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Pete Seeger to headline festival


Folk legend Pete Seeger tops the list of musicians scheduled to perform at Common Ground on the Hill's annual American Music and Arts Festival July 7-8 at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster.

Seeger, 81, known for such classics as "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" and "If I Had A Hammer," will perform July 7. Joining him on stage will be his grandson, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, 23, who has been performing with Seeger for several years.

"There's automatic star power when you bring in someone like Seeger," said Don Schumaker, a spokesman for Western Maryland College, the site of Common Ground on the Hill's other programs. "People will come just to see him. Seeger is probably the biggest name we've ever had."

Event organizers are expecting about 5,000 people to attend the two-day event, up from about 3,000 at past festivals. The festival will include a wide range of musical performances, including blues, folk, bluegrass and gospel.

Common Ground on the Hill's programs are intended to promote diversity by bringing together people of varied backgrounds to learn about other cultures through music, art and philosophy.

Several music festival performers will also teach at Common Ground on the Hill sessions July 1-6 and July 8-13.

Seeger is no stranger to Common Ground on the Hill. A friend of Walt Michael, artist in residence at Western Maryland College and founder of Common Ground, Seeger has served on its board of directors since 1995.

Seeger, a vocalist and guitar and banjo player, has had a career stretching back to the 1930s. Commercial success came with the Weavers and their string of hits, including "Goodnight Irene" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine."

An outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, Seeger was embraced by younger audiences in the 1960s and influenced Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie and others. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Other performers will include:

Tom Chapin, brother of the late Harry Chapin, has recorded many children's and family songs. His most recent album, "This Pretty Planet," was nominated for a Grammy Award. He has received recognition from Parents' Choice, Parents Magazine and the American Library Association.

Former Bill Monroe Band member Bill Keith is considered one of the world's greatest banjo players. He invented the "Keith style" of playing. Keith has also performed with Muleskinner and other artists.

Robin Bullock is a Grammy Award winner and a founding member of the world-music trio Helicon. He plays six- and 12-string guitars, mandolin, cittern, fiddle, bass guitar and piano.

The festival also will include performances by three dance companies. They are Sankofa, a Baltimore-based African dance and drumming troupe; StepAfrika, one of the foremost stepping dance companies; and Footworks, a touring dance company that participated in the London production of Riverdance.

The festival also includes storytelling, poetry readings, a juried art and craft show, and a children's program. Performances will be from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Two-day festival tickets are $30. Saturday-only tickets are $20, and Sunday-only admission is $15. Admission for children ages 13-18 is $5 daily; children 12 and younger are admitted free.

Information: 410-857-2771.

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