Tao Rodriguez Seeger:
“I originally wrote Esta Vida for Plaza Sesamo (Mexican produced Sesame St). Esta Vida translates as, This Life, in Spanish. Part of me was just trying to steal some of Manu Chao’s reggae inspired, life affirmation mojo and another part of me was trying to write a Spanish version of Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. It’s a song about holding on to the essentials that make life worth living, celebrating and ultimately protecting and fighting for our right to live in harmony with nature and each other.”
“Well, May The World Go was written by my grandpa, Pete Seeger, back in the sixties. Looking back I marvel at his optimism in the face of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights struggles, nuclear power & weapons proliferation and rampant environmental & ecological degradation. The song recognizes that we might not accomplish everything we set out to do in our own lifetime and we have to keep faith that after we’re dead and gone our legacy will carry on without us. The Occupy movement is an actualization of that idea. My grandpa is ninety two years old and won’t live to see many of the exciting things that will happen as we continue making our way in the 21st century but his songs will live on long after he passes over. His music gives me comfort in hard times and hope when I’m feeling low. It would give me great joy if the same thing happens to you.”
“My involvement with the Occupy movement before this album was limited to helping to organize a midnight singing march after a concert to benefit the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater organization. I figured that if I could convince the performers to march and sing with me to Columbus Circle then I might also be able to convince the audience to join us. I got in touch with Phillip Winn who helped put me in touch with a few other OWS folks and thirty hours later we had a thousand person singing march down Broadway. We sang old songs like This Little Light Of Mine and We Shall Overcome. The police were very kind to us and one even went so far as to shake my hand and thank me for doing what we were doing. That it was beautiful! I took it as reaffirmation of the power music to do what rhetoric cannot. For a couple hours we made the streets of New York City ring out with song. Now if we could only get the politicians to make some music together.”
To answer your question, the Occupy movement is about people who up until now feel like they haven’t had the opportunity or the right to participate effectively in their own democracy. Hopefully this album can be a musical battle cry for the next American revolution.
Music is in his blood. Fusing the folk styles of his family heritage with contemporary rock-n-roll, Tao Seeger’s music breaks all barriers of traditional folk bringing a unique and distinctive sound to the table.
Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, Tao is the eldest grandchild of folk singer Pete Seeger. Tao spent his childhood in Nicaragua where his father, Emilio Rodriguez, was a war correspondent, making documentary films about the Sandinista revolution. With little access to pop music in Nicaragua, Tao cherished his AC/DC and Metallica cassettes as well as the two tapes he had of his grandfather’s music. Surrounded by the Nicaraguan revolution, here began the merging of rock’n’roll and folk music that would come to influence Tao in his musical career.
After nine years in Nicaragua, Tao returned to the United States and moved into the home of his grandparents, Pete and Toshi Seeger. Listening to his grandfather perform, Tao became frustrated with his grandfather’s poor Spanish and approached him. The legendary banjo picker turned the criticism around saying, “Well if it’s so bad, why don’t you help me out?” In 1986, a fourteen year old Tao joined his grandpa Pete at a Hiroshima Day rally in front of an audience of more than half a million people in Japan for their first concert together. Thus began the musical partnership between Tao and Pete that would take them around the world together.
Tao is co-founder of the folk/rock groups RIG (Rodriguez/Irion/Guthrie) with Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion and The Mammals with Mike & Ruthy Merenda. The Tao Seeger Band is a revolving cast of wonderful characters including Laura Cortese on fiddle and vocals, Jason Crosby on keyboards, Charlie Rose on pedal steel and banjo, Jake Silver on bass and Robin MacMillan on drums. Their music can be described as a fusion of rock’n’roll and folk with a “rootsy and psychedelic” sound. The newly formed band has performed at an impressive lineup of events including the 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Newport Folk Festival and The Clearwater Concert: Creating the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders at Madison Square Garden where they stood in as the evening’s house band. Together they have also toured throughout the northeast and Denmark. You can catch the Tao Seeger Band on tour this summer and at the Mountain Jam festival, Hudson River Clearwater festival, Winnipeg Folk festival, Vancouver Folk festival and the Newport Folk festival.
In 2007, Tao was featured in the Emmy winning documentary film, Pete Seeger – The Power of Song, where he performed at Carnegie Hall with Arlo Guthrie in his annual Thanksgiving concert. In January 2009, Tao performed at the inaugural concert for Barack Obama alongside Bruce Springsteen and Pete in front of over 1.5 million people. An exciting day but the chilling temperature proved to be too much for his guitar, which cracked during their inaugural performance. However, Tao will always consider it his lucky guitar because the President Elect took the time to sign it, “This Land Is Your Land – Barack Obama.” The May 2009 performance at Madison Square Garden was filmed for the PBS series Great Performances and will be made into a DVD that will be released later this year. Recently Tao was approached by Sesame Street to write and record two original songs for Plaza Sesamo, the Spanish edition of Sesame Street, and star in their music videos.
- Three-week tour of India with Pete Seeger in 1996
- Performed with the Salt Lake City Children’s Dance Company for the 2002 Winter Olympic opening ceremonies
- Organized the Free Speech Festival in 2006
- Singing at the annual School of the Americas rally in Columbus, GA for tens of thousands of protesters who’d taken a vow of peaceful assembly
- Precious Friend recording at Wolf Trap w/ Arlo & Pete
- Tao performed at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration with Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen
- Performed to a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden for The Clearwater Concert: Creating the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders, an event celebrating his grandfather’s 90th birthday.
- Has performed dates all around the world and headline some of the biggest festivals with his Grandfather Pete Seeger
- Recorded 2 songs for Plaza Sesamo (Spanish version of Sesame Street) and will be a special guest on the show for an upcoming episode (fall 2009)