At the end of the concert, Ronnie Gilbert, Holly Near, Country Joe McDonald and others sand "Goodnight Irene." Photo: Colleen Neff
At the end of the concert, Ronnie Gilbert, Holly Near, Country Joe McDonald and others sand “Goodnight Irene.” Photo: Colleen Neff

Hundreds of people waited hours in line Monday night to get into the Freight & Salvage for a free, all-star tribute to Pete Seeger, who died Jan. 27.

The singers who crowded on stage included Ronnie Gilbert, who formed The Weavers with Seeger in 1948, Holly Near, Barbara Dane, Johnny Harper, Country Joe McDonald, Wavy Gravy, Vicki Randle, Lichi Fuentes, Fernando Feña Torres, Joel Rafael, Evie Ladin, Keith Terry, Erik Pearson, Gerry Tenney, Bill Amanteek, Robin Flower, Barbara Higbie, Shelley Doty, Roy Zimmerman, and Blame Sally. There were so many of them on stage at the same time that their guitar and banjo necks touched.

“Pete’s life has touched us all,” the Freight wrote on its website. “We are all acutely saddened by his death and at the same time, deeply grateful for what he has given us. We expect many people will want to come together here at the Freight, to honor this beloved man and folk hero. We’ll put out as many chairs as we can, and will accommodate as many people as safely possible. Some may have to stand, but at least we’ll be together to say our ‘goodbyes’ to Pete.”

People started lining up at the Freight & Salvage on Addison Street by 1:30 p.m. —  six and a half hours before the 8:00 p.m. concert was scheduled to begin. The staff handed out vouchers for those who waited.

People waited for hours outside Freight & Salvage for a free tribute concert to Pete Seeger. Photo: Ted Friedman
Photo: Ted Friedman
Photo: Ted Friedman

“It was so Berkeley,” said Ellen Koch, who got in line at 3:45 p.m. “People were singing and playing banjos while waiting in line. There were protesters with their signs — mostly against the Keystone Pipeline. The street was closed so people who couldn’t get inside could still be a part of it. It was a sweet and emotional tribute.”

Those who couldn’t get tickets to the show were invited to the East Bay Media Center, where they could watch a live stream of the concert, and it was broadcast live on KPFA. The KPFA broadcast will be archived online for two weeks, through Feb. 17.

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...