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 everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think that people own it.” —John Lennon

Date 3/8 3/22 4/5 4/19 5/3 5/17 5/31 6/14 6/28
Food Setup Tes W. Melissa S. Debbie K. Melissa S. Debbie K. Melissa S. Help needed Help needed Help needed
House Setup Joel R. Debbie K Joel R. Bob A. Joel R. Help needed Help needed Help needed Help needed
Bulletin Board Estelle Yvette T Margaret B Glen V. Estelle F. Debbie K. Help needed Help needed Help needed
Host/ess Bob A. Bill K. Glen V. Glen V. Glen VL Help needed Bob A. Help needed Help needed
Host/ess Kim P. D. Nunns Lyla M. Bill K Estelle Help needed Help needed Help needed Help needed
Singing Room Estelle F. Lyla M. Dave S. Debbie K Tes Yvette Help needed Help needed Help needed
Theme International Women’s Day Light Late, Great Songwriters/Performers Red, Blue, Green Friendship Joy, Love, Fun TBA TBA TBA
Cleanup Morgan C. Owen D. Kim P. Kim P. Roan Morgan C. Help Needed Help Needed Help Needed
<< 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, April 28 at home of Marian Gade,

Thank You from the Public Library

San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102-4705
November 3, 2012

Faith Petric
San Francisco Folk Music Club
885 Clayton St.
San Francisco, CA 94117

Dear Ms. Petric and Members of the San Francisco Folk Music Club,

Thank you for the gift of four boxes of records of the San Francisco Folk Music Club (late 1950s-1960s). The San Francisco History Center is pleased to receive these items and we look forward to making them accessible. I have included a copy of the signed Deed of Gift for your records.

As you may know, all of our collections are well-used by an appreciative public. We appreciate your efforts to find a good home for these historical documents.

Sincerely,

Tami J. Suzuki, Librarian

San Francisco History Center

From Faith

A heartfelt thank you to all in the busload of campers who found the one place at camp from which a cell phone call could be made and sang in its cold embrace: “Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot”!

Thank you so much!

—Faith

Cliff Rainey

Eileen Levinson wrote:

I’m sad to inform you that my partner of 16 years, Cliff Rainey, a long-time member of the SFFMC, died on Christmas day of respiratory failure as a result of a rare neurological disease, Multiple Systems Atrophy. He was 59.

Cliff was very active in the Club when he lived in the Bay Area, and, when he moved to Pennsylvania, continued to attend Camp Harmony. He liked teaching dance at the camp and especially enjoyed the beer and sea shanties. I accompanied Cliff to Harmony several times and was impressed by the talent and friendliness of so many people.

Cliff loved many of you a lot.

“Farewell to the House” on YouTube

Chris Caswell’s song “Farewell to the House” (see music in this folknik), though never released on a recording, can now be heard on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=T09nLdMni90, or search for “Farewell to the House Chris Caswell”.

Thanks to Sharon Carl for producing this wonderful video, with photo montage and a house concert recording from her Auburn home.

Camp New Harmony Welcomed 2013

Reports and glimpses into merry and meaningful times: Children with parents partnering on the dance floor. Jams in the sunshine of the dining hall plaza. Performances during and despite the New Year’s power outage.

One memory of camp was Quena’s callers’ workshop, culminating in the new callers calling for the New Year’s Eve dance. “Very well thought out, and in the true spirit of Camp Harmony (New and Old).”

Another recalled highlight: Rebecca LaDyne, first time camp attendee, sang a song at the New Year’s Eve concert that she completed after attending Lisa Aschmann’s song-writing workshop. She was accompanied by her husband and a brand-new friend she had met at camp who helped her with the accompaniment. Her two small children came and hugged her during the song. Another “true spirit of Harmony” moment.

Another memory: “an entire busload of campers riding up the hill for cell phone reception to call Faith and wish her a Happy New Year (a little early) after the general meeting. We sang a round of ‘Ring It In,’ if I remember correctly. Camp wasn’t quite the same without her.”

Brisk weather.

Firsts this year: Registration moved next door, and we gained a new sunny workshop space, the Front Room. Also new: for workshops and jams, B Natural (which will be more clearly signed next year); for convenience, the bus in time for breakfast.

As usual, camp succeeded thanks to the many Ralphs among us. Additional kudos go to Newman staff, and especially to Tammy, our wonderful cook whom we all see daily; Christine, our exceedingly helpful liaison whom none of us have ever met; and Benny “No Problem!”, our on-site main man.

In lieu of the “purple notebook,” we now have an e-mail address where campers can send comments and concerns. The committee welcomes your suggestions and observations. The site’s address is:

Wishing you all a fine 2013, and may we all gather again to ring it out!

Jon Fromer 1946-2013

If you marched against war, joined a song on a picket line, or worked for any of a hundred causes, you are sure to have run into Jon Fromer. His spirit and his caring for humanity shone through in every song he sung, whether an original or one from the vast archives of civil rights or union songs that he inspired those around him to sing. On one march, Jon hammered his guitar so hard that by the end, there were two strings left in action. Although Jon regularly wore out his strings at such events, his voice was never known to fade.

Jon died from stomach cancer at his Mill Valley home on January 2. He was surrounded in his last days by friends and his wife of 42 years, Mary Fromer. Though it was known that he was fading, it still sent shock waves across the country when he passed. It is hard to imagine a world without Jon.

