Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame), his daughter Bethany and his one-year-old granddaughter, Valentina were visiting Santa Fe last week I had the pleasure of sharing a snippet of time with them.
Peter, a Grammy-award winner, has been a long time advocate for social change, reaching back to his involvement in festivals for peace and the 1969 anti-war March on Washington in which some half million people participated. In an effort to combat school violence, he has focused his energy on projects reaching out to youth and communities through Operation Respect, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1999 to combat bullying ridicule and violence in schools. It offers curriculum to children as young as pre-schoolers and continuing through grade school and later.
Peter and his daughter, Bethany Yarrow collaborated on a children’s picture book adapting his classic song, “Puff, the Magic Dragon” to print. “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” written by Peter and Lenny Lipton is one of the most beloved songs the world around. The book is accompanied with an exclusive CD featuring not only Puff, but several other songs performed by Yarrow, his daughter Bethany, and cellist Rufus Cappadocia. The book made the New York Times best-selling children’s book list for 16 weeks.
Beginning in March, public television stations around the country will air a musical special called “Peter, Bethany & Rufus: Spirit of Woodstock” as part of their pledge drives. The special features a concert of 17 songs and offers an intimate glimpse into Peter’s relationship to Woodstock and the famous musical tradition that evolved there. As Peter Yarrow noted recently, “This tradition lies at the core of this TV special which is about much more than music as entertainment. More importantly, this kind of music expresses the passions, hopes and dreams of each passing era. It is a tradition that is now carried forward by Bethany and Rufus, who in many ways define the cutting-edge of folk music in the world of today.” Peter, along with Bethany and Rufus, will personally host selected public television station pledge drive broadcasts (see schedule below at http://www.myspace.com/peterbethanyandrufus).
In “Peter, Bethany & Rufus: Spirit of Woodstock,” Peter returns to the Woodstock artist colony where he spent his summers as a child, to perform in concert with Bethany and Rufus. Together, the three musicians from two vastly different generations revisit the Woodstock of Peter’s youth, musically and historically. Filmed before an audience of Woodstock families and children, the concert offers moments of humor contrasted with deeply moving tributes to the music of the ’60s that changed the world.
As “Puff the Magic Dragon” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” meet the music of Bethany & Rufus, Peter is pulled into the vitality of today’s roots-music perspective, now fused with elements of contemporary jazz, groove and world music. Special guests appearances by Bethany & Rufus’ friends from around the globe make for brilliant instrumental exchanges featuring Mady Koyate on Malian kora, Bonga Jean-Baptiste on Haitian percussion, and Chuck Campbell of the renowned Campbell Brothers on pedal-steel. A convergence of vision and song emerges as Peter comes full circle to celebrate his early dreams, now transformed and carried on by the next generation.
Peter and Bethany also visit his long-abandoned cabin in the woods and, later, singing together on stage, they share the spirit and conscience of the music that has inspired all three of them in different ways. The cabin is part of the history of American folk music. It’s a tiny, quiet, place in the woods where Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin and others lived with Peter or as his guests, and where they each wrote songs that helped to inspire great change in the world of the 1960s. To hear Peter speak to Bethany of that remarkable time, standing there in his long-abandoned cabin, is as fascinating to watch in “Spirit of Woodstock” as is the transformation of the musical tradition they share on stage in this remarkable special.
These broadcast dates will feature a local, live appearance by Peter Yarrow, joined by Bethany & Rufus in most cities. Check local public television listings for other broadcasts.
Friday, February 29th and Saturday, March 1st – New York, WLIW
Tuesday, March 4th – St. Louis, KETC
Wednesday, March 5th – Minneapolis/St. Paul, Twin Cities Public TV
Thursday, March 6th – Denver, Rocky Mountain PBS
Saturday, March 8th – Los Angeles, KCET
Sunday, March 9th – Atlanta, WABE
Monday, March 10th – Tampa, WEDU
Tuesday, March 11th – San Antonio, KLRN
Wednesday, March 12th — New York, WNET
Thursday, March 13th — Detroit, DPTV
Friday, March 14th, Columbus, WOSU
Saturday, March 29th – Boston, WGBH
Saturday, June 7th – San Francisco, KQED
Sunday, June 8th – San Jose, KETH
For more information about “Peter, Bethany & Rufus: Spirit of Woodstock,” video clips from the production are available on Youtube. More information is also at http://www.myspace.com/peterbethanyandrufus.
View “Puff the Magic Dragon” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQV43mo_bCU
“Sail Away Ladies” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJvNcm2ZvnM
“Nobody’s Fault“ at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRZAc2vtq8A . For more information about Peter, Bethany & Rufus, including current performance schedules, please visit: www.peterbethanyandrufus.com