Club News

Musical Meetings

Musical meetings of the San Francisco Folk Music Club are held every other Friday at 885 Clayton Street, between Carl & 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.

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams,
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems.

—Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy (1844–1881)

DateJanuary 1January 15January 29February 12February 26
SetupJody MacKenzieSusan WildeMelissa SarenacBob AllenDebbie Klein
Bulletin BoardMarisa MalvinoDebbie KleinDebbie KleinDebbie KleinSusan Wilde
Host/essEstelle FreedmanPazit ZoharJenni WoodwardPazit ZoharPaula Joyce
Host/essSusan WildeFaith PetricStephen HopkinsSusan WildeFaith
Singing RoomMarisa MalvinoMarlene McCallPaula JoyceMelissa SarenacDebbie Klein
ThemeSomething Old, Something NewThey Died YoungInsanityHearts & FlowersPlaces
CleanupGlen Van LehnMichael O'ReillyMarlene McCallRoan MichaelsMorgan Cowin

Board Meetings

The 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 meeting.

Next folknik Fold-In/Folk Sing: Sunday, February 28, home of Joan Hall and Abe Feinberg

  • Café International, 508 Haight St. at Fillmore
  • FREE (although donations will be gratefully accepted)
  • Second Strings Project

    Don’t forget to mail your sets of used guitar strings to Kevin Deame, 28 Ladd Road, Ellington, CT 06029 for distribution to needy artists in poor countries.

    Liam Clancy

    A Parting Glass

    Liam Clancy, the last surviving member of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, died in Cork, Ireland on December 4 at the age of 74. Tom Clancy died in 1990, Pat in 1998, Bobby in 2002, and Tommy Makem in 2007.

    The group was regarded as Ireland’s first pop stars. They recorded 55 albums, sold millions of recordings worldwide and appeared at a sold-out Carnegie Hall, New York, and the Royal Albert Hall, London.

    Liam and Tommy Makem emigrated to America in 1956, pursuing careers in acting, both on stage and television.

    Liam began singing with his brothers at fund-raising events, and the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem began recording on their own “Tradition” label in the late 1950s. A performance on the Ed Sullivan Show launched the group into stardom. The quartet, consisting of Liam, his two older brothers Tom and Patrick Clancy, plus Tommy Makem, recorded numerous albums for Columbia Records and enjoyed great success during the 1960s folk revival.

    Norton Buffalo

    Norton Buffalo, harmonica virtuoso, one-of-a-kind performer and consummate accompanist to the stars, died November 1 from cancer, near his home in Paradise (Butte County), at age 58. Norton, who appeared on more than 180 albums and spent 33 years as a member of the Steve Miller Band, was diagnosed with cancer in September.

    He played on the Grammy-winning Doobie Brothers album Minute by Minute and the recent children’s music CD by Kenny Loggins. With Bette Midler, he played in the band and acted in the film The Rose.

    He collaborated on tours and a series of recordings for more than 20 years with blues guitarist Roy Rogers. “Norton Buffalo was a character and a half,” Rogers said. “He had a sense of humor. He liked to have a good time, and the joy of his playing came out.”

    Miller said: “He was a complete original. He worked with all kinds of people. He did tons and tons of projects. Everybody who worked with him loved him, really enjoyed working with him.”

    One of their songs, “Ain’t No Bread in the Breadbox,” was a cornerstone in the ‘90s live repertoire of the Jerry Garcia Band. “His harp could become the valley of the moon, Krakatoa, a storm out at sea, then the sweetest sound this side of heaven,” said Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, who played with Norton in a project called High Noon in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

    Norton joined the Steve Miller Band in 1976 at the beginning of the “Fly Like an Eagle” tour and has remained a constant presence in Miller’s music ever since. “He had way more music in him than I could use,” Miller said. “I just had more work for him than everybody else.”

