Happy Larry Long Day! Yes, today has officially been declared Larry Long Day in the cities of both Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Who’s Larry Long?
As municipal honorees go, he’s not quite the household name Prince or Janet Jackson is. Nonetheless, the honor is well-deserved: the Iowa native, who now lives in Minneapolis, is a local singer-songwriter with a rich history of music and activism. With a show tonight at the Cedar Cultural Center, he’ll celebrate his 65th birthday and the release of his new album Dove with Claws.
Signed to Smithsonian Folkways, Long has built his career in the time-honored tradition of folk song and community organizing. Among his career highlights: founding the event that grew into the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, singing for Rosa Parks at the 45th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and performing in Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. Long is also the founder of a nonprofit organization called Community Celebration of Peace.
“Larry has accomplished what few musicians in Minnesota have,” write both mayors in their declarations, “with his lifelong contributions as both a community builder and singer-songwriter in the tradition of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie.”
The title of Dove with Claws is taken from a phrase Johnny Cash used to describe his style of pacifism. The album includes new songs as well as new versions of Long classics.
According to a press release, “When Pete Seeger was told that Larry is often referred to as the Pete Seeger of Minnesota, Pete replied, ‘I would be honored to be called the Larry Long of New York.'”