New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Remembering Seeger

By Gary Wien

originally published: 08/20/2016

Remembering Seeger

The Top Folk Albums, Songs, Artists, and Labels chart of July 2016 shows Sam Bush and Joan Baez, a pair of familiar names, at the top.  In the third spot is New Jersey’s own, Spook Handy, with Pete, Woody & Me, Volume I - Keep the Flame Alive - the New Brunswick artist’s 5th full length release and the highest charting record of his career.

As the name implies, Spook’s latest record pays tribute to a pair of artists who helped shape his music and his life - Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. It contains songs written by each, along with four original songs inspired by the two.  On Wednesday, August 31, Spook will hold a CD release concert at the Montclair Public Library.  It’s one of many shows on a tour that will ultimately bring him to all 50 U.S. states, all 10 Canadian provinces, several other countries, and all 21 counties in New Jersey.

The “Remembering Pete Seeger” tour is an extension of the various tribute concerts that sprang up after Seeger passed away in January 2014.  Spook, who performed alongside Seeger more than 50 times in the last decade of Pete’s life, participated in many of these tributes with the likes of Peter Yarrow (of Peter Paul and Mary), Tom Chapin, David Amram, Holly Near, and Guy Davis.  Soon he began presenting tribute concerts both solo and with his band to the man he believes is one of America’s most important and influential musicians of the past 100 years.

Spook was close to Seeger, but doesn’t believe the torch of folk music was passed on to him.

“I  might go as far as to say I’m one of hundreds of people who have placed their hands on the torch,” he explained.  “What I would rather say is I’m helping to carry on the tradition.”

He believes the songs should be passed down from generation to generation because music touches us in a way unlike any other form of information or entertainment can. 



The article continues after this ad

 


“When you take the sounds and you put in words that are about our culture, our history, our landscape, our values, and the truth about social situations and stuff like that you’re kind of reinforcing our humanity,” explained Spook.  “There are other things besides music that have the same effect - fire, the sharing of food, and the sharing of work.  There’s something in the back of our brains that is profoundly affected by these things. It’s like when you see people holding candles at a vigil.  What’s the purpose of holding a candle? Who knows? But you know how it makes you feel; it has a sense of connection.  Music touches us deeply and when we connect it to important issues about our culture, it makes us feel a part of a community.”

A graduate of Rutgers University with a bachelor’s in math and business administration, Spook’s musical world greatly expanded during his days on the Banks of the Raritan.  He says he grew up in a culturally conservative household where there were only two contemporary albums - Hard Days Night by The Beatles and Peter, Paul & Mary in Concert.  At college, he was exposed to music he had never heard before.  After graduation, he bought a guitar and began playing.  Spook recalls earning the respect of the older generation by playing the folk songs that were deeply meaningful to them.

“When I played my first professional concert, one of the songs I played was ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’” recalled Spook.  “And when I started playing with Seeger, I began noticing how that song affected people, the stories and what they meant.  Now when I do a concert, almost every time someone in the audience is crying when I sing that song.  It’s because that song is not just bringing back a memory of when they were young, it’s bringing back the belief that people can work together and change the world, making it a better place.”

Spook says, “Pete told me, and so many other younger musicians, learn the old songs and the different ways they were sung by different groups of people.  But change the words to keep them up to date.  Write new verses about the world we live in today.  And write new songs that everybody can sing.” 

The album wants people to remember the songs of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, but there is one concert that Spook will never forget.  He was performing with Pete and David Amram as a trio in one of the many Pete Seeger and Friends concerts held over the years.  This was the last time he ever performed with Seeger and quite possibly the last performance of Seeger’s career.

“Pete was advanced in losing his memory, he was advanced in losing his dexterity and his ability to play an instrument, and he was advanced in losing his voice and not being able to sing,” said Spook.  “There was nothing left except pure love and humanity.  And that has always been - as long as I’ve known him - the foundation of his performance his entire life, and it came through so powerfully.  By halfway through the first song, grown men in the audition were crying as they listened to him.  It was such an absolutely beautiful thing.”



Wednesday, August 31 - Spook Handy’s CD Release Party for Pete, Woody & Me - Volume I

Montclair Public Library, 50 S. Fullerton Avenue, Montclair, NJ



PHOTO BY ECONOSMITH





For more by this author, click here






Mungion To Perform At The Stone Pony
 (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Since their inception in the Spring of 2015, Mungion (pronounced mung-yin) has quickly made a name for themselves as one of the rising stars of the jam scene. The band will open a pair of shows for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on January 24-25.
MPAC Presents Disney's DCappella Live!
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Disney's highly acclaimed a cappella group, DCappella comes to Mayo Performing Arts Center on Friday, February 15 at 8:00pm. Tickets range from  $39-$89.
Leonia Chamber Musicians Society to Present Benefit Concert for Leonia High School Music Department
(LEONIA, NJ) -- The Leonia Chamber Musicians Society, Inc., a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization based in Leonia, New Jersey, presents "Our Hearts in Music", a benefit concert, on Sunday, February 10 at 4:00pm at Leonia High School’s Little Theater, located at 100 Christie Heights in Leonia, New Jersey.
The Newton Theatre Presents Ruben Studdard
(NEWTON, NJ) --  Ruben Studdard, the Grammy-nominated R&B, gospel and pop singer was the winner of American Idol’s second season. He has recorded six studio albums, appears frequently on tv, toured extensively and has sold over two million albums worldwide. Studdard officially confirmed that he will be releasing RUBEN SINGS LUTHER to his musical hero Luther Vandross on March 16th and will be launching a 25 city ‘Always and Forever Tour’ starting in Sacramento, California on April 8th.  Locally, he will perform at the Newton Theatre on Friday, March 29 at 8:00pm.
Bill Frisell To Headline the 8th Les Paul Festival Concert at Ramapo College
(MAHWAH, NJ) -- Guitarist Bill Frisell will headline the Les Paul Festival Concert on Saturday night, February 16 in the Sharp Theater at Ramapo College. Often hailed as one of the most distinctive and original improvising guitarists of our time, Frisell’s career as a guitarist and composer has spanned more than 35 years and 250 recordings, including 40 of his own.


The Empire Strikes Back in Concert with the NJSO LIVE! at the State Theatre
Some of our favorite childhood memories growing up at the Jersey Shore involved going to our town’s grand old movie palace, The Community Theater, in Toms River. Built with colonial architecture and featuring large white columns in the front, paned glass windows in the lobby, a circular brick walk from the sidewalk to the box office, and a white picket fence which enclosed a lawn and a flower bed, this local gem presented the latest Hollywood films. For kids like us back in the 1960’s, that meant pictures like Mary Poppins, Cinderella, The Love Bug, and Flipper.
Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.






Event calendar
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019

Sorry, no events listed for today.
Here are some upcoming events.


2019-01-23
Rechnitz Halls DiMattio Gallery, Monmouth University @ 10:00am
West Long Branch

2019-01-23
Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University @ 7:30pm
West Long Branch

2019-01-24
New Jersey Repertory Company @ 8:00pm
Long Branch








 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.