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Memorial Day Campout 2010

U. Utah Phillips Memorial Day Camp. We return again to Waterman Creek: Mark Levy’s place in the redwoods of Santa Cruz County on the way to Big Basin State Park—about an hour and a half from the Bay Area. We can have campfire sings and jams without the usual 10:00 pm curfew imposed by state parks!

Facilities: There are spaces throughout the 7.5 acres of woods for parking and tents, including two spaces where RVs can connect to electricity, but no other hookups. In case of inclement weather there is a heated, 30-foot diameter, roofed & walled shelter for playing and singing.

Water is available. Bring food and regular camping equipment, including tables and chairs, and instruments, of course. Garbage may be recycled, burned, used for compost or carried out. Portable toilets are provided.

Work party: We will organize a work party to help get the site ready. People who want to help may come as early as Wednesday and camp free of charge the days they work. Contact Melissa Sarenac at (415) 647-1474, for more info.

Registration: We encourage all to make reservations ahead to get directions and to give us an estimate of vehicles and attendees. We are camping on land owned by SFFMC member Mark Levy, and parking is somewhat limited—about 20 vehicles—so please carpool. Click here for a registration form.. It is not necessary to bea Folk Club member to attend.

Maps: People who pre-register receive a confirmation sheet with a map and exact directions. Please mail in your registration to be received by May 14 to allow time for the map and confirmation sheet to reach you. If you need a map, contact Melissa Sarenac or Ed Hilton: (510) 523-6533.

34th SF Free Folk Festival

SFFMC’s wonderful, one-of-a-kind folk music and dance event is better than ever, June 12-13! This year we’ll be at the very inviting Presidio Middle School near Geary and 30th Avenue, San Francisco. There are lots of open spaces for jamming.

Tell your pals and help us get the word out! This is a totally (and we mean totally) community-run, all-volunteer festival. Prior years’ festivals have seen more than 60 great music and dance workshops, of all levels, led by experienced teachers from our local community and beyond.


We need a small army of about 200 volunteers to make the festival run smoothly. If you’re interested, contact Volunteering is always fun and opportunities are numerous and varied. Pre-festival (as in now), we need volunteers to help call people and organize. And just so you don’t think it’s all work and no play, volunteers have been known to get jam sessions going at instrument check, at the info desk, in the parking lot...

For more info, regularly updated lists of per- formers and workshops, past years’ program, and photos check out the festival website: You can also join the Festival’s Facebook group: San Francisco Free Folk Festival.

See you at the Festival!

Fold-In/Folk Sing

The fold-in is at noon, Sunday, April 25, at the home of Marian Gade, 136 Highland Blvd., Kensington, 510-524-9815.

The more, the merrier. Help with the folknik, enjoy a meal afterwards, and make music. Bring a potluck dish and instruments.

Country Joe and the Open Mic

Country Joe McDonald’s Open Mic takes place on second Fridays all this year, at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1606 Bonita at Cedar, Berkeley. The lottery sign-up is at 6:30 pm, and the show starts at 7:00 pm. $5.00 Donation appreciated. Refreshments available.

CAG Returns in 2010

California Autoharp Gathering is thrilled to announce the return of the Gathering this May at the St. Nicholas Ranch, Dunlap, California. The theme will be “Road to Glory,” a fusion of western-cowboy songs with songs and tunes of inspiration from all denominations, focusing on the sounds and emotions that are part of gospel and western-cowboy music. However, all music is welcome!

CAG is geared toward all levels of musicians and is particularly welcoming of beginners including those who have never played an instrument. It has the best staffing in the autoharp world: Andy Cohen, Bryan Bowers, Bob Fish, Bodie Wagner, Roz Brown, Carey Dubbert, David Rainwater, Jem Bluestein, Laura Boosinger, Ron Wall, Pete Daigle, Tina Louise Barr, The Canote Brothers, Todd Crowley, Evo Bluestein, Ray Frank, Linda Guerrero, Bill Lehr, Kenny Hall, Barry Schulz, and Kevin Hill.

Basic details on the Festivals page. For more info on the program, accommodations and registration, visit or contact Mike Mueller, 559-497-3830.

The Golden Toad

A legacy of CA Renaissance Faire music

Mullah’s Teahouse Presents: The Golden Toad Music and Dance Camp is a new music camp in June, in Occidental, CA. The camp highlights a fantastic array of local music and dance teachers and will also feature the world renowned Swedish trio Väsen; but what makes this camp truly special is its tribute to some of the deep roots of the traditional music scene in California.

