Pete Seeger & David Amram after the hour long march from the Symphony Space Benefit Concert for Clearwater to their midnight performance at Columbus Circle.
Saturday, October 22, 2011


Last night, after Symphony Space's sold-out concert for the Clearwater Festival, I walked with Pete Seeger, Pete's grandson Tao Rodriguez Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Tom Chapin, Guy Davis, my two kids Alana and Adam, and a bunch of young people for thirty six blocks from West 95th Street to the Columbus Circle Fountain on West 59th street, where we gave a second free impromptu concert at midnight in front of the water fountain.

We were accompanied by a mob of marchers and all the policemen who escorted us were exceptionally friendly and supportive, and there were no bad moments.

It was wonderful to see picket signs from the United Auto Workers, as well as other unions, teachers groups and some of the members of Occupy Wall Street who came uptown to join us.

What Pete and all of hoped for was that this march and midnight concert would be a peaceful message to all New Yorkers to encourage each of them to find their own way to help assure a future for our kids and restore a world which celebrated fairness and decency for everyone.

All of us who came up during the years of the Great Depression of the 30s had faith that the USA was a society where hard work and the possibility of finding a job was a given, and that all of us should accept equal responsibility for paying our fair share of taxes.

And that we could always have the time to be compassionate towards others who were also struggling to make ends meet.

You don't have to be a genius to see the inequities today. They can be easily be solved by using common sense and applying it to rectify the situation.

This event was different than what the 60s events became, when a corporate Youth Culture machine turned idealistic young people into a marketing demographic. During our hour long march (we moved slowly, due to the huge number of supporters, all of whom wanted to talk to Pete) there were NO groups I could see who seemed to be trying to profit from the current serious mess our country is in, by engaging anyone else with name calling, endless bickering and partisan self-serving insult-comic blathering and orgies of self promotion.

Pete set the tone for the whole event, as he he has been doing for the past seventy years of service to the world.

At 92, he remains as amazing as ever, and as we marched from 95th St to 57th Street, he commented to me how the two shiny metal canes he had just purchased for the occasion were a real help in making the long trek.

And when he saw a piece of paper on the sidewalk, he stopped, bent down and picked it up.

Then I saw a discarded popsicle stick on the sidewalk and doing a touch-your toes-calisthenics movement, scooped it up and kept walking.

Pete leaned over and whispered in my ear, "You can put it in my jacket pocket."

I suddenly realized that the fact that the sidewalks were so clean compared to how they were in 1955 when I first moved to New City, and that we had so many trash baskets, recycling bins and even a Hudson River where fish could swim was in large part because of Pete and his now not so crazy idea of letting us all know that each of us could make a small contribution to cleaning up the environment and trying to look after one another, by paying attention to everyone who crossed your path and being responsible for the small things like that lone discarded popsicle stick, were the small actions that each of us could take every day.

So now that I have resuscitated my hiking chops as well as having had the privilege of being part of something so positive, I am getting ready to pack up to go to Northern Italy this Wednesday night for eleven days for a series of concerts, with the wonderful young musician Dario Pinelli and his Gypsy Jazz ensemble. We played together last year in New York and he is fabulous.

After all my recent forays of the past few months, including last nights marathon post concert march, my upcoming trip to Bella Italia will definitely be, as they say in Italian, un grande cambiamento di ritmo (a great change of pace).

With cheers always, ed un abbraiccione dall'Italia per tutti.

Tu cumpĂ  sempre,