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.

“Music is a release from the tyranny of conscious thought.”
—Thomas Beecham

Date 1/11 1/25 2/8 2/22 3/8 3/22 4/5 4/19 5/3 5/17 5/31
Food Setup Helena HB Melissa S Debbie K Melissa S Help Needed Melissa S Debbie K Debbie K
House Setup Bob A Forrest Glen V Debbie K Joel R Joel R Bob A Joel R
Bulletin Board Estelle F Debbie K Stephen H Estelle F Estelle F Debbie K
Host/ess Estelle F Debbie K Helena HB Yvette T Bob A Bill K Glen V
Host/ess Joel R Tes W Forest Lyla M Kim P D Nunns
Singing Room Helena HB Lyla M Melissa S Marisa M. Estelle F Lyla M Debbie K
Theme Jimmie Rodgers and Carter Family Places Love Personal/Favorites International Women’s Day Light Spring, Flowers
Cleanup Morgan C Kim P Help Needed Kim P Morgan C Owen D
<< Use the scrollbar below to see all the dates >>

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 Board meeting.

NEXT FOLKNIK FOLD-IN/FOLK SING: Sunday, October 28 at home of Joan and Abe Feinberg,

Bob Reid/Margaret Miles House Concert

Want to be deeply moved?

This is your chance to see Bob Reid and Margaret Miles making a rare appearance at a house concert in Piedmont, hosted by Vicki and Shelby Solomon. They will present a collection of intimate songs from old and new sources, from Malvina Reynolds to Lisa Aschmann, as well as several original songs. This event will take place Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. and is a bargain at $15.00.

Glendale Folk and Heritage Festival

Barbara Giamalvo, Arizona Autoharp Club

As a member of the SF Folk Club for many years and just getting to meet several members over last year’s campouts, I would like to invite everyone to the Glendale Folk & Heritage Festival, in Glendale, Arizona, at Sahuaro Ranch Park Historic Area, 9802 N. 59th Ave., on March 23 and 24, 2013. Glendale is about 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix. Free dry camping is available up to a week prior to the festival. Please drop me an e-mail at to let me know you are coming and I will respond with detailed info.

Looking forward to seeing many at campouts over the next year. ’Til the next note,


John McCutcheon in the Bay Area

From the Freight to Fremont, John McCutcheon starts his greater Bay Area tour on January 12 at the Freight and concludes in Fremont on the 21st before heading to Modesto and south. Pick your venue to hear the 6-time Grammy nominee sing, tell stories and entertain. For ticketing and location details go to

Adventures on the Folk Music Trail

by Lon Austin

I hitchhiked into San Francisco at the end of the summer of 1965. I had spent the summer hitchhiking around the country with my sleeping bag and my Guild guitar. As I did not know anybody in the city, I looked through the newspaper and found an ad for a roommate wanted. I ended up moving into a flat off the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park, near Haight Street. It seems like within a very short time I was hanging out amidst a plethora of flower children, folk singers, Buddhists, Sufis, and other spiritual travelers. Somewhere about this time, I don’t remember exactly when, I began hanging around the San Francisco Folk Music Club at Faith Petric’s house up on Clayton Street.

As Woody Guthrie said one time, these may have been my “greening and gray years” on the folk music trail. I’m not sure if my guitar was ever really in tune, but I sure liked to sing “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad,” and I also discovered Prescott, Arizona cowboy poet Gail Gardener’s great poem/song “Tyin’ a Knot in the Devil’s Tail.” The San Francisco Folk Music Club in many ways was the decisive opening for me as to the possibility of what real folk music was all about. It not only provided an opportunity to hear great folk singers such as Larry Hanks, Kenny Hall, and Faith Petric, as well as many traveling musicians, such as Rosalie Sorrels, but also an opportunity to see that there was a place for people that were on every level of participation in folk music.

The nights that the Folk Music Club met, I remember Faith’s house as being an evening of musical fun and fellowship with homemade soup and beer in her kitchen. There was always a circle of musicians passing a guitar from singer to singer, singing their interpretations of original and traditional songs. Faith’s front room had a collection of records, books and musical instruments hanging on the walls that were a Mecca of learning possibilities. As far as I remember, it seemed like a lot of people played bluegrass music down in the basement.

I left San Francisco in about 1968 to return to Arizona. I eventually got a Recreation degree from Arizona State University, and went to work for the City of Phoenix Recreation Department. Over the years, I have organized and started a number of programs and events that encompass acoustic and folk music. All of them, to my mind, contain a bit of the evenings I remember at the San Francisco Folk Music Club. I’ve primarily been interested in creating opportunities for people to participate, regardless of their ability as a singer or player, and to feel that there was a place for all levels of musicianship. To me, that’s truly what folk music’s about.

Another of the things I came to believe about folk music is that there are some programs that should be free. Some of the things that I initiated over the last thirty to forty years are the Phoenix Folk Traditions Music Festival, the Glendale Folk and Heritage Festival, Peoria Monday Night Melodies, the Encanto Park Coffee House (which continues currently as the Beaded Lizard Gathering), the Arizona Songwriters Gathering, among others.

