Just A Moment in History
The Rosalie Sorrels Benefit Concert
Pete Seeger, Oscar Brand, Joe Stead,
Rande Harris, Alien Folk Life,
Linda Richards, Mike Baglione,
Vickie Russell, Jon Stein
Life, the Universe, and Everything is profoundly unfair.
There are moments when it is painfully apparent that a wonderful
opportunity was missed; that, while good things happened despite all odds,
the potential for Great Things slipped quietly away. That's how I feel
about the Benefit Concert for Rosalie Sorrels that took place at
Bodles Opera House
on Sunday, November the 22nd .
First, let me set the stage. Rosalie Sorrels is a well respected
American folk singer in her sixties. Her life has been difficult, but her
music has consistently bought joy and humor and goodness to our world.
Rosalie recently underwent surgery for breast cancer; and, like most
professional musicians, she had no golden parachute corporate health
insurance package to defray the outrageous expenses that come with battling
that terrible disease. But Rosalie Sorrels has friends. The kind of
friends most of us only dream of having. And her friends decided to help
her with her battle by coming together and performing a benefit concert at
Bodles Opera House in Chester. Posters went up and news releases went out
to local newspapers and radio stations. Here was an event the community
could really feel good about getting behind.
And, for a small donation of only $15, the Greater Hudson Valley had the
opportunity to see and hear Rosalie's friends up close. Joined by a host
of locally recognized performers like Rande Harris, Alien Folk Life, Jon
Stein, Linda Richards,
and Mike Baglione, three
internationally known folk singers gave their time and their talent (at
considerable personal expense) to put on a show that I will never forget.
brought his banjo and his wonderful sing-along-songs and sea
shanties all the way from England.
Oscar Brand, folk singer
and host of
the world's longest running folk music radio show, drove down from Canada.
And, soon-to-be-retired American folk legend,
came to perform
in public for the next-to-the-last time. His final concert is coming up
next month at Carnegie Hall with Alro Guthrie.
People will pay a small fortune to attend that historic concert in New
York City, but here in the Hudson Valley, barely a handful of people turned
out to see our own national treasure. That sad fact says less about the
community than it does about the media, I think. There were other events
happening that weekend. And they all got more media coverage. Some were
more artsy-fartsy. Some were more pop. Some were more fashionable. One
was even a benefit...for people in another country. Why was the concert
at Bodles less worthy of attention? I don't know. But the fact that it
was treated as less worthy (or, in many cases, totally ignored) by most of
the local media makes me feel discouraged about the greater community in
which I live.
Worthwhile cause aside, who wouldn't pay $15 to see Pete Seeger's
next-to-the-last public performance? There are few (if any) human beings
on this planet who have lived lives more profoundly marked by integrity and
commitment than Pete Seeger. For over seven decades, Pete Seeger's voice
has rung out for freedom and for a better world. And unlike most of us,
Pete Seeger has never been afraid to stand and be counted when the chips
are down and the cost is high. Pete Seeger has always stood up to help.
He stood up for workers, for women, for free speech, for the environment,
and for peace. On Sunday, November 22nd, Pete Seeger stood up for his
friend, Rosalie Sorrels. Fighting a cold, his voice straining with every
song, Pete sang and sang and sang. And, for a change, the Hudson Valley
had a chance to stand up for Pete, and help him help his friend. But that
just didn't happen. It wasn't newsworthy enough. It just wasn't "in"
For those of us fortunate enough to have seen a poster or looked at
Bodles regular paid advertisement in the newspaper, the evening was magic.
No one present was unmoved. It was a rare moment in history, witnessed by
precious few, but it's historical significance is dimmed by the fact that
the Hudson Valley's contribution to Rosalie's battle with cancer was just
over $700. Help is help. And Rosalie Sorrels will appreciate that help.
But I feel a profound sadness because I can't help thinking what could have
been. People can't support a cause they don't know about. And if the
media chooses not to care, everyday people fail to care by default. What
we don't know CAN hurt us all. But Pete Seeger's been singing about that
all his life.
Pete with grandson Tao Rodriguez
If you'd like to help, you still can. Please send your donation to:
Rosalie Sorrels Recovery Fund
P.O. Box 1204
Boise, ID 83701
Photos the copyrighted property of No Bull Productions.
Posted on November 30th, 1998
is a freelance writer/photographer, and
the author of three "Stick Foster" hardback mystery novels.
A former syndicated columnist for
the Detroit Free Press, his byline has appeared over 100 times in
national and regional periodicals. Kevin is a partner at
No Bull Productions,
and his PR credits include promotion and
booking work for several of Kansas City's top blues bands. Kevin can
be reached at nobull@NoBullProductions.com.
Ellie Apuzzo owns and operates
Ellie's Consider It Done.
"on-site oversight for absentee owners" here in the Florida
Keys; and so far, this lifelong New Yorker just can't seem to
get into "Keys time!" Ellie can be reached at
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