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Peggy Quotes

By telling Jimmy Massey's life story, and by the profound way you shaped your lyrics, you have made him so close we must see he is undeniably us--who we are and why we are. I want to express my gratitude to him for telling his story, and to you for giving me a way to connect with his story and my own heart as I share his message with others. Thank you. Suzanna Hough

Peggy Quotes 2

Songs of Love and Politics is a wonderful introduction to Peggy Seeger for those of you who are not familiar with her work and a delight to those love her work.
- Don Jacobsen, KVMR Radio

 

Letters from Fans

Feb. 2017

Dear Ms. Seeger,



I am writing to thank you for making your wonderful music, doing your wonderful activism, and for letting the two commingle as you have.

I am a young woman and a feminist. Your music has shaped my life and guided me through disappointment, disenfranchisement, and cynicism.



I grew up in a small (USA) mountain town where the cultural cement is folk and country music. Listening to your folk songs such as the Ballad of Jimmy Massey helps to ease my oldest hurts. The tunes and form speak to my identity as a mountain person. Your words reflect my identity as a feminist and socially progressive activist, and combat the misogyny and other social injustices I learned from music and other social practices. 

Love Call Me Home inspired me to write to you today. Last year, I moved in with my parents to take care of my ill mother. That process is already emotionally fraught, but additionally coping with misogyny, homophobia, and bullying from my father and other residents of the town depletes me greatly. Your song reminds me to have compassion and to let love in when and where I can find it, even through adversity. 



Thank you again for so many years of letting your light shine brightly. You help me to see myself as my best self, and I'm sure you do the same for many others. Although we will likely never meet, you and your music are in my heart and thoughts as an inspiration, a guide, and a dear companion.



Wishing you a new year of joy and abundance,


Loren Grace


Re: Everything Changes
a note to Peggy's son Calum

You mum's album has been our sole music choice in the car through all our hundreds of miles travelling over Christmas, we LOVE it, it is AWESOME. Immediately I felt she was writing about my sister’s death and my mother in heaven as if she knew me, it went right to the heart, we were both in tears a lot. She is a legend, I haven’t even heard her earlier stuff so will look that up now. They are perfect songs, craftsmanship at it’s best. I know this sounds gushing because I know you, but it is true! Your brothers are genius too, it is a perfect album and will remain in our all time top 10 forever I imagine.

Love
June Hounslow


Re: Everything Changes
an excerpt from an email to Peggy's daughter-in-law Kerry Harvey-Piper 

Our beautiful new Peggy CD arrived and is being enjoyed for the first time (of many to come) as I write this note.  What a treasure of music this one is.  Peggy is amazing!  She keeps finding new ways to communicate musically.
 
We got to see Peggy in person at the Maple Street Chapel in Lombard, Illinois a number of years ago.  She put on a delightful performance in a small venue and was most gracious in spending time visiting with us and others in attendance.  Although we enjoyed all her performance that evening, we especially liked “I’m gonna be an Engineer” because our daughter is a very accomplished engineer who designs highways and bridges. You can be sure our daughter received a copy of a CD containing that song.
David Studebaker


Re: Gonna Be an Engineer

I recently heard your song on public radio and looked it up. I sent the link to my daughters with copies to some feminist friends. I'm an engineer and know that what you need to be one is brains. Women have brains, duh!

My father was anti-racist and anti-sexist back in the 50's before it was camp and passed it onto me. Before I retired, I was involved in hiring women engineers, two of whom are now world-class authorities.

One of them interviewed like a stone statue but I knew that was more there than met the eye. I followed up on that and recommended hiring her. The guy in charge of the position interviewed her and again, interviewing stone. He asked me if I was sure and told him he would not regret it. He hired her on my word. She's now a world class authority on power system commo. I  ended up working on one of her projects.

You've come a long way but are not there yet. Keep up the campaign.

I'm retired and 70 and still encouraging girls to go for it. Someday people will realize what my pop, of happy memory, said: "A person is what a person does." And "Don't judge the contents by the packaging."

Forward.

