A little before noon today I stopped by Main Street Music in Beacon to talk with David Bernz, who runs the shop with his son. I wanted to talk to Bernz about Pete Seeger, who died Monday night at age 94. Bernz had known Seeger for decades, played countless songs with him and collaborated with Seeger on a pair of Grammy-winning albums.
We talked for a short while, with Bernz eloquently explaining to me what made Seeger different. Here’s some of what he said:
“Every performer arrives with a subtext,” he said, adding that ego is one of the most common. “With Pete, the subtext was always, ‘Look at these wonderful songs that we can all sing together.’ You always felt like you were in it together. Even if it was in Carnegie Hall, it felt like you were in your living room.”
“You felt included and optimistic whenever Pete was there, and that earned him a lot of goodwill.”
“All of Beacon will miss him. Pete was also a world citizen and made the world a better place,” Bernz said. “But for me, I’m going to miss a great friend and a surrogate father.”
More remembrances will surface in the coming days, I’m sure. As they do, I’ll share them here.
For anyone in the Beacon/Cold Spring area, here are a pair of events to keep in mind: Tonight, musicians will gather at the offices of Philipstown.info, in Cold Spring, to play and sing Seeger’s songs. That’s slated to start at 8 p.m. And on Wednesday, the Towne Crier, in Beacon, will host a musical tribute to Seeger.