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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

Bodles Opera House
Sunday, November 22, 1998

Story by Kevin Robinson
Pictures by Ellie Apuzzo

Sometimes 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 [1998].

Pete Seeger
Oscar Brand
Joe Stead

Linda Richards
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.

Rande Harris
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, Vickie Russell, 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. Joe Stead 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, Pete Seeger, 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.

Vickie Russell
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.

Jon Stein
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" enough.

Alien Folk Life
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

Kevin Robinson 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 Ellie Apuzzo owns and operates Ellie's Consider It Done. She provides "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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