The Folknik January/February 2004
(Volume XL, Number16)
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.
PEACE & JOY IN THE NEW YEAR
If you are already registered and realize you can't attend all or part of camp, please contact Mary (same as above) as soon as you can. Cancellations December 7-December 29 can receive a 50% refund. We cannot give refunds to "No Shows", including those who leave messages after December 29.
We may be able to take a few registrations after December 6 to fill cancellations. Contact Mary (as above) to see if there are any openings, or for any other Camp Harmony questions.
Want to carpool to camp? If you can offer a ride, or need one, Dick Scheible is the person to contact at (650) 328-0685.
2 will be Swing Dance Night. Contact Adam Cavan at email@example.com
or (415) 989-7552 for more information on this event, or if you are
planning to bring an electric instrument to camp. Saturday will be French
followed by Balkan. Most of the other evening dances will feature contras
and squares, with some surprises! New Year's Eve will start with contras
and probably continue with waltzes after midnight (if the musicians
follow tradition). Remember, musicians who play for dancing do it because
they want to. They aren't getting paid, so please don't make demands
Sing Feb 29
is no standard set for the singing here, but we set a very high standard
Leo Lichtman, our volunteer printer for almost a quarter of a century, has retired from printing the folknik. In recognition of his long and faithful service, we have given him a lifetime membership. Thanks, Leo!
Residents of Noe Valley are working to open a Farmers' Market on 24th Street and would like fresh live music along with the fresh food. Anyone with an hour or so to give, please call Rachel at (415) 695-9299.
Faith writes: "During my visit to Ireland last September, I heard a very young busker on Grafton Street singing 'The Lightning Express.' The lad was almost certainly of the Travelling People: as I watched, the Gardai hustled him off, though they didn't bother other buskers not far away. Happily he was back half an hour later. I chatted with him a bit, took his picture, gave him a Euro, and wished him well.
"I also visited the Irish Traditional Music Archive to thank Maeve Gebruers for help she had given on an article I wrote for Sing Out on the "Connemara Cradle Song". This extraordinary archive has everything anyone could want to know about Irish music: recordings, books, manuscripts, sheet music, periodicals, photographs, films, vidoes, and much more; check their website at www.itma.ie. Any questions? I'll bet Maeve has an answer; firstname.lastname@example.org, 63 Merrion Sq.,Dublin 2.
Kiyuhide Kunizaki, Director of the Tokyo Folklore Center (a folknik subscriber), writes that last August the Center mounted an "Exhibition of Pete Seeger", including books by and about Pete, recordings, videos, "How to Play the 5-String Banjo", and other illuminating items.
The Raging Grannies are here! In 1987, a group of grandmothers in Victoria, British Columbia, formed a singing group to protest nuclear-armed vessels coming into Canadian waters. Taking the name Raging Grannies, they expanded their concerns to include peace, economic justice, environmental issues, and so on, and expanded their numbers across Canada and into England and the US. The nearest groups are in Santa Rosa, the Peninsula, and Berkeley.Dressed in vintage clothing, shawls, huge hats with flowers and other costumes, Grannies sing at demonstrations and other events. Being targets for TV and photo ops, they get progressive messages widely distributed. Their songs are written to familiar tunes. Julie Bidou is active with the Berkeley group; to help out and join the fun, call Julie at (510) 845-5183.
June Levine Crabtree, a member since 1971, has moved with her partner to Rossmoor, where they immediately joined the Hootenanny Club; it meets "every single week for 90 minutes of spirited singing and instrumental music." She's looking for someone to collaborate with her on a demo recording on tape or CD of her ten original "Folkspeare" songs, which tell the stories of the Bard's plays in folk style. If you can provide a simple guitar accompaniment, call her at (925) 934-3204.
Having a gig, wedding, a hoot, or a baby? Putting out a new CD? Have a new web site? Looking to buy or sell an instrument? Email the Club News Editor: email@example.com. back to top
Hootenanny Night turned 3 years old in November, and we're still going strong - stronger than ever if our anniversary party was any indication. We had our biggest crowd ever and one of our best line-ups ever. One of my favorite things about the Hootenanny is that it has been a place where long-time folk club traditionals like Faith, Peter Kasin, and Michael Stadler (the list goes on) share the stage with neo-traditionalist upstarts like the Shut Ins, AJ Roach, and Nino Moschella (the list goes on!).