Jon worked for KQED-TV for more than 20 years, producing over 1,000 programs, including the science show “Quest” and comedian Will Durst’s talk show “The Durst Amendment.” He produced and wrote the theme song for “We Do the Work,” a PBS series about America’s working class. He was awarded 13 Northern California Emmys, one national Emmy and two Iris Awards from the National Association of Television Program Executives. (KQED’s website says: “More important than the honors Fromer has received is the human touch and appreciation for the diversity of the community that is reflected in all his work.”)

Jon loved children, and worked at KRON, producing programs such as “Git Box Tickle,” “Just Kidding” and “Home Turf.” He wrote hundreds of kids’ songs and worked on TV as a performer, not a producer.

Jon was an original founder in 1982 of Freedom Song Network, active on picket lines and for every human rights cause that needed to be spurred on by music. He was one of the founders of the Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival. Jon went to South Africa with the group Vukani Mawethu and produced a video of the trip that subsequently won an Emmy. He performed each November at the School of the Americas Watch Vigil in Fort Benning, a military training base near Columbus, Georgia, to protest the training of mainly Latin American military officers by the US Department of Defense. This year, though very weak, he attended and performed in a wheelchair. In 2011, Jon was honored with the Joe Hill Artist Lifetime Achievement Award from the Labor Heritage Foundation and the Labor Arts Award from the Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival (an award designed by his father Irving).

Jon Fromer was born in Chicago, but moved to San Francisco in 1950, and grew up in an activist family on Clayton Street in the house next door to Faith Petric.

At age 18 in 1965, Jon marched from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights. He released an album, 3 New Guys With New Ideas About Singing, with the folk trio Jonathan, David (his brother), and Elbert on Mercury Records. He toured with Henry Mancini and recorded with Glen Campbell.

Though sent home to hospice care weak and barely able to talk on December 27, Jon managed to record several songs a few days before his death, engineered by his nephew, Reed Fromer.

A fund has been set up to promote and circulate Jon’s CDs, videos, and yet unpublished novel. Send a check payable to Mary Fromer, P.O. Box 1912, Mill Valley, CA 94942 or donate through PayPal (www.benefitforjonfromer.com). You can view several of Jon’s songs on YouTube, among them “Gonna Take Us All”, “My Feet Are Tired” (written with Bernard Gilbert), and “Welcome”. There is a tribute page at www.westernworkers.org.

Jon often seemed amazed at the love directed toward him during his fight against cancer. It wasn’t amazing at all. It was just a reflection of the love he directed toward everyone he ever met.

—Hali Hammer


Chris Caswell

Chris Caswell died of cancer at age 60 on January 21 at his Oakland home. The Celtic harpist and harp maker left behind a legion of admiring colleagues, grateful students, and people touched by his generosity and music.

Chris played a farewell concert to a packed house in December, and a posthumous benefit concert at the Freight & Salvage on February 2 featured many wonderful musicians whose lives he had influenced.

Chris started making Celtic harps in the early 1970s with Bay Area craftsman Jay Witcher. The Celtic harp was an instrument that had come close to extinction over the centuries.

He also launched a performing career in the early ‘70s with Robin Williamson, of Incredible String Band fame, and Williamson’s Merry Band, and later formed the duo Caswell Carnahan, with musician Danny Carnahan, touring and performing from 1978 to 1983. They recorded two albums on the Kicking Mule label.

Caswell also worked with Sebastopol music promoter Cloud Moss to start the Sebastopol Celtic Music Festival and KRCB radio series “Eclectic Café.”

Caswell taught music every summer at the Lark in the Morning Music Camp in Mendocino, from its beginning in the early 1980s until last year. In 2003, while teaching there, Caswell met his second wife, Roxanne.

They married the next year and moved to Oakland, and Caswell set up shop again as a harp-maker in Berkeley, continuing to build a reputation that went far beyond the Bay Area, both as a craftsman and musician.

Chris Caswell will be missed.

The Chris Caswell Legacy CD Project

by Beverly Riverwood

Music is the most generous art, for it gives freely to all who hear. Chris was a master musician on many instruments, but he dedicated himself to playing and building the Celtic Harp for over four decades. Over the years, Chris has recorded many hours of brilliant music of all kinds at concerts, festivals, fairs and outdoors at music camps and other gatherings. His plan to go into the studio was interrupted by his swiftly moving illness. Chris passed on January 21, 2013 and is deeply mourned. We can’t let him go.

We, his friends, want to collect these wide-ranging recordings, remastering them to produce a double CD album with liner notes filled with Chris’ stories, historical and musicological lore. We want the CD to retain the richness of a live concert and the humor of his conversations with his audiences.

To that end, we have put up a page on IndieGoGo. A donation in any amount will help preserve Chris’ ecstatic genius for future listeners and learners. There are attractive perks as well. You’re invited to help by donating and by spreading the word to your lists and connections. We have but two months to make our goal for the double CD set. We have an experienced team of publicity, marketing and sound engineering people and music business people who are volunteering their time to preserve the music. CD sales will provide continuing funds to defray his remaining medical expenses and harp shop costs.

Visit igg.me/p/chris-caswell-legacy-cd-project/x/2008456 to see info about the project, the perks, and the people who have raised the site. For more information or to volunteer, e-mail:

Please help us preserve and care for Chris’ legacy of great Celtic and World Music.