Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Roadie Report 68 by Camilla McGuinn. A Train, A Ship, A Taxi, A Bridge Over Troubled Water and BOOT CAMP!

It was the best of times and the worst of times. It was a dark and stormy night...it was an ADVENTURE!

When we hugged Laraine goodbye, we were confident that she and Phil understood the gadgets that ran our house. The solar panels, the newly installed electric hurricane shutters and the outside kitchen.

We arrived at the new Winter Park Train station with plenty of time to appreciate the quaintness of that small town. 

Train 98 to New York's Penn station was a familiar one but this time our ride over the rails was the smoothest ever. 

Waking from our overnight trip we stretched with a sigh of contentment from a restful dream time.

The secret to getting a taxi from Penn station is to request a redcap to meet your train. He is able to take you to the front of the taxi queue but sometimes you do have to wait for him to arrive.

Boarding the Queen Mary 2 in Brooklyn was like coming home. Roger was greeted with enthusiasm by the baggage handlers. The fans in New York have always been a boost to our moral. Someday I think I will write an entire BLOG on the delightful encounters we have had with them.

Once onboard, our habit is to drop our bags in our stateroom, head for the dining room to find our table for the voyage and enjoy the first meal of our journey. 

The Queen Mary 2 is a small neighborhood filled with interesting people and one of the delights of a voyage is getting to know the people. We always ask for a large table.
Our maitre d' gave us a table for six. After the staff introduced themselves our table mates began arriving. Gerta and Herbert were going to Hamburg to see Herbert's home town. Bill and Marilyn were cruising round trip on the Queen Mary 2 with stops in Norway’s Fjords. Their seven children now joked that they had no idea where mom and dad were these days.

It took about two nanoseconds for all of us to realize that the maitre d' had matched us perfectly. Before the lunch was over, Bill, a retired mathematics teacher and high school coach, had a word puzzle for us to decipher. We all sat there an extra long time trying to figure it out. Initially, I was concerned that Gerta and Herbert might be put off because English was their second language, but they jumped into the challenge faster than we did.

Over the course of 8 days we learned so much from our new friends.

Gerta and Herbert live in Winston Salem, NC which is a short distance from all my relatives. The stories of their lives are fascinating. A friend of Herbert's even wrote a book about his life. They were taking a copy of it to Hamburg for one of his nephews. I begged to read it. I told them that I read real fast and would have it back to them quickly. I even took it to Roger's lectures to read while I waited for the lectures to begin.

Reading Herbert's life story was as eye opener for me. Just as in the sixties when young men were trying to find ways out of the American-Vietnam War, Herbert was trying to find ways out of joining Hitler's war. He and his father figured that if he joined the Navy, he might have a chance of surviving the war. As WWII reached its last days, he walked into an American camp and surrendered. Not all Germans were Nazis! The reality that nations go to war at the cost of the young lives always hits me square in the face.

The July 28th crossing on the Queen Mary 2 had dual purposes. The main one was to get us to Europe for a tour that would finish in November. While onboard Roger would give two lectures. I always tell folks that Roger's concerts are the sound tracks to his lectures. The lectures include photos and video clips from the 50+ years of his career.

Once we reached England, Roger had radio and press interviews to promote the concerts that were scheduled for Belgium, Germany, Austria, England, Wales and the Netherlands.

The twenty days in London presented an interesting challenge.

A few years ago we spent 15 days in San Francisco in a condo I found for us on Nob Hill. I was sure we could recreate a similar experience in London. I scoured the internet until I found what I thought would be the quintessential English experience.

I found a site that had a  flat in Kensington with some of the quirkiest photos I had ever seen. I wasn't sure Roger would be comfortable for 12 days with some of the fixtures, but  when he saw the interior shots, he immediately told me to book it.

The Kensington Flat

The flat wasn't available for all of our London time but we had lots of Marriott and Hilton frequent guest points, so I bookended the stay at the flat with several different hotels.

While moving from one hotel to another, I put a bottle of water in my handbag. I didn't notice, the cap was loose. When we got to our new room, my iPad and camera were now pieces of hardware that didn't work. My only gadgets still working were my iPhone and my computer. Life just got simple.

