With a Cause No One Can Dispute, Mimi Farina Stages a Folkie Reunion at Berkeley
The benefit was staged by singer Mimi Fariña, 34, whose 300-member troupe of musicians, jugglers and comics perform for free in prisons, convalescent homes, hospitals and facilities for other shut-ins around San Francisco. Traveling under the name Bread and Roses (after an old labor union song that goes "Hearts starve as well as bodies"), Fariña's six-year-old group has always operated on the edge of insolvency. The annual Berkeley gig was staged when the bank account was down to its last $1,000.
It was a cause no performer is likely to protest, and Fariña, a distinguished folkie in her own right, assembled a first-rate roster of talent. Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, Hoyt Axton, Graham Nash and David Crosby, John Hammond Jr., the Chambers Brothers and the Persuasions all sang their hardest sans fee (though tickets ran from $8.50 to $11). Even Bob Dylan showed up via a gravel-voiced impersonation by Mimi's elder sister, Joan Baez.
Peaceful from the start, the weekend concert nonetheless swayed with the spirit of counterculture and protests past. Plain apple cider was passed as freely as the antidraft leaflets and fliers for a handicapped rights rally. Sign-language experts translated song lyrics for the deaf, and Seeger explained his crutches by announcing, "I stepped on a bottle I should have recycled." The finale said it all. No commands to boogey or exhortations to "feel good"—but a medley of Blowin' in the Wind and This Land Is Your Land. The Movement marches on.