Music

Nightcrawler: Local Lament for Seeger

Valley notables recall experiences with the late Pete Seeger; former Jamawokee frontman checks in from 2014 Grammys.

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Wednesday, February 05, 2014
photo courtesy of Jeff Potter
Left to right: Phil Block, Jeff Potter, Pete Seeger, Norm Rodgers and Andy Avery

With a career that spanned some seven decades and brought him everywhere from the top 10 charts to labor rallies, a conviction for contempt of Congress and the steps of Lincoln Memorial to perform at President Obama’s inaugural, it comes as a surprise to exactly no one that late American folk artist Pete Seeger inspired millions of folks along the way.

The Crawler happened to know of at least two Valley-based musicians who shared stages with the man who brought the world such hits as “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”, “If I Had A Hammer” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, so he reached out to them for some personal remembrances.

The first, Jeff Potter, says his Seeger experience was actually quite coincidental. “I would sometime play snare for this otherwise three-piece band, Normandy,” he recalls. “So they asked me to play one day at this wedding, and we get there. Turns out that Seeger is a friend of the wedding couple. I don’t recall whether he volunteered or was asked, but either way he came up and played four or five songs with us, including “Turn! Turn! Turn!” I don’t come from a folk music background, but it was a pleasure and a thrill to meet him and I just recall him being so personable and gracious all day to anyone who came up to him.”

Journeyman troubadour Roger Salloom admits that while his encounter with the legend was not spontaneous—he was the scheduled opener for Seeger for a Northampton show years ago—the advice and note that he received from him backstage later were forever etched in his musical DNA.

“He basically told me I have to get people to sing and to let my politics shine through in my music,” Salloom remembers. “And it’s interesting, because the first instrument I ever studied was the five-stringed banjo, and although I played rock and roll opening for Pete, he gave me a little note later with a drawing of a tiny banjo on it, too.”

Expect Salloom to tackle a Seeger song in tribute when he plays Noho’s Garden House this Saturday, Feb. 8. The man referred to as “America’s Best Unknown Songwriter” promises “blues, jazz and everything else” and is bringing in a cast of high-talent accomplices, including Jeff Pitchell and Paul Arslanian, for sonic support. Tickets for this show are $20 in advance, $22 at the door; call (413) 584-5457. Proceeds are earmarked for cystic fibrosis research.

 

In other national news with local tie-ins, former Jamawokee frontman/Valley boy John Enghauser checked in to report his experiences at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

“Although my album [Reality] wasn’t nominated, it was fun to see friends who were,” the solo artist/perennial L.A. Music Award winner says. “Nice to see Nile Rodgers get his due with Daft Punk. He’s a hell of a producer and guitarist. Chicago and Robin Thicke were also highlights for me.”

To get up to speed and/or monitor the progress of the now-West Coast resident, check out his website at johnenghauser.com.

 

Last but not least, we all know rock ’n’ roll’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was a “gas, gas, gas.” But now opera’s Amy Herbst, too?

The former Nashville Opera Company star is suing the federal government for what she alleges to be a botched childbirth operation that left the mezzo-soprano with a major flatulence problem that has rendered her unable to work.

Herbst and her husband, Army Staff Sgt. James Herbst, claim the unfortunate side effect was caused during an episiotomy performed at the Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Ky., and filed suit Jan. 16. They are seeking $2.5 million to... er... rectify the situation.•

 

Send correspondence to Nightcrawler, P.O. Box 427, Somers, CT 06071; fax to (860) 394-4262 or email garycarra@aol.com.

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