The day we were to move from one of the hotels to the Kensington flat, a 100 mile bike race was taking place in London. We needed to get to the other side of the Thames. After a long wait, the doorman found a taxi driver who had just begun his day. Unfortunately, he hadn't done his homework. Every bridge he went to cross over the Thames was closed for the bikers. The meter kept ticking higher and higher. Finally we came to another closed bridge and the driver said, "It's a shame you have this luggage. Your flat is just over the bridge."

The meter was reading 40 GBP = $68.00. We took one look at each other and nodded. We could do it. Our bags consisted of two small roll a-boards, two computer bags, two guitars and two small bags for miscellaneous items such as a dead iPad and camera.

As the taxi pulled away, we loaded the roller boards with the clever way we had devised for moving our bags throughout Europe on the trains.

The initial walk over the bridge was up hill. That was the first time Roger commented, "We're in boot camp!"

Going downhill was easier, but the weight of the bags was cutting off the circulation to our fingers. Stopping every block to change hands became a necessity.

Roger turned on his GPS and realized that our flat was not just over the bridge, it was almost 2 miles away and there wasn't a taxi in sight.

Block by block we made slow progress. Thankfully the morning rain had ceased, but now it was warm. Roger was wearing his hat and suit. And still no taxi in sight. The GPS said we still had 1.2 miles to go.

After another ten minutes of pulling bags over rough streets and sidewalks we reached a residential neighborhood. I spotted a family getting out of a car that looked like a vehicle for hire but didn't have a taxi light. I approached the driver and asked if he was for hire. He initially ignored me. Being desperate, I followed him and began telling him our tale of woe. Finally he turned, slowly looked at me and asked, "Where are you going?" Roger showed him the GPS which now stated we had .8 miles to  go. He sighed, "I will take you."

As we passed block after block, I almost cried. It would have taken us hours to get to where we were going. When we arrived at the flat, I asked the driver, "How much can I pay you?" "Nothing." He helped unload our bags. I didn't have a CD with me because the guests on the Queen Mary 2 had purchased all of them. I offered to put him on the guest list for our London concert at Cadogan Hall. He just smiled  and drove away.

We were home at last! At least our home for the next 12 days, or so I thought.

More boot camp to come.....

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Roadie Report 67 by Camilla McGuinn - A Minute in Time

On the road, a day can seem like a minute.

We stopped in Washington, DC to add a voice to some injustices in our Copyright laws. It meant we had to leave home a week earlier than we’d planned for our tour of the northeast but it gave us more minutes to spend on the roads of America.

Traffic congestion is something we always want to avoid and fortunately from experience we know how. Instead of taking Interstate 95 straight to Washington, DC we slice northwest on Interstate 26 to Columbia, SC, then take Interstate 77 to Interstate 81.

Natural Bridge, Virginia
Traveling through the mountains of Virginia, we pass through the towns of my teenage years, marveling at the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley and sometimes stopping at Natural Bridge, VA.

After talking and shaking hands with many Congressmen, we headed northeast to Nazareth, PA to visit the Martin Guitar factory. There is nothing like a tour of that wonderful factory. It is a joy  to see their museum and to smell fine woods being crafted into some of the prettiest and best sounding hand made guitars in the world.

There were still minutes before the first concert at the beautiful theater in Northampton , MA, The Academy of Music. We stopped at one of our favorite hotels, The Sheraton Lincoln Harbor, on the west side of the Hudson in Weehawken, NJ. There was just enough time to catch the ferry, then the ferry bus to Café Fiorello for a late lunch. We always sit at the antipasto bar and  have a wonderful time meeting the regulars who come almost everyday. This day we met Angelica.

Angelica was born in Germany just before WW2. Her father was a musician and worked very hard to shelter the musicians he worked with. I have just begun studying the German language on The Word of the Day http://www.transparent.com/word-of-the-day/today/german.html?date=06-10-2014 website because of our upcoming German tour in September. Funny thing though most Germans speak better English than Americans. To my amazement, I have fallen in love with the beauty of the language. I had always thought it was a harsh language, but after hearing and reading a few words, I realized it is sweet and logical.  I can almost understand some of the words I read.

Just before leaving Café Fiorello ,we introduced Angelica to the lady sitting on our right. Being a regular of the restaurant, she had seen Angelica but had never spoken with her. When we left they were chatting away.

We moseyed our way (that’s southern talk for going slow) up  a hundred miles to another favorite little stop in Fishkill, NY. Nothing real special, but a comfortable room and a good meal within walking distance.

