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March 15-16, 2007, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACTS & PARTICIPANT BIOGRAPHIES
ABSTRACT: Neil Rosenberg -- Family
Values Seeger Style. The
Library of Congress hosts this event to honor the Seeger Family because
for almost a century their musical and cultural activities have had
a significant impact upon numerous communities of music and culture
here and abroad. The impact has been felt in many ways. No single
term can fully describe the project that grew around Charles Seeger
and his family: musical performance, composition, transcription,
analysis and theorizing; teaching and the creation of documentaries,
advocacy for social and political causes--these are but a start.
Though they share a common name, each family member has followed
different paths. Exploring issues, taking personal stances and providing
leadership, they have lived exemplary lives of creative invention
and reinvention. In today's symposium an impressive slate of panelists
will speak about the activities of the various Seegers. Do underlying
forces, motifs, or themes recur in their musical and cultural lives?
I believe so, hence my title. If there is a center to the wonderful
Seeger enterprise, does it not lie in the values that have shaped
and directed their actions? I address the question from two perspectives.
One is my outsider's account of learning about and from them, the
other an examination of the extensive literature by and about the
Neil V. Rosenberg was born in Washington State in 1939.
In 1951 he moved to Berkeley, California with his family. He attended
Oberlin College, (B.A., history, 1961) and subsequently studied folklore
and ethnomusicology at Indiana University (M.A., 1964; Ph.D., 1970).
In 1968, after two years on the staff of Indiana University's Folklore
Institute, he moved to St. John's, Newfoundland, to join the Department
of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He retired in 2004.
A Fellow of the American Folklore Society and 2001 recipient of the Folklore
Studies Association of Canada's Marius Barbeau Award, he has published
extensively on Canadian and American folk music topics. His books include Bluegrass:
A History (Illinois, 1985) and Transforming
Tradition: Folk Music Revivals Examined (Illinois, 1993). He won
a Grammy in 1997 for his contribution to the album notes of the Anthology
of American Folk Music (Smithsonian/Folkways). He has
been a musician most of his life and today performs with the bluegrass
Stovepipe, jams regularly with the spontaneous collaborative improvisation
Black Auks, and plays old-time music from Newfoundland and beyond
with his wife Terri.
MODERATOR: Peggy Seeger will moderate the
panel CHARLES SEEGER AND RUTH CRAWFORD SEEGER at
the symposium and will perform in the evening concert with Pete and
Peggy Seeger is Pete Seeger's half-sister,
Mike Seeger's sister and Ruth Crawford Seeger's daughter;
her life partner was the English songwriter Ewan MacColl, who wrote "First
Time Ever I Saw Your Face" for her
and to whom she bore three children. Now she is sometimes thought
of as the mother of Neill and Calum MacColl but is very much her
own woman. She is probably best known for her feminist song "Gonna
Be an Engineer" and for "The
Ballad of Springhill," which is rapidly becoming regarded as a traditional
song. After living 35 years in England, she returned to the USA in
1994 and after living in Asheville, North Carolina, for ten years,
she now resides in Boston. She now tours extensively in the USA as
a solo concert artist, singing and giving workshops. She has made
21 solo recordings and has participated in over a hundred recordings
with other artists. Her 1998 CD, Period Pieces:
Women's Songs for Men & Women, received major attention from Billboard. Other albums are (1) Love Will Linger
On (romantic love songs, old and new) on
Appleseed Recordings (APR 1039) and (2) Almost
Commercially Viable (a re-issue of songs of love and
politics, with Irene Scott) on Sliced Bread Records (SB71204). Her
latest project is her Home Trilogy, three albums in which each disc
contains one or two songs of her own composition and the rest, traditional
USA songs. Volume 2, Love Call Me Home,
is the latest in this series. She has also started a series entitled Timely Productions, contemporary songs released
... well, whenever she writes them. She has published 149 of her
songs in The
Peggy Seeger Songbook (Oak Publications,1998) as well as a companion
volume of Ewan MacColl's
songs, The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook (Oak
ABSTRACT: Betty Auman -- Seeger
Materials In The Library Of Congress Music Division. The
Seeger Collection in the Music Division contains a rich mix of
papers and music manuscripts that document the lives and careers
of Charles Seeger and Ruth Crawford Seeger and their family. For
both Charles and Ruth, the collection holds correspondence and
other papers from family members, friends, and professional colleagues.
