Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Joe Hickerson, performing 5/3/2019 at our Pete Seeger Celebration

Joe Hickerson
Joe Hickerson

You don’t want to miss our sixth annual Pete Seeger Birthday Celebration and Sing-along on Friday, May 3, 2019. The highlight of this fabulous annual event is the chance to hear songs and stories from Joe Hickerson and, in true Pete Seeger style, accompany him in a song or two as well. Joe coins himself a “vintage pre-plugged paleo-acoustic folksinger.” For over sixty years he has performed and lectured throughout the United States, Canada, Finland, Ukraine, and United Kingdom. From 1963 to 1998 he was Librarian and Director of the Library of Congress’ Archive of Folk Song, later renamed the Archive of Folk Culture. For those not familiar with this collection, it is a cultural treasure, housing rare recordings of an American history told in song and oral history, a history not often taught in schools.

On May 3, 2019, the Clinton Street Theater once again opens its doors to celebrate Pete Seeger's 100th birthday and his call for us all to take action to protect our rivers and our communities. This is a truly special evening bringing together song, story, and historical film clips that inspire the best in us all. Joe is joined by emcee Ted Kaye and a cast of other local favorites, each covering a couple of Pete’s vast collection.

We are sure to hear Where Have All the Flowers Gone. Joe first heard Pete sing this song long before it was recorded by the Kingston Trio. He loved it but felt three versus was not enough to capture the attention of the young folks he was working with. So, like any great folky, he added verses. Pete heard these new fourth and fifth verses a few years later and adopted them himself. The version of this anti-war classic you and I know today is thanks to Joe.

I got to ask Joe how he met Pete, and the story began in 1948 when, as a twelve-year-old, he was at a campaign rally for Progressive Party Presidential Candidate Henry Wallace. While campaigning on a platform of desegregation and a national health care system, candidate Wallace filled his campaign stops with music. While Joe knew the songs of Paul Robeson, the other fellow on the stage, Pete Seeger, was new to him. Oh how times have changed and the things we fight for remain the same. The thought of young Joe and his brother mesmerized by the music from the stage of a presidential rally makes me smile.  

Once in college at Oberlin, Joe got to meet Pete Seeger and a life-long passion for music and activism was sparked. Joe has seen and done so much. He has witnessed change, while many things remain the same. There is a sparkle in Joe’s eye that is infectious. A sparkle I need right now and we can all be inspired by. Don’t miss him and the whole fabulous crew on May 3rd at the Clinton Street Theater. Advance tickets are $15 and can be purchased here. $20 at the door.

Thank you Joe!


Pete Seeger 2019