When Alex Peacemaker heard the news that musician Pete Seeger had passed away on January 27, 2014, he was surprised to find himself weeping.
“When I heard the news I was just crying. I felt like ‘all right, something’s going on here.’ It impacted me. I think it was the mark of a great person passing,” he said.
Memorial concerts were being held worldwide, including one by Bruce Springsteen, and Peacemaker was inspired to hold one in the Kootenays. Now, just over a year after Seeger’s passing, Peacemaker’s plans have come to fruition.
A memorial concert featuring local musicians Kenny Conrad, Olin McKay, Dan Perrault and many others will be held at the Junction Church on Jan. 31.
“That bill is some of the cream of the crop of our local musicians,” said Peacemaker.
When he initially set out to get momentum for the concert going, he found some younger people in the community didn’t recognize Seeger’s name.
“They would say ‘do you mean Bob Seeger? Is Pete Seeger his son?’ But even if they don’t really know the name, those songs are registered on their subconscious,” he said.
“Just starting singing This Land is Your Land or If I Had a Hammer and they’ll go ‘oh yeah, I know that song’.”
Peacemaker said one of the most exciting things about Seeger’s music was his willingness to cross language borders.
“Guantanemera, a lot of people don’t know this, is the unofficial anthem of Cuba. He translated it into English and introduced it to the English-speaking world.” Another song, Wimoweh (The Lion Sleeps Tonight), was originally written by African tribesman.
Seeger was also famous for leading sing-a-longs in the African griot tradition, and Peacemaker said they’ll make sure to give audience members plenty of opportunities to join in throughout the concert.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the International Justice Mission (IJM), an organization devoted to fighting modern day slavery.
“There are up to 30 million slaves in the world today,” said Dean Siminoff, who has worked with IJM through his martial arts initiative Breaking Boards, Breaking Chains.
“There are actually more slaves today than when we think of as the slave days. It’s unbelievable, but somehow it flies under the radar.”
Siminoff said justice is desperately needed, especially in the cases of sex slavery.
Tickets are $40 and are available in advance from the Biggest Little Fruitstand in Castlegar, Eddy Music in Nelson and Gaia Tree in Winlaw. For more information visit justiceatthejunction.org.