Saturday, August 01, 2009

Singing for free

Today I went to the peace vigil at the corner of Routes 9 and 9D in Wappingers Falls. It's been held every Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. since before we invaded Iraq (the second time). Pete Seeger often comes here. There was an article about this vigil in the New York Times a few years ago, after which attendance increased dramatically. It also appeared for a few seconds toward the end of the movie about Pete, "The Power of Song." Since Obama was elected attendance has fallen off. Often the counter demonstrators across the road have more people than we do.

When I arrived today there were about three people; a couple more showed up after I did. It was very hot and sunny, but it was hard to complain after the cold, rainy June and July we had. Much of the talk was about Pete because PBS had aired excerpts of the Madison Square Garden concert last May 3, marking his 90th birthday.

At 2:00 it's our custom to sing a few peace songs before going our separate ways. We started, as we usually do, with "Study War No More." Then one of the protesters, Enoch, played a great version of "Woodstock." Then we cleaned up all our signs and flags and departed.

For me, that's what singing is for -- to bring people together, to give energy and beauty to what might otherwise be a dull task: protesting. Not to show off, and certainly not for the money.

From there I went to a picnic held by my CSA (community supported agriculture) farm, the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. My folk trio, The Raggedy Crew ( performed -- again, for free. Did I mention that it was very hot today? It didn't seem like anyone was listening. I find it distracting to be singing and playing when no one is paying attention, and I made a lot of mistakes. But I told myself, I have to practice playing under all kinds of conditions. Plus, some people were listening. Later, someone I hadn't even known was there told me she enjoyed the music; she was way in the back where I couldn't see her. I have to learn to concentrate better and not let negative thoughts ("nobody's listening; why am I even bothering; oops, I made another mistake but I bet nobody noticed anyway") get the better of me.

Thank you for listening.

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