Club News

The San Francisco Folk Music Club is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the enjoyment, preservation and promotion of acoustic music in individual, family, and community life.

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 washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
Date July 4 July 18 August 1 August 15 August 29
Setup Melissa Sarenac Melissa Sarenac Debbie Klein Susan Wilde Susan Wilde
Bulletin Board Estelle Freedman Susan Wilde Susan Wilde Al Goodwin Stephen Hopkins
Host/ess Tes Welborn Paula Joyce Jo D'Anna Paula Joyce Tes Welborn
Host/ess Paula Joyce Melissa Sarenac Melissa Sarenac Pazit Zohar Susan Wilde
Singing Room Joel Rutledge Marisa Malvino Debbie Klein Melissa Sarenac Estelle Freedman
Theme Liberation Sand, Sea, Sailors Birds, trees Movement/motion Wings & Wheels
Cleanup Faith Dave Sahn Ken Hayes Joel Rutledge Marlene McCall

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.

Joan Hall and Abe Feinberg's

Club News

Temporary address for Peter Krug, who recently lost his home in a fire, is 4052 Sosna Way, Guerneville, CA 95466 and his e-mail address is His phone number remains unchanged.

The Harmony List

The official e-mail list of the SFFMC gives information on upcoming events and happenings of interest to the folk and dance community — often events that are too late to be included in the folknik. All SFFMC members are encouraged to join, both to keep current with what's happening in the Bay Area and beyond, and to be able to communicate quickly with SFFMC members and others in the folk community.

How do you join? Simple. From, our web site, scroll down to the bottom of the home page and click Subscribe to SFFMC's Harmony email list.

A page will be displayed that gives an explanation of the list and a few lines enabling you to join. Just fill in your e-mail address, pick a password, type it again and click on the button that says 'Subscribe." That's it. It will take less than three or four minutes.

You will be sent an e-mail to confirm your subscription.

Charlie Blacklock

Prominent musical saw player, bluegrass fiddler and harmonica player Charlie Blacklock passed away on April 17, 2008 at the age of 91 in Alameda, CA. Charlie started the California Saw Players Assn. (now the International Musical Saw Assn.) in 1991, and produced most of the annual Saw Festivals in Santa Cruz. He was well known nationally and internationally in the musical saw community, and he designed and produced his own line of musical saws, which are still available through Lark in The Morning and Elderly Instruments. He attended many music festivals around the U.S., and was inducted into the American Old-Time Country Music Hall of Fame on September 5, 1999.

Charlie had the amazing ability to play his saw AND a harmonica at the same time. He would sometimes play his saw while smiling and hiding a very small harmonica inside his mouth – which would confuse and enchant all the children and adults around him.

Always his own man, and with the support of his wife Viola (deceased in 2005), Charlie led a full life. He had a deep love of family, people and music and will be fondly remembered and missed. Our hearts go out to Charlie's family, including his sons Rodney, Kenneth and Paul, and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. More information about Charlie and the musical saw can be seen at:

Steve Lutes

Folk club member Steve Lutes died tragically of a heart attack on May 31, 2008, at the age of 63. A talented guitar player and singer with a quick wit and a kind heart, Steve came regularly from his home in Pacifica to Club jams at Faith's house in San Francisco. His death is a great loss to his family and friends, and to the musical community.

Steve was born in Long Beach, CA, but his family soon moved to Escondido, where he grew up and attended local schools. Steve's love of music ranged from classical to rock & roll, but his favorite style was acoustic old-timey music. By the time he was a teenager he was playing banjo and singing and playing the blues on acoustic guitar.

Steve participated in the voter registration drive in Mississippi in 1964 and was a member of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee). He worked his way through San Diego State University playing guitar and working as doorman at the legendary Heritage Folk Theatre in Mission Beach. After receiving his Master's Degree in 1972, he and his wife Kathy moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where he earned a Ph.D. with honors in Anthropology at the University of Kansas.

