Archive | January 22, 2012

On Stage With Peter Yarrow 2012



Peter Yarrow

In Concert 2012




Friday night in a small venue in a small town in the middle of Oregon a performer of all time played in our tiny historical Tower Theater. What a delight!

For anyone that dare think that because this performance was lacking two of the all time popular and famous folk music trio Peter Paul & Mary please think again. This man of age 70 years young was on fire last night. As Peter Yarrow and his son Chris Yarrow began the evening we did not have any idea what was in store for us.

We knew the trio’s music, we could all sing every lyric, but in deciding to buy the tickets for last night’s performance over 3.5 months ago this was not my mind-set in wanting to see this legend performer and song writer.

I just wanted to be in the same room with this man who was part of what was such a huge movement in my then younger self.  This trio Peter Paul & Mary helped foster in myself the rebel for cause, my politics began about the time I first heard their sociopolitical commentary.

I was young long-haired lady who believed that if we put our voices together in harmony we could accomplish so much. That we could change this world we lived in and we could right the wrongs, we could bring justice to the unjust, we could make our government listen to us, and we could stop wars.

This was for me the late 1960’s and it seems I had been listening to Peter Paul and Mary my whole life.

It was only natural that as their voices became a strength for our country, and that I would become a fast and loyal follower of the wars they took on and a follower of their music. I was introduced to many other folk musician’s by these three amazing people. I wanted my voice to harmonize just like Mary Travers did, and I would sit for hours and hours practicing to be a folk artist and harmonize like Mary.

But no one can ever do Mary Traver’s justice. RIP Mary.

Peter Yarrow (PY) performed last night acoustically of course. Pure sweet music from his 6 string folk guitar. The combination of PY’s voice with the sounds of the strings playing off the theater’s acoustics was really phenomenal.  His son Chris, his accompanist’s plays the WashTub Bass. Seriously awesome bass sounds and rhythm that comes from a typical vintage wash tub, a string attached to a long stick shaped instrument.   The amazing thing is that with this instrument Chris Yarrow had just one string to find his chords. The note changes  and chord progressions Chris is able to master parallels with the great Bassist’s  who performed with P P & M like Bill Lee,  Russ Savakus, and my all time personal favorite Richard Kniss. It was very cool how Chris was able to provide the same back drop sound to his father’s gentle hand on the 6 string, and as Chris’ voice blended in perfect harmony with that of his father’s the whole evening tool on a surreal feel that took me back some 40 plus years.

There was not a silent voice in the house last night.

As PY asked to have the stage lights brought up he looked like the same young man, only wiser. Yes he has aged and grown gray like we all have. What good folk artist would dye their hair for heaven’s sake?  Yet there is not an ounce of that aging in his voice. It’s as strong as ever with bravado and vigor.  He took us through the evening with music that so many of us in the house had grown up with, and the amazing thing is that there are still new generations born every day that are learning about the art of folk music through this man. The kids in the audience ranged from 18 to a babies. The adults in the audience seemed to range from 19 to 99. I was so pleasantly delighted to see that so many are still touched by the stories and music PY has to share with us.

The evening’s music se lists wee from the very early days of  P P & M. As the evening began we heard Day is Done… and he only became stronger and more vibrant as the evening went on,  the entire house sang along with each and every song and the room began to descend back to the early years of peace & love.

The playlist was long. They played for 1.5 hours before ever breaking. All though because so much part of the evening felt a bit surreal to me I can possibly name every song they played for us, but just not in the exact order the two sets were played.

What we heard live last night from Peter & Chris Yarrow was memorable in every sense of the word.  One artist “A Legend” and one to find his own footing and make a name of his own.

PY started out with a couple songs, then lead us straight away into sharing with us his love and devotion he always had and will have for Mary. His “Work Wife”.

Before launching into this next song Peter  shared with us how much he misses his side kick mary Travers. (1936-2009)

Sadly our Mary died two years ago from complications associated with chemotherapy she was receiving for a bone-marrow transplant as treatment for leukemia,  PY asked if we would be Mary’s harmony in  “Leaving On A Jet Plane”  *Deep sigh*

Only too happy to help in his request the room lit up with heartfelt sadness and much love for this woman whose voice came into our homes, and whose lullaby we sang to our own children and grandchildren.
God Speed Ms Travers. you mended my heart, and gave me courage at the time  that has impacted who I am today. You brought to us to what you so lovingly gave.

And with Mary’s spirit filling the room Peter asked once again for the stage lights to be lowered, and at the same time he wanted the house lights lifted too. He wanted to see us.. …He wanted to know what “Bendites” who would pay upwards of $80 to see him on a Friday night looked like. He could not believe we were there to see him!

Yet we were. All of us. And that his son Chris who resides in Portland Oregon was with him was our gift. A bonus.