Mike Storms

Spokane, Washington, USA


Re: the song and video One Plus One by Peggy Seeger

My husband, Marky, teaches maths to  a group of very intelligent Further A Level students (they are about 17 - 18 yrs old and those super-intelligent whizz-kid types).  Yesterday they were getting a bit overloaded and fraught with the 'hard sums' so he played them the One Plus One video as a bit of a breather! They loved it!  Marky said all the frowns disappeared and they were all smiling and ready to go at the complex numbers again!


Re: Milngavie, Scotland concert, October 20, 2012

Dear Ms Seeger.
I was at your concert, at my son's suggestion. I love live music of all genres, but knew you only really by name.

To be honest,I wasn't in the mood to go out , felt a bit low and have some stuff on my mind. I'm so glad we came to see you - your warmth, intelligence and humanity raised my spirits. Your songs and performance were wonderful.You have a very precious talent.

I hope you'll return to Glasgow some day.
With thanks and best wishes,
David Bruce

Ps meant to say this to you whilst buying cds from you (as instructed!), but the boy inside the 53yr old was too shy:))


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Re: Concert at Notes Live, Sydney, Australia Jan 17 2012, extract from a longer letter.

.... It was great to see you live, for the wonderful range of music, but also for the pleasure of seeing a woman who is so clearly at ease in her own skin. You were funny, smart, feisty, warm and wise, and managed to be very assertive without getting anyone offside, and very intelligent without making anyone feel stupid. It's a combination I hope I'll get close to some day!
 
All the best,
Siobhan McHugh

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Dear Peggy

I went to your concert in Galway on Friday last (14th oct.).  I loved it so much.  The last time I saw you was in Dublin over 30 years ago with Ewan.  I was in a bad state at that time having had a bit of a breakdown.  I was so inspired by both of you then,  by the joy and passion  and belief and strength in your singing - it was so much my definition of what real health was, this vigour, this spirit in the service of a good and decent world, that coming back over O'connell bridge that night i threw my medication in the liffey. I probably wouldn't recommend it as a treatment option for everyone but for me it was an expression of turning towards Life.  Some years later I wrote you about this and you kindly wrote back.  So having had another tumble this year I went to see you in Galway with my dear friend who had been with me all those years ago. To be honest I went more as a mark of respect and gratitude than anything.  But boy was I in the wrong space.  You still so got it!  The beauty of your singing, the same power, joy, passion, tenderness and I think I saw the word 'radiance' in a review on your site - that is the word I too would use.  And it did it for me all over again.  A huge burst of joy and living inspiration.  And when I asked if you remembered Thoughts of Time, you took my hands in yours, my heart nearly broke with love.  Keep writing and keep singing and keep on keeping on.  With all my love and gratitude to you.

(October 2011, name of sender withheld for privacy)

 

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Portland
April 15, 2011

Ms. Peggy, I was one of the people in the audience on Friday, and wanted to thank you.

My being at the concert was not planned. My husband and I have our "date night" on friday night, and the plan hadn't gotten any more complicated than going to a Chinese Restaurant in the suburbs... When we were driving to it, he asked if I'd checked on the Portland Guitar Society website calendar... I checked from my iPhone, and saw your concert listed, and suggested eagerly that we go to it. My husband is currently on a six drug combination therapy for multiple myeloma, and the Dex especially is very hard for him, and I'm seeing that we are getting to a difficult place in our journey with this. We have been dealing with it for almost six years, and things aren't working. When I excitedly suggested the change of plan, he got angry. He turned the car around and said I could go to the performance, but he didn't want to go out with me. So we went home. And I didn't now what else to do, because he so obviously wanted to be alone, or not with me, that I got in the car and left.

As I drove away from the house, I had this heavy feeling that this was my taste of how my friday nights were going to feel "after"... and forever... Alone, with no destination, and unhappy. I didn't know what else to do, so I did in fact go to the concert. It was at a venue I'd never been to before, and was nearly full when I got there, a half hour before the concert started. But there was an empty seat next to someone I actually knew-- a nurse who gives lectures on reading blood test results for patients through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I'm on a committee with him for Patient Services, and I volunteer graphics for the LLS.  I didn't know he and his wife well before I sat down next to them. Several of your songs were about loss due to cancer. At the intermission, I wanted to give my seatmates a break from entertaining me, so I bought a cookie and was eating it at the back of the room when a man came up and started talking to me... nothing inappropriate, but I was being "hit" on... which almost felt like a gift from the universe seeing as how I was projecting so much of my lonely future into the evening.

