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Concert Promotions International
NEW YORK — Famed folk singer and composer Pete Seeger gets a long-overdue cinematic portrait in this worshipful but greatly informative documentary.
His notable life and career contrasting all too vividly with today’s shallow and utterly disposable pop icons, the musician shines brightly in director Jim Brown’s “Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.” Recently showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival, the film should have a long ancillary life after its theatrical run.
Perhaps best known today for his stint in the Weavers, the hugely popular singing group of the 1950s, Seeger also wrote some of the best known songs of the folk era, including “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Turn, Turn, Turn” and “If I Had a Hammer.” His wide influence both on his contemporaries and subsequent generations of musicians is attested to in the film by such figures as Bob Dylan, Natalie Maines (who can probably well relate to Seeger’s travails), Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Peter Yarrow, Mary Travers and Bonnie Raitt, among many others.
Briefly a member of the Communist Party and a longtime union organizer, the performer found himself blacklisted for many years as a result of the witch hunts of the 1950s. He was banned from television for some 17 years, until the Smothers Brothers put him on their variety show. Even then, the network refused to air the antiwar song that Seeger chose to perform.
Featuring a wealth of archival material, vintage performance clips and interviews with the ever-dignified subject himself, the documentary provides a fairly comprehensive portrait of Seeger’s decades-long musical career and social activism. If at times the proceedings become a bit sentimental, it’s well befitting a pop star who lives in a house that he built with his own hands, and who still spends his spare time singing to schoolchildren and participating in antiwar and environmental causes.
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