Pete was a giant. He taught us to sing, play the 5 string banjo, and 12 string guitar, started a movement that cleaned up the Hudson River, stood up to the witch hunters in Congress, wrote songs that will live forever, marched with Dr. King, popularized the song WE SHALL OVERCOME, sang for peace, built his own log cabin, nurtured songsters and pickers, was blacklisted, damned, picketed by the John Birch Society, cut his firewood until shortly before he died at the age of 94, was married to a marvelous woman for close to 70 years, rode the freights with Woody Guthrie, sang on picket lines, just about invented the profession of modern day folksinger, the list could go on forever. He was rightly called "America's tuning fork", and he could get all of us singing together at the drop of a flatpick. His actions and his words matched up a thousand percent. I only spent any time with him on a handful of occasions, Resurrection City in 1968, when the sloop the Clearwater would come sailing to New York City. and the last time I saw him was when Utah Phillips invited me to the Joe Hill Memorial in Salt Lake City in 1990. Pete, Earl Robinson, Utah, Faith Petric, and Joe Glazer were there. They were putting everybody up in the Hotel Perry which Utah remembered as a Skid Road flophouse that he used to haul drunks out of when he was working with Ammon Hennacy at Joe Hill House. In the ensuing years it had been gentrified and turned into a posh upscale hostelry. At the close of the weekend the Committee who had staged this memorial invited us all down to dinner in the fancy restaurant off the lobby. We walked in without a reservation of course, and asked for a table for 18 (could have been more, I don't recall exactly). The staff immediately starting putting tables together and setting them for this unexpected influx. There was a large space cleared in the center where they placed the chairs out of the way while they rearranged everything. Pete immediately lined up the chairs and started to whistle POP GOES THE WEASEL leading our dinner party around in a game of musical chairs, Pete skipping with his hands behind his back. I have been listening to him since I was 7 years old, and I will be listening till the day I die. We will never see his like again. Folksinger Mark Ross was a 2012 TAAP awardee. He resides in Eugene, OR.
Nisha Joshi (Portland) is an internationally celebrated performer of classical Rajasthani Indian music, and one of OFN’S 2012 TAAP awardees. The Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program provided the necessary funding for Joshi to pass along the lesser known Rajasthani Folk Music to her apprentice, Shivani Joshi.
OFN is now accepting applications for our Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program (TAAP) through March 3, 2014. Traditional artists of exceptional merit qualify for $3,000 grants, which enable them to pass their expertise on to someone of great promise within their same cultural community. The mentoring artist and his or her apprentice apply together as a team and must demonstrate how traditional their art form is, how significant it is to the community they share, how strong their ties are to that cultural community, and the excellence of the quality of their work based on work samples, like images, videos, support letters, and press.
Contract folklorist Douglas Manger has been researching folk and traditional artists in southeastern Oregon for the Oregon Folklife Network’s field survey. Later this spring, Manger will be in Malheur and Harney counties to document a wide variety of occupational, craft, music, dance, and leisure traditions to do with ranching, whip braiding, saddle making, fly fishing, storytelling, cooking, community celebrations, and more.
OFN staff and graduate students will be traveling to Astoria for the 17th Annual FisherPoets Gathering to document some of the men and women who perform poetry, songs, and prose about their occupation.
This celebration of Northwest fisheries and fishers takes creative license as far as it can go and entertains visitors with some of the best spoken word performances in the US. Attendees can enjoy regional specialties at local restaurants and clubs, which host the poets, writers, and musicians; explore the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which also sponsors some sessions; and step aboard some of the commercial fishing boats tied up at Astoria’s working waterfront.
For more information, http://www.fisherpoets.org/fisherpoets-gathering-2014.html.
And if you can’t make it up to Astoria, you’ll have the opportunity to hear a few of Oregon’s premier fisher poets for our OFN benefit at Cozmic Pizza, May 1, 7-9 pm.
Updates in our next newsletter!