When I got home, my husband wasn't angry... he just needs time to himself sometimes... And I got the feeling that the universe was going to be more gentle on me in the future than I'd feared.

Today, I looked up your brother's obituary on the internet, and realized for the first time that you also had a journey with multiple myeloma. The synchronicity of it all made me want to thank you.

(printed with permission but sender's name withheld by request)

 

 

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Dear Peggy,
Many many years ago yourself and Ewan played a concert in downtown Leeds, around 1964, and after the concert a young student came up to you and said he had just bought a 5-String banjo. You spent close to an hour showing him stuff on the banjo and gave loads of really good advice, incredibly kind of you to take the trouble during a very busy playing schedule. And a year later at the same place you came up and asked how my playing was going, amazing memory ! so when Mick told me he would be meeting you over in US I thought I would jump on the opportunity to thank you most kindly for your time spent, and your wonderful attitude towards beginning players. I became an almost compulsive musician, followed your advice and picked up a beautiful instrument, and still play every day, either at home or in my bar (even mentioned in "The Rough Guide to Thailand" in the Pattaya section !)

Thanks to you in part, music became a very important part of my life, and I subsequently played in folk groups in UK followed by hillbilly bands in America, and I still brag about you having given me my first and most important banjo lesson. Took a banjo with me wherever I went, even 15 years deep in the jungles of Sumatra, Borneo, and New Guinea, and have met many fantastic people through music. Wonderful to hear that you are still going strong and playing up a storm, and please know that you have an enduring fan in the wilds of S.E. Asia.

Love and very best wishes!
Terry M. Broom

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This is a letter from the grand-daughter of Norma Smith, who featured prominently in the Radio-Ballad 'The Body Blow', about polio. My memories of Norma are of a cheerful, energetic woman of about 30, who came to the BBC studio while we were recording. She loved the whole event ... but my most poignant memory is of her whizzing off to the canteen in her wheelchair to get coffees for everyone, coming back with them all carefully balanced on her lap with NONE spilled. Here is her grand-daughter's letter:


Dear Peggy,

My name is Debbie and I am the Granddaughter of Norma Smith one of the Polio victims featured on your brilliant album The Body Blow. As a child I remember listening to the record on Nan's Radiogram. I didn't really understand the content or even listen to the words of the songs. I just thought it was amazing hearing my Nan's voice on a record! Sadly my Nan passed away 3 years ago. She was 75. It was while I was sorting through her records that I came across her Original Vinyl Copy of The Body Blow. Now 3 years down the line I've got a copy on CD so I'm able to listen to it through Adult ears!! Nan was left Wheelchair bound, robbed of the use of her legs from the Polio. We often talked about the time she spent in hospital but it's hearing my Nan speak about it so candidly with the other Victims together with Your songs & music that bring me to tears everytime I listen to it, it's so good! It really is brilliant & sad at the same time.

I understand more than most what it is like for a person to live with Polio but The Body Blow takes you on a journey through their world through their eyes. I was in awe of my Nan how she tackled every day thing's things that we all take for granted how she managed to do them without complaint. She was one of the most positive, inspirational people I have ever met. She led as full and active life of anyone I knew. She raised my Mother on her own from a Wheelchair, worked fulltime, drove a car, had the most amazing Rose garden and a beautiful home full of love & laughter. I miss her so much but now if I'm feeling down I can put on The Body Blow and be close to Nan again listening to her voice and it makes me realise how lucky I am in every sense of the word. My Family and I are so grateful to You, Ewan MacColl & Charles Parker for making such a brilliant documentary and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Kind regards
Debbie O'Brien

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Dear Peggy,
During or near 2005, I saw you perform at the Durham Friends Meeting House in North Carolina. You sang The Ballad of Jimmy Massey and I bought the cd with that one song. I learned it, and next month I am singing it at the Vets for Peace concert in Gainesville FL. I am the only solo act, and I will be singing it acapella, as that is how I was asked to present it, and I don't play an instrument. After I auditioned and was accepted, I was told that the competition to be in this annual event is steep, and 30-50 bands try out. I am not a trained singer, and yet there seemed to be no hesitance from the event coordinator in his affirming that he did want me to come and sing this song to the 450+ folks that will be attending.