Each is represented by holograph music manuscripts. Papers relating
to Charles' musicological research include his melographs and transcriptions
of "Barbara Allen," among other topics. Diaries, journals, and
literary manuscripts offer wonderful glimpses into Ruth's girlhood,
while her mature compositions, along with clippings, programs,
and materials relating to Folksongs for Children, provide documentation
of her professional career. The Music Division's Seeger Collection
also holds materials relating to Pete, Mike, and, most especially,
Peggy Seeger, who has donated a wide range of papers, music manuscripts,
and memorabilia relating to her life as singer, songwriter, and
Betty (Elizabeth) Auman has worked
in the Library of Congress's Music Division for almost 37 years. Her
focus for most of those years has been on acquisitions--especially those
of special collections--multi-format materials representing the complete
lives and works of those whose materials they are. Her tastes have been
called everything from eclectic to bizarre, but certainly one of her earliest
influences was crawling around stages and parking lots while her father
played guitar to Chris Sanderson's fiddle in the 1940's. She has been
on the faculty of The Catholic University of America, and (as a producer)
has been nominated for two Grammy Awards.
ABSTRACT: Taylor Aitken Greer -- The Legacy Of Charles Seeger: DefyingAnd Defining Tradition.
Following Charles Seeger's death in 1979, there has been a slow but persistent effort to come to terms with his legacy. Initially scholars focused on his disparate writings in performance, composition, theory, criticism, pedagogy, and musicology. Recently attention has turned to his unique partnership with Ruth Crawford and the projects they jointly undertook. In my talk I will briefly describe the musical and intellectual spirit found throughout his work-his twin passions for defying as well as defining our assumptions about musical experience-and
suggest various ways in which others have inherited his passion and are renewing
Taylor Aitken Greer received his Ph. D. in music theory from Yale University, and is presently an Associate Professor at the Pennsylvania State University. In 1998 he completed a book devoted to the thought of Charles L. Seeger, the twentieth-century American composer, theorist, and philosopher entitled A
Question of Balance: Charles Seeger's Philosophy of Music (University of California Press). Greer also contributed an essay on Seeger's theory of criticism for the collection Understanding
Charles Seeger: Pioneer in American Musicology, ed. Bell Yung and
Helen Ries (University of Illinois Press, 1999). His article on Ruth Crawford
Seeger's study of folk music entitled "Philosophical Counterpoint: A Comparison of Seeger's Composition Treatise and Crawford's Folksong Appendix" appeared
in a collection entitled Ruth
Crawford Seeger's Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth-century American Music, ed. Ellie Hisama and Ray Allen (University of Rochester Press, 2007). In 2005 Prof. Greer served as Chair of the Program Committee for the Society for Music Theory Annual Meeting in Boston.
ABSTRACT: Judith Tick -- Ruth
Crawford Seeger's Legacy. My
remarks will address the legacy of Ruth Crawford Seeger through
the memories of her family and friends. Without revealing who said
what in this brief abstract, I list the phrases:
"unexpected juxtapositions"; "gateways to magic"; "Nice and common"; "She told
me 'Ruth Crawford was still there'"; " I couldn't recognize my mother in
"There must be music for the many and music for the few -- quite a number of
distinct musics for various fews."
My presentation will also include playing examples of these "musics."
Judith Tick is a music historian who writes about American
music, particularly early modernism, and women's history. Among her publications
are books and articles about Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, and in particular,
the biography of the American composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, A Composer's
Search for American Music, which won the Irving R. Lowens award as "Best
Book of the Year" from
the Society for American Music in 1998 and an ASCAP Deems Taylor award. She
is an Associate Editor for the journal Musical Quarterly. A member of the faculty
at Northeastern University since 1986, she was named a Matthews Distinguished
University Professor in 1999 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts
and Sciences in 2004 as an "innovator in the field of musical biography." Her
new book, Music
in the U.S.A.: A Documentary Companion, with Paul Beaudoin, as Assistant
Editor, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
MODERATOR: Michael Taft is the moderator for the panel entitled ANOTHER
GENERATION OF SEEGERS: PETE, MIKE & PEGGY SEEGER.
