Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pete Seeger - In Memoriam

I received this email from Chet Roistacher, our Past President and founder of the Riverside Folk Song Society, back in February and am reprinting it here with his permission:

The passing of Pete Seeger brings back memories of my early days when I was first introduced to folk music. In 1941, one of the first folk music albums ever  purchased was the Almanac Singers "Talking Union" with Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Will Hays and chorus. I still have that 78 RPM record.

While a student at Cornell University between 1945 and 1949, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston, Huddie Ledbetter and others came to perform for us. This was a dynamic and exciting period for me, when this wonderful folk music was brought from Appalachia  to this city boy through magic of recordings and radio.

During the dark days of the McCarthy era Pete bravely stood up to the witch hunters and did not bow to them. For this, he and the Almanacs and others were blacklisted. To help these singers during this period, we in the Unitarian church and the Riverside Folksong Society invited Pete to come to Riverside to perform. At that time the Unitarian church owned acreage which had a natural amphitheater and we gathered together and built a stage for his concert.  Enclosed is a poster advertising that concert which proudly hangs on my wall at home and is signed by Pete. Note the picture of young Keith and Rusty McNeil in the upper corner.

by Chet Roistacher, February 2014

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