Billy & Paul Peterson, Mini-Documentary “Be Kind To All That Live” in honor of Helen Tsuchiya, release of two story song books & three sound recordings from Elizabeth Hall International and Barton Elementary students, performance of “Forgiveness” and “Be The Change”, Youth & Elders from throughout the metro area, Round Table Discussions led by Dare 2 Be Real Student Leaders and free Soul Food lunch with vegetarian option.

To RSVP

Eventbrite - Youth and Elders' Circle 2013

When

Thursday, May 30, 2013
Program from 9am – 1pm (lunch provided)

Where

North Community YMCA Youth & Teen Enrichment Center
1711 West Broadway Avenue, Mpls.
Matt Kjorstad: 612-302-7272

On February 12, 2013, EWCS honored Anishinabe Ojibwe elder Pat Bellanger at the Sanford Middle School celebration. Bellanger is a founding member of the American Indian Movement and shared her story with students, who wrote the song Awanakwe to honor Bellanger. You can read more about Pat Bellanger in the article posted on The Circle this month. Watch the video of the performance on YouTube.

Elizabeth Hall International Elementary School students from Minneapolis Public Schools, under the direction of music teacher Rebecca Totzke, recorded three original songs written with Larry Long at the Minneapolis Media Institute.  This was a wonderful opportunity for young people to work in a historic studio, formerly known as Flyte Tyme Studios, owned by Grammy Award Winning producers Jimmy Jam Harris & Terry Lewis.

Paul Peterson, Program Chair for Recording and Music Technology at Minneapolis Media Institute, oversaw the arranging, recording, and production of these three original songs with assistance from Anthony Galloway and Caleb James (a.k.a. K.B.), who programmed & created beats for each of the tunes!

These original works will be released at the first annual Youth & Elders’ Circle, April 30, 2013, North Community YMCA Youth and Teen Enrichment Center.

Elizabeth Hall students at MMI

 

 

 

 

 

 

100% of the proceeds from these recorded works will go to support arts in education at Elizabeth Hall International Elementary School.

 

 

Larry Long and Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song are featured on the front page of The Circle, March 2013.  The article talks about honoring Anishinabe Ojibwe elder Pat Bellanger on February 12th at Sanford Middle School in Minneapolis.

Read the article: EWCS HONORS PAT BELLANGER WITH SONG

For more information on the upcoming celebrations, visit the Community Celebration of Place website.

– See more at: http://www.thecirclenews.org/Sanford Middle School, 2/13

From the History Theatre’s website:

With Labor organizations and Unions under attack on the political battlefield, now is the perfect time to reflect on the life of one of Minnesota’s most important labor activists and civil rights leaders! Nellie had played an important part in Hubert H. Humphrey’s history, on both the local level and the national stage, and made a tangible difference in the lives of those she worked with and all of the people of Minnesota.

For more information:

Passport to History events:
http://www.historytheatre.com/event

On Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/152916948194808/?notif_t=plan_edited

MLK day Inaugural Celebrating

The Martin Luther King Day Celebration will celebrate Inaugural of the President , the election of the 113 new members to Congress, the new members to Senate and the House of Representatives, and the defeat of the two state amendments.

Will include Food, cash bar. Entertainment, Dancing, and highlights of the Inauguration. There will even be cut-outs of the President and Vice-President for pictures

Ticket Prices:
Pre-Sale  $20
At the Door $25
College Students  w/student ID $10 (At the Door)
Groups of 10 or more $15/ticket (Pre-Sale Only)
No Charge for children 0 – High School Seniors accompanied by parent or guardian

On November 15, 2012, the Okemah city council voted to make the song Okemah Waltz the official city song. Speaking before the council voted, Larry McKinney, who worked with Larry back in 1988, spoke about his first conversations with Larry, who was looking to come to Okemah and teach the children about Woody Guthrie.

Initially hesitant, he eventually agreed, and Larry spent three years in Okemah working with the schools and children. Larry’s album It Takes A Lot of People (Tribute to Woody Guthrie), came out of that work as did the new official Okemah song, Okemah Waltz.

Read the article from the Okemah Leader here.

Download Okemah Waltz notation (PDF)