2003 has been an exciting and creative year for us as we’ve continued to shape our ‘Work o’ the Weavers’ program, and we thank you for being part of our process. Our mission continues to be to tell the story of the Weavers in the context of their times, as well as to employ the music of the Weavers to relate something of our nation’s history (lest we be doomed to repeat it); and all the time, to be enlivened by the music.
1. Walkabout Clearwater Coffeehouse Westchester Premiere
2. Rehearsal for an audience of one
3. Upcoming performances
On December 13th, we presented our full 2-act program to an audience of more than 200 at the Walkabout Clearwater Coffeehouse, whose prime function since its inception some 16+ years ago has been to raise funds for the good sloop Clearwater in its efforts to clean up the Hudson. The terrific response was especially gratifying in that the date had been booked back last spring when the program was still but an idea, and prior even to our first rehearsal. Moreover, we were graced by the presence of original Weaver Fred Hellerman, and once we got past the fact of his being right there in the front row, I think we were even more inspired than we might otherwise have been. At the end he was gracious to join us onstage for the singing of Goodnight Irene.
Before singing, however, he made our night when he said, “Through the years it’s really been very nice, our fans have been wonderful, the way they’ve come up to me and said, “Oh God, The Weavers are so wonderful” and “You’ve changed my life,” and all these wonderful things. And I always felt a little cheated because I never had the chance to sit out front and listen to The Weavers. But that changed tonight.” Thank you, Fred.
2. An Audience of One
The week previous we’d had another singularly eventful experience when our rehearsal was joined by none other than Pete Seeger. He had asked if it would be OK to attend and again we had to overcome some initial trepidation, but once we got going, we were more than grateful for his presence. Pete was generous with his constructive suggestions, affirming in his critique and helpful in correcting some of the facts and chronologies. He even took our script home and returned it with notes in the margins suggesting ways to streamline the between-songs narrative. David and I are presently at work incorporating many of his suggestions.
I might add here that we had the delightful opportunity on November 29 to meet Ronnie Gilbert, the other surviving original Weaver, when she was in town to join the others in fêting their longtime manager and friend Harold Leventhal at Carnegie Hall. (Others who celebrated Harold included Arlo Guthrie & Family, Peter, Paul & Mary, Theodore Bikel, Leon Bibb and 2nd-Generation Weaver Erik Darling.) The following day Martha and David conducted an hour-long interview with Ronnie by phone, which has led to our adding some much-needed background information about her into the storyline.
We are indeed blessed to enjoy the support and participation of three of the principals in the ongoing evolution of our program. And fortunately, David knew Lee Hays as he grew up next door to the Weavers’ idiosyncratic humorist and bass vocalist until Lee’s passing in 1981.
3. Upcoming Performances
Details of all our approaching performances can be found at the Musi-Cal Tour Schedule.
Noteworthy are our dates at Danny’s Skylight Room (346 W. 46th St, just west of 8th Avenue) in Manhattan, beginning Monday, December 29 (9:15pm) and followed by the 7 successive Sundays (Jan 4 – Feb 15) at 6:15pm. Each will be a single set of between 75 and 90 minutes. It’s a cozy, intimate room seating around 80-90 people comfortably, so reservations are recommended. See the website/tour schedule for info.
In the middle of recording a recent appearance on Robert Sherman’s ‘Woody’s Children’ radio program (WFUV), Robert invited us to play for his 35th Anniversary concert at Merkin Hall in NYC on January 5th. We’ll be in the company of Pete Seeger, Odetta, Oscar Brand, Christine Lavin and Tom Chapin. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating Robert’s 35 years of ‘Woody’s Children’ on the air.
On January 31, we’ll once again present the full 2-act concert with narrative at a wonderful new venue that in addition to screening films, features live music on weekends, called Paramus Picture Show. We look forward to bringing the music of the Weavers to our friends in northern New Jersey. Please spread the word. Check their website (www.paramuspictureshow.com) for more info.
Finally, from all of us involved with Work o’ the Weavers, we wish you joyful holidays and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
Looking forward/Staying present,
James, David, Martha, and Mark