Si wishes everyone all the best for the New Year

From Si’s occasional (every 2 to 4 weeks) enewsletter. Subscribe here.

All the best for the New Year

Here’s a toast to the New Year, and to all of you for whom my music has mattered. May 2022 be a happy, musical year for you and yours, with a little more peace and justice and much more health for this battered world we share.

My wish for all of you for the coming year comes in the form of my song “New Year’s Eve” from my very first album New Wood, released all the way back in 1975 as an LP on June Appal records, part of Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and re-released as a CD in 1994 (Rounder/Philo 1168, also out of print). You can read the lyrics below.

This year we travel across the pond to present a version of “New Year’s Eve” by the Scottish brother band The McCalmans, from their 1993 Greentrax Records album Honest

“New Year’s Eve”
(c) Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music LLC (ASCAP)

I have seen you tossing restless
Between midnight and day
Paying back the debts of many years
Staring out the window
’Till the mist has burned away
Waiting for the sun to dry your tears

I’ve seen you young
I’ve seen you old
I’ve seen you lost and found
I’ve seen you sit and cry
Without a sound

I’ve seen you in the lamplight
With the hard lines in your face
The shadows of your fears upon the wall
But crying is no weakness
To lose is no disgrace
You see we’re not so different after all

You can tell
By the ringing bell
The old year’s moving on
I’d like to say one thing
Before it’s gone

May whatever house you live in
Have flowers by the door
Children in the bed to keep you warm
May the people there accept you
For who you really are
Help you find some shelter in the storm

And morning rain
To ease the pain
That comes with being free
May the New Year bring you freedom
For December: Five Si Kahn Music and Book Specials Never Before Offered

Please join Si & John McCutcheon in honoring Armistice Day at 8:00 pm eastern time this Thursday evening, November 11th, 2021

Armistice Day was created following the brutal First World War as nations mourned their dead and collectively called for an end to all wars. Armistice Day, when bells tolled at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, was designated as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated.” But during the 1950’s Cold War, a militarist United States government changed the name to Veterans Day.

At 8:00 pm eastern time this evening, Thursday, November 11th, Madison Veterans for Peace and The Progressive magazine are hosting a virtual event considering whether peace is in this country’s future, with speakers on topics including the rise of China, the U.S. drone program, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Musical interludes will be provided by Vietnam era U.S. Army Reservist (1965-1971) Si Kahn and John McCutcheon.

Find the livestream at or

Once archived, you can click on the images for his songs “Season of Peace” and “When the War is Done” to enjoy the videos that Si pre-recorded for this event.

The Bluegrass Situation features the title song from Si Kahn’s Been A Long Time

On Wednesday, November 3, 2021, the acclaimed The Bluegrass Situation, co-founded by actor Ed Helms, profiled the title song from the re-release of Si’s Been A Long Time.

You can read the feature here:

You can get your own copy of Been A Long Time directly from Si at PayPal Checkout

You can learn more about Been A Long Time at Si Kahn re-releases an underappreciated bluegrass classic from the turn of the century | Si Kahn

Alliance for Jewish Theatre showcases Si’s musical play “Stranger in this Land”

You can watch the showcase submission, a ten-minute excerpt from Stranger in This Land, at

The Alliance for Jewish Theatre conference curators selected Si’s musical play Stranger in This Land for the first of only three virtual performance segments at its three-day virtual conference on October 24-26.

Stranger in This Land answers the eternal question: What do the following have in common: Soldiers in the Czar’s army, shoe factory workers, gas station operators, rabbis, civil rights leaders, pick and shovel laborers on the Canadian Pacific Railroad, Jewish faith healers, illegal immigrants, hod carriers, bootleggers, a soldier in the trenches of World War I, Talmudic scholars, and a driver for Al Capone?

They’re all among the older generations of Si Kahn’s Polish/Russian/Lithuanian/Austrian Jewish family, stretching back to the 19th century and his great-great-grandmother.

