The Folknik November/December 2003
(Volume XXXIX, Number 6)
the San Francisco Folk Music Club
(click here for membership info)
Francisco Folk Music Club is a nonprofit corporation
dedicated to the enjoyment, preservation and promotion of
acoustic music in individual, family, and community life.
30, 2003-Sunday, Jan. 4, 2004
and Drop Ins
Bring Your Cup!
Happy New Year to all our Harmony Family from the Camp Committee. We hope to see you all at Camp!
The fold-in is at noon, SATURDAY December 13, at the home of Abe & Joan Feinberg. The more, the merrier-to help with the folknik, enjoy a meal afterwards, and to make music. Bring a potluck dish and instruments.
SFFMC's annual Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas and other observations of the holiday season party is Friday, December 26, at 885 Clayton at 8:30 PM.
Bring favorite seasonal treats-cookies, cakes, fruit, cheese, crackers and such-along with good cheer and heartfelt songs. Both non-alcoholic and wine grog is provided by the club.
Musical meetings of the San Francisco Folk Music Club are held every other Friday at 885 Clayton Street, between Carl and Parnassus Streets in San Francisco. Singing and jamming in three separate rooms start at 8:00 p.m. Snacks are provided through $1 food kitty donations or finger food contributions. Guests are always welcome, no one is expected to perform, and there is no charge.
There is no standard set for the singing here, but we set a very high standard in listening.
-- motto of the Góilín Traditional Singer's Club, Dublin, Ireland
Board MeetingsThe SFFMC Board meets on the second Tuesday of each month potluck at 6:30 p.m., meeting at 8:00 p.m. All Club members are welcome to attend the potluck dinner and the Board meeting.
November 11: Marian Gades house
December 9: Phil Morgans
January 13: Marian Gades house
Current members: Faith Petric, President; Phil Morgan, Vice-President; Thad Binkley, Charlie Fenton, Ed Hilton, Kathryn LaMar, Jerry Michaels and Melissa Sarenac, Members-at-Large.
There are currently vacancies on the Board. If you can help, please email email@example.com or call (415) 661-2217.
A special Women in Music Festival is scheduled at the Sebastopol Community Center's Youth Annex, 425 Morris Street, on Saturday, November 15, 1:00 to 9:30 p.m. This is a benefit for Music in the Schools. For details call (707) 974-3571 or see www.seb.org.
We are looking for an Assistant Treasurer for the Board of Directors. If you can help administer a budget of around $50,000, call Faith at (415) 661-2217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The San Francisco Free Folk Festival needs you! Director Michael Jones is looking for people to serve on the committee for the 2004 Festival. Also, T-shirts from the 2003 Festival are on sale: most sizes, cedar or violet, $10 each, or less for more. To join the committee or buy a T-shirt, email email@example.com.
Ted Clunie, Jessica Bryan and Malcolm Rigby want to let their Club friends know about their new traditional folk music album, WATER-BOUND: High and Dry” It's due out December 1 and will be available at the annual Christmas party and at Camp Harmony. Questions? Call (831) 335-7696.
Congratulations to Richard Rice and Lisa Whitman, married October 11. Art Peterson showed up and helped the band over a few rough spots with his accordion.
Thanks to Faith,
Richard Rice, and Alinda Franklin for their contributions to
This year saw the
John Henry Mitchell (January), schoolteacher, square- and contradance caller, labor activist, folk singer, long-time member of the Club and charter member of the East Bay Fiddlin' and Pickin' Potlucks. John performed at the 1962 Berkeley Folk Festival and was a regular at the Ashkenaz. He played with Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and Country Joe and the Fish at places like the Fillmore West.
Thommy Thompson (January), banjo picker for the Red Clay Ramblers, the band he formed in 1972 with Bill Hicks and Jim Wann. Taking their inspiration from bands like Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, they blazed the trail followed twenty years later by bands like the Squirrel Nut Zippers.
