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Jan-30-2014 22:34printcomments

Pete Seeger in Oregon

Pete's last Portland concert was a benefit for the Northwest Tree Planters and Farm Workers United (PCUN) in 1994 at Benson high school.

Pete Seeger with his banjo
Pete Seeger with his banjo. Courtesy: oregonmusicnews.com

(PORTLAND, OR) - Pete's first visit to Portland likely came in September, 1941 when, together with Woody Guthrie (who had lived here while writing songs for the BPA the year before) he was touring the west coast with the Almanac Singers. Hobe Kytr (telephone interview, August 1995) said that Woody and Pete had come up to Portland from Chico, CA and sang at "two or three" union halls. While here they had also visited Woody's original employer Steve Kahn at the BPA before going on to Seattle.

Thanks to Michael Munk

During the 1948 Progressive party presidential campaign, Pete frequently sang with Portlander Michael Loring (and Paul Robeson), but I haven't found evidence that he accompanied Henry Wallace when he spoke in Portland, Corvallis Eugene and Salem in on a campaign swing in May.

On February 15, 1955, at the height of the blacklist when Pete was limited to appearances at colleges and other non commercial venues, he gave a concert at Reed college sponsored by the leftist student club FOCUS. Reed president Loxley Griffin was reluctant to give his permission for the concert but finally agreed provided it not receive any "outside" publicity. The stealth concert, however, was recorded by a student group calling itself Modern Doghouse Records, which issued an album of two 10-inch LPs called "We Sing Songs of the People: Peter Seeger His Banjo His Foot" (see attachment). Pete was not pleased by this bootleg record.

Pete's last Portland concert was a benefit for the Northwest Tree Planters and Farm Workers United (PCUN) in 1994 at Benson high school.

I can come up with only three widely-spaced visits Pete made to Portland-- 1941, 1955 and 1994 (and possibly 1948). According to my Portland Red Guide (p. 198-9 and 196), Pete’s close local friends included activists Helen Gordon and her husband Bill. He reportedly appreciated her “gently savvy gift for swaying politicians.”

Anyone know more? –MM

Visit my website michaelmunk.com

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Portland Tribune photo by L.E. Baskow

Order from Powell's

Michael Munk tries to glean important but overlooked items from the world media on the issues of the day and posts them on an irregular schedule. Although items can overlap, he also maintains separate lists for activists in Portland, Oregon and the Northwest, and special lists for: Labor, Latin America, Israel, Torture Taxis, Korea, and the Czech Republic.

Michael is a highly praised writer from an important generation whose book, the Portland Red Guide, has received high praise.

"City Commissioner Nick Fish gave me a copy. Sat down on my sofa and couldn't put it down until I finished. Fascinating!"
-- Tom Potter, Mayor of Portland 2005-2009

"Whoop! Whoop! I'm impressed by how many names from Portland's past have not made it into our official histories and public memorials. Some were good friends of mine. Local history is too often overlooked. Good work, Mike."
-- Bud Clark, Saloon keeper, Goose Hollow Inn, and Mayor of Portland, 1985–1992

Visit the new photo gallery on Michael's website: www.michaelmunk.com

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