Two PETE SEEGER Stories in one … by HAL MEYERS the Banjo Guy aka DAMEON - the Magician

Peter Seeger's passing was not really a shock, I would imagine a lot of people didn't know he was still around, he certainly lived a full life reaching many generations and gathering fans of all ages over the years.

Pete Seeger with his 12 string guitar

I saw a live concert by Pete Seeger when I was in Ramapo College, my room-mate and I went to see him at a local high school … actually shook his hand and talked to him for a few "moments" - what an experience … a real hero of mine. 

As a matter of fact it was because of Pete Seeger that I was first drawn to the banjo. I love "folk" music and wanted to buy a long neck banjo just like Pete's. I had finally saved up enough money when I was in high school … I went into NYC to Manny's Music - a favorite ritual I performed many times. And the week prior to my planned purchase they had two Vega Long-Neck Banjos (made by Martin Guitar) in the store in a cabinet in the rear - right hand side. The same two that had been there for a very, very long time. The day I showed up to buy one … both were gone. Martin Guitar, from what I recall, went on strike that week and someone came in and bought both banjos the day before I got there. So, I guess it wasn't meant to be. But I eventually bought a standard sized 5 string and was able to play a bunch of "Seeger tunes" - even with a shortener neck). I just love the music …he will be missed … but remembered.

Deering Banjo's Long Neck Banjo - Really Sweet

Martin Guitar's Pete Seeger Commemorative 12 String Guitar

And … on another Seeger note (no pun intended) … as Dameon - el magic - I had the chance to make "Will Smith" (yes, THE Will Smith) magically appear on Broadway for the introduction to his "Willennium" album (November 1999). I got a call from a good friend, a working magical entertainer, Mark Mitton, who had a contact at Sony. It seems there was another gentlemen/illusionist who had sold Will S (or Sony - I don't know who) on the idea of being produced magically for the introduction of his new album, and this "other magi" was involved prior to my getting a call from Mark, who was my direct contact to Sony. 

As it turned out, Sony was in a bit of a jam, they were kind of freaking out as the other magi's promised "Illusion/prop" was not fully constructed and there were only a few days to go before the event. Mark knew I did corporate events and made executives of all shapes and sizes magically appear on stage, so he called me. I happened to have the perfect illusion on hand; a set of four - what looked like -  "road cases" that when stacked and opened reveal an impossible production of who or whomever you want. The only minor glitch, I was told, was that Sony had already paid the "other guy" for his time, planning and construction of the un-finished/un-tested prop and had no more money in their budget. I agreed to do jump in and produce "Will" whether they had any compensation or not. 

Hey, sometimes you just help out … even if it's SONY. Plus it gave me a chance to get some of our brand new SKYLINERS into the hands of the crowd - which SONY purchased (another story).

And … since I said I would help, money or no money, they were very pleased, actually I think they were shocked I didn't demand a "fee" …  and they asked if I'd like to select X number of albums/CD's from their catalog. I agreed. Turns out, they had a huge number of Peter Seeger albums … so … I figured … sure. Therfore … I made Will Smith magically appear on Broadway, in November, in front of the then TOWER Records store, for all the Pete Seeger and Folk-ish albums in the Sony catalog. 

An interesting trade to say the least; one I certainly don't regret.