Frank Hylo Brown (January), bluegrass and country singer. Brown started out in 1939 singing at the age of 17 on a live radio program in Ashland, Kentucky. That led to a half-hour show on WLOG (West Virginia), a regular gig with Bradley Kincaid, and work with WWVA, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, the Grand Ole Opry and the first Newport Folk Festival. He performed until 1991 and joined the SPBGMA Hall of Fame in February 2003.
Johnny Paycheck (February), honky-tonk singer and country music outlaw most remembered for Take This Job and Shove It (1977). Paycheck's life fit his outlaw image: intermittent success as a musician, prison stints, drug problems, and a bout of homelessness. After his last prison term, for shooting a man in a barroom brawl, Paycheck made yet another comeback and in 1997 was made a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Nancy Whiskey (February), the queen of skiffle. Her 1957 recording of Freight Train with the Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group kicked off the British revival of skiffle, a 1930s American style that mixed jazz and country blues on simple instruments like guitar, jug, kazoo, and washtub bass (the tea-chest bass in Britain).
Tom Glazer (February), legendary fellow-pioneer with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Josh White in the urban folk movement of the 1940s. We all know On Top of Spaghetti, but who remembers that Glazer wrote it? He might prefer to be remembered for Because All Men Are Brothers or Skokiaan.
Edwin Starr (April). Soul musician Starr made his mark in 1969 with 25 Miles to Go; his 1970 War (What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!), is still a staple of anti-war protests.
Freyda Epstein (May), fiddler and singer. Her career began with Trapezoid, a seminal West Virginia folk group, and included her own group, Acoustic AttaTude, and the World Harmony Chorus, which she co-directed.
June Carter Cash (May), a member of the famous Carter family, a musician and actress in her own right, and wife of Johnny Cash. Her musical partnership with Cash followed a promising career she had started with her sisters Helen and Anita Carter; she was offered her own network variety series, but chose instead to tour with Cash. They were married in 1968; Ring of Fire grew out of their courtship.
Henry Redd Stewart (August), singer and co-writer of Tennessee Waltz, Bonaparte's Retreat, Soldier's Last Letter, and other songs. He and Pee Wee King wrote Tennessee Waltz, the story goes, on the inside of a torn-up matchbox while driving to Nashville.
Johnny Cash (September), a country singer who earned a name as one of the great folk singers. In the folk tradition, he borrowed from whatever genre suited his purpose; he strengthened the bond between folk and country music, collaborating with Bob Dylan and covering tunes by Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and Simon and Garfunkel. Pop-rock artists like Stevie Nicks and the Beat Farmers returned the compliment, covering I Still Miss Someone and Big River.
Cousin Jack Franklin (September). A long-time Club member, Cousin Jack was born Pleasant Deneen Puckett on June 15, 1929, in Belmond, Iowa, and came to California with his mother at age 3. He began his musical career at 14, and played and sang folk music all his life. In the 1980s he and his wife Alinda moved to Mariposa, where he worked tirelessly to promote music. Famous since 1929 (as his postcards billed him), Cousin Jack founded the Fun Club: No dues; no rules; no meetings; no nothin'; just do it! Be good to yourself. He touched many lives, as was evident by the community's outpouring of love and affection during his illness. A celebration of his life was held at the Mariposa Fairgrounds September 27; his last wish was, Everyone plant daffodils. back to top
the SFFMC's monthly free music showcase is back! November
8th is our big 2nd Anniversary Party. This should be one of the best
shows ever, with several of our favorite performers from the past year
joining us. Great music and free food what could be better? Each
Hoot ends with a jam, so bring your instruments along.
CampoutsNew Year's Day (January 1)
Memorial Day (May 31)
Independence Day (July 5)
Labor Day (September 6)
Free Folk FestivalTBA—probably in June back to top
Women in Music
Festival Nov 15
West Coast Ragtime
Festival Nov 21-23
Folk Dance Scene
Institute Nov 22
Kolo Festival Nov 28-30
No-Snow Ball Dec 6
Music Festival Jan 16-18
NW Women's Music
Celebration March 21-23
More from the lineup
at the Otter Opry in Santa Cruz, offering regular concerts of fine bluegrass
from all over. Concerts at the United Methodist Church, 250 California
St. in Santa Cruz. For more info on this and other shows: (831) 338-0618.
