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Spirit of Seeger Lives On

Pete Seeger’s music and message were alive and well last night.  A standing-room only crowd filled the Fellowship Hall at Calvary United Methodist Church near Spy Pond in Arlington to sing the dear old songs with a full roster of local musicians.

From Gail Finnie’s rendition of “Oh, had I a golden thread…” to the final moments when the crowd exited the room singing “Down by the riverside…” the evening was a smashing success and raised a goodly sum for Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders.

The idea came to members of Arlington United for Justice with Peace during the winter when we wanted to raise funds for groups helping war refugees, particularly those displaced by the war in Syria. As emcee George Capaccio told us, there are millions of people who have fled the fighting that is now in its third year.

When we lost Pete in January, we thought we’d honor him and do what he was always advocating – sing the songs ourselves!

Chris Nauman of Arlington UJP put out the call to friends and colleagues from the local music world.  The line up included:  Chris Eastburn and his fabulous violin virtuoso son Quinn who gave us that “Old time religion…”, Jane Fallon who sang words from Quite Early Morning that I had put in my high school yearbook “…I know that you who hear my singing, can make those freedom bells go ringing…,” Jan Luby, all the way from Rhode Island, who gave us the full story behind Get up and Go, “I wake up each morning and dust off my wits…” and JB Sweeney, who led us in singing, “Goodnight Irene.”

  Jackie Damsky added her fine fiddling to several numbers and Kenny Selcer and Paul Beck rounded out the scene with their guitars.  

Perhaps the most moving moment of the evening came when Chris Nauman sang We Shall Overcome, reminding us that Pete Seeger had changed We Will Overcome to We Shall Overcome which became an anthem of the civil rights era. 

I looked about me to find people standing with their arms around each other, and sitting with arms outstretched towards their neighbor to hold hands.  Some of us cried. 

It was awesome and as one person asked – when is the next one?

Somewhere, Toshi and Pete are smiling.  



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