Join Pete Seeger’s multi-site 90th birthday bash — at The Admiral

Folk-music legend Pete Seeger co-wrote “If I Had a Hammer,” but Peter, Paul and Mary made it famous. Seeger – whose impending 90th birthday will be celebrated in West Seattle and other locals nationwide – is much better known for his songwriting than his singing – this classic performed by The Byrds, also from the ’60s, is a prime example:

Here’s Seeger explaining how he wrote that:

So, after those clips, are you in the mood to sing along with songs like “If I Had a Hammer” and “Turn, Turn, Turn,” along with many others? On Seeger’s 90th birthday, Sunday 5/3, a day with celebrations planned around the country, the Seattle party will be right here in West Seattle, at the historic Admiral Theater. The singalongs will be part of an evening music slate, starting at 7 pm, following a documentary screening at 4 pm. West Seattle author/historian Clay Eals is the one who came up with the idea for the historic theater to host this celebration of living history – during an interview at the Admiral last Wednesday, he explained what it’s going to be all about:

Read on for more about the celebration, more from Eals – who explains the synergy between this event and the musician-biography project he worked on for years – ahead:

First, about the documentary you’ll see at 4 pm that day: “Pete Seeger: The Power of Song” tells the story of not only his music, but also the political trouble he got into – here’s an excerpt:

Admiral entertainment director Dinah Brein-McClellan calls the documentary “a stunning summary of Pete Seeger’s long and inspiring life.” And the history of our music, the presence of music, is the essence of ALL of our lives, Eals notes:

The event at the Admiral on May 3rd, however, will not be just about watching and listening. It will be about participating – the way that Seeger so often encourages singalongs during his concerts. During the “hootenanny” starting at 7 pm, Tom Colwell and The Southbound Odyssey will play the songs you’ll want to sing.

The fact this is all happening at the Admiral Theater isn’t the only West Seattle link. Seeger visited
our peninsula in the ’40s; this HistoryLink article tells the tale, in its biography of West Seattleite Ivar Haglund, known for his folk music as much as for his fish and chips. In fact, the article says, Seeger even claimed credit at one point for teaching Ivar the famous “acres of clams” song (officially known as the “Old Settler’s Song”).

We don’t know if he visited West Seattle at the time, but we do know that Seeger was back in Seattle in 1997, performing at the Northwest Folklife Festival, which will benefit from part of the proceeds of the May 3rd event at The Admiral. Some never-before-seen footage from that concert is promised for this event, too. Whoever’s singing, whoever’s playing, when it comes to Pete Seeger, it all seems interrelated, a lot like the way this all relates to a big project Eals worked on for years:

On May 3, Seeger himself will celebrate his 90th birthday at New York’s Madison Square Garden, with an all-star lineup that includes famous folk musicians, such as Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez and Judy Collins – it’s a benefit for the Hudson River preservation/protection initiative he founded. You can be there in spirit by being part of the Admiral screening and hootenanny: “For Pete’s Sake, Sing!”

TICKETS: Admission for the film only is $8; the hootenanny is $10, with a special discounted $15 ticket including both events. You can buy tickets on the day of the event, or better yet, in advance online.

8 Replies to "Join Pete Seeger's multi-site 90th birthday bash -- at The Admiral"

  • Lonely Guy April 25, 2009 (7:31 am)

    I have no regard for someone who’s career has been to attack America and its institutions (while profiting from them, of course). Yes, he quit the Communist Party, but never deviated from its message or mission.

    See “America’s Most Successful Communist” by Howard Husock –

  • JCM April 25, 2009 (8:17 am)

    What nonsense! Pete Seeger has fought his whole life long for the best things America stands for. He has attacked racial discrimination and the Vietnam War, for starters. But regardless of his politics, he is a hugely important part of the musical heritage of this country.

  • Sarah April 25, 2009 (9:08 am)

    Grr I’ll be out of town next Sunday, which means I’ll miss this AND the Sustainable West Seattle festival.
    Anyway, what’s so bad about communists, really?

  • Chip April 25, 2009 (11:06 pm)

    Hey Lonely Guy, what’s with the Sam the Eagle routine?

  • Lawrenceofthedesert April 26, 2009 (11:15 am)

    Pete Seeger never was active in the CP and is a WWII veteran, honorably discharged, who loves the US. He attacks only reactionary nitwits like Lonely Guy and defends our environment and the Bill of Rights. He rescued an indigenous musical instrument, the 5-string banjo, from obscurity, if not extinction. Good work and happy birthday, Pete!

  • Eric Shalit April 26, 2009 (8:44 pm)

    When I was 16, back in 1972, I wrote Pete Seeger a letter, asking him if I could interview him for my magazine. I actually published my own magazine back then, before I realized that you needed to be a massive corporation to do such a thing. He invited me to spend an afternoon with him, making a brick boat launch on the Hudson River. (I bet he didn’t have a permit to do it). He was very gracious and I briefly visited his home too.

    I have met other celebrities over the years, but none was so kind and generous as Pete. He has lived a beautiful life by example and has stood up for truth and justice at great risk to his own safety and reputation.

    I’m sure Lonely Guy, didn’t care much for Martin Luther King either.

    I’m sure Pete must have been friends with legendary West Seattle songwriter Earl Robinson, who was no doubt also considered a communist for his ideas. It would be terrific to honor his memory as well, since he was Seattle’s Pete Seeger in many ways.

  • charlabob May 3, 2009 (11:11 pm)

    We just got back from the event — hooted like we were 16. Amazing event — (even the first comment on this thread brought back many memories.) Thanks to every one who organized it — and to WSB for their PREcoverage, reminding us of it.

  • WSB May 3, 2009 (11:24 pm)

    Glad to hear it! SWS Festival ended with “This Land Is Your Land” and a mention of the Admiral event, which was at that point half an hour away from starting (the doc, anyway) … TR

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