Pete Seeger was a folk singer, social activist, and a key figure in the mid-20th-century global folk music revival. He sang in defence of the poor, the oppressed, and the exploited, and always to enliven and encourage, to delight, and to tell tales, inspiring generations of music makers all across Canada and the U.S.
Now, the singer’s music comes to life on a Sooke stage in a tour-de-force show (adapted from Seeger’s 1972 memoir) The Incompleat Folksinger, performed by Mark Hellman, in a special fundraiser for the Sooke Folk Music Society.
Using Seeger’s own words and the music of many, he takes us on a globe-trotting journey spanning 35 years: singing in defence of underlings, standing up to bosses, governments, and the mass media.
Inviting audience participation, thus embedding them in the story, Hellman looks back on Seeger’s involvement in the formative events of the 20th Century – the Depression, Second World War, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and war in Vietnam – at a concert hall somewhere in Canada, or sitting on the banks of the Hudson River.
Also paying tribute to some of Seeger’s greatest inspirations: Woody Guthrie, Lee Hays, Leadbelly, Martin Luther King, and the love of his life – Toshi Ohta – Hellman invites the audience members to sing along at every turn.
By the finale of If I Had a Hammer, performer and audience members merge into one mass choir, embodying the very principle that Seeger lived by through his life and art: “Participation. That’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
Mark Hellman is a Canadian multi-disciplinary performing artist, educator, and independent producer with more than 30 years of professional experience. An actor, improviser, musician, composer, puppeteer, director, and creator, Hellman’s career began in Theatre for Young Audiences, performing in more than 700 shows from coast to coast.
He has since divided his time between working for professional theatre, producing and directing interdisciplinary projects engaging artists to train together and create new work, and in the last decade producing solo works combining storytelling, music and mass audience participation, and street performances combining installation, puppetry, Shakespeare and audience interaction.
Pete Seeger’s The Incompleat Folksinger will be performed at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 1962 Murray Rd., on Oct. 5, at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and available in advance at Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006 or online at www.brownpapertickets.com. Tickets will be sold at the door, if available.