These disparate flavors of folk music manage to co-exist, mingle and even thrive. Old-time folkies rub elbows with young Haight Street hipsters, sculptors create tableaus in the corner, Geri paints watercolors, street poets spin verse on the spot. All the while we hand out folkniks and shamelessly plug Folk Club events.
A big tip of the Hootenanny Hat to Jolie Holland for the write-up she got in the Chronicle Datebook last month. Joel Selvin was beside himself in praise of her CD Catalpa, and well he should be. It's a lovely recording and one of the best debut folk CDs of the last five years - proof that the local folk scene is still going strong!
Before getting to our upcoming shows, let's do some more hat-tipping to all the people who help put on the show. Doug Jones and Mike Bechler deserve thanks and praise for donating their sound equipment and tirelessly hauling it up from the South Bay every month. Thanks to Doug, Donna Lang, Tom Murray, and James Brown for designing posters; James really deserves a special pat on his leather-clad back for all he has done recently in that regard. Karen Imperial helped us get the Hoot web site off the ground financially and has been one of our best all-around cheerleaders and spiritual advisors.
Robert and Zahra, the fearless owners of the Café International, provide us with free use of their café every month. Although the Café's rent has tripled, they remain committed to the Hoot mission of providing homegrown folk music to the people, with no cover charge. Show them your thanks by throwing some business their way.
Our biggest thanks of all go to the wonderful performers who play free every month. We've had more than 100 different solo and group acts over the past years. A complete, updated list of performers will be available soon on our website, www.sfhootenanny.homestead.com. Thanks also to our webmistress, Mary Shaw, who keeps our web site updated. And let's not forget those hardcore Hoot fans, singers, and jammers who come month after month: Ed and Rachel, Phil and Nick and Charlotte, Robin, Debra, Tom, Carolyn, Geri, Roan, Lotus, Linda, and many, many more! Cheers, everybody! You've made doing these shows a blast! back to top
On January 10:
Hoots happen every second Saturday night at the Café International,
508 Haight Street, SF, from 7 pm to 10:30 pm. We're always looking for
new performers, so email or call if you're interested: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Did you know that free airtime is available on San Francisco cable TV channel 29, and as of now the channel has NO folk music programming? If you would like to change that, contact Access San Francisco at (415) 575-4949, at www.sfctc.org or at the studio: 1720 Market Street, SF, open 3 pm to 11 pm Tuesday through Friday and 11 am to 7 pm Saturday.
To get a series time slot you must be at least 18 years old and live in San Francisco (or find a responsible adult who does). You'll have to attend an orientation meeting, sign a statement of compliance and a playback application, provide proof of residency, pay a $36 annual membership fee and then come to a programming meeting to pick a time slot for your program. You can submit your program in VHS, SVHS, DVCAM or miniDV format; classes are given on how to use the studio, camera, and editing suites. - Faith Petric back to top
And For A Heartfelt
This special occasion is great news to her fans as well as supporters of the beloved East Bay agency Parental Stress Service (PSS), because Mary has agreed to donate the proceeds to this extremely worthwhile cause. PSS focuses on the promotion of positive parenting. The concert will launch the celebration of Child Abuse Prevention Month (April), and raise funds for programs which serve at-risk families in Alameda County. Check the agency's website at www.PSShelps.org
The state budget woes of this last fiscal year have adversely impacted PSS, and through a stroke of great luck, Mary's older brother Shay Black, who serves as Administration Program Manager for the agency, asked his sister if she might find room in her schedule to bring her tour back to the Bay Area - and she said, "Yes." Many folknik readers will know Shay from his music. He tours regularly with his brother Michael, plays with the bands Nauticus, Sgian Dhu and lately Dogwatch, and runs the very successful Irish music session at the Starry Plough in Berkeley on Sunday nights.
Mary Black's distinguished career has spanned over 20 years from her early days in Dublin folk clubs through ever-escalating success with nine platinum solo albums one of which-No Frontiers-spent 56 weeks on the Irish Top 30. Tickets go on sale at Ticketmaster on February 3, 2004. But you may purchase premium pre-sale tickets by going to www.MaryBlackAtTheParamount.com and signing up for the lottery release which began on November 18.
