BRATTLEBORO -- Amazing things happen when people sing together.
Pete Seeger believed that, and so does Peter Amidon, who has spent much of his life leading others in song.
"My life has always been singing with people, and I feel like there are emotions that are generated when you sing with people that are only generated when you sing with people," said Amidon. "Singing creates a kind of synchronization ... it binds a community together."
Those emotions, and many others, are likely to be stirred when the New England Youth Theatre presents a sing-along tribute concert to Pete Seeger, "How Can We Keep From Singing," on Friday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. An additional children and family show is on Saturday, May 3, at 10 a.m. All proceeds will benefit NEYT’s "Angels in the Wings" scholarship fund.
NEYT Founder and evening host Stephen Stearns, and co-host Amidon, present a galaxy of well-known singers and songwriters, many of whom have sung with Pete Seeger and written songs with him over the past 50 years.
Stearns was a close friend of Seeger’s for many years, and it was Seeger who helped Gould & Stearns’ "A Peasant of El Salvador" find a large international audience.
"Pete is about sharing the love," said Stearns, who explained that a sing-along tribute is a perfect way to honor Seeger, a Pied Piper whose greatest interest was in getting as many people singing as possible.
"Pete said ‘I don’t want my songs to be in people’s ears, I want them to be on people’s lips," said Stearns.
Getting songs on people’s lips was how Seeger connected with Amidon. Seeger saw Amidon leading a shape note sing in 1991 and invited him to go to his Clearwater Festival to lead a Circle of Song. Amidon did that for three years and became one of the many thousands of people with a warm, personal connection to Seeger.
"So many people knew him. How did he have time?" said Amidon. "Everybody who knew him felt like he was their friend."
Performers May 2 include: Gould & Stearns, Peter Amidon, Ruth Pelham, Sarah Pirtle, Scott Ainslie, Andy Davis, Peter Siegel, Becky Graber and the Brattleboro Women’s Sing About Chorus, John Ungerleider, Bill Conley, Mike Miller, Val Mindel, Nick Apollonio, Keith Murphy, Becky Tracy, Jim Anderson, Riley Goodemote, Mollie Gawler, Ian Stearns, Al Stockwell and Jerry Stockman.
The show will follow Seeger’s life and the songs, in many genres, that he sang at various points throughout his life: Woodie Guthrie and Almanac Singers years, The Black List years, The Weavers years, the college concerts and children’s campfire years, the years of protest marches for Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War, his devotion to cleaning up the Hudson River and the planet as a whole, while trying to plant songs in every heart and every lip as he went along his way.
"He just had a depth and width to his work," said Amidon.
The concert will have a video clip or two of Seeger himself, in concert during his younger years. There will be something for everyone to relish and sing-along with from "If I Had A Hammer" to "Sweet Potatoes" to "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" to "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine."
Purchasing tickets early is recommended as the supply is limited and tickets will go rapidly. Tickets may be purchased in advance at www.neyt.org
Tickets for Friday, May 2, are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students
Tickets for the Saturday, May 3, Children and Families Sing-along are $5 at the door.
The New England Youth Theatre is located on 100 Flat St.