While doing fieldwork for his dissertation in Mexico, he was summoned to become a Pascola Dancer, an honor he valued as highly as his academic degrees. Following completion of his Ph.D. at KU, Steve did further post-doctoral research in Guam and Mindanao, and then worked as a consultant to the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas and taught at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

However, after returning to California in 1983, he decided to devote his life to public service, and thus began his career with the City of San Francisco, from which he retired in 2006.

Shortly before retirement Steve began playing music again, searching out his musician friends from the Heritage days while simultaneously meeting and playing with Bay Area acoustic musicians. He was a proud member of the San Francisco Folk Music Club, and it gave him great joy to share his guitar-picking skills and love of music. He was happily looking forward to working with a 'Music in Schools" program in the coming school year.

He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Kathy (nee McElhiney); brother, James Lutes; daughter, Marie McCreary; and granddaughter, Jessica.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in memory of Steve Lutes be sent to the Rob Schneider Music Foundation, P.O. Box 1129, Pacifica, CA 94044.

Bruce "Utah" Phillips

Utah Phillips, folksinger, storyteller, railroad tramp, and a seminal figure in American folk music who performed extensively and tirelessly for audiences on two continents for 38 years, died at age 73 on May 23, 2008 of congestive heart failure in Nevada City, California, a small town in the Sierra Nevada mountains where he lived for the last 21 years with his wife, Joanna Robinson, a freelance editor.

Born Bruce Duncan Phillips in Cleveland, Ohio, he was the son of labor organizers. Whether through this early influence or an early life that was not always tranquil or easy, by his twenties, Phillips demonstrated a lifelong concern with the living conditions of working people. He was a proud member of the Industrial Workers of the World, popularly known as 'the Wobblies," an organizational artifact of early 20th-century labor struggles that has seen renewed interest and growth in membership in the last decade, not in small part due to his efforts to popularize it.

Phillips served as an Army private during the Korean War, an experience he would later refer to as the turning point of his life. Deeply affected by the devastation and human misery he had witnessed, upon his return to the United States he began drifting, riding freight trains around the country. His struggle would be familiar today, when the difficulties of returning combat veterans are more widely understood, but in the late fifties Phillips was left to work them out for himself. Destitute and drinking, Phillips got off a freight train in Salt Lake City and wound up at the Joe Hill House, a homeless shelter operated by the anarchist Ammon Hennacy, a member of the Catholic Worker movement and associate of Dorothy Day.

Phillips credited Hennacy and other social reformers he referred to as his "elders" with having provided a philosophical framework around which he later constructed songs and stories he intended as a template his audiences could employ to understand their own political and working lives. They were often hilarious, sometimes sad, but never shallow.

"He made me understand that music must be more than cotton candy for the ears," said John McCutcheon, a nationally-known folksinger and close friend. In the creation of his performing persona and work, Phillips drew from influences as diverse as Borscht Belt comedian Myron Cohen, folksingers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and country stars Hank Williams and T. Texas Tyler.

A stint as an archivist for the State of Utah in the 1960s taught Phillips the discipline of historical research; beneath the simplest and most folksy of his songs was a rigorous attention to detail and a strong and carefully-crafted narrative structure. He was a voracious reader in a surprising variety of fields. Meanwhile, Phillips was working at Hennacy's Joe Hill house. In 1968 he ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. The race was won by a Republican candidate, and Phillips was seen by some Democrats as having split the vote. He subsequently lost his job with the State of Utah, a process he described as "blacklisting."

Phillips left Utah for Saratoga Springs, New York, where he was welcomed into a lively community of folk performers centered at the Caffé Lena, operated by Lena Spencer. "It was the coffeehouse, the place to perform. Everybody went there. She fed everybody," said John "Che" Greenwood, a fellow performer and friend. Over the span of the nearly four decades that followed, Phillips worked in what he referred to as "the Trade," developing an audience of hundreds of thousands and performing in large and small cities throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. His performing partners included Rosalie Sorrels, Kate Wolf, John McCutcheon and Ani DiFranco.