Paramount Theater is BART and AC Transit accessible. Please pass on
the information about this event to as many people as you can. You are
bound to have a memorable evening, as well as helping a very worthy
Workshop: February 1
Dance: February 15
& Old-Time Festival: February 20-29
Blue Grass Weekend:
Spring Dance Weekend: March 19-21
Gathering: May 14-16
Tickets are now available for a raffle to benefit the Gathering. The prize is a brand new 36 string, chromatic, custom-built Evoharp, including ground shipping within the 50 United States. The drawing will be held May 15, at the Gathering. Winner need not be present to win. Tickets are $5 each, or 10 for $40. Make check or money order payable to: Mendota USD/CAG. Mail check or money order to: Mike Mueller, Mendota Unified 115, McCabe Avenue, Mendota, CA 93640.
Lark in the
Morning: July 30-August 7
Coming to the
Probably the earliest technique for playing the five-string banjo is what we now call the clawhammer style. This style is named for the rather claw-like posture of the player's right hand. The thumb's position looks a little like the nail-removing claw of a clawhammer, and the hand is held in a similar fashion that a carpenter holds a claw hammer, so the label of clawhammer style has several levels of meaning. I would characterize the clawhammer sound as strumming and plucking.
The clawhammer technique and related styles like frailing and rapping were all used and developed by early entertainers before the turn of the 20th century. These styles were used by entertainers, minstrels and large urban banjo orchestras. Today, this style is usually associated with mountain music, folk music and old-time contra dance and even some square dance music.
Soon after the banjo's inception, its dynamic popularity attracted other techniques such as finger style. Playing music was a common evening's entertainment in many urban homes in the late 19th and early 20th century. Evenings were spent around the piano and the banjo. Guitars were commonly played at that time with an adaptation of the classical guitar approach, which involves plucking the strings with the individual fingers of the right hand. This approach brought to banjo playing many classical guitar techniques, which naturally led to the exact reproduction of any melody note for note.
The individual finger movements of the piano are somewhat related to this classical guitar method and were ideally suited to the banjo. By plucking the banjo strings with the thumb and fingers of the right hand, notes could be played with great speed and dexterity that allowed note-for-note playing of more complex melodies than the clawhammer method.
Along with this approach came musical influences from the piano, guitar, violin and other classical instruments. Early finger-style banjoists played classical music, flamenco, ragtime, show tunes and just about every popular form of music of the day. In fact, the use of the banjo in what we now know as bluegrass music didn't happen on a widely promoted scale until about the 1950s.
So, identifying the banjo so exclusively with the bluegrass style is actually a relatively modern viewpoint. Banjo concerts in the late 19th and early 20th century would have contained music by John Philip Sousa, Beethoven, Scott Joplin, Stephen Foster and a few novelty tunes from the more esoteric styles of the day. What we now think of as novelty tunes were, at that time, the mainstream in banjo entertainment.
Creating music is rewarding beyond measure. Creating music on the banjo is one of life's most thrilling musical experiences. From lullabies to breakdowns, sonatas to folk songs, from bluegrass to jazz to world music, the banjo's limitless possibilities lie within our hands and hearts. It's up to us to create the banjo traditions of the future.-Excerpted with kind permission from the "Deering Gazette," a Deering Banjo Co. periodic publication. back to top
Singing in a chorus
is one of the most exciting and spiritual experiences in the world.
Daniel encourages you to come and check it out...by the end of the first
session, he guarantees you'll be amazed at what the group can achieve.
Bob Black, long-time SFFMC member, founding father and for 20 years core member of the Bay Area band Ellis Island, died November 3. With his primary instrument, the mandolin, Bob played Klezmer, Russian, old-timey, Yiddish and other tunes whenever and wherever folk music was found. Memorial services will be held at the Unitarian Fellowship Hall, 1824 Cedar at Bonita in Berkeley, 3pm to 5:30pm on January 24.
Janny MacHarg, prolific writer of extraordinary and outstanding songs, died November 4. Janny was especially active with the Bay Area's Freedom Song Network. Materials for an archive of her life and work will be appreciated and may be sent to Ida Red (email@example.com, (415) 345-1598). Photographs of Janny and copies of her songs are espcially wanted. A memorial is planned for early 2004. back to top
The Northern California Bluegrass Society has created a national web page to assist in the recovery of lost or stolen instruments; it's linked off the NCBS's wegbsite at ncbs.us. Persons reporting stolen or missing instruments can post the details and contact information on the page, which will be a central information source for musicians, music stores, used instrument dealers, and law enforcement agencies. There is no charge for the service.
