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 just happiness in search of your ears. ­”
—Missouri Clem (W. Clem Small)
Date March 12 March 26 April 9 April 23 May 7
Setup Joel Rutledge Bob Allen Joel Rutledge Susan Wilde Joel Rutledge
Bulletin Board Susan Wilde Debbie Klein Rick Myers Bob Allen Estelle Freedman
Host/ess Debbie Klein Paula Joyce Paula Joyce Paula Joyce Marisa Malvino
Host/ess Melissa Sarenac Debbie Klein Marisa Malvino Melissa Sarenac Glen Van Lehn
Singing Room Estelle Freedman Joel Rutledge Stephen Hopkins Debbie Klein Dave Sahn
Theme Women Depression Era Unfulfilled Love Birds Separations & Reunions
Cleanup Jim Letchworth David Vasquez Ken Hayes Morgan Cowin 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 Board meeting.

NEXT FOLKNIK FOLD-IN/FOLK SING: Sunday, April 25 at home of Marian Gade

Club News

Welcome to new board members Susan Wageman and Bob Helliesen, who join Thad Binkley, Charlie Fenton, Hali Hammer, Ken Hayes, Ed Hilton, Phyllis Jardine, Jerry Michaels, Faith Petric, and Melissa Sarenac on the SFFMC Board of Directors. Thank you, Susan and Bob, and all other board members, for your devotion to the Folk Club.

Kiyohide Kunizaki of the Tokyo Folklore Center, a member of the club, sent us a New Year’s greeting for a happy 2010.

Nancy Borsdorf, longtime club member and musician now of Oroville, wrote: “Dearest Faith and Folknikers: Happiest of New Years keeping music alive. I love reading the folknik, finding familiar names and places and being inspired by the reviews and printed music. My life as a musician was my Hungarian mother’s greatest wish. I was so happy to please her and she would encourage me. But she died when I was a teenager. The folk community gave me a new heart and courage to keep playing my music. I’m happy to be a music merry- maker whenever possible. One little girl asked me at my music assembly, ‘How many languages do you know?’ Her eyes got wide with surprise when I answered, ‘All of them, with music the universal language.’ I hope all had a great Camp Harmony.”

Marin Theatre Company will be presenting the musical Woody Guthrie’s American Song May 27-June 20. This stirring musical follows Guthrie as he rambles coast to coast “from California to the New York Islands,” and features over two dozen of his most famous songs, including “Bound for Glory” and “This Land Is Your Land.” The cast of five actors includes Sam Misner and Megan Smith of San Francisco-based folk duo Misner & Smith. For tickets call Marin Theatre Company at (415) 388-5208, or visit their website at

On Friday, March 5, from 6:00-9:00 p.m., the Norton Gallery at the Pacific Art League (668 Ramona St., Palo Alto) will present an artist’s reception for “Through the Eyes of a Woman,” an exhibition showcasing 30 figurative and abstract works by Geri McGilvray, running from March 1st through March 30th. Doug Jones will sing and play for the reception. Also, at the same location, Geri will teach a free drawing class on March 17th, from 1:00-3:30 p.m. See Geri’s work at or contact her at

Margaret DuBois has written a memoir of growing up in the 1930s in a household headed by her grandfather, a Roosevelt-bashing politically active Republican. East Bay folkie Roy Trumbull took the memoir, added Ken Burns-like photos, posters and illustrations, and put it on YouTube:

Evie Ladin’s new CD, Float Downstream, is now available. Details at Send $17 to Evie Ladin, PO Box 3408, Oakland, CA 94609. Evie says “Thanks for your support. I’m ready to start the next one!”

Camp New Harmony Lost and Found 2009-10 currently stored in Central Berkeley. Please contact Nick Holbrook at 415-328-3790 or

Si Kahn, folk organizer, singer/songwriter, book author and all around outstanding special person will be at the Freight on Sunday, March 7. His new CD, Courage, with 16 new songs, will be available, as well as his newly released text “Creative Community Organizing,” in which one who does it tells how it is done.

Denis Franklin writes, “To me, the spirit of the Folk Club has something to do with the beauty of hearing ordinary folks produce moments that are quite beautiful. To me, our spirit stands against the assumption that the only people who can produce music are professional entertainers who have been created into stars by powerful producers.”

Peninsula Bluegrass Borg

The Thursday bluegrass jam on the peninsula has a new name and a new home. The Peninsula Bluegrass Borg, an amorphous, ever changing hybrid of bluegrass and old-time jammers that will morph and change and ASSIMILATE and be peskily resistant to the phasers and torpedoes of the Federation, offers an eclectic mix of bluegrass, old-time, and whatever else strikes the players' fancy.

Everyone is welcome to come and pick, or if you don't play, to listen. All acoustic instruments welcome, no amplification please!

Every Thursday from 7-10 p.m. at Cafe Sportivo, 965 Brewster Ave., Redwood City. (650) 365-3500. The venue holds up to 88, is run by very nice folks who support live music, and is acoustically sound. The jam runs at the same time as before: 7:00-10:00 p.m. There is ample off-and-on street parking.

If you haven't been assimilated by the borg yet, join us! If you think you've managed to escape, come on back! And please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested in jamming.

To the Editor of the Wall Street Journal

Daring To Be Square AND Hip I was pleased to see the pictures of the dancers and our band in the paper (I’m the graying-beard playing the fiddle) and to find the Journal interested in square dancing. However, the true nature of our event and the community in which it took place was overlooked in Mary Pilon’s article. “If They Want To Make It Hip, They Shouldn’t Call It Square-Dancing” (By Mary Pilon, WSJ December 16, 2009).

