The Mid-Week Beat: RIP Pete Seeger

APphoto_Obit SeegerMusic fans got some sad news yesterday, legendary folk singer and rabble rouser Pete Seeger passed away at the age of 94.

Over the last 24 hours, it’s been interesting watching the variety of musicians come out with memories and tributes to Seeger on Facebook:

“Peter Seeger towered over the folk scene like a mighty redwood for 75 years. He travelled with Woody Guthrie in the 1940s, stood up to Joe McCarthy in the 50s and marched with Dr Martin Luther King in the 60s. His songs will be sung wherever people struggle for their rights. We shall overcome.”Billy Bragg (UK-based singer/songwriter)

“To everything there is a season and a purpose under heaven. Turn, Turn, Turn Pete Seeger 1919-2014 Pete Seeger, America’s tuning fork”, believed in “the power of song” to help bring social change.”Willie Nelson (legendary country music singer/songwriter)

“RIP, Pete 1919 – 2014 – “You want to know why Pete Seeger is beaming (see photo)? He was watching a rocking set from Wanda Jackson. So much for the old folk music versus rock and roll conflict.”Elvis Costello (UK-based singer/songwriter)

“Pete Seeger was not satisfied just having spectators. He believed that getting people to sing with him would bring them together, bringing more awareness to social injustice. RIP Pete Seeger” – Mike Ness (founder of Social Distortion, legendary Orange County punk band)

“Yes, he really was a swell guy wasn’t he? And by “swell guy,” I mean an absolute bad-ass pioneer of punk, free will, free expression (save for his distaste of the electric guitar) freedom for all humanity, equal rights…you name it, he tried to save it! R.I.P. Pete!”Mark Pickerel (Seattle-based drummer for Screaming Trees, Neko Case and others)

“R.I.P. Pete Seeger. The Pope of capitalism-hating banjo nerds passed away today. You will be missed Petie!”Blackbird Raum (Santa Cruz-based folk-punk band)

“Pete Seeger is the reason I’m a banjo player. He invented the job I have. His example has been illuminating and inspiring, and his voice will be missed. If you’ve ever seen Pete perform, you’ve lifted your voice in song with him. He showed us that our voices were just as important as his. In honor of Pete, we should all sing out today, but don’t sing alone! If enough people join in, It might feel like he’s still here. We do have a hammer!”Curtis Eller (North Carolina-based acrobatic, yodelling banjo player)


Read More…

Music >

The Mid-Week Beat: RIP Lou Reed

lou-reed-lou-reed-31564770-1024-768So, if this was a normal Halloween, I would be writing about all the upcoming Halloween music events but when a musical legend dies, it’s the duty of the music fan to pay tribute. This last Sunday morning, we lost probably one of the most influential musicians of the past 40 years and an artist that had a tremendous impact on me: Lou Reed.

Any fan of “alternative” music owes a huge debt to Reed. Starting his musical career in the era of “free love” and psychedelia, Reed was churning out discordant, droning songs about violence, hard drugs and life on the streets of New York City; far removed from what was going on in hippy meccas like London or San Francisco. Reed believed that rock and roll could push boundaries and challenge audiences just like the literature of the Beat Generation or the art of the avant garde.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that he found a confidante and ally in Andy Warhol, who took Reed’s band the Velvet Underground under his wing, giving them a home at his Factory, an entourage of “superstar” fans and a dark, surreal aesthetic that struck a deep resonating chord for the music fans that would later develop the punk ethos. The famous saying goes that the first Velvet Underground album sold very few copies, but everyone that bought it, formed a band.

After the demise of the Velvet Underground, Reed continued to experiment, creating the proto-industrial record Metal Machine Music, penning probably the first Top 40 hit about transsexuals (“Walk on the Wild Side”) and becoming a major influence and star of the glam rock scene of the early 70s. Of course, by the mid-1970s punk was in full swing and Reed was regularly credited as one of the founders. His songs were covered by bands like Joy Division, The Modern Lovers, Slaughter and the Dogs and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, who all obviously owed a huge debt to Reed and the Velvet Underground.

Reed continued to make challenging music up until his death on Sunday, collaborating with Metallica and the Gorillaz, among others. Needless to say, the music world is a lot emptier without his presence and for this week’s Mid-Week Beat, I thought I’d highlight shows and musicians that owe a debt to Mr. Reed and the music he created. Thanks for everything Lou. We’ll miss you.
Read More…

Music >