With special appearances by (in more or less alphabetical order): the Angel of Death, the Black Plague, gold cigar cutters, corned beef, Cossacks, the Czar, the “Goldene Medina” (“Golden Land”), the Italian mob, the Jewish mob, the Kaddish, Emma Lazarus, Miami Beach, miracles, pastrami, pogroms, Pete Seeger, shrimp-wrapped bacon, and the Statue of Liberty.

If you are interested in learning more about the Alliance for Jewish Theatre, go to

Stranger in This Land is available for production. Serious inquiries can be made to

Si Kahn re-releases an underappreciated bluegrass classic from the turn of the century

Been A Long Time (Sliced Bread Records CD-SB71202)

Featuring the late Charles Sawtelle, Pete Wernick, Laurie Lewis, Todd Philips, Tom Rozum, and Sally van Meter.




WATCH: Larry Vellani’s video for the hard driving “Hear That Sound:”  

“Si Kahn’s Been A Long Time is the second great CD to come out of the late, great Charles Sawtelle’s Rancho DeVille recording studio…. Backed by a luminous band including Sawtelle on guitar, Laurie Lewis on fiddle and vocals, Pete Wernick on banjo, Tom Rozum on mandolin and vocals, Todd Phillps on bass, and a few special guest artists, this is the first time singer and songwriter Si Kahn has been able to record a bluegrass project, and it’s a gem.” — David J. McCarty, Bluegrass Unlimited June 2001

In mid-December 1997, a remarkable group of musicians gathered at Charles Sawtelle’s studio in Boulder, Colorado to record Si Kahn’s bluegrass classic, Been A Long Time. Despite glowing reviews, Been a Long Time lacked the distribution, marketing, and radio promotion the album needed. For a score of years, the album has languished as an underappreciated gem discovered by lucky fans at his record table. The discovery of 1000 booklets by Carl Apter of Sliced Bread Records led to producing a new run of CDs celebrating the 20th anniversary of an album important in bluegrass and folk music that deserves a wider audience.

Learn more including song descriptions at

“Been a Long Time is political folk at its best and will be greatly appreciated by fans who have been waiting six years for a new Kahn album.” — Ronnie LankfordAllMusic

“Si Kahn has created a sweet and lively collection of new songs on Been a Long Time” — Matt WatrobaSing Out!

Si Kahn writes about Been A Long Time:

I never waited in a house built of grey rock and stone for Gabriel Kahn, my father’s father, my grandfather, my Zade to come home from a job on the railroad. But it’s also true that after ‘Gabe’ deserted the Czar’s army in Russia, he indentured himself to the Canadian Pacific Railway, a year’s labor in return for ship’s passage to Canada, swinging a pick, digging with a shovel as they built the roadbed and laid the track. Did hearing his stories, told in Yiddish-tinged English, inspire me to write the song “Been A Long Time”? I don’t know. It’s been too long a time.

But listening to the song now for the first time in many years, I am grateful to welcome him home. And I never lived in a tarpaper shack in a coal camp. But when our family drove along the narrow twisting mountain roads that led from our comfortable two-story house in State College, Pennsylvania to the train station in Lewistown, past the Devil’s Elbow where legend held that if you drove fast enough you could see the back end of your car as the front end rounded that sharpest of curves, we passed greying shacks where barefoot children and gaunt mothers stood side by side on weathered porches. Did what I saw then, now locked in my mind as fading photographs, inspire me to write “Houses On the Hill”? How could I know?

But listening to the song today, what so deeply troubled me when I was five years old comes back sharply and painfully. Back when I wrote these songs, it was memories like these that inspired the music. Today, listening to this album for the first time in years, it’s the music that brings back the memories. The very last line in this entire album is “Deep in our hearts where the song never ends.” Was there a reason I sang that line twice? I’ll never know. But I do know that the music on this album; the music I listen to during my nightly “graveyard shift”; the music I write, sing, play with friends I’ve known for years, with musicians I’ve never met before; the music I perform, record, send out into the world; that music is deep, deep, deep in my heart. May that song never end.