The theater in Northampton is one of those wonderful ancient Vaudeville theaters that went through  the degradation of having its floors covered with gum and popcorn from moviegoers, to being restored by folks who realized that theaters are worthy of preservation as historic buildings.  Roger walks on the stages of those theaters and asks. ”Did George Burns play here?” His dressing room was next to Elizabeth Taylor’s and Richard Burton's!

When Roger performs concerts we are very aware that folks come to hear the songs that were the sound track of their lives. Everyday at lunch we discuss the upcoming show and discuss what songs and stories he will perform. We had particularly difficult choices to make for this show. All the hand shaking in Washington, DC did put him in contact with a cold virus. He could barely talk. Of course we prayed and sent out emails to friends who know the power of prayer. As we discussed the songs, we remembered tunes that were in lower registers that wouldn’t strain his voice. There is a great danger of singing when vocal cords are compromised… a singer can lose his voice. We had to decide which songs to sing. The set list that evolved was fun. I hadn’t heard “It’s Alright Ma” in years!

That night he sang with joy! A couple who often follow Roger to all  his shows came up to me and said they loved the lower vocal range he was using. I didn’t tell them he had a cold because it might have dampened their enjoyment. They also told me that they decided to get married the next week right there in Massachusetts and Roger’s concert was the catalyst for the happy event!

After the Northampton concert, we had one more special minute. Since Roger was still coughing we decided not to inflict the friends that we were going to visit, but stopped at the beautiful Saybrook Point Inn, in Old Saybrook CT.

Two Rocking Chairs in the shade.

Our arrival on the beautiful June day was just in time to sit on two rocking chairs in the shade and watch a wedding. Marriage is a beautiful celebration. Our smiles stretched from ear to ear as watched from the officiator’s view of the couple committing their lives to each other. We were caught by surprise when the officiator came up to us after the ceremony and asked if Roger would sign their marriage license as a witness. It was a delightful and humbling experience. Within the course of two days our lives were touched by lovers sealing their love.

The day after the wedding, we had a "minute" to enjoy a rainy day lunch before driving to Phoenixville, PA for a return appearance at the Colonial Theatre on June 12, 2014 ... the theater used in the original filming of my first horror film "THE BLOB"
A rainy day lunch at the Saybrook Point Inn

Friday, May 30, 2014

Roadie Report 66 by Camilla McGuinn - Back to Capitol Hill!

 It always amazes me how things happen. On May 15, I received an email from Peter Frampton's management saying that Sound Exchange wanted Roger to attend an important event in Washington, DC this month.

Sound Exchange is the only avenue for performing artists to receive any royalties for songs they have recorded and are being used by radio and internet services. Prior to 1995 performing artists were not entitled to receive payment for the public performance of their sounds. Frank Sinatra tried for years to get a performance royalty for artists, but the clout of the publishing and music industry was even stronger than that of the rather powerful Mr. Sinatra.

Roger's royalty payments from Sound Exchange suddenly took a deep dive. We were so busy in the last year, that I didn't have time to find out why. When I contacted Linda, the representative who wanted to talk with me, I realized what had happened.

The last change in the Copyright laws left a loop hole for services like Sirius XM and Pandora. They interpeted it as a right to use all recordings prior to 1972 for free and to pay no performance royalties to the artists who made the songs a hit. I find the year 1972 very curious. Why would they pick that year. Could it be that the catalogue of the songs from the 1950s and 1960s is steeped with classics and there are generations of people who listen to them? Who had that power to pick that year for the Copyright law? That year not only is stopping performance royalties it also touches the writers of songs.

Roger went to Washington in 2000 to appear before the senate Judiciary committee for the debate of "Is There an Upside to Downloading." It took him a nano-second to say he would go this time too.

The launch of the Project72 bill being sent to Congress was May 29. Since our plans were to leave on June 2 for a June 6 concert at the Academy of Music Theater in Northampton, MA, we decided to leave a week early to get to Washington DC to be a part of this important correction of an injustice.

An example of the injustice:
In 1967 The Byrds recorded "So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star."
In 1979 Patti Smith recorded "So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star."
In 1985 Tom Petty  recorded  "So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star."
Patti Smith and Tom Petty receive a performance royalty for "So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star.", the BYRDS do not!

When Roger told the Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives,  Kevin McCarthy, the above mentioned fact he was alarmed and declared it another "donut hole." A case of discrimination of the older generation.

