For fun this past weekend, Pat and I attended the New York City version of Wavy Gravy’s 75th birthday celebration. It was just a gossamer disguise for yet another fund-raiser for the Seva Foundation, an organization that does and has been doing lots of good deeds hither and yon. Seva has worked with the World Health Organization and leading international ophthalmology people to prevent and treat blindness, promoted health and literacy for girls and women, created healthy water management systems for indigenous people, developed innovative ways to address diabetes in Native American communities, and completed many other successful projects.
The Friday soiree we attended was great fun. It featured a lot of happy folks in the historic Beacon Theater. Pat and I were cosily ensconsed very close to the stage and it was dark, so I have little idea how full the house was. It sounded like there were a lot of folks there. There was what I perceived as some good nautured hooting when some early video feeds (a trailer for Michelle Esrick’s “Saint Misbehaving”) didn’t quite work correctly. At the second video interlude, however, Larry Brilliant took care of that matter by reminding the audience of his history in solving problems while with a certain Internet start-up company and asking that people help him count down as the next video began, which it did by the he got to “eight.”
Of course, the musical acts were the reason for a lot of the fun. They were outstanding. I didn’t take complete notes about the playlists, so I’ll just provide the artists in order and snippets about what they did here:
- Buffy Sainte-Marie’s opening set included, of course, Universal Soldier
- Dr John’s set include “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Around” and “Such a Night” then he and Ms. Sainte-Marie collaborate on a medley that ended with “Jock-A-Mo (Iko Iko)
- Jorma Koukonen & Barry Mitterhoff came on a did a number, were joined by Steven Kimock for several more.
- Bruce Hornsby sang “Darlin’ Corey” and then went into a song he introduced as coming from his musical comedy “SCKBSTD” about a woman who wants to take a baseball bat to her husbands head; he finished his solo part with “Talk of the Town” before being joined by Mr. Koukonen, Mr. Kimock, and Mr. Mitterhoff for a lively run through Jesse Fuller’s “Blues by SF Bay.”
- Wavy introduced an intermission: “Go spend dead presidents on souvenirs so blind people won’t bump into things.”
- Steve Earle began the second session by saying Allison Moorer would not join him, as their son was ill. He was changing his set list, and opened with “Every Part of Me.” Jorma Kaukonen joined him for a bluesy number. He also did “This City.”
- Ani DiFranco sang about getting old, which was witty and appropo, of course.
- Jackson Browne opened with a familiar song, played something I didn’t know that he introduced as triggered by a letter from a woman from 38 year s earlier, switched to the piano, commented that he wasn’t accustomed to creating playlists and after talking with other performers had selected the following song then launched into “Before the Deluge”; then he returned to the guitar to finish his set with “Running on Empty.”
- Larry Brilliant introduced another video clip; this one might have been about the camp.
The next act was Crosby & Nash, joined by a four-piece band, who opened with “8 Miles High,” after which Mr. Crosby quipped something about a “history lesson.” They played a couple of other pieces, including singing an a capella query about finding the people who run the country and imploring them to pursue peace, piped in some choral work by Crosby, and played another piece by Nash, and then ended with “Wooden Ships.”
- The artists assembled and sang “Teach Your Children” as the finale. Wavy encouraged everyone to do good deeds. And the show ended.
Wavy Gravy’s Cake
Later that night (actually the next morning!), there was a celebration. As David Crosby had noted on stage, it proabably wasn’t really Wavy’s birthday, but there had to be celebration anyway. So there was a cake and an extinguishing of candles. And, what the heck, there were funds to be raised. Go forth and support Seva.org