Michael Taft is the Head of the Archive
of Folk Culture at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Taft
has a Ph.D. in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland (1977), a
post-doctoral certificate in Folklore from Université Laval (1978), and a Masters
in Library Science from the University of Alberta (1996). For over 25 years
he conducted folklore fieldwork in Canada and the northern plains of the United
States. During those years, he held research and teaching positions at Memorial
University of Newfoundland, Saint Mary's University, Mount Saint Vincent University,
University College of Cape Breton, University of Saskatchewan, and University
of Regina. Since the early 1990s, Taft has become increasingly involved in
ethnographic archiving. In 1993, he was a Laura Boulton Senior Research Fellow
at the Archives of Traditional Music, Indiana University. Subsequently, he
became curator of the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North
Carolina, and the archivist for the Vermont Folklife Center. He was also the
university archivist and head of special collections at the University of Northern
British Columbia. Among his academic responsibilities, Taft has been the president
of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada, the head of the Folklore Section
of the MLA International Bibliography, indexer of the Journal
of American Folklore, and managing editor of Culture & Tradition. Taft has published over 100 articles, book chapters, and reviews, as well as authoring, co-authoring, or editing a number of books. Among them are The
Blues Lyric Formula (2006), Talkin' to Myself:
Blues Lyrics, 1921-1942 (2005), "Them Days": Memories of a Prairie Valley (1993),
The Bard of Edam: Walter Farewell, Homesteader Poet (1992),
The Centennial Index: One Hundred Years of the Journal of American Folklore (1988), Inside These Greystone Walls: An Anecdotal
History of the University of Saskatchewan (1984),
Blues Lyric Poetry: A Concordance (1984),
Discovering Saskatchewan Folklore: Three Case Studies (1983),
Tall Tales of British Columbia (1983), and
A Regional Discography of Newfoundland and Labrador,1904-1972 (1975).
ABSTRACT: Todd Harvey -- Seeger
Collections At The American Folklife Center Archive. Seeger
family members have contributed or are documented in fifty-eight AFC
Archive collections. These collections contain thousands of pages of
manuscripts, and nearly 1100 sound recordings, photographs, and videos
that reflect the family's long association with the Library of Congress,
beginning in the 1930s and continuing today. This paper will describe
Seeger family collections at the American Folklife Center and propose
ways the materials can be utilized by researchers.
Todd Harvey is a collections specialist in Reference at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress and curator the Pete and Toshi Seeger Film Collection. Todd and other curators at the Folklife Center coordinate a range of activities for collections that generate unusual public interest, from facilitating the processing and preservation of materials to fulfilling researcher requests for access and publication. Todd also curates the Folklife Center's Alan Lomax Collection and the International Storytelling Collection. Previously, Todd's research interest in the 1960's folk revival led to a post-doctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the publication of the book, The
Formative Dylan: Transmission and Stylistic Influences, 1961-1963 (Scarecrow Press, 2001). Todd holds a library science degree (MSLS) from the Catholic University of America as well as degrees in music composition (MM, DMA) from the Ohio State University.
ABSTRACT: Jeff Place -- Seeger
Materials In The Smithsonian Folkways Collection. Jeff
Place will discuss the recordings of the Seeger Family made by
Moses Asch starting in 1942 on his Asch,
Disc and Folkways labels. The Seeger family were
the most prolific artists on Asch's labels, Pete himself having
supplied over sixty recordings. Musical examples from various stages
of the history of these recordings will be shared.
