Jens Kruger on Pete Seeger

Jens KrugerJens Kruger, banjoist, composer and the 2013 recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music, has shared his thoughts on the passing of Pete Seeger, and how Pete’s music touched he and his brother as young boys growing up in Europe.

When I heard this morning that Pete had passed away my heart hurt. I knew that he was old and that he would not be here forever, but he had changed my life so much and was always around that I never imagined a world without him.

Pete Seeger with his long neck banjoI remember the first photo I ever saw of a 5-string banjo. It was a long neck Pete Seeger model. Later when I saw all the other regular banjos I always felt like the banjo necks were too short.

When Uwe was 10 or 11 years old, a good friend gave him the Pete Seeger Songbook. It became our first source of American folk music and for years to come we learned many songs from it.

Pete Seeger became my inspiration for what the banjo could do. On the back cover of the blue Pete Seeger book was a picture of Pete sitting underneath a tree holding his banjo and group of children siting around him. This picture is still present in my head today and reminds me of how music can connect us all through the power of hope, happiness and peace. For Pete it was was never about the show, always about the togetherness and the embrace of the positive energies in all of us.

The connecting of people through the singing of songs accompanied by the strumming sounds of a banjo will forever be remembered by the name of Pete Seeger.

He had changed the word into a better place for all, and I am deeply thankful to know that I have had him as a role model in my life.