    Norton was a virtuosic and technically accomplished chromatic harmonica player who could play anything—folk, blues, rock, pop, country. Born in Oakland and raised in Richmond, he was raised in a musical family. His father played harmonica, and his mother sang in ‘40s San Francisco nightclubs.

    Norton joined Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen on a 1976 European tour, before returning to the Bay Area and forming the Norton Buffalo Stampede, a band that headlined Bay Area clubs for several years. In between tours with Miller and Rogers, Mr. Buffalo had been appearing recently with the Norton Buffalo Trio with his third wife, Lisa Flores.

    Bess Lomax Hawes

    Bess Lomax Hawes, who sang with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, co-wrote the Kingston Trio hit “M.T.A.” and spent a lifetime documenting American folklore in recordings and films, died on November 30 at age 88.

    Hawes, the daughter of legendary folk musicologist John Lomax, grew up helping her father collect and transcribe field recordings of folk musicians for the Library of Congress in the 1920s and ‘30s. Musicologist Alan Lomax, her brother, made some of Guthrie‘s earliest recordings. In the 1940s, Bess joined Guthrie, Seeger, her husband Butch Hawes, and others in a group called the Almanac Singers that Seeger has joked never bothered to rehearse until it got on stage. The many songs they wrote as a group were mostly in support of union movements. In the late ‘40s, Hawes and Jacqueline Steiner co-wrote “M.T.A.,” a whimsical tale of a man named Charlie who gets on a Boston subway, doesn’t have the proper fare, and is never allowed to get off. It later became a hit for the Kingston Trio.

    Bess moved to Los Angeles with her husband in the 1950s, settling into what was then a bohemian community in Topanga Canyon. She later joined the faculty at California State University, Northridge, which honored her with a Phenomenal Woman Award in 2004. In the 1960s and ’70s, as a professor in the anthropology department, she made several documentary films exploring American music and folklore. She also taught banjo, guitar and mandolin. She moved to Washington in the mid-1970s, where she was director of the National Endowment of the Arts folk arts program until retiring in 1992. President Bill Clinton awarded her the National Medal of Arts in 1993.

    Ed Bronstein

    Long-time folk club member Ed Bronstein passed away on December 4, of lymphoma. For 50 years Ed attended the San Francisco song swaps with great regularity, frequently providing an original song on whatever “theme” was announced for an evening. His lanky form, his humor and wit, and his musicianship will be sorely missed from our gatherings. We mourn the loss of our very dear companion.

    It gave Ed Bronstein a great deal of pleasure that his book of songs and limericks managed to get out before his death. And it is a great pleasure to all of us that we have it!

    The Joy of Human Frailty

    A book by Biggs Tinker (Ed always liked his pen name to be repeated three times rapidly)
    A Biggs’ Crew Publication

    Here are 25 of his favorite original songs along with almost 50 limericks, an addendum of stories and poems, ending with his own rhymed epitaph:

    Edward’s dead; well all must go
    And do we mourn him? why no.
    ’Tis enough that in our hearts
    He yet remains the King of Farts.
    In his time he came to be
    Our poet of scatology
    Human frailties made sublime
    In doggerel verse with perfect rhyme.
    Of Edward now there’s but a wisp,
    They’ve burned his corpus to a crisp.
    But as his ash the wind breaks free
    Let us break wind to his memory.

    Though scatology is emphasized here, our favorite folkie song composer wrote also of love in “Much Too Unhappy to Cry,” of the joys of SFFMC “Music Camp(s)” and of his love of music played “Old-time Country Style.” Plus many songs that are just plain funny observations of people and events, real or imagined.

    SFFMC has been given copies of The Joy of Human Frailty to sell at $10 each. $5 of this remains with the Club and $5 goes to the Bay Hospice, which supported Ed during his final weeks in which he was taken by a recurrent bout of lymphoma.

    There will be a get-together in Ed's memory at 885 Clayton Street on Sunday, January 24, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Drop in with memories, songs, stories, laughter and, if you're up to it, musical instruments.