Save the date!
Key City Folk Music Singalong
7 PM to 9 PM
May 1st, 2014
FEED Arts and Cultural Center
259 S. Schuyler Avenue in Kankakee
Come join us for a night of music, fun and fellowship.
Thanks to FEED Arts Center and the Kankakee Public Library for their support.
I had the privilege of hearing these folks perform, singing with some of them in a song circle, and getting to know a few of them in Chicago recently.
They are an inspiration.
More information is on their site.
At the center of what we call “Folk Music” is something called the “Folk Process.” The phrase was coined by Pete Seeger’s father, musicologist Charles Seeger, to describe the way songs are received, reinterpreted and transformed from one generation to the next. The history of the Cuban song Guantanamera is a pretty good example.
The song first gained popularity in Cuba on the radio programs of José Fernández Diaz, who created new verses of the song for his show based on current events of the day. As a result, the song became a vehicle for all sorts of themes and commentary through the years.
Cuban composer Julián Orbón adapted some verses of poet (and hero of Cuban independence) José Julián Martí Pérez to the song, and that was the basis for Pete Seeger’s version, which he contributed to the Peace Movement in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis as a sign of solidarity between the American and the Cuban people. A subsequent recording of the song by The Sandpipers was a top ten hit in the United States and in Great Britain in 1966.
The video above is from a performance at Wolftrap on August 8, 1993. It’s beautiful how Pete leads the audience to sing.
In preparation for our first gathering, I’ve been keeping an ear open for song ideas. Once we get together and get comfortable, of course, we can all have a say in choosing what we’ll sing. Figured it might be good to at least have an initial list of ideas so we don’t sit around staring at the floor wondering what to do next. Also, maybe this way we can have some lyrics and chords handy in case anybody needs them.
What would he on your list of songs to share and sing? Hit me by email and let me know.
Anyway, here’s my list, such as it is so far. I’ll try to put links to lyrics, chords or tabs and maybe some recordings or videos of these as I find them.
Banks of Marble
Black Velvet Band
Blowin’ In The Wind
Bread and Roses
Deep Blue Sea
Down By The Riverside
Five Hundred Miles
Give Me That Old Time Religion
Go Tell It On The Mountain
Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad
He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands
I Ain’t Got No Home In This World Anymore
I Am A Pilgrim
I Don’t Want Your Millions Mister
I Saw The Light
I’ll Fly Away
If I Had A Hammer
Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
Leaving On A Jet Plane
Michael, Row The Boat Ashore
No More Auction Block
Peace Like A River
Roll The Union On
Somebody Touched Me
Teach Your Children
The City of New Orleans
This Land Is Your Land
This Little Light Of Mine
The Times They Are A-Changin’
The Water Is Wide
The Wayfaring Stranger
We Shall Not Be Moved
We Shall Overcome
Where Have All The Flowers Gone
Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Write Me Out My Union Card
You Are My Sunshine
Here’s a YouTube playlist of most of these songs by various artists.
Pete Seeger was fond of saying that if the human race survives another hundred years, music will be a big part of the reason.
His passing has prompted me to think a great deal about the role of music in our lives and in our world. I believe, and Pete certainly believed, that music can be something other than a commodity.
I made my living playing music for several years (many years ago). As much as I enjoyed being a “professional musician” I can tell you that much of the downside of doing it had to do with the often inherent conflict between the marketplace and the muse. I can also say without any doubt that some of the most enjoyable and rewarding moments of my life singing and playing music have been impromptu jam sessions with other musicians, singing at church, singing in the car with my kids and other such situations where no money changed hands.
There ought to be opportunities in every community for regular people to come together and sing for the joy of singing. Before the days of mass media, people did more of that. People sang together while they worked, they sang together in their homes, they sang together (and for each other) at parties and other community gatherings. They didn’t need the constant intervention of an electronic device to keep them entertained and engaged.
There is a rich tradition of Folk Music in the United States, with songs that tell the story of our country and that help us better understand our history and heritage. I think that Folk songs can also help us better understand what’s going on in the world today, and help us better understand each other.
It’s with all of this in mind that I am working to organize the Key City Singalong. I hope that you’ll join in.