A key figure in Anglo-American traditional
and topical music celebrates her 70th birthday
onstage in London with her brothers Pete and
Mike Seeger, her children, friends Martin and
Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, Norma Waterson, and more!
First-ever recording of all three Seegers performing together!
Some of the greatest figures in US and UK traditional and sociopolitical music joined one of their own – Peggy Seeger – onstage at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on May 29, 2005, in a concert celebrating Peggy’s 70th birthday and her half-century professional career. A member of America’s legendary musical Seeger family who married one of Great Britain’s leading folksingers and activists, Ewan MacColl, singer/songwriter/ folklorist/teacher Peggy is a crucial link between both countries’ traditional and topical music and its practitioners.
Three Score and Ten is a joyous and historic 2-CD document of Peggy’s birthday concert, which was arranged by her three children – Neill and Calum MacColl, both professional producers and musicians, and their sister Kitty, a graphic designer and sometime backing vocalist on her mother’s recordings. Originally broadcast in abridged form by the BBC, the concert’s two full sets feature Peggy (vocals, guitar, banjo, English concertina, piano, autoharp) on traditional and original favorites (including her proto-feminist anthem “Gonna Be an Engineer”), new compositions (the post-911 political reflections “Cavemen” and “Home Sweet Home”), and three spoken poems (dedicated to her mother, her late husband, and her partner Irene Pyper-Scott, one of the evening’s musical participants on vocals and spoons). She also performs the classic “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” the song her future husband MacColl would write about their first meeting (and later a Grammy-winner and #1 US chart single for Roberta Flack in 1972.)
In this family event, presented several weeks prior to Peggy’s actual June 17 birth date, she shares the stage with her half-brother Pete Seeger, the international folk/activism icon, and brother Mike (solo artist, old-time music expert and New Lost City Ramblers member) in one of their rare appearances together and the first-ever recording of all three together. Pete is also featured on three solo numbers, including “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” while Mike performs a solo “Quill Ditty.”
The contingent of UK guest musicians, aside from Peggy’s children and Pyper-Scott, includes the legendary folksinger and multi-instrumentalist Martin Carthy, his wife and performance partner Norma Waterson (also a member of the traditionally oriented Watersons), and their daughter, singer/fiddler Eliza Carthy, a solo artist in her own right. Contemporary singer/songwriter/activist Billy Bragg, a spiritual descendant of the Seeger/MacColl agit-folk tradition, duets with Peggy on a delightfully spontaneous “Darling Annie” and fronts the ensemble on “If You Want a Better Life.” Also on hand to lend instrumental support are accordionist Graham Henderson and percussionist James McNally (a latter-day member of The Pogues).
With folk music as one of the strongest ties that bind cultures, families and history, Three Score and Ten is an indelible, frequently rollicking and often moving testament to the living legacy of a great creative artist and that of her fellow musicians, family, friends and the traditions they celebrate and extend.