SummerStage Presents: New Songs of Justice: An Evening Honoring Pete Seeger featuring Amanda Palmer / Anti-Flag (acoustic) / Toni Blackman / The Chapin Sisters / Rebel Diaz / Steve Earle / Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion / James Maddock / Mike + Ruthy /
Monday, July 21, 2014
6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.
Hip hop, Indie-rock, punk and folk artists committed to social change will come together to honor musician and activist Pete Seeger. The program’s hosts are Gina Belafonte, Harry Belafonte’s daughter and Kitama Jackson, Pete Seeger’s grandson.
Mr. Seeger and Mr. Belafonte became international household names as singers who stood for change. For Belafonte that meant being involved in both the Civil Rights Movement in US and the Anti-Apatheid movement in South Africa. For Seeger that meant getting people singing, and then using song to lead marches and rallies around the world. From the labor movement to the Civil Rights movement to the environmental movement, Pete Seeger was always on the front lines.
Today’s artists aren’t that different from Seeger and Belafonte, they also use music as a means to give voice to the voiceless and inspire people to change the world for themselves, their communities and future generations.
Anti-Flag have been spreading their message of unity to the masses for two decades. Through the years, they’ve gone from non-stop tours crisscrossing North America in a dilapidated van to world tours spanning five continents. From humble beginnings in the Steel Town, Anti-Flag has worked hard to use music as a force for positive change. They are advocates for worker and human rights, environmentalism, animal rights, healthcare, conscientious objectors, prison reform and freedom for political prisoners, equality and peace. Last year Anti-Flag celebrated 20 years as a band. The band joined forces with Art For Amnesty to release an electrifying version of “Toast To Freedom,” the now-classic commemorative song written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International. The track — inspired by the imprisonment of Russian activist punk band Pussy Riot and benefiting human rights organization Amnesty International – was recorded at the legendary Hansa Studio in Berlin, Germany, and features Donots, Ian D’Sa of Billy Talent, and Bernd of Beatsteaks. Anti-Flag’s music and message is a call to action for people of all backgrounds and beliefs to focus on making tomorrow a better place for all. As Anti-Flag celebrates 20 years, they carry the torch forward putting emphasis of the band and every show played on community.
Toni Blackman is the first Hip Hop artist selected to work as a US Hip Hop Ambassador with the US Department of State. Her experiences in cultural diplomacy as an artist enables her to move through various communities (the arts, political circles, international gatherings, youth groups, academia, music industry, etc). As an official Hip hop Envoy she has traveled extensively throughout South Africa, Botswana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Swaziland, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, performing and working in more than 30 different countries. She has also served as a juror for the American Music Abroad tour, a judge for ExchangesConnect programs, worked with international cultural arts competition, and has been consulted on selection of talent from both North America and Africa for various department initiatives. An Echoing Green Fellow, a former Open Society Institute Fellow, creator of Freestyle Union and Rhyme like a Girl, Toni is both highly respected as an artist and social entrepreneur. She was commissioned by the African Continuum Theater Company in Washington, DC to co-write and co-star in “The Hip Hop Nightmares of Jujube Brown” and has featured pieces at the NY Hip Hop Theater Festival. Toni’s first book, Inner-Course was released in 2003 (Villard/Random House). She recently completed Wisdom of the Cipher which will be released late Spring/Summer 2014. Her new book, Travels of a Lyrical Ambassador: A Poetic Memoir, has a 2015 release date, and will have an accompanying soundtrack.
The Chapin Sisters, Lily & Abigail Chapin are known for pristine harmonies and haunting melodies. They’ve been compared to sister acts of old and Appalachian family groups, yet their original songs and arrangements have a very contemporary aspect, with elements of pop, blues, folk, and even psychedelic rock. Abigail and Lily were born in Brooklyn New York. They couldn’t help but pick up a thorough grounding in traditional American roots music and folk-rock from their father, 3-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Tom Chapin. He, along with their grandfather Jim Chapin, a jazz drummer, and their uncle, singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, created an environment wherein music held an almost sacred purpose, of bringing people together, whether it be for family, humanitarian purposes, or joyful release. When the family relocated to New York’s Hudson Valley, the girls attended a Waldorf school whose arts-based education added training in orchestral music and the complicated harmonies of Shape-note songs and old English folk ballads. Through elementary and high school they sang on over a dozen studio albums. With two critically-acclaimed full-length albums under their belt, 2008’s Lake Bottom LP and 2010’s Two, Abigail and Lily released A Date with the Everly Brothers in the Spring of 2013. Recorded in one day, live in the studio with a full band in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the album includes 14 of the sisters’ favorite Everlys songs, a tribute as well as a master class in harmony singing. The album was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, The New York Times’ T magazine, and included on many year-end top 10 lists. The Chapin Sisters are currently working on their next album.