Ours is a loosely-tied grass roots community utterly unaffiliated with the nationally-syndicated clubs on which the article focused. I have nothing at all against Western Club Squares—our country’s diversity is to be celebrated—but that doesn’t represent us. Ms. Pilon’s fine concurrent blog post goes a long way towards illuminating the difference between “club” and “traditional” dances, and I write to expand on that and set the record straight.

Other than cell phones, the Internet, and some tattoos, our approach is in few ways modern. Rather it continues an ancient unbroken (though surely a little bent) chain of community- organized dancing existing everywhere until well into the 20th century. In our country, such events were largely pushed out of existence by the post-WWII corporatization of music and social culture. Some in my generation, inspired in the 60s and 70s by the late Mike Seeger and his colleagues, were fortunate to get to know people who recalled walking miles on a Saturday night in prewar times to dance in houses, barns, or small halls until morning. These dances were among the primary social events for isolated ordinary folk, and the whole family attended. We visited and learned from these older musicians, dancers, and callers, and organized our own dances when we got back home.

Similar dances can be found today throughout the country. Everyone is welcome; there is always live music; little ones sleep at the back of the hall or under the piano while their parents dance; old folks tap their feet or get pulled onto the floor for a slow waltz or two; young people are not relegated to the back of the hall or subjected to complaints. Neither special clothes nor lessons are needed; there is a brief walk-through of the figures before the music starts and no one minds if you miss a step. Children are invited and encouraged to participate in all of it—dancing, singing, playing an instrument, calling, and cleaning up the hall afterwards. Here in Seattle, there are house dances, bar dances, family dances, open-band/open-caller dances, really quite a lot.

Our music and dance community thrived 30 years ago. After a Reagan-era dip, and contrary to the United Square Dancers of America statistics, it’s grown robustly for the last 15 years, driven by the influx of fine young folks in their 20s and 30s. They are darnn proud to be known by the recently maligned label “community organizer”—that’s why it’s square AND hip. The music and dancing is exquisite fun, but more importantly, it forms the nexus of our community which extends in infinite ways off the dance floor.

My band mates in the photo are the same age as my kids, and it’s their generation doing the heavy lifting now as we did in our time. Seeing their young children out on the dance floor or on the stage gives me hope that such homemade social diversions will continue, no matter the competition from privatized culture.


WB Reid
Seattle, Washington

General Meeting Minutes 1/2/10

Call to order: The meeting was called to order at 12:00 p.m. by President Ed Hilton.

Kudos: Thanks and applause for the Camp Harmony committee and Camp Newman staff.

This past year in the SF Folk Music Club:

El Cerrito Free Folk Festival: Ken Hayes, Board member and director of this year’s El Cerrito Free Folk Festival, reported on the El Cerrito Free Folk Festival and stated that there will be another one next year.

San Francisco Free Folk Festival: Marlene McCall, Club treasurer, reported on SFFFF returns and attendance.

Campouts: Ed mentioned the Memorial Day camp at Mark Levy’s. Phyllis Jardine, Board member and director of the camps, mentioned the Boulder Creek campouts on Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends, and referred people to a bulletin board with more information.

Hootenannies: Marlene reported on the Hootenannies. Richard is holding them every other month instead of by the month as before.

Folk Club Music Meetings: Faith invited everyone to the every-other-Friday-night get-togethers at her house and pointed out the article in the January/Februay folknik about Dave Rothkop, the founder of the SFFMC.

Finances: Marlene briefly reported on finances: $70,000± in CDs and cash. She asked if anyone had advice for a safe investment for the CDs; if so, to contact her.

Latest items:

Camp New Harmony, camperships and accessibility: Katie reported on camperships. The campership fund was up to $3,000; additional money collected during registration doubled the fund to $6,000; right now the fund is exhausted. She complimented people on their generosity for their contributions to the fund. The camp is “in the black,” but will not make the larger amounts previously possible with the Camps Campbell- Harmon contracts.

Robert Rodriquez commented on the camp and gave it his compliments.

Katie stated that Camp Newman staff has “bent over backwards” to work with the club to make a better place for them. Decisions can be made on the spot by staff instead of through a hierarchy. Camp Newman lost money this summer; they were shut down during the summer due to swine flu. The club could help Camp Newman by financial contributions; this is under discussion by the Harmony Committee.

Bob Semple and others noted that some camp staff play guitars and are otherwise musical; Katie said we should encourage staff members to participate in workshops and Club activities.

There were several comments that access was difficult due to terrain. Katie said that this has been discussed extensively by the Harmony Committee; one possibility is having on-call “bellhops,” mostly younger campers, to help older campers with their belongings. Another possibility is golf carts.

Is a shuttle a possibility? There are liability issues involved. Accessibility and transportation issues are still being worked on.

Mary Luckhardt called for a “cup wrangler” to handle cup rentals for next year. Melissa Sarenac volunteered.

Katie mentioned a 91-year-old person who wanted to register her caregiver; the person later cancelled due to health problems. Should the Club register caregivers, possibly at a reduced price? The item is still under discussion. There was more discussion of various accessibility issues.


Ed introduced the Board and Harmony Committee members. Phyllis Jardine, Board member and folknik editor, introduced the page editors and explained the bulk mailing process that the folknik goes through.

The meeting adjourned at 1:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Thad Binkley, Recording Secretary

New Open Mic in San Francisco

A new acoustic vocal and guitar open mic is starting at the San Francisco Alano Café at 1748 Market St. in San Francisco (upstairs) (between Valencia and Octavia St). This is a clean and sober café. The open mic will be held on the third Saturday of the month, with sign-up between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Performance order will be drawn from a hat, and the open mic will start at 8:40 p.m. The time allowed for each performer will be calculated based on turnout, and the event will end when it’s arbitrarily over.

Call first to confirm 415-255-7903.