Sunday, January 31, 2010

Item From the Past: Weavermania!

Weavermania! was a fun show. Eight years later I can't remember exactly what they sang, but I'm fairly sure it included the likes of "Midnight Special," "If I Had a Hammer," "Twelve Gates to the City," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," and "This Land is Your Land."

The show was what I paid to see. Namely, a re-creation of the Weavers, since I spent much of that group's career not being born yet, and thus unable to mosey on down to the Village Vanguard to catch a show. Even by the time of the Weavers' final reunion at Carnegie Hall in 1980, I didn't know enough to find my way to New York to try to see it, though it would have certainly been sold out anyway.

I've found only a scattering of references to Weavermania! on line (most hits for the word refer to actual weaving), but enough to find out that Tom Dundee, who re-created the part of Fred Hellerman, died in motorcycle accident in 2006. Other members of the tribute band included Mark Dvorak channeling Pete Seeger; Barbara Barrow in the part of Ronnie Gilbert; and Michael Smith sounding very much like Lee Hays. This is pretty much what they looked like in concert.

That was the first and unfortunately only time I've been to the "new" Old Town School of Folk Music. Not so new any more, since the school has been on North Lincoln Ave. in Lincoln Square since 1998. When I first moved to Chicago, the school had its venue on Armitage, and I saw a few shows there, but I can't remember who just now.

Yuriko bought their CD for me after the show. Since it's a collection of live recordings, there are some spoken introductions to some of the songs, as they did during during the show we saw. My favorite is the description of old song "Eddystone Light," which I don't believe they sang at the Old Town.

"The next song tells a story," one of them (not sure which one) says. "A folk song that tells a pretty serious story about a man who was a sociopath -- a hermetic sociopath, actually. With the exception of one night, when he had an adulterous affair with a mythical sea creature. From the passion came three offspring. Of the three children, one was cannibalized, the other ended up in zoo his entire life, and the third boy lived in a lighthouse. One day, his mother returned after years of abandonment. The song ends with a curse. [pause] This is a children's song."

(Lyrics here; plays music upon opening.)

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