That example isn't as big a deal for us as it is for some of the other artists from the 50s and 60s generation because we continue to work, thanks to fans who support live music, but there are artists for whom the rigors of the road make it essential to have those royalties paid. Some of the artists are no longer with us and now their children's legacy has been taken from them.

For years when the songs "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" were played on the radio, the BYRDS did not receive anything for those performances. Only the publishers and writers received money. It wasn't until the beginning of Sound Exchange that performers were given a small royalty. Now Sirius XM, Pandora and other businesses are denying those royalties because of a loop hole.

On May 29, 2014 in Washington, DC Roger attended a news conference for the RESPECT Act at the Rayburn House Office Building. He joined a talented and passionate group of performing artists:
Martha Reeves, of Martha & the Vandellas
Roger McGuinn, of The Byrds
Richie Furay, of Buffalo Springfield and Poco
Mark Farner, of Grand Funk Railroad
Gene Chandler, "The Duke of Earl"
Karla Redding, daughter of Otis Redding
Sam Moore, of Sam and Dave
Roger, Richie and Mark preparing for the launch of  Project72

This is a bipartisan bill with 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans co-sponsoring it to date. It is a small 4 page piece of legislation. Please contact your local representatives and encourage them to become active in this correction of the copyright law.
Should read "Servants of the people!"
Congress can be slow, tell them to hurry!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Roadie Report 65 by Camilla McGuinn


Roger McGuinn

– Stories, Songs & Friends –

 2 CDs & a Bonus DV

The 2 CDs:

This concert was a recording made especially for Dorothy McGuinn in celebration of her 102nd birthday at the beautiful Fox Tucson Theater in Arizona. In this one man play, Roger sings and shares stories behind the songs, explains why he changed his stage name from Jim to Roger, re-lives the origination of  the 60's musical group THE BYRDS and many more anecdotes from his fifty-plus years as a professional entertainer.

The DVD:

The DVD begins with the night THE BYRDS were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It continues with friends talking about Roger and footage of him in concert telling stories of his career.

There are some classic video clips included. Derek Taylor, THE BYRDS' publicist, explains how THE BYRDS invaded Hollywood.  Pete Seeger tells the story behind the song "TURN, TURN, TURN." Judy Collins remembers the first time she saw Jim (Roger) perform in Las Vegas with Bobby Darin. Joan Baez talks about “The Rolling Thunder Revue” just before a 1975 clip of Roger singing a portion of "Knocking on Heaven's Door." Pete Fornatale, Chris Hillman, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen explore Roger's influence on the music of THE BYRDS and on their own music. There is also film footage that Roger shot in London during the BYRDS' 1967 tour of England. Roger emulated the experimental stop frame style of film maker Bruce Conner. Hold on to your seats if you’re given to dizziness. To grasp Roger's love of gadgets and technology, the satirist, Dave Barry, shares a funny story about author Stephen King and Roger on an airplane ride.

Roger is often approached to write a book. This is his book and a few home movies.
To purchase click on:  www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RogerMcGuinn

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger Memories by Camilla McGuinn

"Pete Seeger was the person who inspired me to play 5-string banjo, 12-string guitar and to achieve my life long dream of becoming a troubadour. It was his guitar and banjo style that I carried over into the instrumental sound of the BYRDS. I will always admire his positive influence on the world and on my life. We will all miss him." Roger McGuinn, January 28, 2014

Roger always wakes me every morning with a song and a cup of tea. Today, after he sang the morning song, he said, “Pete Seeger quietly passed away last night.”

Our morning walk was filled with our Pete Seeger memories.

Before I fell in love with Roger, my pathways were filled with some impressive individuals. I worked with George Burns on a TV show.  I sat next to Frank Sinatra at an intimate dinner gathering of friends. But, it wasn’t until Roger introduced me to Earl Scruggs and then Pete Seeger did I become speechless.

Elvis Presley was Jim’s inspiration for picking up a guitar. He was fascinated with the rock-a-billy sound he heard on his transistor radio. Music consumed his every thought and school was just a drag. Getting kicked out of study hall for playing his guitar was so normal that the headmaster of the Latin School of Chicago was mildly amused at how often Jim McGuinn was sitting in his office.

There were only two classes Jim enjoyed; physics and Miss Ganter’s music class. His music teacher changed the direction of Jim’s life when she invited her friend, Bob Gibson to perform at the school.

