WHY PETE SOKOLOW MATTERS
It isn’t only where Pete’s been or whom he’s seen. It isn’t just how he plays or what he knows. Hell, we can’t even guess at what he knows: the first real conversation I ever had with him started off with Pete coming up to me after I’d done some shtik at the Paramount and telling me––with 100% accuracy––how much I liked Lord Buckley, Daniel Pinkwater and Jean Shepherd. Some time later, I found out that he has a near- encyclopedic knowledge of streetcars and streetcar routes all over North America.
It’s Pete’s willingness to share his practical and theoretical knowledge with anybody who’s ready to receive it that makes him so important to this scene, but we should never forget that his eagerness to take us into worlds that we’ve never even dreamt of is only one example of the profound mentshlekhkayt that informs everything that Pete Sokolow does. In a world that degenerates too often into what Mark Rubin has called “a knife fight over a nickel,” Pete is all about responsibility--––to the music and its culture, to his audience, his students and himself. Perhaps the most important thing that Pete’s been teaching us all these years––the thing that made it possible for him to learn what he’s learned and to teach what he teaches––is that it isn’t about ego or money or reputation; it’s about obligation, the obligation to put as much into the music (or in my case, the general culture) as you’ve got out of it. And there’s no better example anywhere of how to do that than Pete Sokolow himself.