| Julie Adams
Julie Adams and Charlie Tee
| Ron Sowell, Jupie Little and Kate Long
Songs and Words of Protest
May 19, 2006
A Celebration of the Fabulous Sixties
Sometime in the fall of 2005, our dear friend Anita Skeen, a poet who teaches English at Michigan State University, proposed to Julie Adams and me that we come up to East Lansing. Anita had convinced the curator of the Kresge Art Museum, on the MSU campus, to consider having a public concert as part of an art exhibition, “Blast from the Past,” which featured abstract paintings from the 1960s.
The concert was Anita’s idea, and she worked hard to make it happen. She talked the museum into hiring us and coached several of her students as they prepared readings of poems from the era.
We spent a couple of months preparing for the performance, re-learning a lot of wonderful songs by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Joni Mitchell, and others. It was fun, and it was plenty of work! (We remarked more than once that it was a lot of preparation for a single performance.)
The concert in Michigan, on February 28, was a first for the Kresge Art Museum: they had never before had a music performance in their gallery. We were a little bit awed, surrounded by so many amazing paintings (Robert Motherwell! Franz Kline! and a gorgeous, wall-sized Morris Louis for a backdrop). And we were thrilled by the audience. The room was full, and people sang along! Even some very young people sang along! “We were raised by hippies,” they explained. “Of course we know the words.”
On the long drive home to West Virginia, we said to one another, “Wouldn’t it be fun to do this in Charleston?” Collaborating with Patriots for Peace was a natural; it made perfect sense to both of us, and they seemed to agree. After all, it’s not just coincidence that the word “harmony” describes peace as well as musical resonance.
As you see, we have tons of talented friends who, on very short notice, agreed to join us for a special evening. Artist Charly Jupiter Hamilton donated his artwork for a poster. The members of WV Patriots for Peace went all out to publicize the concert. Not pictured here are several other musicians who also performed in the concert, as well as some people who recited stirring poems. We know there are many others who would willingly have joined us.
It was an incredible evening, in fact. A standing-room-only crowd packed Christ Church United Methodist. Everyone sang. Many people wore their vintage tie-dyed shirts and bell-bottoms. Funds were raised for the important work of peace-making. We had a good time. We felt a revival of hope.
All of the photos on this page were made by Gregory Sava, and we thank him for letting us use them!
Julie Adams, Colleen Anderson and Laurel Dennie
Charly Jupiter Hamilton's artwork on the poster
It's not too late to make a contribution to the cause. Visit West Virginia Patriots for Peace. And, if you'd like to write and/or sing some meaningful music of your own, consider taking our workshop, "Giving Voice: Words and Music that Change the World" at Ghost Ranch, July 27-August 2, 2009. Contact us by e-mail or visit the Ghost Ranch website.
Mother Wit Writing and Design
P.O. Box 525
Charleston, WV 25322