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WEEKEND CLEARWATER FOLK MUSIC FESTIVAL REMEMBERS PETE AND TOSHI SEEGER

BY ELLIOT STEPHEN COHEN

LUCINDA WILLIAMS CLOSING OUT FESTIVAL
PHOTO BY ELLIOT STEPHEN COHEN - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
LUCINDA WILLIAMS
PHOTO BY ELLIOT STEPHEN COHEN - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

At the first Clearwater Festival since the passing of folk music legend Pete Seeger and his wife Toshi, more than 25,000 people, most of whom probably shared their vision of environmentalism and humanitarianism, showed up for the two-day festivities.

An early festival performance featured The Clearwater Family Band, in tribute to Pete and Toshi, and several square dances were held to commemorate their historic meeting at such a dance in 1939.

Mother Nature complied both days and permitted a wide variety of musical performances that included headliners Lucinda Williams, The Mavericks, Dar Williams, Rufus Wainwright, David Bromberg and Norah Jones with her new group, Puss N Boots.

Most of the older performers like David Amram, Tom Paxton, Toshi Reagon, Josh White Jr., Tony Trischka, Tom Chapin and Guy Davis, knew the Seegers personally for many years.

The event also featured such eclectic musicians as the World-Music-oriented Klezmatics and Moroccan musician Hassan Hakmoun, singer-songwriters Holly Near and Emma’s Revolution featuring Pat Humphries and Sandy O. It also spotlighted Cajun music legend Buckwheat Zydeco, the “orchestral pop” of Arc Isis, folk singers Betty and The Baby Boomers, veteran soul songstress Betty LaVette and the very versatile Garland Jeffries.

Pete Seeger's original idea for the Sloop Clearwater in 1966 was to "build a boat to save the river," which was his beloved Hudson. These annual festivals were formally started back in 1978 and, for the next fourteen years, were overseen mostly by Pete's wife Toshi. Both Pete and Toshi would have certainly have enjoyed this weekend's festivities.

It’s a shame the Clearwater Festival is only held once a year.

(For photos, click on “View Slideshow” at the top right of article.)