Mr. Gibson entered from the side of the stage with his instrument head stock first. Immediately Jim perked up. He thought it was a guitar but his heart sank when he realized it was a banjo. The teenage sulking moment lasted until Bob Gibson began his innovative banjo picking and telling of stories. Then Jim’s posture changed in his seat and his attention didn’t swerve for a second. He was hooked.

Bob Gibson left the building. Jim eagerly ran to Miss Ganter with a new born quest. He had to find out what was that kind of music he had just heard. She smiled. One of her star pupils wanted to know more about something. “That is folk music and there is a new school opening up close by called the “Old Town School of Folk Music.”

It was at the Old Town School under the tutelage of Frank Hamilton, where Jim learned about Pete Seeger. He even bought a Pete Seeger long neck banjo to learn the intricate picking styles that he carried into the sound of the BYRDS.

Over the years, Jim rode the rocket of rock and roll with the techniques and songs of Pete Seeger.

The 1980s were quiet years. In 1982, Roger began his lifelong dream of being a troubadour just like Pete Seeger and Bob Gibson. He made me his road manager and we traveled the world.

Toward the end of the 80s, Roger decided to quit performing two shows a night. He didn’t feel two shows in one night were fair to the audiences. He had to hold back some of his energy on the first show to be ready for the second. Because of that decision, the Bottom Line in New York City was now off his touring roster.

Allan Pepper, the club owner, really wanted Roger to play in commemoration of the Bottom Line’s twentieth anniversary since Roger was one the first acts to perform on his stage. Roger played the Bottom Line one more time for Allan. After the two concerts I went to Allan’s office. That often felt like going to the principal’s office. After finishing the business side of the evening, Allan told me that he really wanted Roger to be part his Songwriter Series.  Without even much thought, I said, “If you can get Pete Seeger, Roger will do it.” I knew there was nothing more in the world that Roger wanted but to be on the same stage with Pete Seeger. He almost had a chance several times, but somehow the opportunity was always withdrawn.

The following Monday, I picked up the phone and it was the crusty Allan Pepper, but he sounded as excited as a high school kid. “I just called Pete’s house and he answered! I asked him if he would do the series with Roger McGuinn.” Pete told him, “He is a good kid. Sure I’ll do it.” Allan and I were both laughing with total joy.

Allan then got very serious. “I want this to be special. Give me time to think about the other two songwriters I will invite. I’ll let you know.”

We walked into the Bottom Line around 4pm for the sound check, or maybe I should say, we floated into the Bottom Line. Our excitement was so intense that Roger had stage fright the minute he opened his guitar case. The other performers came in after us. Ted Hawkins, a street busker from Los Angeles who received fame in Europe but never in the United States, Joe South, a renowned songwriter and Pete Seeger, the consummate folk singer. Roger was very humbled to be on the stage with these men.

The sound check was short and we were hungry. I was standing at the foot of the stage with Allan Pepper when I motioned to Roger to ask Pete if he would like to join us for dinner. Pete said yes! Allan and I couldn’t contain the look of happiness on our faces, we felt like the audience in a moment of history.

Pete, Roger and I walked to Minetta Tavern where we were meeting Don DeVito, Roger’s old friend from Columbia Records and producer of “Thunderbyrd.” As we walked, Pete told Roger that Frank Hamilton, Roger’s guitar and banjo teacher and Pete’s replacement in the Weavers, was the arranger on “We Shall Overcome.” He also stopped and talked to a young man about a tree in the park.

We were already sitting at the table when Don arrived. He broke into a big grin when he saw Pete. It was before cell phones, so we didn’t have a chance to tell him of the special guest we were bringing. The dinner hour was spent with all three men telling stories. I was again a member of the audience. Don picked up the dinner check that night with great joy.

 It began to drizzle when we left Minetta’s. We had only one umbrella. I ran to a shop and bought the biggest umbrella I could find for $10. It was huge and grey. We still have it and immediately began calling it the Pete Seeger memorial umbrella. The evening was already a wonderful memory. I felt like I just had dinner with Santa Claus.
Ted Hawkins, Joe South, Pete Seeger, Roger McGuinn

Vin Scelsa, the moderator, began the evening introducing all four gentlemen as they took seats. Ted Hawkins was stage right. Joe South and Pete Seeger were stage center and Roger was stage left. Each songwriter took turns singing some of the songs they had written. When Joe South sang, “Games People Play” Pete jumped out of his chair and hugged him saying, “I always wanted to know who wrote that song!”

