Music ReviewsPop/Rock/FolkREVIEWSTom Williams

Peter & Paul’s Tribute to Mary at Ravinia 2010

At Ravinia Highland Park

Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey

July 20, 2010

Tuneful, nostalgic trip back to my youth was emotionally drenching

Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stooky returned to Ravinia to pay tribute to Mary Travers who passed on September 16, 2010 at age 72.  For me it was my 6 or 7th time to be at a P, P & M hootenanny and it brought back fond memories from those wild times in the 1960’s. Peter , Paul & Mary made  folk music mainstream and they influenced social and political movements for 50 years.

Peter Yarrow told me – listen to my podcast with Peter at where he talks about Mary and the groups longevity.

Mary Travers
Mary Travers

He said, “Mary is gone but she lives in the music. The music must continue.”  Indeed it did at Ravinia last night. Among the highlights was just before they sang “Puff, The Magic Dragon, Peter asked all the children to come up on stage to sing with him. Several dozen did so and one sweet 7-8 year old girl sang her heart out and instantly became a “star.”  The music does live on!

Peter, Paul & Mary 2006
Peter, Paul & Mary 2006

I’m amazed that many 20somethings don’t know who Peter, Paul & Mary are! They were the greatest and most influential folk group of the last half of the 20th Century. Their legend must be revived – the music must be sung.

Peter and Paul are doing just that – with Mary’s spirit looking on. Please watch and enjoy the below YouTube videos to experience (or revive) the genius of Peter, Paul & Mary:

Tom Williams

9 thoughts on “Peter & Paul’s Tribute to Mary at Ravinia 2010

  • I too was at Ravinia last night and was thrilled. I loved the nostalgia, enjoyed the old favorites and was impressed that Peter and Paul were complete and excellent even as a twosome, with their wonderful friend Paul playing so many instruments in harmony! Missed Mary immensely, as I am truly a Peter, Paul and Mary fan, but didn’t feel an iota disappointed or cheated. Peter & Paul were marvelous and I hope to see them again soon. Their audience interaction was heart warming. Well done!

  • I have loved the music of Peter, Paul, and Mary (PP&M) for 40 years now. Their debut album was the first piece of “adult” music I owned, a hand-me-down from an older sister. Over the years I’ve seen them perform at least a half-dozen times. While their voices have degraded over the years, every time I have marveled at their ability to blend complex harmonies, and at the way they choose songs that inspire and uplift their audiences.

    There have been times in recent years when we saw them perform where it just plain wasn’t very good musically, but their love for each other, the audience’s connection to them, and the purity of their spiritual and political expression compensated for that. Gradually they have moved from a group that offers both artistry and ideas to a group that offers ideas.

    Well, this time was even more like that. Over the edge, really. Without Mary, they have pretty much given up all claim to any musical artistry, or even production precision. Their voices don’t work very well anymore. Their instrumental skills are faded. It didn’t seem that they had rehearsed much, and great stretches of the show seemed improvised (and not in a good way). Mary was obviously the taskmaster, the one who kept them tight and on-point. Without her, they seem like lost, shuffling old men.

    But they’ve still got that spark of goodness about them, and they still sing songs that make me feel, cry, and sing along. Songs about international peace. Social justice. Economic equity. Overcoming prejudices. Preventing bullying in schools. I found myself full of emotion all the way through the first half, at the goodness and purity of their message. At the way they express my own social and political values in a much lovelier way than I could ever do. At the hopefulness they express. At the pathos of aging, as I surveyed the audience, most of them people in their 60s and 70s, and wondered how these people had looked and felt and lived 40 years ago, at the height of the folk music era. And at the end, when everyone was standing and singing along with them, singing Blowing in the Wind, This Land is Your Land, and other favorites, at how they can still bring a group of people together and make them remember the idealistic values of their youth.

    So, as music, was the concert a success? Not so much. But as art? Absolutely.

  • I have to agree with Elsa. Who knew that Mary had such a hard job keeping those two in line. Rambling, off-key, they appeared lost. They needed her skills as a taskmaster and her voice. The kid singing the chorus of Puff was cute…once. The third time she sang the chorus I gave up. Also..I don’t need a “happy ending” to Puff, I enjoy a good cry. Their hearts are in the right place …but their performance skills…not so much.

  • A great night to remember for our family; it was my daughter, Abigail, who was the singer during the “Puff the Magic Dragon” song with all the children on stage. She just turned 4, not 7-8 years old as guessed in the article.

  • It was an amazing night for sure amy. I was up there with abigail, and she was so precious. I only wish I had a single photo of my son and I swaying to his favorite lullabye while Peter sang only feet away. If you visit and click on gallery your adorable mini-mary is in a few photos. If you know of any other photos taken that night that might have included my son and I please contact me somehow. My scrapbook page of his first concert will not be complete without one. Thank you!

  • Elyse,
    I have lots of photos from the night…what were you/ your son wearing so I can look through and see if I captured any of the two of you?

  • I do not have a son. I was with a lady friend that night.

  • I was wearing a greenish teal flowy blouse and a jean skirt. My little boy was wearing a red tie dye shirt with a blue peace sign. We sere standing towards Presto while he was playing the mandolin. I would be thrilled if you could find any! I knew there had to be a photo out there somewhere.

  • Try contacting Ravinia’s PR people.

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