The thing about which I am most proud is the number of people that I have influenced to get their guitars out of the closet and get out and perform. A tall, lanky kid wandered in to the Phoenix Folk Music Festival and subsequently the Encanto Park Coffee House, stating that he wanted to become a folk singer. At the time he was singing Bob Dylan songs, then went on to write his own songs, and get into old time music. His name is Dom Flemmons and he currently plays all over the world with The Carolina Chocolate Drops, and has gotten to realize his dream. The truth is that it is really about all of the people getting their guitars and banjos out and continuing to sing and play those songs that are the music and the stories of our land, and it doesn’t really matter how good you are, it’s just about sharing yourself.

San Francisco Free Folk Festival

Save the dateā€”the San Francisco Free Folk Festival returns to Presidio Middle School on June 8 - 9, 2013!

If you think you might be interested in serving on the festival committee that organizes, plans, and makes the festival happen, now is the time to contact us by sending an e-mail to

Dance, Then, Wherever You May Be

Part Two

Robert Rodriguez

Note: The title “Dance Then, Wherever You May Be” may seem familiar to some folks, especially those who have been involved with or participated in the annual Christmas Revels productions in Oakland and other cities throughout the U.S. It is in fact the first line of the chorus to “Lord of the Dance,” composed by Sidney Carter, which uses the melody from the Old Shaker hymn, Simple Gifts. In its own way, it is a perfect example of how dance and story are and have been tightly interwoven with one another, as it tells the story of the life of Christ using the narrative metaphor of dance.

In a variant of the oldest Japanese myth of creation, it is told that Amaterasu, the sun-goddess, literally sang and danced the universe into being. Amaterasu had a spat with her brother, the story God, Susanoo by name. She was so angry that for nine days she refused to leave a certain cave. The earth was plunged into total darkness and the sun refused to shine. Other deities got alarmed and used a ruse to lure her forth once again. One of their number stood outside the cave and performed a very seductive dance that would have done Salome proud. Curious at what was going on outside, Amaterasu came forth to assuage her curiosity and after hearing impassioned pleas from her fellow deities, she reconciled with her brother and agreed to resume her celestial activities.

There is an intriguing phenomenon which tells us that in many cultures and traditions, the very words for music and dance are synonymous with one another and no distinctions are made between them. In Greek myth, one of the nine Muses is the goddess of dance, Terpsichore by name. Indian tradition tells us that the god Siva brought dance to the very earth from the realm of heaven, while in ancient Ireland, Brigit, the goddess of music, is said to represent the art of dancing as well. In ancient Egypt, the acolytes of Bastet, the cat deity, are said to constantly dance before her as she intones chants and prayers during times of celebration and ritual. In Afro-Cuban traditions, the Orishas or lesser gods constantly danced before their lords and masters.

Closely allied to the tale of the devil at the dance is the story in which a musical instrument, when played, compels those who hear it to dance without being able to stop until either told to do so or else some outside force intervenes in some other manner.

The tale is known all over the narrative landscape, from North America to the British Isles and Ireland and from Scandinavia to the Balkans and even as far afield as Japan, the Philippines, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. The number and variety of instruments involved are as numerous as the stories themselves -- familiar instruments such as the fiddle, bagpipe, harp and flute, and more exotic ones such as the zurna from Turkey, the Japanese shamisan, the Korean kayagum, and the West African balafon.

In a tale from Southern Italy, a harmonica helps a shepherd to gain a princess to wife and a kingdom to rule. It is a mandolin in a Philippine tale, a guitar in a story from Portugal, and a charange from the Andean mountains of Bolivia. Those who are compelled to dance include a judge, sheriff, a town mayor, a greedy priest, and even a grand vizier or two in the bargain.

The instrument is usually given to the hero by an enigmatic old man in exchange for some kindness, usually the giving of food or drink to a seeming beggar or wanderer. In a rather comic tale from Iceland, a wandering harper manages to outwit a pack of nasty trolls by making them dance all night until the very rays of the rising sun turn them all into stone.

In the story of the origin of the tune known as the “Hangman’s Reel,” a man about to be executed is told he may play his fiddle one more time, so he plays a tune that has been given to him by the devil himself, a tune none of the judges or executioners have ever heard before, and they too begin to dance without being able to stop. Eventually, they almost drop dead from sheer exhaustion before they plead with him to stop playing, and eventually he is allowed to go free.

However, even the devil wins in the end because he manages to get not only the soul of the judge, but everyone else who had anything to do with nearly sending the young man to his gallows fate.

In a tale from Quebec, a would-be fiddler named Ti-Jean Gauthier is given a charm by the devil and when he begins to play his fiddle, he also can tap his feet in a rhythmic dance as well, and everyone in the parish hall begins to dance and are still doing so twelve hours later when the local parish priest arrives just in time to pray for Le Bon Dieu, the good God, to banish evil from the hall. Without warning, the music stops, the dancers stand there rather chagrined but very tired, and the fiddler is banished to the infernal regions to suffer his eventual eternal fate in hell.

(To be continued in Part 3, next issue)