Clearwater Festival: Pete Seeger, Ani DiFranco, others reflect on the music event
Reflections, memories and notable quotes about the Clearwater Festival, from Pete Seeger, festival performers, event staff and more.
Artist: Pete Seeger
Connection: Festival founder and frequent performer, including this year’s event
Seeger on Clearwater: “I certainly am proud of its success. I never thought that something that I had anything to do with would ever be so successful as the Clearwater organization.”
Name: Phil Ciganer
Connection: The festival's first director, 1978-1981
Ciganer on how the Folk Picnic came to be renamed The Great Hudson River Revival: “Changing the title of the event was something we wrestled with for several months. It was Pete Seeger who really liked the name ‘revival.’ I recall that he lit up when it was suggested, saying ‘wouldn't it be wonderful, having a revival on the banks of the Hudson.’" (Seeger is pictured at the 1982 Clearwater Festival.)
Artist: Ani Di Franco
Connection: Recurring performer; most recently played in 2012
DiFranco on Clearwater: "Pete and Toshi [Seeger] and the whole Clearwater organization's endeavoring to clean up the Hudson River, and keep it clean, is a wonderful thing. And the community that's sprung up around the festival is like family to me. It's my folk family."
Artist: Dar Williams, singer-songwriter
Connection: Recurring performer; most recently played in 2011
Williams on Clearwater: "It really has an ethos of faith in people power...and it's reflected in who they book to play and how much emphasis is put on the Hudson River, with sort of a quiet agreement that we all have to take care of it together."
Dar Williams on Pete Seeger (pictured): “I remember being [at the festival] in 1997 with Pete and walking through the woods. And as people passed by and told him their earliest memories of seeing him play, he was talking to me about invasive species and pointing them all out to me. [Laughs] It’s that spirit of ‘it’s not about me, it’s about us’ that Pete has, which is very much the festival.”
Artist: Toshi Reagon
Connection: Toshi Seeger’s goddaughter; recurring performer; playing at this year’s festival with Big Lovely
Reagon on performing at Clearwater’s Hudson Stage: "We get to play on that stage by the water, which I love the most. Every year since we've been playing there, the crowd gets a little bigger. So I feel like I have a date at that stage with people, which is nice."
Toshi Reagon on her first visit to the Clearwater Festival as a child, and seeing her godmother Toshi Seeger (pictured at left with her husband, Pete): “When I showed up, she told me I was going to be a litter picker, and she put a trash bag in my hand and told me I was going to pick up garbage. [Laughs] It’s always an amazing treat for me to go to the festival and see her...that’s like probably the biggest joy.”
Name: Steve Lurie (pictured with his wife, Nina, and daughter Jadyn Rose)
Connection: Festival director, 2010-present
Lurie on attending with his family: "My daughter has been coming to this festival since she was 6 months old. The first year when I’d go on stage to announce an artist, I’d take my daughter, so I was sharing my first Father’s Day weekend [with her at Clearwater]. So now in my fourth year at the festival, [there is the] parallel of seeing my daughter grow up at the festival."
Steve Lurie on his vision for Clearwater's future: "I’d like to see this festival continue to grow in the number of people that attend. We get about 20,000 over the course of the weekend. I’d like to see 100,000 people come over the weekend...and grow to more days than just two. No matter [its size], I still want it to be a festival that Pete and Toshi [Seeger] would be proud of. Because if they’re not, then it’s not the Clearwater Festival." The 2012 event is pictured.
Name: Jeff Rumpf
Connection: Executive director of the Clearwater organization, 2007-present
Rumpf on Clearwater's diverse musical lineup: "I’m looking for that person that Steve [Lurie] finds from small corners of the world. ... I’m looking for the thing that’s going to surprise. That’s one of the fun things about the festival, you just don’t go for your old favorites. You go to discover something totally new."
Name: Jimmy Griffin (pictured at the 2012 festival)
Connection: Event volunteer; met his wife at the at the Clearwater Festival more than 20 years ago
Griffin on volunteering at the festival: "Volunteering allows me to be in a place where everyone is happy and doing good things. I have dreams that I call ‘Clearwater dreams,’ where everyone is cooperative and doing something meaningful."