Paul Stein uses his accordion, melodica, claviola, voice, & original songs to support peace, justice, & the environment. Co-founder of The Occuponics, who were active throughout Occupy Wall Street, he can be heard at marches, demonstrations, rallies, & vigils all around the New York City area, often with the Filthy Rotten System band.
One of the more endearing performances (SPOILER ALERT – the young daughter of the singer Joel Landy with another young friend steal the show, but he still manages to do a rousing job) at the Peoples’ Voice Cafe Pete Seeger tribute sing-along this past Saturday night. It was a wonderful evening with many great folk/protest singers on stage and over 200 people joining in. Margaret Pinskiy and I mixed and miked the show.
The Occuponics had the honor of marching with Pete when he marched from 92nd Street to Columbus Circle back in October 2011 to express his support of Occupy Wall Street. We learned a lot about what it takes to keep the music happening on a long march, actively appliy these lessons to our work with Guitarmy, a project loosely affiliated with the OWS Music Group.
Thanks to the wonderful friend and folksinger Steve Suffet for turning us onto this great video taken of Pete Seeger in Melburne, Australia, back in 1963. As Steve points out, this video captures Pete doing what he does best: getting a lot of people to sing great solidarity-building songs together.
On Friday, October 22, The Occuponics performed a long set of music at Zuccotti Park (AKA Liberty Square), and were informed by a friend that one of their heroes, Pete Seeger, would be appearing uptown at Symphony Space and might even lead a march down to Columbus Circle to express solidarity with OWS. So although the band was very tired, they journeyed uptown and were on site when crowds began forming outside the theater where Pete was performing.
Taking advantage of the fact that a large throng of people had gathered but no music could be heard at that time, they played Paul Stein’s “The Occupy Wall Street Song” several time before a highly receptive audience. A few minutes later, people began emerging from the doors and the march began forming. This large procession of some 1,000 people began moving peacefully down Broadway, with police guiding the throng so that vehicular traffic would not be encumbered. Pete Seeger called out the songs, and our spirits were lifted when we saw the 92-year old Seeger making rapid progress towards Columbus Circle accompanied by friends, family, and musicians.
Marching with Pete Seeger was an inspiring experience for the band, and several songs performed on the march, including “This Little Light of Mine,” “Ain’t Going To Nobody Turn Us Around,” and, of course, “We Shall Overcome,” found their way into the band’s repertoire.