Kisses Sweeter Than Wine

featuring Pete Seeger

a benefit concert for the Woody Guthrie Foundation and the Sloop Woody Guthrie

...was the name of the concert Last Saturday night at the Tarrytown Music Hall (April 24, 2010).  Reviewers are supposed to know everything about everything and all genres of theatre and music and whatever else it is they review.

But I can’t kid you.  I did not know what klezmer music was or that the Klezmatics were a well know act in the genre.  I went to see one of the finest, most moving performers I have ever seen:  Pete Seeger.  So o can tell you now that klezmer music is Jewish music, accordion, clarinet, trumpet and what have you.  It sounds Jewish, whatever that means, and I have probably heard it at weddings and bar mitzvahs.

It was probably good as such things go, although I didn’t care for it much.  For one thing, the group did not come on until after the break by which time I was so bored and edgy that I was sitting in the back aisle rather than my seat.  As a production it failed.  Long stretches of too much talk about Woody Guthrie and marginal performers burned me out about halfway before intermission. 

Now for the good part.  Pete Seeger, three days short of his 91st birthday, opened the program and he was every bit as great as I wanted him to be.  He returned for the closing numbers and was overwhelmingly the 800 pound gorilla on stage.  His personality, musicality, decency and humanity are unmatched.  He is absolutely a treasure.  It was my great pleasure some years ago to sing a duet with him on stage at his Strawberry Festival in Beacon, and to spend an hour or so on his property overlooking the Hudson, playing with and for each other.  Pete has also been on this program, perhaps seven years ago.

It was so worth seeing this iconic man getting a well-deserved standing ovation.  Who cares about the rest of the show…