Fronted by MC’s Rodstarz, and MC/Producer G1, Rebel Diaz shows us the true global power of Hip-Hop. After first performing at an immigrant rights march in New York City in 2006 in front of a half million people, the bilingual crew has taken the international community by storm with their explosive live shows. With influences ranging from Chicago house to South American folk, Rebel Diaz combines classic boom bap tradition with Hip-Hop’s global impact. The group’s versatility has allowed for them to share the stage with the likes of Common, Mos Def, and Public Enemy, while feeling right at home with acts like Rage Against the Machine and Calle 13. Multiple tours throughout Europe and Latin America have only solidified their international appeal. With roots in Chicago, and now based in the South Bronx, Rebel Diaz has also piqued the interest of the academic community with their poignant social commentary and energetic performances. They have spent the last 8 years visiting dozens of colleges and universities, facilitating workshops, speaking on panels, and performing at national conferences. Building on this growing network of positive young people in Hip-Hop, the group opened a community arts center in the South Bronx in 2008, the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective (RDACBX). On the heels of their critically acclaimed Otro Guerrillero mixtape series, and 2011′s #Occupy The Airwaves mixtape, Rebel Diaz released their debut album, The Radical Dilemma, in December 2013.
A protégé of legendary songwriters Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Steve Earle quickly became a master storyteller in his own right, with his songs being recorded by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Travis Tritt, The Pretenders, Joan Baez and countless others. 1986 saw the release of his debut record, Guitar Town, which shot to number one on the country charts and immediately established the term “New Country.” What followed was an extremely exciting and varied array of releases including the biting hard rock of Copperhead Road (1988), the minimalist beauty of Train A Comin’ (1995), the politically charged masterpiece, Jerusalem (2002) and the Grammy Award Winning albums The Revolution Starts…Now (2004), Washington Square Serenade (2007) and Townes (2009). I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive (2011) is Steve Earle’s 14th Studio Album and shares the same name with his 2011 debut novel. Of the novel, Patti Smith stated, “Steve Earle brings to his prose the same authenticity, poetic spirit and cinematic energy he projects in his music. I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive is like a dream you can’t shake, offering beauty and remorse, redemption in spades.”
Nearly a decade after folk-rock duo Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion put out their first album together, the husband-and-wife pair feel like they’ve finally hit their stride on Wassaic Way, a collection of 11 new songs to be released August 6th on Rte 8 Records. Produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Patrick Sansone at the Loft in Chicago, Wassaic Way finds Guthrie and Irion pushing further beyond the folky sound they established on 2005’s Exploration, their first studio LP. Any of the songs on Wassaic Way could be a single, which speaks to the strength of the songwriting, and also to Guthrie and Irion’s underlying goal: they wanted an album that moves them one step closer to getting at the heart of who they are as writers and performers.“Every record has been a huge learning curve, and you get pushed beyond your limits, and then your limits are way bigger,” Guthrie says. “I think we’re still at the beginning of what we can do as recording artists. I think we’re just starting to carve a path that we can walk on.”
James Maddock affirms his status as a fixture on the Folk and Americana scene with the release of Another Life, his latest album on Jullian Records. Nodding to ‘70s rock with shimmering acoustic guitars, an understated rhythm section and flourishes of fiddle, mandolin, piano and dobro, Another Life bridges the mainstream appeal of songwriters like Jesse Harris and Norah Jones and the quirkier sensibility of Loudon Wainwright. With funding entirely from fan contributions through PledgeMusic, Maddock worked with producer Matt Pierson, multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell (who’s played with Bob Dylan and Levon Helm) and bassist Tony Scherr (who plays with Norah Jones). After fronting the Columbia Records band Wood, whose debut Songs From Stamford Hill was featured prominently on TV shows such as “Dawson’s Creek,” Maddock moved from England to New York City in 2003. His 2009 album Sunrise On Avenue C won a New York Music Award for Best Americana Album, while follow-up Wake Up And Dream ranked among the top albums of 2011 in WFUV's Listener Poll. He has performed with Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nile, Aaron Comess (Spin Doctors) and David Immergluck (Counting Crows). According to radio legend Vin Scelsa, Maddock's "heartbreakingly beautiful and exquisitely crafted" music "touches the soul." Maddock is a constant live presence in the U.S. and Europe.
