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Review: Pete Seeger with The Rivertown Kids and Friends, Tomorrow’s Children

Pete Seeger at 90 is as vital and as infectiously optimistic as ever.

Pete Seeger with The Rivertown Kids and Friends
Tomorrow’s Children
[Appleseed APR CD 1123 (2010)]

Pete Seeger at 90 is as vital and as infectiously optimistic as ever. There is a bit of a quaver to his voice and he walks a tad slower and haltingly on the outside, but all of this seems only to add a quality of endurance and assurance that the man behind the banjo. Tomorrow’s Children recalls something about the idiosyncratic nature of growing up in the last half of the twentieth century. But his central theme here that a greener, more tolerant ideology is the key to tomorrow.

As one might expect from a major mover behind the folk revolution and the social consciousness of the Boomer Generation, Seeger is still playing the role made him a legend: the conscience of America. The subject matter of the songs, some old and some new, ranges from history lessons on the struggle for human rights to current environmental and cultural issues. The style is a mix of folk traditions from the various cultures reflected in the diverse American population done in a manner that reflects more what the various cultures share in common rather than their differences. Seeger even gets a bit into “rap” accompanied by his familiar banjo style and an all kid chorus doing a Josh White, Jr. song, “English is Crazy,” that’s guaranteed to grab the full attention of kids of all ages.

The children also sing Pete’s signature song, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” the song that taught many of us the power of unity and standing up for doing the right thing even when it is an unpopular or even dangerous thing to do. Something we all need to keep in mind all the time.

Sing along with Pete and the kids and remind yourself that these freedoms we hold dear are only as safe as the work each of us puts into keeping them alive. Freedom is a full-time, all-the-time occupation that require’s every citizen’s constant efforts and continuing education.

—H. Stephen Patton (Baltimore, MD)

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