In 1990 the Wholesale Klezmer Band received an invitation to play at the Beacon Sloop Club's annual Pumpkin Festival. Pete Seeger would be there, as well as the sloop Clearwater and a number of other performers. "Who's Pete Seeger?" asked one of our new members who shall remain nameless. "Who's Duke Ellington?" Yosl answered.
It was a thrill to perform from the same stage as one of my lifelong musical heroes, but what followed from that performance was even more thrilling. Pete and Toshi Seeger liked what they heard from us and when Pete was to host a Celebration of Folk Music for the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Hall, they invited us to perform for it together with Tommy Makem, Jean Ritchie, Ruth Rubin, Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon Shaheen, Sweet Honey in the Rock and others.With so many performers, we all had to strictly limit ourselves to 10 minutes. It was a challenge to work out a 10-minute set that would include instrumentals, a song, and a translation of the Yiddish. We chose to do the Wholesale Hora and Bulgar which Sherry had composed to celebrate her joining us the year before, and a bilingual version of Arbetlozer Marsh, so Yosl wouldn't have to spend time talking instead of making music. Since there was a signer for the hearing impaired, the verses that didn't get translated into English got translated into sign language, so audience members who could read sign language got the full translation that other non-Yiddish speakers missed.
|The Wholesale Klezmer Band at Carnegie Hall's 100th Anniversary Celebration of Folk Music, hosted by Pete Seeger, April 30th, 1991.
Left to Right: Yosl Kurland, Brian Bender, Owen Davidson, Richie Davis, Sherry Mayrent, Lynn Lovell, Peggy Davis.
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