Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No more Peter, Paul and Mary?

I guess it's hard to become accustomed to the impermanence of everything in life. An annual appearance by the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary at Wolf Trap seemed like it would be eternal, but no. The trio has aged and Mary is no longer able to perform. They are another group that I have known since my youth and actually personally met at various antiwar events going back to protesting the Vietnam War in high school. Thank you, PP&M, for always raising your voices in solidarity with people struggling for peace, for the environment, for racial equality. Mary, our prayers are with you as you continue your battle with leukemia.

Folk icons no longer able to perform together
Neal Augenstein,
August 19, 2009 - 8:52am

WASHINGTON - Iconic folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, whose songs have attempted to unite people for nearly 50 years, will likely never perform together again on stage, WTOP has learned.

"We are no longer going to be able to perform together," Peter Yarrow tells WTOP.

Band member Mary Travers is suffering from serious lung inflammation, related to her decades-long battle with leukemia.

"It is my sense the band will not be able to perform live again, in the absence of some kind of medical turnaround, which is unexpected."

Yarrow says Travers gamely performed in several concerts earlier this year, although her condition required her to be seated in a wheelchair, breathing with the assistance of oxygen tanks.

"The doctor has said to us that this is no longer viable for her to do. It's too dangerous. It's not worth it," said Yarrow.

Yarrow and Stookey will perform at Wolf Trap Saturday. He says they'll be "celebrating Mary and our 50 years of friendship."

The duo performed without Travers several weeks ago in Philadelphia.

"It was very odd and difficult singing with her when she was compromised and in a wheelchair, and it's odd again singing without her."

With an audience ranging from people who first heard the trio in Greenwich Village to their grandchildren, Yarrow says, "I know when we sing 'Puff the Magic Dragon' and 'Blowin' In the Wind' and 'Leaving On a Jet Plane' and 'If I Had a Hammer,' that magically Mary will appear."

Yarrow says he remains upbeat about future projects with Travers and Stookey.

"I was just with her a few days ago, hanging out, having a wonderful time, so we are not through, in that sense. We are no longer going to be able to perform together, but there are other things we're contemplating doing."

As one possibility, Yarrow envisions a series of books with illustrations for children.

"We're sad, but we do not dwell on it. We are mostly focused on being grateful for all we have shared," says Yarrow.

After 50 years of friendship and almost that much time performing together, Yarrow is digesting the reality.

"No more 'Peter, Paul and Mary?' I know, it's quite shocking. Have we performed our last concert? It's quite possibly the case."


One of Peter, Paul and Mary's many appearances for peace I have witnessed:

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