Pete Seeger at the Village Gate, Vol. 2:

Pete Seeger

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Pete Seeger at the Village Gate, Vol. 2: Review

by William Ruhlmann

Pete Seeger began a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1961, but the small independent label Folkways Records retains an extensive archive of his recordings that it continues to issue; here, Folkways presents another LP culled from an appearance by Seeger at the Village Gate nightclub in Greenwich Village, at which he was accompanied, some of the time, by pianist Memphis Slim and acoustic bassist Willie Dixon. (An earlier volume appeared in 1960.) Actually, the accompanists are audible only on the songs "In the Evening When the Sun Goes Down" (which features some lead singing by Memphis Slim) and "T.B. Blues." The extra musicians allow Seeger to stretch out and play lead on his banjo. Otherwise, only Seeger and the banjo can be heard (at least from the stage), though he pulls out a guitar for "John Hardy." The set list consists mostly of traditional folk songs and spirituals, to which, in some cases, Seeger has added words dealing with contemporary political concerns. Notably, the spiritual "Keep Your Hand on the Plow" contains references to the Civil Rights movement, and so does "This Little Light of Mine." That song features some loud singalong participation from the audience in what is a small club. As usual, Seeger comes off well in a live setting, interacting with his listeners and spurring their own performance. As his many live albums go, this is just another one, no better or worse than many others.

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