Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
A large part of Tuesday night's audience at Wolf Trap turned out for a glimpse of the 1960s through a rear-view mirror.
Pete Seeger, American's senior folkie, and Ario Guthrie, he of "Alice's Restaurant" fame, sold out Wolf Trap and in the process had a surprise or two for their devotees. The May-December duo opened with "The Midnight Special," and Seeger offered the expected complement of protest songs, union songs, train songs, and ditties.
"Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "Freight Train," Peggy Seeger's wry feminist philippic "I Want to Be An Engineer," and a tune exhorting resistance to the Seabrook, N.H. nuclear power plant pleased the Seeger hard core.
Seeger and Guthrie, however, had come with something else in mind.
The smashing, eclectic 2 1/2-hour performance included John Lemmon and Paul McCartney's "I've just Seen a Face," a send-up of polka and calypso rhythms done by Guthrie on the electric piano, a Sicilian tarantella, and a haunting flute melody taken by Seeger from a Chinese workers' opera.
Guthrie checked in with a rollicking "City of New Orleans," "Amazing Grace," and a rambling monologue in the Alice's Restaurant tradition concerned with 15-foot clams in our coastal waters and the history of the Clam Shell Alliance.
There was the unexpected appearance of a horn section, complete with funny hats, and a ragtime piece by Dave Van Ronk worked into an unpredictable and completely professional set. Despite the risky song selection, and the humor, both performers clung tenaciously to their dignity.
Seeger, in particular, remains an appealing performer exhorting the crowd to join him in song. Taking a courtly bow, fumbling banjo picks like change for his coffee, Seeger cuts a strangely gallant figure.His rendition of "If I Had a Hammer" mid-way through the concert sparked a spontaneous standing ovation from a crowd grateful that Seeger has held on to his anger and his art.