In the 1960s four friends—Bob Thomas, Will Spires, John Paul, and Don Brown—were invited to play music for the newly formed Northern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire. They named themselves “The Golden Toad” and a piece of folk music history was made.

The Golden Toad played traditional music for years at the faire. The band grew through the years, sometimes having nearly 40 members on stage at a time. Don Brown, or “The Mullah” as he was sometimes called, was also the founder of another Renaissance Faire institution: The Teahouse of the Mullah Nasrudin’s Donkey. If you passed through the faire during those early days The Teahouse was not to be missed. It was the central meeting point for many at the faire with great Turkish coffee, chai, belly dancers and fabulous eastern music.

When The Mullah passed away in 2009, one of his last acts was to pass his business on and help conceive of a camp that honors the name of The Golden Toad and those early pioneers of the folk scene in California. The result is this camp, and it has many of the early members of The Golden Toad as honored guests and Camp Gurus. Basic info on the Festivals page. In-depth info: visit the camp website at

Monthly French Country Dance

Laurent Vintaer—who led the wonderful Breton dancing at last year’s Free Folk Festival—invites us all to attend the French County Dance he hosts each month.

Laurent moved to the U.S. from France thirty years ago, when he was seventeen. Recently, he realized he missed his native country dancing so much he decided to host one and it soon became a regular thing. They dance rural dances from the Massif Central in Auvergne: bourées, rondeaux, passe pieds, musettes etc; and Breton dances: gavottes, plinns, laridées, an dro, hanter dro, etc. The music is traditional: mostly old dance tunes for pipe and hurdy-gurdy but can also include diatonic accordion, French bagpipes, fiddle, old wooden flute and dulcimer.

The dances are held the 4th Sunday of every month, from 2:00 to 5:00 pm, in Bernal Heights at 515 Cortland Ave, SF. For more info, contact Laurent: 415-517-8129,

Geri McGilvray at Norton Gallery

Our very own Geri McGilvray—whose wonderful sketches of SFFMC musicians have graced the folknik for years—is having a retrospective solo exhibit of her work in the Norton Gallery at the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto. The show includes more than thirty paintings (many of musicians), and sculpture and runs March 1 - 30. There will be a free Artist’s Reception on March 5th, 6:00 - 9:00, with live music by Doug Jones.

Geri will also teach a free drawing class at the Gallery on March 17th, 1:00 - 3:30. For more info about the show and to see more of Geri’s art go to her website at The Norton Gallery is located at 668 Ramona St., Palo Alto,CA,

Interested in Ladino Songs?

Mark Levy (on whose beautiful land we’ll be holding this year’s Memorial Day Campout) is considering forming a group to learn Ladino songs from the Sephardic Jewish tradition and perhaps a separate group to learn songs in Yiddish.

The folk ballads and songs of the Sephardic Jews of Turkey, Greece, Morocco, Syria, and the Balkans are some of the most beautiful melodies in the Jewish tradition. Yiddish folk songs from eastern Europe were described by Albert Einstein as “the most heartfelt” he had ever heard. We’d learn songs of love, work, children’s, and other songs from a bygone era of Jewish culture. Sheet music and recordings would be provided for both groups.

Mark is a singer and lecturer who specializes in older Judaic folk music in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Ladino, as well as other areas of Jewish music history. He has been collecting and singing for over 30 years.

Group location could be San Francisco or Berkeley, depending on what works for participants. There would be a small fee per person, depending on group size. He anticipates starting in the spring. If you are interested, please respond directly to Mark: or 831-338-7283. Specify whether your interest is in Ladino or Yiddish songs.

We Rang It In!

by Patience Young

How to describe year two of Camp New Harmony? The mellow harmonies converged. Instruments and voices of all sorts wafted over the breeze; dance hall activity was rocking and gracious; workshops flowed into each other as one day cycled into the next. There was room to move, time to visit, fresh air to breathe, good stories and cheer and celebration in abundance.

