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Historic audio from the WYSO Archives

Folk Music DNA: The Seeger Family, Antioch College and WYSO

WYSO has aired lots of different kinds of music in its 56-year history, but folk music, the soundtrack of the 1960s, is particularly well represented in our audio archives. Students and volunteers recorded many folk concerts and festivals at Antioch College and elsewhere over the decades. Various members of the Seeger family - perhaps the most prominent family in American folk music in the late 20th century - are found frequently in our collection.

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Pete Seeger in the 1960s

Some people have folk music in their DNA. Like Pete Seeger, recorded at the Newport Folk Festival in 1960, just two years after WYSO first went on the air. We have several tapes of this iconic musician in the Archives. Here’s Pete Seeger in the early Sixties, from a concert right here on Antioch’s campus.

Pete Seeger performs "There Was An Old Lady" at Antioch College in the early 60s.

Children’s songs were staples of the folk repertoire. Pete’s half sister Peggy Seeger came to Antioch in the fall of 1961, and her concert made it to the WYSO airwaves, too. She got the audience to sing along with this traditional African American folk song, John the Rabbit.

Peggy Seeger performs "John the Rabbit" with the help of the Antioch College crowd in 1961.

Both Seegers often played music that reflected their progressive politics. Labor songs, civil rights songs, anti-war songs, and feminist songs were always on the playlist. Here’s Peggy Seeger again from that same Antioch concert.

Peggy Seeger performs "When I Was Single" at Antioch College in 1961.

Alice Gerrard and Peggy Seeger continue to make music; both released new albums in 2014

Another Seeger sibling, Mike, came to Yellow Springs with his musical partner and then wife, Alice Gerrard, thirty-four years ago. Alice was no stranger to WYSO; she attended Antioch in the late 50s, where she was inspired to take up guitar and learn traditional Appalachian folk songs. Here’s Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard recorded live in concert at Antioch’s Kelly Hall auditorium.

Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard perform "St. Louis Blues" at Antioch College's Kelly Hall in 1980.

Mike Seeger died in 2009, and Pete Seeger passed away last January, but Peggy Seeger at 79 and Alice Gerrard at 80, are still playing folk music. Both released new albums in 2014.

Here’s a little more from Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard’s 1980 concert.

Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard perform "Cluck Old Hen" at Antioch College

Major funding for Rediscovered Radio is provided by the Ohio Humanities Council and the Greene County Public Library. The WYSO digital audio archives will open for public listening in 2015.

Jocelyn Robinson is a Yellow Springs, OH-based educator, media producer, and radio preservationist.