La Crosse, WI

Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt—August 29th: Carrying on a Long GRFF-UU Tradition by Ron Malzer

Great River Folk
Danny Schmidt and Carrie ElkinRed House Records

What do Peggy Seeger, Ann Reed, Johnsmith, Peter Mayer, and Bill Miller have in common? Each of them has done a dedicated service for UU La Crosse as part of the Great River Folk Festival (GRFF).

The tradition started in 2004, when Peggy Seeger, Pete Seeger’s half-sister, agreed to add in a Unitarian Universalist Sunday morning service at the Folk Festival grounds. With only one exception, every year’s GRFF has included an outstanding performer leading a Sunday ecumenical, music-based service.

It’s been my honor to serve as the link connecting the two organizations, and communicating with the performers to produce an event that sets the tone the third and final day of each Fest. And while the event started with publicity going only to the La Crosse area UU community, it now is open to the public as an unticketed event, from 9:30 to 10:30 on the Sunday morning of the Fest.

There is a natural connection between UU values and the GRFF. Unitarian Universalism is a non-creedal religious tradition, with a deep commitment to individual freedom, freethinking, democracy, and to the interdependent web of life. In the last five years, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the umbrella group for the approximately 1000 national UU congregations, has made a major commitment to voting rights and racial justice.

Unitarian Universalism is proud to claim Peter Mayer as one of our musicians; our local UU congregation resonates deeply with his “Blue Boat Home” and other deeply spiritual songs of his. Our hymnal includes some traditional hymns, often with updated lyrics; our Sunday services in our building or streamed are just as likely to dip into contemporary music.

We are very pleased this year to welcome back Carrie Elkin. Exactly 10 years ago on the Fest grounds, Carrie stepped up to the microphone to tell us stories of her travel misadventures, and to perform in her gorgeous voice range of songs. One that was unforgettable: the song written by her partner Danny Schmidt, titled “Company of Friends”. You can hear a rich web-based version of Carrie & Danny performing this song:

So, stop on by site A at the Fest at 930 on Sunday morning. No ticket is needed. You will be in for a treat as Carrie and Danny weave their magic leading the ecumenical dedicated UU service. For more info:

Editors Note: Ron is a long time GRFF supporter and the UU church he belongs to is at which is located at 401 West Ave S, La Crosse
UU of La CrosseRon Malzer

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Bringing acoustic, folk Americana musicians and news to the LaCrosse WI area. A year round lover & promoter of musicians that have played the festival the weekend before Labor Day.

La Crosse, WI

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