Evo Bluestein has created a web page to promote the autoharp: www.evobluestein.com/news.html. Besides links to his own "Evoharp" model, there are links to books, recordings, and gatherings.
Sound Barter Corporation has set up www.soundbarter.com, where musicians can swap instruments, lessons, accompaniment and whatnot; non-musicians can swap graphic design services, furniture and watever else musicians need. The emphasis is on bartiner, not buying and selling.
The East Bay Fiddling & Picking Potluck schedule is at qibits.com/F&PPotlucks.hmtl.
AND KAREN BRANDOW
We were expecting Charlie's biting satire and outrageous barbs at our government, but there were only three of these:The Twelve Days of Invasion, Don't Pay Taxes, and Homeland Über Alles. The only other original song, If Jimmy Didn't Have to Go is a very poignant commentary on war. Except for The List by Rick Burkhardt, the rest of the songs are deadly serious commentaries on social justice, or rather social injustice. Subjects range from migrant workers to civil rights. They've included one of our very favorites, Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon, as well as a medley of Moving Day and We Shall Not Be Moved.
This album is not for the squeamish. Karen and Charlie take off the gloves and tell it like it is, and "it" isn't good. Many of the songs tell sad tales merely a reflection of the times we live in. They make you laugh and make you cry. The lyrics are not included, but the words are very easy to understand. Bev and Jerry Praver back to top
THE PINEY CREEK
WEASELS OLD TIME STRING BAND: Off To California.
The Weasels band, formed in 1987 according to their announcement, "features a high-energy old-timey sound that combines highly entertaining arrangements with tight harmony and dynamic musicianship" assertions that are thoroughly demonstrated in the 21 cuts on this outstanding CD. Included are not-so-well-known Old Time tunes, popular favorites, and originals by band members all tunes and songs to be listened and danced to over and over. Examples of the variety are Cluck Old Hen, Darling Nellie Grey, Over the Waterfall, Star of the County Down, and Eric Anderson's original dance tune Three Cups Short. I guarantee that anyone who likes old-timey and just good music will take great pleasure in this CD. And they play fair: every member gets the chance to sing and to shine. And shine they do. Highly recommended! Faith Petric back to top
There are 11 stories and songs. The stories are frequently told to a background of quiet guitar, sometimes Dennis's 12-string, which adds to the listening pleasure. Half of the stories are Dennis's originals; some of the traditional ones he has revised to make his own. My favorite is probably The Preacher and the Bear, but there is also the story of the caught-naked hermit whose strategically placed hat miraculously didn't fall, and Oh by Jingo with Dennis's variations. One cut features The Quake City Jug Band (which at least partially grew out of the 885 basement) playing The Joint is Jumpin' by Fats Waller, Andy Razal, and J.C, Johnson. While the CD is not commercially available, give Dennis a phone call and something can no doubt be arranged. Faith Petric back to top
JON BARTLETT AND
Jon and Rika both sing with unaffected and very powerful voices. The arrangements are simple, emphasizing the song, not the singer, with Rika providing guitar and concertina accompaniment. Guest musicians include Bob Webb (concertina and harmony vocals), Murray Shoolbraid (piano), and Keith Malcolm (viola). Judiciously used sound effects are a bonus: On Taku Miners, mining drills can be heard at the beginning, the chorus describes the placing of the explosives in the drilled holes and the counting of the "shots" to ensure they are all fired properly, and instead of an instrumental break we're treated to is a description of drilling and blasting procedures. Stormalong, a pumping and capstan shanty learned from the singing of Capt. Charles Cates (1899-1960), is accented by the rhythmic yall of the capstan's pawl (one of the metal levers on the base of a capstan that prevents it from spinning backwards as it is turned). Other favorites include Old Faro (about a professional gambler in the gold-rush days); Teaming Up the Cariboo Road (about driving freight wagons on the Ashcroft-Barkerville road); and The Kettle Valley Line (about the railway running from Hope, BC, to Lethbridge, Alberta--written by Ean Hay from the experiences of his father at the end of the First World War). Heartily recommended to all folk music enthusiasts! Richard Adrianowicz back to top