All of these events I share with you because they indicate the power of this song's message. They also reinforce the unfortunate truth that the message is still relevant and timely (as shown by the recent US bombing of a wedding party in Afghanistan that killed 37, mostly children) . It is easy to feel helpless in the face of these atrocities, especially when they seem so far away and so far removed from our lives. But by telling Jimmy Massey's life story, and by the profound way you shaped your lyrics, you have made him so close we must see he is undeniably us--who we are and why we are.

I want to express my gratitude to him for telling his story, and to you for giving me a way to connect with his story and my own heart as I share his message with others. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Suzanna Hough

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YIPPEE!!!! from dusty far away Brisbane, Australia

What a day! What a night! You must be both thrilled and exhausted. You know that you have been a voice for the people for many years - on your own shores and others.

I want to thank you and congratulate you for your contribution to today's/tonight's American election results. I know we in the world community still have much to do and "no cause for standing still" - and we can and will. Obama in his victory speech referred to "the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress". I know that you have experienced in full measure all of that and more.

Peggy please enjoy and relish today/tonight and know that I must be just one of surely countless others who appreciate and salute you.
Take care and thank you for all the music and the actions.
Slan
Anne Kerins

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IN OCTOBER 1958 I wrote a song about the mining disaster in Springhill, Nova Scotia. The song took root in the town and has been sung there ever since. On October 22-24, 2008: the whole Springhill community took part in commemoration ceremonies. Jack MacAndrew, who was constantly present in media capacity in 1958, wrote me the following letter after we'd both taken part in the memorial and the concert.

Hello Peggy....I've been in some sort of withdrawal all week recovering from last week in Springhill, and MacAndrew's Last Hurrah. For me , it was physically demanding and emotionally draining. For days I felt as though I'd come off some sort of binge.
I guess that's what it was ... an emotional binge.

No wonder.... I guess . I've waited fifty years for some way to at least partially repay the debt I owed Springhillers. Those people were so wonderful , and so giving in their appreciation of all our efforts .

Val Alderson says the Candlelight Service and the Concert, and all that went with those events - was the talk of the town all week.
Best of all , the mood was upbeat. People in some way felt renewed. We touched them, and that is a grand thing.

So I want to thank you so very much for your contribution. It was essential to the success of those events. Your appearance meant so much to everyone , including me.

You are one great lady m'dear , with a very big heart - and one helluva entertainer to boot. To just say thank you seems terribly insufficient...but thank you, from my heart to yours. I shall never forget those two days in October , and the light cast by your generosity of spirit .

Jack MacAndrew ( aka " Pithead" ) - [he was given a plaque by the Springhill community in appreciation of his service and friendship over the half-century]

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October 27 2008

A LETTER FROM JIMMY MASSEY, WHO SIGNS HIMSELF 'HUMBLE' AT THE END OF HIS LETTERS. I ASKED HIM WHY HE DID THAT. HERE IS HIS ANSWER:

Hello Peggy,
Humble, is what I am. Humble to be alive, a lot of innocent blood was shed for me to be who I am today. Some people seek money, fame and power, all I seek is redemption. Redemption for the innocent.
Humble, Jimmy JR. Massey

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Peggy - I have been teaching a class at The New School here in NYC for the past 4 years or so, on Women, Gender and Music, and both you and your mother are firmly in my syllabus. I am always delighted to find that in every one of my classes there is someone who has either seen a performance by you or has been to one of your classes that is a wild fan.

Sonya Mason
Part-time Professor,
New School for General Studies
New York
June 19 2008

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Dear Peggy,
Just finished listening to your CD 'Crazy Quilt' which I have enjoyed very much. You may remember me as I mentioned I did a radio program at the local Community Station and I asked what would suit a 'Middle of the Road' program, then you passed over your CD which you gave me to hear.

Well, I'm doing a Christian program called 'Focus on the Family' which deals with family issues so I can use your CD in this program also 'Footprints' where folk from our district churches come in to talk about happenings in the local situations. Again I can use your CD. Then I do 'Time to Remember' - Big Crosby - Nana Mouskouri, Benny Goodman, Andrews Sisters etc. again I can use something from your CD.

