George Kilby Jr., Torsten Lefmann & Fistful Of Dollars
The Seeger Legacy carries on the musical traditions of Pete Seeger and other great songwriters who inspired social change. The group plays some of the ground breaking songs that Seeger wrote or collected, but more importantly, they carry the message into the 21st century with original songs written by George Kilby Jr and songs co-written by Kilby and Torsten Lefmann. Each concert features the band’s unique renditions of classics, their original material, and includes short talks by Kilby and Lefmann in Danish and English.
The May 1st political holiday is particularly significant to the group because of their yearly concerts at Copenhagen’s Faelledparken celebration. (’13, ’16, ’17 ’18). Like the singers that spearheaded the labor union movement in the 30’s, the band continues an undying support of the worker. Their aim is to raise awareness of real problems in today’s work force including the decline of union membership, increased automation, and the peer-to-peer economy.
Kilby toured the Northeast US with Seeger’s grandson, Tao Rodriguez Seeger in 2012 and later wrote two songs influenced by the Seeger tradition. “You never see the Hand Throw the Stone” includes the theme of racism, and references the classic “We shall Overcome”, the most well known song associated with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. “When the People Sang” champions the defining element of a Seeger concert – the singalong. Kilby’s song on the environment, “The Earth Song”, brings a message of hope.
Political figures like Trump in the US and Joachim B Olsen and Inger Støjberg in Denmark are of great concern to many people. Historical figures like Gandhi, MLK, Guthrie, and Seeger were advocates of peaceful resistance and worked tirelessly for change. The musicians carry those ideals into our time with this important and worthwhile project.
In the Seeger Legacy concert, George Kilby Jr and Torsten Lefmann speak in Danish and English as well as lead audiences through a musical history of our struggle for fairness in the workplace, racial equality, and a cleaner environment. The are backed by the dynamic “Fisftul of Dollars” from Copenhagen. The one hour show features the band’s interpretations of classics written by the forefathers of this movement such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Marley, and Seeger, but more importantly, their original songs.
The 8 songs in a typical concert are below. As well the text illustrates a few of the highlights in the performance.
1. If I had a Hammer
2. When the People Sang
3. I don’t want your Millions
4. Black Man on the Corner
5. Get Up, Stand Up
7. Talking Union
8. We Shall Overcome
At the beginning of the program, Lefmann leads the band on his unique rendition of “If I had a Hammer” which is very unlike Seeger’s own. This shows the audience immediately that the concert and lecture is not just a recycling of old songs and themes. Kilby recalls the story of his time working with Seeger’s grandson Tao, and how that experience inspired him to write “When the People Sang. ” He explains how the song recalls the times when so many people, young and old, showed their opposition to government policy by singing together at public protests.
Later in the program, Lefmann speaks about how Bob Marley shined the spotlight on Jamaica and Africa’s struggles for racial and economic equality. The band’s version of the song, which mixes country music and Reggae, show the audience that this is truly a world-wide issue. As the show progresses, Kilby speaks about the creation of labor unions in the 20’s and delivers a folk song that almost 100 years old. The audience cannot help but dance when Kilby and the band perform the tune in a Hip-Hop/Funk/Rap style. With the audience already on their feet, Kilby, Lefmann, and the band end the program by walking into the audience to lead them in “We Shall Overcome”.