Mudcat Café message #987456 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #61138   Message #987456
Posted By: GUEST
21-Jul-03 - 09:53 AM
Thread Name: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
I believe that all of the groups that Martin Gibson (is that the real name? If so, born to be a guitar picker:) ) they all owe a huge debt to Pete Seeger. Pete was the first to define the style of banjo playing used in a group ala the Weavers. He did it with the Almanacs and the Priority Ramblers. He did it with a group called the Song Swappers when they put out a recording of African rounds. AlthoughPete was not on the "charts" in the late 30's or early 40's, he was definitely influential over a wide span of time and this is principally why he is remembered and lauded today.

It was Pete's idea to form the Weavers to reach people in places where folk music had not penetrated before, namely night clubs and concerts as well as recordings.

He also was responsible for popularizing the idea of song-leading. He did this before Mitch Miller capitalized on it. Mitch owes him too.

Bob Dylan owes Pete who wouldn't hear a bad word about him in Dylan's salad days. This goes for his association with Leadbelly and Woody, and Big Bill Broonzy and Sonny Terry. Pete was tireless in their behalf. Same with Odetta. Same with Scruggs. Is there anyone who has thought to ask Scruggs personally what he thinks of Pete Seeger?

When I knew Bob Gibson in the early 50's, he had not yet taken up the banjo. He was playing guitar and singing a little ditty called, "I Want To Go Back To Where I Come From". Later, he took up the banjo.

One of the most crowning acheivements I believe Pete made is to support and publicize the clean-up of the Hudson River.

As to separating the man from the politics, I don't think you can. But you can still enjoy the music without agreeing with the politics. I'm convinced that Bill Monroe could not be separated from his politics and this might have a bearing on the music he chose to play.
Same for any artist. There certainly is a strong wave of fundmentalist religion in the bluegrass movement and Monroe was a part of it (whether he actually practiced it or not). This is a kind of "politics" and has become so even more today as we see the rise of figures such as Ralph Reed and the so-called Christian Right. But this thread of "politicking religion" has no bearing on enjoying the music of Monroe, Stanleys, Scruggs or anyone. Some have antipathy for Seeger's politics and some for Monroe's.

I choose to enjoy the music.

Frank Hamilton