Also do a 'Music's Fine' which is a Classical program (Beethoven, Mozart, etc. etc.) so really can't use your CD but think you understand about 'variations on a theme' and key modulations. You have a very quick mind to notice quite a great range of social changes about you.

So congratulations on the CD and hope that you keep ' sailing onward' with much more music to come. Thanks for being at Port Fairy Folkie.

Yours Sincerely,
Colin Fisher

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Each year the Folklore Program at my university chooses to honor someone for his or her significant work in Folklore Studies. In the spring of 2008, we honored Peggy Seeger for her outstanding contributions to the study, performance, and perpetuation of traditional music.

As Peggy's talents attest, the Seeger family must be what happens when nurture and nature collide in all the best ways. Peggy has written and sung an important place for herself in the history of American and British folk music.

She's justly famous for her music, but her intellect is equally impressive. And even better yet, hers is an intellect fueled by a good heart. At my university, she gave a stellar performance-lecture on the importance of traditional music in which she not only had the audience pondering her incisive comparisons and contrasts between folk and classical music but also had them singing along with her (of course!).

She's every bit as smart, articulate, and lovely off stage as on it, so it was a privilege to work with her in every venue, including the classroom. She provided one of those rare, sumptuous learning experiences that will be long recalled by our students and faculty.

I also have to say that seeing Peggy makes every woman want to do seventy something just like she does it. Clearly, Peggy Seeger knows exactly what to do with all the beautiful and hard years of a life richly lived.

Dr. Jeannie Banks Thomas
Director
Folklore Program
Utah State University
Logan, UT

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Bring Me Home arrived and it's wonderful. I love the way you sing those songs. You fit into them like you were dropping onto a much loved, perfectly comfortable couch. Often when I hear folk songs sung - real folk songs, i mean - there is something cross-cultural about it. The singer comes from his or her world (this world) and finds something in songs from that old world, and it is a fine thing. But to my ear, there is no disconnect between you and those songs. They are your world, and they sound like it. And of course they are, in your hands, musical as hell, but that is just the platform. They just sound so right. Bravo.

Bob Bossin, Vancouver songwriter

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Augusta Heritage, Vocal Week 2005
Elkins, West Virginia

Your energy and generosity and grand approach to music and life were among the highlights of Vocal Week this past August, for me and for the campers as well. The comments I got from your students while I was there, and the plaudits on the written evaluations, all reinforced what I saw and heard with my own eyes and ears: you were a force of nature! Thanks for joining us for the 2005 Vocal Week, and for allowing me to hover on the edge of the songwriting class.Your full group presentation and your concert set also were very moving for a lot of people. Thanks in particular for those moments!

Flawn Williams

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I just want to thank Peggy for the great time I had at her show. We met briefly in Bemidji MN in March of 2003 and discussed atonal composers and Italian folk melodies. I just noticed she will be in Wisconsin this summer and if she is still as delightful as she was... I will be there.

Sincere thanks,
Nicholas Sunsdahl

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REGARDING YOUR BIRTHDAY CONCERT....

Dear Peg -
It was amazing to see you again - I am sure you get more beautiful as you get older. Last time we met was a Kirsty's house where I was working on building her cabinets in Ealing - was a couple of years before Ewan sadly passed away - seems like a long time ago now.

It was an amazing concert - I have never seen Pete Seeger before - what a guy - it was a joy to see him work the audience - and the last time I saw Mike was with you and Ewan in the Singers Club in the 60's I was about 17 then and your boys were very little.

I must say that I think you are are about the most authentic person I have ever seen on stage - you were just you - warm, intelligent, natural and funny - it was like sitting in your living room. Seems funny to even call it a concert.

I am in the process of constructing my web site and I talk about my music and you and your incredible generosity and kindness to me when I was 14 years old (1964). Please have a look.

You mean a lot to me and I truly believe that you fed my eagerness to learn music which has kept me playing and loving American old time music all my life.

I won't take up any more of your time but just wanted to say thank you for so much.

