Over One Thousand March to Columbus Circle after Power of Song Award Benefit Concert
Clearwater’s Friday evening benefit concert to honor music impresario George Wein at Symphony Space featured a high energy event that featured performances by Pete Seeger, Tao Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Suzanne Vega, Lucy Kaplansky, Tom Chapin and the Chapin Sisters, Guy Davis, David Amram with Adam and Alana Amram, Toshi Reagon, Loudon Wainwright III, Richard Barone, and Power of Song.
Clearwater’s own Power of Song took to the stage to open the show with” Jacob’s Ladder”. Toshi Reagon set a tone with “There and Back Again.” Richard Barone dedicated his song, “God Understands” to Pete Seeger and was later joined onstage by an ensemble that included Guy Davis on harmonica, David Amram on flute, and the Chapins to perform his contemporary version of “The Sidewalks of New York”.
Guy Davis told a stunning story though music in memory of Odetta, sharing his account of visiting her in the hospital where he sang to her despite hospital administration’s objections. Guy went on to engage the audience in a sing-a-long to Mississippi John Hurt’s “Payday.”
Tom Chapin and the Chapin Sisters provided a rousing version of “Walk the World Now, Children” with the audience joining in. David Amram accompanied by his daughter Alana and son Adam dedicated his experimental version of “Red River Valley”, dedicated to George Wein.
Tao Seeger made the presentation of the Power of Song award to George Wein to a standing ovation. George Wein, music festival impresario and the evening’s honoree, admitted that he is first and foremost a jazz man, but also said, “When folk music reaches you, it stays with you.”
Wein sitting at the piano related the story of how the Newport Folk Festival was born during a visit to Pete and Toshi Seeger’s house. Later Pete joined Wein at the piano and accompanied him on banjo for a bit of boogie-woogie.
March to Columbus Square: After the concert concluded a crowd of protestors gathered outside Symphony Space to join Tao Seeger, Pete Seeger, along with David Amran, Guy Davis, Tom Chapin and other musicians from the concert including Clearwater’s Power of Song, to march to Columbus Circle as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest.
Seeger replaced his banjo with two canes as he marched with over one thousand people to Columbus Circle. The 92-year-old Seeger occasionally sang ‘We Shall Not be Moved”, “This Land is Your Land”, and other anthems of protest as the peaceful march traveled over more than 30 blocks to Columbus Circle.
Arriving in Columbus Circle, Seeger stopped to bang a metal statue of an elephant with his cane to the delight of the crowd. Seeger was then joined by fellow folk singer Arlo Guthrie, to perform a version of “We Shall Overcome” with the crowd as police stood by and watched from the sidelines.
To see a slide show of photos from the march, please click here to visit photographer Stephanie Keith’s flickr page.