To close the show, Vin asked each writer to sing a song they wished they had written. Roger sang “Turn,Turn, Turn” to end the first concert but he surprised everyone at the end of the second concert. He sang, “Bells of Rhymney.” Two songs Pete Seeger had penned from classic writings.

Backstage at the Bottom Line was small. There were two dressing rooms. We shared a room with Joe South and his wife. After the final concert while chatting with them about the joys of train travel , Pete came to the door and quietly said, “ ‘Bells of Rhymney.’ I've never heard it sung so well.” Roger and I both had tears rolling down our faces when Pete left the room.

Elizabeth Rush called and told me a man from the program “Kennedy Center Honors” wanted to have Roger on the show. I had never heard of the show, but called to find out what they wanted. What they wanted was for Roger to appear with Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie to give tribute to Pete Seeger. Once again, I didn’t even have to check with Roger. The answer was, “He would be most honored.”

There was one small problem for us. I had just gotten out of surgery. Standing for long periods would be impossible and the recording of the show in Washington DC consisted of three days of receptions and dinners, but to be in the presence of Pete Seeger again was worth all the discomfort. 

We were met at the airport by a volunteer. She was a lobbyist and not the first one we were to meet. During the three day affair, she was responsible for us getting to where we needed to be on time.

It is very hard to explain the amazing moments we spent in those three short days. We knew this was different from our normal rock and roll events when at the first morning brunch we found ourselves in the midst of the “A” list.

Five people were being honored: Kirk Douglas, Aretha Franklin, Harold Prince, Morton Gould and Pete Seeger. Their families and friends were all there. You can just imagine some of them. Michael Douglas, Lauren Bacall, Garrison Keillor, Alan Alda and Walter Cronkite to name a few.

A sound check was scheduled for the afternoon. Since I needed to sit down, I decided to go into the auditorium and watch the proceedings. I was the only one sitting in the whole place. Our hostess came walking up to me with a funny look on her face. I imagined I had already done something wrong. She stood next to me looking down at a ticket in her hand with a perplexed look on her face, then she laughed, “You are sitting in the exact seat you have for the ceremony!” Out of 2350 seats, I found my place. 

The first night was a dinner at the State Department. We were excited to see Pete, but Toshi his wife quickly intercepted us and said that he wasn’t supposed to know who was paying tribute to him. It was to be a surprise! We found our table about the same time Joan Baez did. As we were looking at the place cards, she mentioned to me that she didn’t know the people sitting next her and she seemed concerned. I told her I would fix that. I moved the place cards and surrounded her with Arlo and Roger. Now I probably will be black balled from all State Department dinners after they find out about this, but hey, I haven’t been invited back in 20 years, so maybe I have been!

It turned out to be a good thing, me switching those name cards, I ended up sitting next to another lobbyist. But this wasn’t just any lobbyist. She was the first female lobbyist in Washington, DC, Ann Wexler. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I didn’t realize how fortuitous sitting next to Ms. Wexler was until the next evening.

Before the Honors ceremony we were all invited to the White House, where President Clinton would present the honorees with a medal. Our lobbyist driver took us to the gate of the House, told us that a bus would take us to the Kennedy Center and after the ceremony she would meet us at the dinner reception. We got out of the car in our finest clothes and she drove off. The guard at the gate asked our names. He looked and looked, but Mr. and Mrs. Roger McGuinn was not on any list. It began to drizzle and we didn’t have the Pete Seeger memorial umbrella with us. Our driver was gone, lines of cars were pulling up and I really wanted to sit down. It seemed our only alternative was to walk to the street, hail a taxi and go straight to the Kennedy Center. Just as we made the decision, Ms. Wexler arrived and came over to us. She asked why were we standing in the wet night air. We told her our dilemma. She walked over to a very important looking man who lowered his head in respect to listen to her. Ms Wexler returned to us and said everything would be all right in just a moment.

A minute later, the important looking man, came up to the gate keeper and in a desperate voice, said ”Ask them if they have a driver’s license.” The gate keeper turned to us with an odd look of shock on his face and asked, “Do you have a driver’s license?” We pulled them out and without even examining them, he turned and hollered to the important man, “Yep they got one.” “ Well, let them in.”

