Friday, May 1, 2009

CNN Interviews Pete Seeger about Jazz Fest and Preservation Hall Recording

Pete Seeger inspires generations at Jazz Fest

May 1, 2009

By Sean Callebs and Jason Morris

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- The 90-year-old performer is one of many featured at this year's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Under blue skies on the main stage, with his grandson by his side, they close the set with the Woody Guthrie classic "This Land Is Your Land."

Pete Seeger performs on the Acura stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Pete Seeger performs on the Acura stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The voice isn't what it used to be, but the message is still as strong as ever. It was hard to tell who enjoyed the performance more -- Pete Seeger or the crowd.

CNN sat down with the folk singer and his grandson, musician Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, to talk about the 40th annual Jazz Fest, Preservation Hall and the generations Seeger has influenced. The following is a edited version of that interview.

CNN: What's it like coming here to Jazz Fest again, playing in the 40th anniversary, and seeing this crowd that loves you so much?

Pete Seeger: Well first of all, I think it's a fantastic job they've done here. Forty years, forty years. That's a tremendous achievement. And to keep it going year after year with new things and old things tangled up together.

CNN: And you got to go to Preservation Hall and record three tracks yesterday with that phenomenal band. What was that experience like?

Seeger: Oh thrilling. History!

CNN: Well, I think a lot of people would say that you two are history. I'm sure it was just a real honor for the band to be there as well.

Tao Rodriguez-Seeger: We recorded "We Shall Overcome," which we weren't really planning on doing. We just sort of walked in the hall, and they were in the back warming up, and I guess they were warming up on "We Shall Overcome" and we joined them.

And it just sounded so good. It was just this upbeat, party-tempo "We Shall Overcome" like I have never heard before.

And I feel like you only find this kind of thing in New Orleans. I love that you can combine a deep old meaningful spiritual with these kinds of carnival approaches to music.

Like Emma Goldman said: If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution. (laughs) And I just think here in New Orleans, we still have those traditions going...


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