Pete Seeger: To Hear Your Banjo Play (1946)

This past weekend, Pete Seeger marched through the streets of Manhattan with the Occupy Wall Street movement. He was a spritely 92. It was the latest in a lifetime of political engagement by Seeger, dating all the way back to his youthful support of the Spanish Civil War. Today we bring you a film of Seeger when he was only 27 years old: To Hear Your Banjo Play. Released in 1946, To Hear Your Banjo Play is an engaging 16-minute introduction to American folk music, written and narrated by Alan Lomax and featuring rare performances by Woody Guthrie, Baldwin Hawes, Sonny Terry, Brownee McGhee, Texas Gladden and Margot Mayo’s American Square Dance Group. To Hear Your Banjo Play is included in our collection, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, Documentaries & More.

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Related Content:

Legendary Folklorist Alan Lomax’s ‘The Land Where the Blues Began’

Pete Seeger Teaches You How to Play Guitar for Free in The Folksinger’s Guitar Guide (1955

The Powerful Messages That Woody Guthrie & Pete Seeger Inscribed on Their Guitar & Banjo: “This Machine Kills Fascists” and “This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces it to Surrender”

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Comments (7)
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  • I shot Pete in 1977 when he played in White Springs, FL. He was about 60 and I was about 30. At the time, I thought he looked old. Today, I look at the photos and think, “Gee, Pete sure looked young in those days.”

    Seeing his as a REAL young man is a treat.

  • Eva Lazaar (Cohen) says:

    For always – my strength to fight for and believe in democracy – everyone has a right to compromise! – Living together – in peace – no one over another, accepting majority

  • guy quate says:

    I was just watching on netflix ,,The Pete Seeger, program on his show he had Johnny Cash ,June Carter and Roscoe Holcomb great show

  • Stephen Becker says:

    Thanks a-plenty for posting this great little gem by Lomax with “real folk” folk singers and the tnen new folk songwriters (Woody) and the folk song revival folk singers (Pete Seeger). The “script” cooked up is amateurish and fun, but the song and dance are true time capsules of what some today might say are the grandparents and great grand parents of the latest thing, “Americana.” Lomax was a true American hero, lugging around those monster recording machines, and trying every kind of recording technology from sound to motion pictures…He and his father never have gotten recognition for all they did, from Leadbelly to Woody, prison gang work songs to square dance callers…..Pete’s still goin’, and so is Rambling Jack, and so is that controversial Zimmerman kid who got to meet his hero Woody, as he lay dying in that hospital room.

  • Miriam says:

    My father, Lou Rosenblum, appears in the film in the dance sequence dancing (I believe) with Margot Mayo. He is now 90 years old. Are any other dancers, who were members of the American Square Dance Group in NYC, still around? I (and my father) would love to know and hear from you!

  • Ron Turner says:

    Hello Lou,
    I danced in Margot Mayo’s group. I was 17 when the film was made. I had a hard time identifying myself – let alone anybody else. I accompanied the group on the piano occasionally. Those were good days – filled with the vigor of youth and a powerful idealism. I live in Seattle now – spent most of my life around Philadelphia.
    My best

  • Miriam says:

    Ron – This is Miriam Rosenblum, Lou Rosenblum’s daughter. Glad to hear from another alumnus of the American Square Dance Group of the 1940’s. I will be in Seattle Feb 14-18. Can we be in touch?

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