Jeff Place has been the archivist for the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage since coming from the Library of Congress American Folklife Center in 1988. He has overseen the cataloging of the Center's collections. He has a master's in library science from the University of Maryland and specializes in sound archives. He is currently on the Preservation and Technology Committee for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the advisory board for the Woody Guthrie Archives. He has been involved in the compilation and/or liner notes for 41 CDs primarily for Smithsonian Folkways including Woody Guthrie's Long
Ways to Travel: The Unreleased Folkways Masters, which won him the 1994 Brenda McCallum Prize from the American Folklore Society, the Asch Recordings of Woody Guthrie, the Lead Belly Legacy Series, and the five-volume reissue of Pete Seeger's American Favorite Ballads series. Place has been nominated for four Grammy Awards and 10 Indie Awards, winning two Grammys and five Indies. He was one of the producers and writers of the acclaimed 1997 edition of the Anthology
of American Folk Music and The Best of
Broadside, 1962-1988 (2000). Place has overseen the recording of a number of regional folk festivals in addition to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. He was a member of the curatorial team for the traveling Woody Guthrie exhibition, This
Land Is Your Land, and the co-curator of the 2003 Appalachia program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. He has been a collector of traditional music for over 35 years.
ABSTRACT: David Dunaway -- Documenting
The Seegers. Pete Seeger's biographer, who has worked
with the Library for several years on the Seegers' work and legacy,
reads and plays excerpts from documents and interviews which he
has uncovered over the last three decades: material from FBI files,
obscure but prophetic articles, and other writings from his archive.
David Dunaway received the first Ph.D.
in American Studies from Berkeley. He is the author of a half-dozen volumes
of history and biography. Among his works are How
Can I Keep From Singing: Pete Seeger, an unauthorized biography,
which won the Deems Taylor
Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.
He teaches writing and broadcasting at the University of New Mexico;
his oral history collections are included in the collections of
the Huntington Library, the National Park Service, and the of American
Folklife Center Archive. He's now revising the Seeger biography
and producing a national radio series on Pete Seeger and the folk
music revivals of the l930s and '60s.
MODERATOR: Ray Allen will moderate the panel
Ray Allen is professor of music and the director of the American Studies program at Brooklyn College, CUNY. He has recently co-edited Ruth
Crawford Seeger's Worlds: Tradition and Innovation in Twentieth Century
American Music (University of Rochester Press), and is currently working on a book on the New Lost City Ramblers.
ABSTRACT: Anthony Seeger -- “Something’s
Coming That Stinks” (An Old American Folk Song?): Changing
And Exchanging Songs With The Suyá Indians In Mato Grosso,
Brazil. When Tony and Judy Seeger arrived in the
Xingu Indigenous Park in 1971 to study the music and culture of
the Suyá Indians, they were allowed only 60 kilos of supplies for
6 months to live in a place where there was no money and there
were no stores. Fortunately, along with the standard ceramic beads,
mirrors, fish-hooks, fish line, and other gifts they brought a
banjo, a guitar, and a repertory of songs they had grown up with
or learned at Tony's parents' summer camp, Killooleet. Instant
hits in a land where there was no radio or television, they found
the Indians in the region to be assiduous learners of songs and
appreciators of stories. The Suyá, who already sang songs in six
indigenous languages and also in French, were quick to incorporate
them into their musical lives. This paper recounts, in a somewhat
anecdotal way, how the Seegers all managed to music along after
the beads, mirrors, fish line, and everything else was long gone,
and describes expectations for a 2007 visit in May.
Anthony Seeger is a leading ethnomusicologist, currently teaching at UCLA. His numerous publications include articles and books on issues of land and human rights for Brazilian Indians, issues of archiving and intellectual property, and ethnomusicological theory and method. He is the author of Why
Suyá Sing: A Musical Anthropology of an Amazonian People (Cambridge University Press, 1987). The monograph was recognized as the most distinguished book in musicology for the year with the 1988 Otto Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society. He also wrote five half-hour shows on American Folk Music that were broadcast on the BBC in 1998. Anthony Seeger served as Director of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings at the Smithsonian Institution from 1988 to 2000.