"He was like an alchemist," said Sorrels, "He took the stories of working people and railroad bums and he built them into work that was influenced by writers like Thomas Wolfe, but then he gave it back, he put it in language so the people whom the songs and stories were about still had them, still owned them. He didn't believe in stealing culture from the people it was about."

A single from Phillips's first record, "Moose Turd Pie," a rollicking story about working on a railroad track gang, saw extensive airplay in 1973. From then on, Phillips had work on the road. His extensive writing and recording career included two albums with Ani DiFranco which earned a Grammy nomination. Phillips's songs were performed and recorded by Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez, Tom Waits, Joe Ely and others. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Folk Alliance in 1997.

Phillips, something of a perfectionist, claimed that he never lost his stage fright before performances. He didn't want to lose it, he said; it kept him improving. Phillips began suffering from the effects of chronic heart disease in 2004, and as his illness kept him off the road at times, he started a nationally syndicated folk-music radio show, Loafer's Glory, produced at KVMR-FM and started a homeless shelter in his rural home county, where down-on-their-luck men and women were sleeping under the manzanita brush at the edge of town. Hospitality House opened in 2005 and continues to house 25 to 30 guests a night. In this way, Phillips returned to the work of his mentor Hennacy in the last four years of his life.

Phillips died at home, in bed, in his sleep, next to his wife. He is survived by his son Duncan and daughter-in-law Bobette of Salt Lake City, son Brendan of Olympia, Washington; daughter Morrigan Belle of Washington, D.C.; stepson Nicholas Tomb of Monterey, California; stepson and daughter-in-law Ian Durfee and Mary Creasey of Davis, California; brothers David Phillips of Fairfield, California, Ed Phillips of Cleveland, Ohio and Stuart Cohen of Los Angeles; sister Deborah Cohen of Lisbon, Portugal; and a grandchild, Brendan. He was preceded in death by his father Edwin Phillips and mother Kathleen, and his stepfather, Syd Cohen.

The family requests memorial donations to Hospitality House, P.O. Box 3223, Grass Valley, California 95945 (530) 271-7144, Jordan Fisher Smith and Molly Fisk (Molly Fisk, 530-277-4686, Jordan Fisher Smith, 530-277-3087,

Tom Hunter

Long-time SFFMC member Tom Hunter died on June 20, 2008 of Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease, a fatal and rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disease. Many club members local to the S.F. Bay area knew him in the '70s before he moved in 1984 to Bellingham, Washington with his wife and family.

Tom was a beloved writer of many songs for kids (like "My Washing Machine Eats Socks" and 'My Turtle's Name is Fred") and visited schools for over 30 years to sing songs. His book Visits to the Heart of Education: Remembering What's Important (available from Song Growing Company), includes five essays, each built on what a teacher or a child has said or done. They are meant to touch the heart and raise issues of education through story. He said "I want my music to be grounded in the realities of what kids and teachers know. I want it to 'ring true'; as it helps people laugh, cry, remember, celebrate, and learn."

Although much of his songwriting was done for children, he also wrote songs for adults, and was probably best known for his song "Rock Me to Sleep," which was included in the folk music anthology Rise Up Singing.

Tom was also the founding host in 1979 of "God Talk" on KGO Radio, and was on the air for three hours each Sunday morning for 5 years. He resigned in 1984 when he moved to Washington.

Cards can be sent to Tom's family at 1225 Sunset Drive #518, Bellingham, WA 98226.

Information about Tom is at

Learn about the disease at

If you would like to make a donation to help the Hunters with medical and transition expenses, to help them protect the wetlands, forest and farm that have seen so much of their love over the years, and to help keep Tom's work alive in the world, you may send a check payable to Tom Hunter Family Donation and mail to Whatcom Educational Credit Union, P.O. Box 9750, Bellingham, WA 98227.