Some of the play list all though certainly not correct in order I believe says so much.

Day Is Done

For Lovin’ Me.

Light One Candle

DON’T LAUGH AT ME   This very important song  when it was first written was extremely relevant and still is today if not more so because of the influx of bullying. * I will write a bit more about this special song below.

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright

Have You Been To Jail For Justice?

If I Had A Hammer


Like The First Time


Lemon Tree

Gilgarra Mountain


The night was a  spectacular benefit for our local non-profit  (PLAN) that helps to provide performing arts to students in school. In the classroom and in the performing art venues the kid are introduced to arts such as Folk Music. Peter donated and added his own art work & autograph to an acoustic guitar (seen in photo above with guitar facing the front of the house.) that in the evening was auctioned of to the highest bidder, with all proceeds going to this non-profit. With Peter doing the auctioning in between verses the proceeds he garnered were $1999 & $2000. You see there were two strong and persistent bidders. So in the end Peter said they both would each win a guitar because they bid with so much passion and as Peter kept reminding us all: it was not about the guitar, it was about the love and passion being shown for such a fine and valuable agency in our schools. He is right. So in the end just from the auctioned guitars Peter Yarrow and the citizens who went to see him raised almost $4000 in just a short 5 minutes.

Bravo Peter Yarrow!

The *song ” DON’T LAUGH AT ME”  is a song about intolerance and hate. It’s about racism, about how we can stop these acts of violence and intolerance in our children if we just try. In 2000  Operation Respect a non-profit organization working to assure each child and youth a respectful, safe and compassionate climate of learning where their academic, social and emotional development can take place free of bullying, ridicule and violence was founded by Peter Yarrow. If you have children in your life you really owe it the kids by accessing this information and assistance.

This is a free world-wide program in many different languages with an incredible list of downloadable projects for parents and educators to carry out the practice of social justice for all in ll children.

And finally for me the Piece DE Resistance of the evening:

Puff The Magic Dragon. Now if you don’t know who Peter Yarrow is, or who the folk music trio Peter Paul & Mary are I know you know this song.

This is the family song of all P P & M. How many times have we sat together singing this song?

You know the story. Well Peter changed part of it. Instead of Puff being sad because Jackie Paper  came no more… Peter invented Jackie’s daughter. So Puff could slip happily from his cave again.

Peter also asked us how many of us had heard the rumor?  He laughed about this item that years ago could have quite possible become a dragon in its own right and roared P P & M into oblivion. but like Puff who lives on forever so will it be true for a folk music trio.

Just before finally singing Puff Peter first asked children 18 yrs and younger to join him on the stage to  help sing Puff The Magic Dragon with him. The kids who were with us last night didn’t need to be asked twice.

None of them. Not even this Barefoot Baroness.

For when Peter Yarrow invited kids of all ages up to the stage I was not shy. Being in the 3rd row I was right near the  right-wing of the stage and off I went. Not even thinking to leave my camera behind I made my way up to stand with my neighbors to Peter & Chris Yarrow. I began first to sing, then realizing I had my camera with me I opted to sneak in a few shots. The people on the stage,  the children, and one baby combined could not have been more than a dozen people total on stage with Peter Yarrow.

A couple of great close-ups I manged in my excitement. (see below)

At the end of the song Peter & Chris graciously thanked each person by shaking hands and hugging. As I was  one of the last person on stage with them I stepped up to Peter when he smiled my way…..Stepping closer, he reached out to take my hands I could not restrain myself from putting my two hands on each side of his handsome face, one hand on each cheek, and pulling him closer to my lips. Lightly & gently we shared a perfect kiss of friendship.

My absolute favorite photo of a very sweet  moment. Just after Peter had softened the music to Puff , he gently slowed the lyrics and music down to finally an absolute hush… he put the microphone up to this bay’s mouth and a complete utter silence fell over the entire theater.

Then this sweet baby child whose back of soft wispy hair you see in the above photo said ever so quietly,” mmmm…”

The entire audience, Peter & Chris, those on stage, we all shared in laughter that tickles the heart like only a child can. It was just very special and I was so grateful I was on the stage and I captured that moment to live on forever each time I look at it again.

It was a great party. An intimate evening with the Yarrow men.

Peter Yarrow let me remind you is 70 years young, and he had been performing for almost 3.5 hours at this point, taking no break for himself choosing instead to spend in with his fans. Yet he still only left the stage for an intermission to sign autographs.

After these two extremely talented, yet down to earth men took their final bow to a Standing Ovation the audience cried Encore!

For his encore number he had the whole entire theater up on their feet in a hell raising rendition of  ‘This Land Is Your land, This Land is my land”

Thank you Peter, Thank you Chris!  It was the most wonderful kind of evening.

Please do come back~

©tjhelser 2012