Si Kahn
The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina
Labor Day, 2021

This 20th anniversary release of Been A Long Time is dedicated to Carl Apter, whose steadfast friendship and passion for music made possible both this and the original album.

Victory in Bristol Bay!

Thursday, September 9, 2021
What they’re talking about is the proposed Pebble Mine, my major organizing work since 2010, when Bristol Bay commercial fisherman Dan Strickland invited me to come to Alaska to write a theme song for the campaign to stop the mine and to protect Bristol Bay permanently. I ended up writing and recording an entire album called Bristol Bay, produced by the great Jens Kruger of the Kruger Brothers. You can hear every one of the songs by clicking here. You can obtain your own copy here.

Please join me in thanking the many, many people and organizations who have been part of this great effort. It may not always be true that “The people united will never be defeated.” But this time unity, creative organizing, passion, commitment and just plain hard work over many years produced a great victory.

May there be many more victories in the years soon to come,

Learn more at – the online version of Si’s eblast

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Click to get your copy of Si Kahn’s Bristol Bay CD

Read Si Kahn’s July 1st eBlast

Kamau Marcharia is one of the unsung heroes of the Southern Movement. 
Thursday, July 1, 2021
In the Beloved Community, We Take Care of Our Own
Support Kamau
The phrase “beloved community,” which so many of us learned from the beautiful, powerful rhetoric of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the late John Lewis, has a special resonance for Southern organizers and activists.So many of us know each other, have worked, celebrated, and grieved together. We think of ourselves as part of The Movement, as a community, as almost a family.So when one of our own falls on hard times, it’s a hard time for all of us, and we do what we can.Kamau Marcharia is one of the unsung heroes of the Southern Movement. Framed as a young man, he spent 10 years in a maximum-security prison.

There was a trial, you took the fall
So you spent ten years behind a prison wall
Solitary, you had no one else
When you walked out, you had become yourself

Kamau and I worked together at Grassroots Leadership for 17 years. He is one of the most quietly courageous, passionately committed, deeply decent, fun to be with people I’ve worked with in my 56 years as a civil rights, union, and community organizer and musician.Now he has multiple myeloma. That’s a kind of cancer. Needless to say, it’s hard on him in many ways, not least of all financially.Now Cathy Howell, Kamau’s organizing partner in South Carolina for many years, has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help Kamua with his many expenses. Many of his Sisters and Brothers in the Southern Movement have already contributed, as well as Kamau’s friends and admirers from other places.

There are still warriors trying to do what’s right
They are beside us in the darkening night
They give us courage, they give us care
There are still warriors, we’re so glad you’re there

The lyrics above come from a song I wrote about my friend and beloved comrade Kamau Marcharia. It’s called “Warriors.” You can listen at you can make your contribution at solidarity and hope,
Si Kahn
Words and music by Si Kahn

There was a trial, you took the fall
So you spent ten years behind a prison wall
Solitary, you had no one else
When you walked out you had become yourself
Liberated, you came back home
But you only knew how to be alone
So you learned about the you and me
And you built your own communityThere are still warriors
Trying to do what’s right
They are beside us
In the darkening night
They give us courage
They give us care
There are still warriors
We’re so glad you’re thereIs it too easy, is it much too hard
To be a prophet in your own backyard
In the corners of this weary land
To be a rebel with an outstretched hand
How are you able to play this part
Why did hatred never break your heart
In that prison where you lost your youth
Did you learn freedom, did you find the truthAt midnight when the moon turns red
And churches burn to wake the dead
Where is the water to smother out
The fire of hate, the flame of doubt
There is a silence that chills the bone
There is a choir that calls us home
If we are worthy of the load we bear
Then we can find out freedom anywhere

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