While waiting in the entrance, Roger noticed a sign, “No Cameras”.
“Camilla, do you see that sign?”
“NO.” I wasn’t about to give up my pocket camera. He just shook his head, not the least bit surprised.

The entire “A” list were ushered into a room for the medal ceremony. We were among the last, and I was standing on my toes to see. A beautiful lady I had met at the state department dinner because I complimented her on the stunning dress she wore, noticed me in the back. She motioned for me to come up front with her. I was now right by the platform. Another beautiful woman, a renowned actress, was standing there too and she had a camera like mine. I told her I was so happy to see her camera and she immediately admonished me. She said that if she got into trouble, she was going to blame me. So you understand why I’m not mentioning her name. I think she would find me to this day.

After the ceremony, President Clinton had to leave in the helicopter for an important international meeting. Roger and I watched from the window of a small red room.
Ms. Wexler saw us. ”Have you already gone through the reception line for Mrs. Clinton. “
“No.” We didn’t want to tell her we hadn’t planned on it.
“Well you should. The Christmas Tree is beautiful.”
By then, we would do anything Ms. Wexler told us to do.

We got into the reception line just behind Joan Baez. Roger’s admiration for Joan goes way back, so he is always honored to talk with her. While standing there, the lady behind me got very excited during her conversation and her wine glass spilled onto the back of my dress. Within moments, two stylishly dressed ladies whisked me away to a powder room and began attending to my wet evening gown.

This was turning out to be another interesting blunder.  It was fascinating to listen to the ladies, who worked in the White House, explain to me that this type of accident is the very reason no red wine is served in White House receptions. The carpets are too precious to be harmed by the tip of a glass.

I got back to the reception line just I time to watch Joan Baez talk to Mrs. Clinton. I felt that maybe Mrs. Clinton was a bit in awe of Ms. Baez. Joan was totally serene. It was the only time I ever got to watch the First Lady up close and she surprised me with her charm. She was gracious.

After the reception, I was ready to sit. Roger and I found the bus for the trip to the center and sat in the front seats by the door. Once again, it was hard for us to keep our jaws shut as the “A” list boarded the bus like a college marching band. Joan got on, smiled at Roger and said “Rolling Thunder.” Wow... and all this because Pete Seeger lighted the path for Roger to become a folk singer.

When Roger began the “Folk Den” in 1995, Jim Musselman became intrigued and approached Roger to record some songs on disc for the folks who didn’t know how to download music. That was the moment when the idea to record the “old guard of folk music” in their homes became a reality. We packed our van and drove around the country to record the masters of folk for "Treasures From The Folk Den." Jim, the founder of Appleseed Records, was friends with Pete Seeger. He took us to Pete and Toshi’s home in Beacon, NY.
The original Seeger home built by friends with a hammer.

Pete showed us around the property and explained that he and Toshi wanted some land, but they didn’t have much money. They bought this parcel overlooking the Hudson and began building their home. I smiled when Pete said that every visitor they had was given a hammer. I began humming in my mind, “If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning…”

Toshi was a pioneer wife. They met at a square dance in New York City. Pete proudly told us the story of how she put the baby on her hip, walked down the hill with a bucket to the creek  and bought the bucket splashing with water back up the hill. 
Roger recording Pete Seeger for "Treasures From the Folk Den"
Roger recorded Pete in his living room on his laptop computer. I managed to hold the video camera reasonably still during one of the songs.  Toshi walked in, looked at our setup and declared, ”You have a half a million dollar recording studio in a box.” As Roger loves to say,  "She got it!"

After lunch, which Toshi prepared for us, we packed the computer, camera, microphones and headed to Jean Ritchie’s house with a jar of homemade jam that Toshi had given us to give to Jean.

We returned to the Seeger homestead several times. The last time we were there, I was a bit traumatized driving up the rutted road to their house in our van. Pete and Toshi came out to meet us. Then Peter jumped in his car to pick up some foreign reporters at the train station who were interviewing Roger and Pete together. Pete looked at his watch and told us to time him. He liked setting records.
The road to the Seeger homestead

 I asked Toshi if she ever drove that road. She replied,” I drive it every day.” She was in her 80s.
“Wow. I’ve always wondered how long I will be able to drive Roger around the country for concerts.” 
She touched my arm, looked into my eyes and softly said, “You will do it as long as you need too.”
Roger and I have been blessed to be in the presence of a great couple.  We will miss both of them but we will always have their inspiration to light our paths.