In case you are unaware, this website is a “blog”. “Blogging” began as sort of a hobby – evolving from online diaries and journals, which actually evolved out of forums and newsgroups dating back to the 1980’s. Blogs have given creative freedom to millions across the planet. Last month, a blog search engine called Technorati announced that there are over 106 million blogs in existence, with new blogs being added every second!

Most of these blogs are simple diaries. People discussing their personal lives including events that may just be a bit too much information! Others use their blogs as soapboxes to spout their opinions on everything under the sun. There is an old saying about opinions and a certain body part that I find particularly true. I guess no one can make a blog without expressing their opinion. While I am just as guilty, I have tried to make this blog something more – sharing news about the folk music community.

Well, a few bloggers got together and came up with an idea that is starting to spread – and as the old advertisment claimed – unleashes the power of the Internet at your fingertips.

Today is “Blog Action Day” – an event that has been organized in a true grass roots fashion. They have put forward the suggestion that today, October 15, all bloggers discuss ONE topic – and this year the topic is the environment.

With a site dedicated to folk music, the subject of the environment is close to our heart.

Those of you who had a chance to listen to my radio show yesterday (WFDU-FM’s TRADITIONS) heard an interview with film maker Jim Brown about his latest film “Pete Seeger: The Power of Song“. We discussed Pete’s work with Clearwater – an environmental group that Pete inspired into existence. In 1966, Pete had an idea to recreate a sloop – a style of boat that dated back to the 18th century and at one time was a popular vessel on the Hudson River. With his home overlooking the Hudson, Pete had taken up sailing and was appalled by the garbage in the river. The Hudson River was a garbage dump – human waste, chemicals and all sorts of debris floated in the river. In the days before ecological consciousness took hold, businesses were actually encouraged to dump into the river.

Pete’s idea was to create a boat that would teach. People would come to the river to sail on the boat and see the damage that was being done. When Pete first came up with the idea, he was met with a lot of resistance. The Vietnam War was still going on. The Civil Rights movement was ongoing. Many people felt that building a boat would detract from those struggles and that the idea would not work.

Of course, Pete proved them wrong. The Clearwater was launched in 1969.

Think globally, act locally. It worked.

Today, you can swim in parts of the Hudson. Fish are returning. The Clearwater made a difference. The work that Pete started and was soon undertaken by dedicated volunteers made it possible for legislation to be enacted to clean up the river.

In addition to hundreds of sails during the season, the Clearwater also brings people to the river with their annual festival. Even more important, the Clearwater has served to inspire similar organizations across the country.

Contact the Clearwater at 112 Little Market St. in Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. Their phone number is 845-454-7673 and you can visit them on the web at .

The environment should not be a political issue. It is not a question of Republican versus Democrat or liberal versus conservative. It takes two eyes and an open mind to see what is happening and how it can be changed.

In our own backyard there is a wonderful group called the Hackensack Riverkeeper. WFDU is located on the campus of my alma mater, Fairleigh Dickinson University. The river splits the campus of FDU into the Hackensack and Teaneck sides. You can see the river from most parts of the campus, and when I was a student I certainly remember smelling the river.

Thanks to Hackensack Riverkeeper, the river is in better shape then when I was a student in 1975. There is still a great deal of work to be done. Hackensack Riverkeeper is serving as a protector of the enviroment – working with federal, state and local officials to identify polluters and to enforce the legislation that is protecting the river. Hackensack Riverkeeper promotes sustainable development of the river environment, which will help correct the damage done to the river over the decades.

Contact Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inc. at 231 Main Street in Hackensack, NJ 07601-7304. Their phone number is 201-968-0808 and you can visit them on the web at

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Everyone had a wondeful time at the Hurdy Gurdy this past Saturday. While all of us were still mourning the untimely passing of board member Dennis Kruithof, we all witnessed the healing power of music.

Donal Clancy gave a stellar performance. This was actually the first time Donal performed as a solo artist – with the exception of a few workshops in which he participated with others. Donal gave us a virtuoso display of his skills on the guitar, and proved himself to be a wonderful storyteller as well. Check out his website – .

Emily Smith and her band showed the audience all the reasons why she is so highly regarded in Europe. The audience that gathered for her New Jersey debut were treated to a wonderful set that blended traditional song with Emily’s original compositions, all steeped in the rich heritage of her Scottish home. With her husband Jamie McClennan on fiddle and Ross Milligan on guitar, Emily joined in on keyboards and accordian and the band displayed their talents with an energetic and inspiring performance.

It was an exciting evening, bittersweet with the loss of Dennis, but inspring all those attended with the power of song.

The next Hurdy Gurdy performance will be Saturday November 3rd at 8:00pm when we present DAVID MALLETT with special guest JOE JENCKS. Based on early ticket sales, we expected a full house – so don’t get shut out, buy your tickets today. Online tickets can be purchased on the “ticket order” page at

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Speaking of tickets, they are going very fast for the November 9th concert featuring Pete Seeger & Friends at FDU’s Wilson Auditorium in Hackensack, presented by WFDU-FM. Get more information on ordering tickets at .

About Ron Olesko

For over 40 years, Ron has been a radio programmer with WFDU-FM in Teaneck, New Jersey. He created WFDU-FM's TRADITIONS in 1980, a show that he continues to host and produce every Sunday afternoon from 3 to 6pm Eastern Time. He's the president of and booker for the Hurdy Gurdy Folk Music Club in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, and is a regular contributor to Sing Out! as well as the host of the Folk Music Notebook blog on this site. Ron can also be found emceeing concerts and festivals around the NYC/NJ area. A lifelong Mets fan and a rabid soccer geek, Ron is a Red Bull season ticket holder since their inception and will most likely be in his seat when not in the studio.



  1. I fondly recall the massive folk music rallies in New York City in the early 1960s. The music was everwhere. It was several years before that the Weavers folks music with full orchestra made musical history with "Goodnight Irene," "Tzena," and "On Top of Old Smokey." Those songs were the stimulus for what was to follow. <BR/><BR/>There were many good musicians that formed folk music groups and it

  2. Thank you for participating in Blog Action Day. <BR/><BR/>I did not participate.<BR/><BR/>However, I did write a belated post about an environmental issue that is important to me. I see a lot of people using a product in luxury homes that is very destructive in a number of ways. Check out this post, please:<BR/><BR/><BR/>BRAZILIAN TEAK FLOORS, SLAVE LABOR, AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE RAIN