After thousands of concerts across tens-of-thousands of miles, Ruth Ungar & Mike Merenda have emerged as one of acoustic America’s most revered musical duos. As story-tellers, as singers, as poets and as parents (they tour with their two small children), Mike + Ruthy are heralds of an American cultural awakening that values honesty and togetherness, prefers grit to glitz, and revels in the old-fashioned telling of a story. Described as “rich, vintage Americana” by Time Out NY, Mike + Ruthy’s 2012 Woody Guthrie collaboration “My New York City” is being hailed as one of the most gorgeous pieces ever to have come out of the archive. Mike + Ruthy can hold an intimate audience in the palm of their hands, and then when it's festival season it's time to crank it up a notch and expand the band. An Americana mix of bass, drums and pedal steel add swirl and stomp, making their set even more powerful, and fun for the big stage. A beautiful, live, duo record and a fresh, full-band, studio album are currently in the works for release in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Song writer and award winning Poet Nyraine Santiago better known as Nyraine is a poetic genius born and raised in Harlem. From his earliest years since the age of seven he would spend countless hours writing poems, paraphrasing and memorizing stanzas which eventually led to birthing his own creative talents. Nyraine’s first musical forays began at the early age of 11. He became a featured vocalist with the New York Boys Choir with whom he toured with throughout the United States and Internationally. Nyraine performed with legends such as Diana Ross , Michael Bolton and in 1995 was invited to Japan to sing for Pope John Paul III. A very influential point in his early performance life would be when Nyraine and the Boy's Choir sang alongside Coolio in the live telecast performance of “Gangsta’s Paradise” along with the Legendary Stevie Wonder and LV in Radio City Music Hall at the 1995 Billboard Music Awards. Nyraine has a way of drawing you into his mind and soul with his words which not many can do. It’s the combination of the vibrations, frequency of his vocals and his deep over standing of the words he speaks. Some of his current accomplishments include: wining the 2012 Underground Music Awards Lyricist of the year title, featured articles in the XXL Magazine and Hip Hop Weekly. He is the next great MCee .
Provocative, irreverent, controversial and wildly creative, Amanda Palmer is a fearless singer, songwriter, playwright, blogger and an audaciously expressive pianist who simultaneously embraces – and explodes – traditional frameworks of music, theater and art. Amanda first came to prominence as one half of the internationally acclaimed punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls. In 2008, she released her debut solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, produced by Ben Folds and accompanied by a fine art photography book featuring text by esteemed author Neil Gaiman (who Palmer has since married). Amanda is widely known as “The Social Media Queen of Rock-N-Roll” for her constant and disarmingly intimate engagement with her fans via her blog, Tumblr, and Twitter, and has been at the vanguard of using both “direct to fan” and “pay what you want” business models to build and run her business. In May of 2012 she made international news when she raised nearly $1.2 million pre-selling her new album, Theatre is Evil via Kickstarter. Theatre is Evil went on to debut in the “Billboard Top 10” when it was released on Sept. 11, 2012, and has been released in over 20 countries on her own label, 8ft records. Amanda was invited to present a “TED Talk” at TED’s 2013 Conference. To date her Talk, “The Art of Asking”, has been viewed more than 4 million times worldwide. 2013 also saw the release of “An Evening with Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer”- a 3 CD collection of tracks culled from a live tour with her husband and best-selling author Neil Gaiman.
Rusted Root, the multi-platinum sextet out of Pittsburgh, evolved around front-man Michael Glabicki’s distinct sound and grew into a musical entity that has thrived in a non-genre specific category all its own. In addition to the two decades with Rusted Root, Glabicki is exploring new sounds and opening new doors with his solo carrer. He has started touring nationally as a trio act, and explains that although he has his roots with Rusted Root, the sound is very different. Glabicki has always invited the audience to participate in the creation of Rusted Root’s music. He frequently tests new songs on the road to see the fan reaction. Constantly writing new material, Glabicki finds that some of it fits his solo sound better than Rusted Root’s. He currently routes his solo tours around the Rusted Root schedule, and has multiple performances throughout the year. While not on tour with Rusted Root or working on his solo career, Glabicki also has started his own studio, Red Cloud in Pittsburgh. What started as a place for him to write and record new songs, has now grown into a full scale studio where local musicians can rent space to work on their new albums. A multifaceted musician, producer and songwriter, Glabicki’s talents are unique and extremely uplifting. His solo tour dates and new music are extensions of his creative talent, and will inspire all those who participate.
Clive Campbell aka DJ Kool Herc is credited with originating hip hop music. He first began to spin records in the recreation room of his Bronx building in the 1970's, isolating and mixing together breaks from different songs and forming the basis of what the world has come to know as Hip-Hop.
Doors open at 5:00pm