Jesse Drew

met Pete Seeger during the making of his documentary on the politics of country music. A rough mix of Open Country was screened and presented by Jesse and Glenda Drew at last January's Retort, during which they learned that the new Billboard category "Country and Western" was a McCarthy-era (December 1949) coinage intended to break the lineage with political "folk" (e.g. Guthrie, the Almanacs and the Weavers). Jesse himself worked as a sound engineer at Dolby Labs in San Francisco and recently as director of Technocultural Studies at UC Davis, where he specializes in digital arts, media archaeology, documentary studies and the history of labor. He contributed "The Commune as Badlands as Utopia as Autonomous Zone" to West of Eden (PM Press, 2012) where he described himself as "a young teenage runaway, who roamed the United States and thrived thanks to a strong network of urban and rural communes and collectives, spending many years as a labor activist in traditional smokestack industries before becoming involved in grassroots video production and the nascent digital arts movement."

Real Revolutionaries Carry a Banjo

Real Revolutionaries Carry a Banjo

It struck me in the months afterwards that Pete Seeger embodied two of the most important characteristics I value in a revolutionary. He truly believed in the power of ordinary people to act for social change on a mass level.