Ellen and I are long-time fans of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. I’d seen them twice in the 1980s, but Ellen hadn’t, so this past Friday, when she saw that Peter Yarrow of the group would be performing at nearby Stockton State College, she said, “Let’s go!” And we did. When we arrived, Peter was seated outside the Performing Arts Center signing his books for children (Including lovely picture-book and pop-up versions of “Puff the Magic Dragon”).
There were about 200 people at the show, many our age or older, but also a contingent of high-schoolers, and many waited in line for a personal moment with the artist, who was enjoying meeting and talking to everyone.
Inside, it was a fine, fun show. Peter is getting up there in age, doesn’t sing real well, but he clearly loves what he does, and his enthusiasm, sense of humor, and stories about his life and career greatly enhanced the experience. He did some new songs, including “Never Give Up,” a new personal anthem co-written with the Dalai Lama, and plenty of numbers from the Peter, Paul and Mary catalog, including Mary’s hit, John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” and Paul’s “Wedding Song,” written by Noel Paul Stookey for Peter’s own wedding, and still very popular at weddings today. (We had it performed at ours.) The highlight of the evening for many, including Ellen, was the chance to join Peter on stage to perform “Puff,” that’s her in the pink shirt in the back. Peter began by inviting all the children present to join him, but when it became clear there weren’t many in this audience (he’d done an afternoon show geared for kids), he broadened the invitation to “children under 60.”
Here’s an excerpt from that performance to give you the flavor. We had a wonderful time.