ABSTRACT: James Durst (Work O' the Weavers) -- Performing
Pete In Work O’ The Weavers. Work
Weavers is a musical group that presents a narrative history
of the original Weavers, interspersed with all the songs The
Weavers made famous. Within this group, singer/guitarist
James Durst performs the voice of Pete Seeger and acts as one of
the group's principal
storytellers. Durst believes the message of The
particularly strongly "in these troubled times when an American's
right - and indeed, responsibility - to dissent is once again being
challenged." In his presentation, Durst will discuss the joys
and challenges of playing in this unusual tribute band.
James Durst is one of four members of the group Work
O' The Weavers, a performance and storytelling group. Work
O' The Weavers adheres faithfully to the arrangements of the original
Weavers, Pete Seeger's group from the 1940s and 50s. Work O' The
Weavers seeks to recall the spirit of The Weavers, providing
an echo of their music and some insight into their story. James has
also distinguished himself as a solo singer/songwriter, having toured
extensively since the mid-'60s in 48 states and 45 countries throughout
the Americas, Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia,
in Russia, Azerbaijan, Japan and most recently, India and Israel. In
addition to singing in more than two dozen languages, he has composed
hundreds of songs, many of which have materialized on a dozen or so
recordings. He has also starred in a pair of award-winning children's
singalong videos, and has written an eco-musical play entitled Hue
Seeger w/ Ray
Allen -- Integrating
Documentation, Presentation and Performance. In
this presentation, Mike Seeger will recount stories about his fieldwork
experiences, and describe how they relate to his roles as a performer
and presenter of old-time music. He will discuss the process of
arranging folk tunes and songs and perform a piece. Ray
Allen will interview Mike about his philosophy as a creative artist
and will moderate questions from the audience.
Mike Seeger has devoted his life to singing and playing folk music of the American south on banjo, fiddle, guitar, trump (jaw harp), mouth harp (harmonica), quills (panpipes), lap dulcimer, mandolin and autoharp. Mike learned his first folk songs from his parents, and later learned from their collection of early documentary recordings. He began playing instruments in his late teens, learning first from nearby musicians such as his close friend Elizabeth Cotten, and later seeking out other master stylists like guitarist Maybelle Carter, banjoists Dock Boggs and Cousin Emmy, and autoharpist Kilby Snow. As a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers, Mike helped revive interest in traditional folk music. Since his first recordings with the Ramblers in the late 1950s, Mike has gone on to record almost forty albums, both solo and with others, and has been honored with three Grammy nominations.
MODERATOR: Joe Hickerson will moderate the panel POLITICS,
THEORY & THE FOLK REVIVAL.
Joe Hickerson is a folksinger, folklorist,
ethnomusicologist, archivist, and librarian. For thirty-five years (1963-1998)
he was Librarian and Director of the Archive of Folk Song/Archive of Folk Culture
at the Library of Congress. He lectures and writes on a variety of folk music
topics, and is available for song and copyright researches. As a singer, Joe
has performed over a thousand times throughout the U.S.A. and in Canada, Finland,
and Ukraine; he has been doing it more than fifty years. His repertoire includes
a vast array of folksongs and allied forms in the English language, many with
choruses. Pete Seeger has called him "a great songleader." Joe calls himself a "vintage pre-plugged paleo-acoustic folksinger." In
1960 he wrote the 4th and 5th verses of "Where
Have All the Flowers Gone." He has recordings on the Folk-Legacy and Folkways labels, ranging from 1957 to 2003. His concerts are guaranteed to "Drive
Dull Care Away."
ABSTRACT: Bill Ivey -- Theorizing
Folk and Country Music. In modern America, "folk" and "country" have
different connotations. They refer to different artists, different
styles, different radio stations, and often different listeners.
Yet they have common roots. Their deepest ancestors are the British
ballads that Peggy Seeger accompanied for much of her career. Their
recent common ancestor is the old-time music that Mike Seeger has
preserved and presented. And the epitome of one genre, folk, is
found in the work of Pete Seeger. In this presentation, a folklorist
who has worked in the world of country music will discuss the different
ways these two vernacular musics have been theorized.
Bill Ivey is the Director of the Curb Center for Art,
Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, an arts policy
research center with offices in Nashville, Tennessee and Washington, DC.