Improvements over the first year included better food (thanks, Tammy and crew!), improved workshop spaces (with heat!), more comfortable sleeping (bedboards on request), and even the weather (mostly) complied. Thanks to all the campers who registered concerns and suggestions on last year’s scroll and this year’s notebook. The committee has known where to focus efforts and has alleviated many of the problems encountered when we first gathered at our new home in the Sonoma hills. Our camp community is stellar at taking on the role of Ralph, accommodating others in time of need, and being conscientious about containing contagions. We have established good relations with camp management (Maureen and her crew are awesome at all hours!), and look forward to ever-smoother collaboration in the years ahead.

Many, many people make camp successful. At the risk of missing some silent heroes, we give (alphabetical) thanks to Kate Chaitin (chore organization), Cal Herrmann (concert sound), Larry Joba (workshops), Jeremy Kammerer (piano tuning), Mark Kartman (power/heat), Lorraine Kostka (arts and crafts), Rachel Levin (maps and signs), Marlene McCall (club treasurer), Jim Oakden (evening dance coordinator), Michael Riemer (dance hall sound), Jim Saxe (dance floor), Ed Silberman (concert hall czar), and Bettine and Lawrence Wallin (mulled wine and cider).

The camp committee thanks Ray Frank, who is retiring from this group after 25 years of service. New committee members Nick Holbrook and Joe Offer have joined Charlie Fenton, Mary and David Luckhardt, Jane McKendry, Robert Reed, Katie Riemer, and Patience Young, and we are doing our best to make next year’s camp better than ever. Be sure to keep your membership current! And advise others to do the same.

Memorial for Ed Bronstein

About sixty SFFMC members and family members gathered at 885 Clayton Street on January 24 to exchange memories of Ed Bronstein and sing some of his songs.

Family members spoke briefly of their memories of Ed; others sang songs that Ed had written and performed at SFFMC gatherings. Joe Lavelle, who had known Ed for years, led the gathering in singing the last song that Ed had written shortly before his death. The song is in this issue.

John Kelly: So long Ed, I’m richer for having known you. Your songs will outlive both of us and bring smiles to people’s faces for years to come.

Marisa Malvino: Thank you Ed, for your wacky wit, your warm smile, your encouragement, and the songs, of course! You’ve touched many hearts along the way.

Carole Sylvester: Loved Ed; his smile, his love of life—the world was a better place with him in it.

Charlotte (Gerst) Patterson: Miss you Ed; you really fill the place with joy.

Susanne Karch: I’ll always remember and miss terribly your big bear hugs and your tremendous kindness to me.

Gail Fratar Kessler: So glad to have known you Ed. Your cheerful interest was always so welcome. I expect you’re farting around with the angels and happy.

Faith Petric: Ed Bronstein, faithful attender for 50 years at the song swaps and jams at 885 Clayton and author of many many songs, died Friday morning, December 4. He will be sorely missed, but his leaving was peaceful and he had announced himself ready to go.

Laura Lind: I last sang with Ed at a party jam in Marin county. Ed sang “Wish I were a Little Bar of Soap” and some other soap reference song to a glamorous performing friend of mine, and me, to our great amusement. Miss him and his love of words. I look forward to his book.

Barbara Millikan: Ed was part of my first exposure to the SFFMC. He sang “The Outhouse of Our Dreams” at Arequipa the first time I went, and I taped it. People had such fun singing all the harmonies on the final verse that my tape recorder mic overloaded and distorted the sound. He was sweet and charming and funny. I will miss him.

Phyllis Jardine: Ed was upstaged by a raccoon at Portola State Park at one July 4th campout. As Ed was on stage performing, a large raccoon wandered across the stage behind him. The audience began to chuckle, then burst out laughing. Ed, puzzled, looked around to see the source of the amusement, since the song he was singing was not a funny one. He finally saw the raccoon as it lumbered off the stage into the darkness and joined the crowd in a hearty laugh.

Denis Franklin: Happy trails, Ed, to a welcoming spirit generous enough to encourage a fellow “straight harp” player when I joined the club in the 1970s. Thinking of your beaming smile lightens my heart.

Estelle Freedman:

I think of Ed as rather spry
And with a twinkle in his eye
Especially when he wrote a verse
With naughty words he’d interspersed
I think of Ed and his guitar
Picking tunes, some rather hard
And how he’d sing “those were the days”
Back when we sang, and laughed and played.
I think of Ed and shed a tear.
Though he’s at peace, I miss him here!
So while the Angel Band’s his scene
Let’s raise a song for Ed Bronstein.