Peter, Paul and Mary star to appear at ECC
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media April 13, 2012 3:44PM
Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary, will be at ECC April 21. | File Photo
♦ April 21
♦ Elgin Community College, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin
♦ Tickets, $28-$32
♦ (847) 622-0300
Updated: April 20, 2012 10:51AM
Peter Yarrow, one-third of the famous 1960s folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, will share stories from his iconic songs in an upcoming performance in Elgin.
Yarrow performs “Words and Music” at 7:30 p.m. April 21 at Elgin Community College’s Blizzard Theatre.
He will be joined in this intimate concert by his son, Christopher Yarrow, and special guest Mustard’s Retreat, the folk music duo featuring David Tamulevich and Michael Hough.
Expect to hear the iconic “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane” interspersed with personal stories.
“I wanted texturalize things. I wanted people to sense what the history is,” he said. “I talk about ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane,’ and singing the song, I’ll talk about my relationship with Mary, and the trajectory of our time together, and how in the last four years we became such a close family. And how when we are faced with bottom lines, we become in certain ways our best selves we might have been our entire lives.”
These days, Yarrow is known as much for his anti-violence in schools platform, Operation Respect. Founded in 2000 by Yarrow and educator Charlotte Frank, the non-profit promotes civility and conflict resolution in schools. The “Don’t Laugh At Me” program (DLAM) of Operation Respect is used in more than 22,000 schools in America.
Additionally, Yarrow released an illustrated children’s book and CD of “Puff, The Magic Dragon,” as well as four other children’s books and three children’s songbook collections. These works are available for free at Operation Respect.
“I was on television and they asked, ‘What is the relation between your program Operation Respect and ‘Puff the Magic Dragon?’ In essence, ‘Puff’ is about empathy and compassion, which is in good scarcity these days, amongst most of the population, particularly children,” he said. “Youth are being subjected to and enduring horrific bullying, and there is a pandemic of that bullying.”
Operation Respect is more than simply an anti-bullying program, he said.
“It has that effect of reducing bullying, certainly, but it is about creating an environment in which bullying and teasing is far less likely to occur,” he said.
Even after all these years, he still enjoys performing.
“I absolutely love to perform,” he said. “I love to do it because it is inspiring. It is wonderful and (fills me) with a sense of history and going forward. I love singing mostly when I sing with people. That to me is a great and noble pleasure.
“My performances now have another kind of texture. I really spend time telling some of these stories, and I found that people are deeply appreciative because they really want to know … what was it we had then that made music so powerful,” he said. “I’m doing that not just because people are interested but because I have a feeling it’s very important. It binds people together in a common purpose in a very powerful way.”
Audiences can expect to hear a lot of Peter, Paul and Mary songs because “that is what I sing, that’s my legacy,” he said.
“Whereas that is my very dominant focus, it could be that I want to move away from (that) and write new songs, but I don’t,” he said. “I want to sing ‘Puff.’ I want to share its message. It’s very powerful and very moving to see people engaged and singing that together. I want to sing ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ and hear the audience singing Mary’s part. What I do in the second half is ask the audience what they’d like to hear and then I take suggestions. It’s interesting because the songs they want to hear, some of them I would not have expected — some of them are more esoteric.”
A three-course, pre-show dinner prepared by ECC’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality program can be purchased online for an additional $35. Dinners include wine and are served at 5:30 p.m. in the Spartan Terrace Restaurant in the ECC Arts Center. Dinners must be ordered in advance by April 16.