He also directs the Center's Washington-based program for senior government career staff, the Arts Industries Policy Forum. Ivey serves as Senior Consultant to Leadership Music, a music industry professional development program, and is currently President of the American Folklore Society. He chairs the board of the National Recording Preservation Foundation, a federally chartered foundation affiliated with the Library of Congress, and is board chairman of WPLN, Nashville Public Radio. His book about cultural rights and America's cultural system will be published by the University of California Press in the spring of 2007. From May, 1998 through September, 2001, Ivey served as the seventh Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal cultural agency. Following years of controversy and significant reductions to the NEA budget, Ivey's leadership is credited with restoring Congressional confidence in the work of the NEA. Ivey's
Challenge America Initiative, launched in 1999, has to date garnered more
than $20 million in new Congressional appropriations for the Arts Endowment.
Prior to government service, Ivey was director of the Country Music Foundation
in Nashville, Tennessee. He was twice elected board chairman of the Los
Angeles-based National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).
Ivey holds degrees in History, Folklore, and Ethnomusicology, as well
as honorary doctorates from the University of Michigan, Michigan Technological
University, Wayne State University, and Indiana University. He is a four-time
Grammy Award nominee (Best Album Notes category), and is the author of
numerous articles on US cultural policy and folk and popular music.
ABSTRACT: Robert Cantwell -- The Politics of Pete. After
her mortifying visit to Leo Tolstoy, who thought she wore enough fabric in
her plaited sleeves to sew a frock for a peasant girl and raised his
eyebrows when he learned she lived in part from the rents from
her ownership of some agricultural property, Jane Addams returned
to Hull House determined to pacify her conscience by spending
at least two hours a day baking bread. But the administrative
and practical duties of Hull House, once she had returned to Chicago,
overtook her. Could it all be pushed aside and "asked to wait
while I saved my soul by two hours' work baking bread?" This
is the challenge with which Pete Seeger confronts us in every
song and every performance. What Addams wrote of Tolstoy might
be said of Seeger, that his career embodies the "one supreme personal
effort, one might almost say the one frantic personal effort,
to put himself into the right relations with the humblest people," "to
lift his life to the level of his conscience." Like Tolstoy's "short
shelf of battered books and his scythe and spade leaning against
the wall," Seeger's battered long-necked banjo, his immense repertoire
of folk songs, his homely "basic-strum," all testify to that "sermon
of the deed" to which tens of thousands fledgling banjo players
paid the tribute of their imitation.
Robert Cantwell is the author of When
We Were Good: The Folk Revival (Harvard University Press, 1996). He is Professor of English and American Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
ABSTRACT: Millie Rahn -- The "It
Changed My Life" Syndrome: The Folk Revival. Cambridge,
Massachusetts, is crucial to the study of the folk revival, in
part because 19th- and 20th-century cultural revivals there influenced
developments of the late 1950s and 1960s music scene--and the city
was also important to all the Seegers. Ethnographies of the Cambridge
revival often include the phrase, "it changed my life." Whether
discussing academic ballad studies, inspiring future banjo players,
presenting performers who were among those recorded in the Golden
Age collections that Harry Smith assembled, or encountering cultural
contexts of blues and bluegrass and their practitioners, Cambridge
often challenged -- and continues to challenge -- conventional
opinions about the revival, particularly as today's popular culture
regularly calls upon elders from the 1960s for its roots and continuity.
Millie Rahn is a professional folklorist who works with arts agencies and cultural organizations throughout New England to document and develop programs involving living cultural traditions. Ongoing projects include curating areas of folklife festivals in Lowell and New Bedford, Mass., and Bangor, Maine. She also serves as project folklorist and oral historian for Club Passim's New England Folk Music Archive Project. She has written and spoken extensively about the 1960s folk music revival and particularly about Club 47, the legendary coffeehouse in Harvard Square that also had a major role in the 1960s Newport Folk Festivals; and co-produced Follow
Me Down: A Folk Reunion, a performance-documentary about Club 47, for WGBH-TV in Boston. In addition, she is on the adjunct faculty at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, and serves on the board of the North American Folk Alliance.