Club News

Musical Meetings

Musical meetings of the San Francisco Folk Music Club are held every other Friday at 885 Clayton Street, between Carl and Parnassus Streets in San Francisco (click here for map). 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.

  “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Date May 12 May 26 June 9 June 23 July 7
Setup Stephen Hopkins Melissa Sarenac Melissa Sarenac Melissa Sarenac Melissa Sarenac
Bulletin Board Joy Salatino Yvette Tannenbaum Yvette Tannenbaum E K A Ron and Lorraine
Host/ess Phil Morgan Estelle Freedman Tes Welborn Phil Morgan Marisa Malvino
Host/ess Judy Tergis Pazit Zohar Ken Hayes Ed Bronstein Ed Hilton
Singing Room Marlene McCall Melissa Sarenac Yvette Tannenbaum Melissa Sarenac Estelle Freedman
Theme Surprises, the unusual & the unexpected Events All kinds of love Music & Instruments Favorite songs
Cleanup Dave Sahn Faith Marlene McCall Melissa Sarenac Chuck & Monica Oakes

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.

May 9: Phil Morgan’s house

February 7: Donna Hyatt’s house

August: no meeting

NEXT FOLKNIK FOLD-IN AND FOLK SING: Sunday, June 18, at Abe and Joan Feinberg's.

Club News

Estelle Freedman, singer, songwriter and professor of history at Stanford University, led two workshops on folk music as history (sing along and learn history) in April. A final workshop will be held at the Free Folk Festival on June 24, at 4 p.m. “Songs of Work and Protest in Twentieth Century Women’s History.” Estelle’s latest book, Feminism, Sexuality and Politics, arrived in April. Check it out at

Chuck Oakes and Monica Reeves, stalwarts of Friday night song swaps in San Francisco, were married March 25 with Faith officiating. Congratulations! May they continue to make beautiful music together.

Faith was among members of the Chautauqua performing troupe who took their variety show (full band, magicians, jugglers, dancers, singers, etc.) to hurricane survivors, relief workers, construction crews, firemen, police and others in Mississippi and Louisiana the week of April 17-24. Free shows were presented in many devastated communities, including two nights in New Orleans. Chautauqua members also did direct relief and reconstruction work.

SF Free Folk Festival Recent News

Mark your calendars now for the 30th annual Free Folk Festival. Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25.

Attention food connoisseurs! The Festival is seeking a Catering Coordinator to contact and coordinate with caterers and seek out additional food vendors. For information, contact Michael Jones at (650) 622-9598.

To volunteer for the festival, contact Marlene McCall, Volunteer Coordinator at or (510) 717-6246. There are opportunities for all: work at product or info tables, direct folks in the parking lot, check instruments, help with festival set-up or teardown, work at the kids’ crafts table.

If you’d like to lead a workshop, or find out what’s involved in doing so, contact Music Workshop Coordinator Melisse Leib at (650) 968 5342 or

Hootenanny Night

Richard Rice

Ever since the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou?”, not to mention the “Hardly Strictly” phenomenon, there has been a significant folk music explosion around the country. New folk bands are sprouting like wildflowers after a spring deluge. All across the U.S. of A., young people are unplugging their electrics and opening up the dusty old Great American Songbook for inspiration.

At the May 13th Hootenanny Night, five local outfits steeped in folk traditions (or as steeped as you can be when you’re under 30) will mix it up with the roots, old-time country and bluegrass sounds. It ain’t exactly bluegrass and it ain’t exactly traditional folk. One of these groups calls it outlaw folk. Another calls it ruckus music. Whatever you call it, expect a lot of original songs about hard travelin’, drinkin’, fightin’, heartbreakin’, hard workin’, being lonesome and the like, with plenty of banjos, harmony singing, and mandolins in the room. Sounds like folk music to me! Featuring:

The S.F. Folk Music Club Presents Hootenanny Night, the monthly free folk music show, the 2nd Saturday of every month (but no Hoot in June, the month of the Folk Festival).

Café International, 508 Haight at Fillmore in SF (click for map)

7:00 - 10:30 p.m. All ages, all free., (415) 673-3212.

Pub Singing in San Francisco

San Francisco’s only Scottish Pub is the setting for Salty Walt & the Rattlin’ Ratlines monthly meet. This cavernous yet homey pub is filled with traditional acoustic music of the English, Scottish and American varieties — especially songs of the sea both new and old. If you know the chorus, sing along! SF’s best fish & chips, and cask ale. Surprise guests! Edinburgh Castle Pub, 950 Geary Street San Francisco (click for map), last Sunday of every month, 7–9 pm, longer if everyone’s having fun. Shows are not “all ages,” and often get off color.

Hootenanny in Livermore

A hootenanny will be presented at the Livermore Library, 1188 S. Livermore Ave. (click for map) on Sunday, July 16 at 2:00 p.m. Come and sing along with Thad and Phyllis, Ed Hilton, Jerry Michaels and other friends from the San Francisco Folk Music Club. This is intended to be primarily a sing-a-long. All ages are welcome. For further information, contact Thad Binkley, (925) 846-4549.

