Lots of musicians talk about the folk aesthetic as a shared bond, but Father Ronald Clingenpeel, an Episcopal minister and consultant from St. Louis via Nebraska, really walks the walk, leading local singalong tributes to Pete Seeger both here and in his hometown. And although he doesn’t stick strictly to Seeger’s own catalog on this live debut, he does offer up a cavalcade of folk warhorses that just about anyone vaguely familiar with the idiom can get into: “This Land is Your Land,” “Alberta,” “Buffalo Gals,” “Goodnight Irene,” “Michael Row the Boat Ashore.” Hallelujah.
They’re all here for your own personal singalong, those golden oldies that, as the Right Reverend probably knows very well, exhibit a remarkable durability, some of them a century or so on from their inception. (There’s even a cover of Dylan’s “Forever Young” and a brief original benediction.) The New Orleans half, which comes first, works the best, and not just because it took place right there in Buffa’s backroom: Sammy Foti and Olivia Greene’s Appalachian harmonies set everything off perfectly, accompanied only by guitar, banjo and slap bass. The Rev. doesn’t shy away from the music’s politics, either, delivering “Guantanamera” at a pivotal moment in Cuba’s history and issuing pointed takes on Seeger’s own “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” and his famously pagan rewrite of “Old Time Religion.”