The internationally acclaimed African-American female vocal ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock comes to Fresno's historic Warnors Theatre, 1400 Fulton St., on Friday, December 12, at 8:00 PM For tickets call the Warnors Theatre box office at (559) 264-2848 or visit http://evobluestein.com/shirconcert.html.
The December concert will be Sweet Honey's first Central Valley appearance in 15 years. The event promises to be particularly memorable because it will be one of the group's final appearances featuring its founder, Bernice Johnson Reagon, who will retire from performing in February 2004.
The daughter of a rural Georgia Baptist minister, Reagon started Sweet Honey after performing with The Freedom Singers, an African-American vocal group formed during the height of the 1960s civil rights struggles. The Freedom Singers were one aspect of the nationwide campus orga-nization, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The Freedom Singers crisscrossed the nation, singing such 'Movement' anthems as "We Shall Not Be Moved," as well as songs handed down from black churches, many of which featured themes of freedom and justice.
The ensemble took its name from the spiritual "Sweet Honey in the Rock." After teaching the group this song, Reagon asked her father about its significance. He told her it was a parable describing a land so rich that when rocks were cracked open, honey flowed from them. Reagon thought it was a suitable metaphor for African-American women: strong as a rock, sweet as honey.
This performance is presented by The Gene Bluestein Memorial Fund, a fund established in honor of the late CSUF Professor of American Literature and Folklore. It's mission is to present lecture and concert events in the field of folk music and American studies. "Gene would have loved this," says his son, Evo Bluestein. "Sweet Honey in the Rock typifies the sort of multi-cultural music our father brought to this community during his many years at the University."
Don't forget the last two performances aboard the ships in SF's annual Sea Music Concert Series at Hyde Street Pier.
Nov 15, 8:00 PM: William Pint and Felicia Dale. They per-form traditional and modern music and "songs reflect-ing the immense vitality of those who live and work on the sea." The energetic couple captivates audiences with vocals and guitar, mandola, Irish pennywhistles, percussion and the hurdy gurdy.
Dec 12, 8:00 PM: Alasdair Fraser. His richly expressive playing ranges from haunting laments from the Gaelic tradition to classically styled airs, raucous dance tunes and improvisations based on traditional themes. His repertoire spans several centuries of Scottish music and includes his own compositions.
Tickets: $12-$14. Seating is limited, purchase tickets in advance. Tickets: 415-561-6662, also available at the Maritime Store, 2905 Hyde St., (415) 775-2665. Info at www.nps.gov/safr/concert.html
An Elizabethan Revels, December 12-14, 19-21, at Oakland's Scottish Rite Theater on Lake Merritt. For information go to www.calrevels.org, or call (415) 621-1216.
This year, Revels visits the colorful Renaissance world of Queen Elizabeth I. Follow Will Kemp, the irreverent and brilliantly talented clown from Shakespeare's company, as he Morris dances from London to Norwich to meet the Queen! Along the way, he'll encounter townsfolk and tavern keepers, courtiers and comics, singers and storytellers, all set against a background of magnificent Elizabethan music, dance and drama.
In this year's Revels production, Will Kemp will be portrayed by the Bay Area's own Master of Revelry and favorite Fool, Geoff Hoyle. He will be joined by Deborah Doyle (of California renaissance faires) as Queen Elizabeth I, fiddler Shira Kammen, as well as top Morris and Renaissance dancers. Rounding out the cast is our chorus of over 80 singers, dancers, actors and children, along with the Brass West Ensemble, the Golden Ring Morris Men, and the Solstice Singers. Audiences can look forward to traditional Revels favorites, includ-ing the ever-popular audience-participation 'Lord of the Dance.'
Excerpted from "How Can I Keep From Talking: Ethel and Julius" by Ross Altman. Printed with permission.
...to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, I didn't come here to talk about the Rosenbergs, I came to talk about Abe Meeropol. Meeropol was a high school English teacher from Dewitt Clinton High School in New York who wrote songs on the side. He and his wife Anne were close friends of the Rosenbergs, and after the [Rosenbergs'] execution they adopted their two young sons, Robby and Michael (six and ten years old respectively).