The Great Storm Is Over

Peter Ross

The rousing modern spiritual “(Alleluia) The Great Storm is Over” has a poignant background that is not well known, and which really touched me when I heard it. According to the historical notes for the song at the back of the Friends Hymnal Worship In Song (1996), “Bob Franke, who wrote both words and music, says this is not an allegory, but a song about hope. He wrote it after his daughter was born with a hip dysplasia, requiring extended treatment. Happily, the treatment was entirely successful.” Bob Franke performed in the South Bay several years ago, and when I asked him afterwards if his daughter was still OK he said she was fine and now is grown up.

Some performers omit the two of the song’s four verses that mention “the little lame child” or “the little lame children.” But these verses, and the uplifting chorus, are much more meaningful and memorable when the context in which the song was written is known.

(The Hymnal’s historical notes for other songs are also informative and insightful, and the book includes many secular songs by contemporary songwriters. Available at

Harmony List / SFFMC Web site

The SFFMC web site and the Harmony mailing list are now hosted by an organization called “artsf1” in San Francisco. It’s a group of volunteers who got together to provide high-speed internet services for non-profits in the arts in the Bay Area. We are very appreciative of them.

The Harmony List is devoted to announcements about any subjects of interest to the S.F. Bay Area folk music and dance communities. To post a message to all the Harmony e-mail members, send e-mail to If you should have any trouble with or questions about the Harmony e-mail list, please contact (goes to Stan Osbourne at artsf1) or (goes to Garry Wiegand, a club member). If you’ve received an error message, please include it verbatim in your help request; it’s often really helpful.

Visited the folk club’s web site recently? Check it out at Online archives of the Folknik, information about campouts (such as the upcoming Memorial Day campout), general information about the club, wonderful relevant links to other folk music-related sites, information about signing up for the Harmony e-mail list.

If you have any questions about or trouble with the club web site (, please contact either David Luckhardt or Garry Wiegand both club members. Again, error messages are always helpful.

Fine Tuners for the Evoharp

Evo Bluestein

Due to popular demand! All models of Evoharp may now be ordered with fine tuners. I have a 21 bar ready to ship. Also, one extra “Ring of Fire” Evoharp was made and is now available (the redwood top and walnut back 21-bar Evoharp that is being used in the Broadway play “Ring of Fire”)., (559) 297-8966.

The Seeger Sessions

Bruce Springsteen’s newest CD, We Shall Overcome, the Seeger Sessions, was released at the end of April. It is a collection of songs popularized by Seeger, who says: “I get more credit for many of these songs than I should. All I did was to be one of the first people to record them.” Pete’s 87th birthday was April 3. The Weavers, the folk group he co-founded in the 1940s, recently received a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Stolen Guitars

Joe McNamara, the local Martin guitar rep, reports the following acoustic guitars stolen the first week of April in San Francisco, all in new, original condition. Watch for:



Bob Blue died March 16. One of the finest writers of true folk songs (“The Ballad of Erica Levine,” “Gonna be an Engineer,” “This Kind of Day,” and many many more), he wrote more than 200 songs, penned thousands of essays and stories, and taught elementary school in Wellesley for 20 years. Although he suffered for years with multiple sclerosis, he continued to write essays, compose songs, and help edit the Children’s Music Network’s newsletter Pass It On.

With characteristic humor, he glibly dismissed his illness in a 1999 interview with the Boston Globe. “I want to go on the record as being against it,” he said of multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nerve and muscle disease. That same year, 21 years after being diagnosed with MS, he wrote, “I just want to make sure you all know, just in case I die (I assume I will some day), that I really enjoyed living. Not just a little, either … This is a thank you note. Unless I change dramatically, I’m dying a sort of atheist. But you’ve made my stay on earth feel a lot like what theists probably hope Heaven will be like.” Bob lived wisely, eloquently and bravely — he was indeed a national musical treasure.

Buck Owens died on March 25. Buck, with his band the Buckaroos, was a primary creator of the “Bakersfield Sound” in country music. Born in Sherman, Texas, Buck spent his first years in deep poverty. In the late 1930s his family moved to Arizona, where Owens worked in cotton and maize fields. He settled in Bakersfield in 1951.

In the 1960s, he scored a string of country hits that included “Act Naturally,” “Cryin’ Time,” “Waitin’ in Your Welfare Line” and “Under Your Spell Again,” then steered country music to television as a co-host of the series “Hee Haw.” Owens was a genius songwriter, gifted singer and great performer. His songs and music will live on.

Mary Lou Orthey died April 9. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist musician, she was best known for her autoharp playing. She authored a book on how to play the mountain dulcimer, and was the co-founder of the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering, the most prestigious autoharp festival in the world. She published the Autoharp Quarterly from 1988 until 1997, compiled and edited the Autoharp Owner’s Manual, and was awarded the Autoharp Hall of Fame with her former husband, Dr. George F. Orthey, Jr.