Friday, 22 May 2009

Myself Among Others: A Life in Music

by George Wein with Nate Chinen

Over a dozen other afternoon workshops went on during the course of the 1963 festival, ranging from "Fiddles" and "Old Banjo Styles" to "Collecting Folk Music" and "Folk Music and Copyright Law." Predictably, the most popular of these was a session devoted to "Topical Songs and New Songwriters"--it attracted some 500 people to the Newport Casino lawn on Sunday afternoon.

The Freedom Singers once again portrayed the urgency of the civil rights effort; "Fighting for My Rights" left little room for misinterpretation. Other performers touched upon the same nerve; Phil Ochs delivered his memorable "Ballad of Medgar Evers," and his "Talking Birmingham Jam" evoked the afternoon's only standing ovation. There was an equal rights message in some of the songs of Bob Dylan, as well. Dylan, whose star had risen considerably since his performance two nights earlier, closed the workshop by performing his tune "Playboys and Playgirls" as a duet with Pete Seeger. At Seeger's prompting, the audience joined in.

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