All my love,
Leo

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A PERFECT MEMORIAL FOR ALL

Winn and I listened to Love Call Me Home on the way to Hot Springs this weekend. We both said at the end, after the title track, that if we die before you do, we would like you to sing that song for us at our funerals. If you die first we will have it played from the cd. Thank you for a new perfect memorial song for all times.
Totsie

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FROM AN ENGLISH FRIEND
Dear Peggy,

hope you are having less trouble with your playing - you spoke of suffering badly from RSI, hope it's better after a rest. I have been bootlegging shamelessly in the hope of acquiring you a new fan base who will then come honest and order your records in an above board manner. At my son's wedding last weekend I met a great woman from Canada whose daughter is an engineer, but who, although being a fan of Pete Seeger, was unaware of your existence. I have spent the evening putting some of my favourite songs of yours on tape for her, and have been sobbing and laughing and singing by turns. so much of my life seems to have your voice in the background. I remember writing up the text of the song "My son" up for Alex's coming of age, and also giving it to my friend from kindergarten days when his son married, years ago. I've been singing along with the Greenham girls and the Women's union tonight and grinning at the "different tunes", remembering with pleasure the odd lines I contributed and how many families now love that song. thank you for everything, over the years.

love, sheelagh

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Bluegrass Unlimited
Oct. 2002 issue

In the May 2001 issue, we discussed the work of the late Carroll Best, an early "melodic" banjo stylist from North Carolina. We subsequently received these comments on the subject from a veteran banjoist and long time subscriber. For some reason,we failed to publish them at the time. We'd like to correct that oversite, albeit a year late.

"Your commentary on Carroll Best revived the old discussion of who really was the first banjoist to develop or record in this style. I have a theory which may surprise most BU readers. Has anyone out there listened to the music of Peggy Seeger? Like Pete Seeger, she always emphasized the song and the lyrics and, also like Pete, she has always been a fine and unheralded instrumentalist.

I have an obscure LP by Peggy on the Folk-Lyric label, FL 114, 'Peggy Seeger Sings and Plays American Folksongs for Banjo.' As we all know, the old vinyl LPs rarely had session or release dates on the jacket or the disc, which in this case is really a shame. Most of the record is devoted to ballads, on which Peggy plays a variety of effective styles.

Like the old Folkways albums, this one came with a lengthy expostulation by the artist on the back cover, including a put-down of "hillbilly banjoists" who play too fast and too loud plus a typed booklet inside with extensive details on tunings and playing styles.

But here's the point: on the last three bands she plays medleys (two each) of the fiddle tunes on the banjo. Included are The Devil's Dream, the Old Soldier (Red-Haired Boy) and several others. They may not be as slick and smooth as later versions by Bill Keith and others (Peggy played open-backed banjo and did not use picks) but all the notes are there, the entire melodies plus variations.

I acquired this record in the very early 1960s. The liner notes mention that Peggy Seeger settled in Britain in 1959 so that my best guess is that the session was 1960 or 1961. In any case, I'll wager that she developed this style entirely on her own in order to play fiddle tunes on her favourite instrument. Peggy never played and, I dare say never appreciated, bluegrass. But what a phenomenal banjoist!"

"Banjo Dan" Lindner, Montpelier, VT. Oct 2002

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Dear Ms. Seeger:
I have emailed you before but thought I'd do so again at the risk of repeating myself. Firstly, I just wanted to thank you again for all the years of wonderful music that you have supplied to these grateful ears.

You, and Ewan MacColl, have been and remain amongst my very favourite songwriters. I credit you, in particular, with writing some of the first feminist songs I ever heard. really opened up my eyes via my ears.

I wanted also to relate a short story to you. I have amongst my lps, a copy of "The Angry Muse". From that I learned the song "Beans, Bacon and Gravy" Always liked that song. So when I formed an informal choir and we were invited to a local May Day celebration, I insisted that we sing that song. You see, May Day/Workers' Day is celebrated in the little village of Cumberland, British Columbia with a Bean Dinner.

This commemorates the Great Strike in the coal mines of Vancouver Island in the years 1912 - 1914. At one point, the federal government sent train-cars full of dried beans to feed the starving strikers. Of course, the skeptical among us will think that it was done in order to quell revolt rather than out of humanitarian feelings.

Anyway, we sang "Beans, Bacon & Gravy" last night and I thought of you and wanted to let you know once again how much all the things you have done have inspired, informed and strengthened me.

Thanks so much for all of it. I wish you all the very best.

Steve Harvey

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