Meeropol was also a leftist and to protect his source of income as a teacher he published his songs under a pen name-Lewis Allan. You may have heard two of these songs-"The House I Live In" and "Strange Fruit."
Perhaps you thought
that Billie Holiday wrote "Strange Fruit," not surprisingly
since Time Magazine credited her as the song's author when they voted
it the "Song of the Century" in their last issue of the 20th
Century. She sang it, but it was a Jewish leftist who wrote it-in the
early 1930's on the heels of one of the worst periods of lynching in
our nation's history.
But she wasn't the only one who sang it. The great folk blues guitarist Josh White also started singing it, and made the mistake of singing it in the very club [where] Billie Holiday had introduced it-Café Society in New York City. When Billie Holiday heard that someone else was singing "her song," she went down there to put a stop to it. She came into Josh White's dressing room after the show and pulled a knife on him, threatening to cut his throat if he did not cease and desist. (They did not have restraining orders in those days.) Josh White replied to her with quiet eloquence, "Billie, we should both sing that song until no one ever has to sing it again." She put her knife away.
Abe Meeropol was a songwriter who not only talked the talk-he walked the walk. He and his wife Anne gave a home to two orphans who had been victimized-whatever one may think of their parents' case-by McCarthyism and the ensuing witch hunt that turned two quite ordinary people into martyrs. He lived the song he wrote, and Robby and Michael Meeropol are now carrying on their adopted and their birth parents' legacy with a foundation called "Children of Resistance," to offer support to children of parents who, for whatever reason, become political prisoners.
If you have just released a CD or scholarly tome, we'll be glad to review it! Send a review copy to: SFFMC, 885 Clayton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117; or to someone who has agreed to review it, and send the review to me (Kathryn LaMar, 21295 Birch Street, Hayward, CA 94541; 510-733-0425; firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have already received a CD to review, please do so and send it on! If you're a writer of excellent taste, and regularly acquire items to review, by all means review them and forward the review for publication right here! Thank you!! Reviews of things other than CDs, along with rants about anything that bugs you about publishing and the music biz these days, we welcome all that too!
From There to Here. FU 002. Available from
TIPSY HOUSE: Sets in the City: Irish Set Dancing at the Plough and Stars with Tipsy House. <www.tipsyhouse.com>. Although flutist, concertina player, and producer Jack Gilder says of this music, "Tipsy House isn't really a set dance band in the purest sense..." he has created a pure joy! Guitarist Richard Mandel provides the solid rhythmic groove for fiddler Kevin Bernhagen's lyrical playing that is often so intertwined with Jack's flute or concertina that it's hard to tell their voices apart. Their instrumental arrangements are spare, clean, and concise, with marvelous intonation throughout. The concept of Sets in the City was to record danceable renditions of tunes corresponding to sets of figures that are danced today: The Corofin Set (reels and jigs, ending with polkas), The West Kerry Set (polkas and slides ending with hornpipes), and The Clare Plain Set (reels and jigs). Most of the tunes are traditional, with only 3 of the 45 (!) named tunes credited to recent composers. My own current favorite is the waltz set that includes The Parting by Cyril O'Donoghue, a lovely haunting tune that travels from major to minor and back again and is a great showcase for Jack's flying fingers that facilitate the grace notes on the concertina. In the liner notes, Jim Belcher says, "The basic ingredients required for set dancing are eight dancers, traditional musicians, and a regular place to dance … the quintessential experience is to find great musicians who love to play for dancers." The great musicians in Tipsy House comprise the "house" band out at the "Plough and Stars" on Clement in San Francisco. They've dedicated this recording to the memory of two great friends of traditional music and dance, Mary O'Connell and Tom Savage, whose memories are well honored by this effort. Highly recommended for both listeners and dancers. Kerry Parker back to top
TOUR DE FRANCE
www.tdfmusic.com, P.O. Box 975, Mendocino, CA 95460