The Roots Report: Happy Birthday, Pete! Folk icon Pete Seeger turns 100 this month and RI is gonna celebrate

Okee dokee folks… May 3 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of folk icon and social activist, Pete Seeger. Although Seeger passed away in 2014 at the age of 94, he is still an inspiration for folk musicians worldwide and celebrations of his life and music take place annually during the month of May. Pete was one of my heroes and influenced me to write and perform protest music. On Saturday, May 4, there are two shows that will pay tribute to the late singer.

Blackstone River Theatre will present singer Joyce Katzberg, Rhode Island’s own topical songstress and cultural organizer, on May 4 at 7pm in a celebration of the songs and social activism of Pete Seeger. There will be plenty of opportunity for audience participation. Katzberg said, “We will play some of the songs Pete sang and made famous.” She also will play originals inspired by Seeger. Joyce’s relationship with Pete was musical, political and at times, personal. The first set will feature some of Katzberg’s friends – Partington & Sweeney, Bob Drouin, and Jimmy Warren – while the second set will feature Katzberg solo. This BRT concert is the first of three “farewell” concerts Katzberg is planning as she retires from performing after more than 50 years. Audience members are requested to be as fragrance-free as possible. For more, “Turn, Turn, Turn” to riverfolk.org

The second show is a pseudo-Seeger tribute. This one is at Sandywoods in Tiverton and is also on May 4 and features the daughter of the legendary Arlo Guthrie (granddaughter of Woody!), Annie Guthrie. Guthrie is a prolific songwriter and versatile musician who primarily plays acoustic guitar, bass, percussion and autoharp, and she made her recording debut on Arlo Guthrie’s Someday album at the age of 4. While this show is not a pure Pete tribute, there will be Seeger songs sung in celebration of the man. Seeger often performed with Woody and Arlo Guthrie, and my introduction to Pete Seeger was when I saw Arlo and Pete play together in concert back when I was a teen. I will be doing an opening set for Annie with my own songs as well as a few of Pete’s, and Ed McGuirl will be joining me for a few. For tickets turn, turn, turn again to brownpapertickets.com/event/3866875

Don’t drive your Chevy to the levee. Drive it, or whatever you drive, to the Greenwich Odeum and hear “American Pie” performed live by the legendary Don McLean on Friday, May 10. In addition to that iconic song, McLean is known for “Vincent,” “Castles In The Air,” “And I Love You So” and many others. American Pie was the very first full album that I bought when I was a kid, and this was the reason that I started playing the guitar — I am surely not alone. For more about this show, Helter Skelter in a summer swelter to: greenwichodeum.com

On May 11, also at the Greenwich Odeum, is the Little Rhody Local Bands and Local Brews Festival. This is a fundraiser for the Odeum and features five bands and samplings of beer from RI breweries. Beer makers include Apponaug, Foolproof, Proclamation, Wash Ashore, Whalers and LineSider with the sampling soundtrack provided by Revival Brothers All Band (Allman Brothers Tribute), David Tessier’s All-Star Monkees Tribute, Through the Doors (Doors Tribute), Forever Young (Neil Young Tribute) and Chapell (Original Music). And still more at the Odeum — Max Weinberg’s Jukebox on May 16! You can read my interview with Weinberg at motifri.com/maxweinberg

If you watch TV, then you have probably heard “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake being used to advertise SOMETHING. I have no clue what it’s selling, but the song seems just as popular now as it was back in the ’80s. Their other hits include “Still Of The Night,” “Is This Love” and “Fool For Your Loving.” What adolescent head-banger DIDN’T have a crush on Tawny Kitaen after seeing her do gymnastics on lead singer David Coverdale’s Jag during the “Here I Go Again” video on MTV? Coverdale formed  Whitesnake after he left Deep Purple in 1978. It took years to gain popularity, but when they did they were huge. The band dissolved and reformed a few times, and since 2002 have been actively touring and recording. You can catch them live at Twin River on Saturday, May 11. For more, tawny tumble to: twinriver.com

The Providence Folk Festival, a FREE festival that presents local, regional and national talent on multiple stages so EVERYONE has the opportunity to enjoy a day of music, lost its national park home at the end of 2018 and with it, a good deal of its funding. Fortunately, it has landed a new location in East Providence: Larisa Park, right across from the Carousel, but funding the festival is still an uphill battle. In addition to the new location, a new core group/board of directors has been established that has been working hard to make this, the sixth year of the festival, happen and ensure it continues far into the future. Autumn Francesca, Allysen Callery, Tracie Potochnik, Steve Allain, Erin Young, Lisa Couto, Ken Abrams, Lori Mars, Annie Kennedy, Bob Kendall, Chris Lilley, and Matthew Clowney have all taken on the task of assuring that the festival continues. While the Providence Folk Festival is not until August 25, it does take time to raise the revenue to produce such an event. If you would like to help fund this year’s festival, do so by either going to the festival website at ProvidenceFolkFestival.com or the GoFundMe campaign at GoFundMe.com/Providence-Folk-Festival-2019

In one of our upcoming issues, I will review some new brands of ear protection for you music lovers and musicians — just waiting for the samples to arrive! If you want hardcore hearing protection, then get to the Rhode Island Music Hall Of Fame’s Tune In and Tune Up Hearing workshop on May 15 (rhodeislandmusichalloffame.com). That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. JohnFuzek.com

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