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.

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
Date May 11 May 25 June 8 June 22 July 6
Setup Melissa Sarenac Melissa Sarenac Ken Hayes Melissa Sarenac Melissa Sarenac
Bulletin Board Dan Underhill Yvette Tannenbaum Faith Debbie Klein Marisa Malvino
Host/ess Judy Tergis Morgan Cowin Phil Morgan Debbie Klein Marisa Malvino
Host/ess Tes Wellborn Estelle Freedman Joe Lavelle Jo D'Anna Carolyn Jayne
Singing Room Melissa Sarenac Tes Wellborn Marlene McCall Paula Joyce Dave Sahn
Theme Traveling Memories Promises: Kept & Broken Murder Transportation & Communication
Cleanup Marlene McCall John Kelly Al Goodwin Marlene McCall Need Someone!

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.

Abe and Joan Feinberg’s.

Club News

Charlie Blacklock, former president of the International Musical Saw Association, celebrated his 90th birthday recently with a small group of folkies and the residents of the Alameda Care Center, where he moved recently. Charlie welcomes visitors and likes to sing along. It would probably be wise to phone the Activities Director, Marie Martinez before visiting, at 510-523--8857.

Volunteer for One Hour at the Festival

Marlene McCall

It takes over 150 volunteers to put on the Free Folk Festival, which is an all-volunteer effort. We need your help. Just an hour of your time at the festival will make a huge difference. There are jobs for everybody, from sitting at the Folk Club table selling tapes, CD's, & books to working at the instrument check room, to helping out with setup, or cleanup. You’ll be able to choose the task and the exact time slot you want, so you can attend all of the workshops and performances of your choice. Call me at (510) 717-6246 or email me at

Family Band Night on May 12

At May’s Hootenanny night, our own Jim Letchworth presents five bands whose members bear a startling resemblance to one another! This event will feature five Bay Area family bands playing great music:

The show will be at the International Cafe, 508 Haight St (near Fillmore) in San Francisco, from 7:00-10:30 on Saturday, May 12. Parking can be challenging, so carpooling and using public transit are encouraged.

Come join us!

No Hootenanny Night in June

Richard Rice

Instead, we'll be at the San Francisco Free Folk Festival on June 16-17 (see flyer in this issue). Where else? Many folks are coming from very far away to play and teach for no pay at this wonderful all-volunteer festival. So take a long look at the schedule ( ) and plan to be there this year at our new location at SF City College.

John Henry, the Country's Most Recorded Folk Song

Scholar Scott Reynolds Nelson has addressed again the question: did John Henry exist? He concludes that John Henry was a convict at Virginia Penitentiary, who was leased as a laborer to the C & O Railroad at Lewis Tunnel in Virginia, and that the competition described in the song did occur, in some form or other.

He lays out his research in Steel Drivin' Man: The Untold Story of an American Legend ($25, Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Ave., New York, NY, 10016). Nelson traces the true story of the man as well as the history of the ballad. Quoting from a review by Michael Cala in Sing Out! ( "Nelson makes clear that the ballad of John Henry was sung by the convicts not as a heroic tale but as a warning, 'This work will kill you.'" Most of the convicts who worked on the tunnels died of exhaustion, lung disease, or malnutrition.

New Christy Minstrels In SF May 9

The ageless and legendary folk group The New Christy Minstrels will perform a benefit concert for the organization Restore Hetch Hetchy on May 9, 2007 at 7:30 pm at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts. Tickets for this one-time show can be purchased online at Restore Hetch Hetchy's site — — or the New Christy Minstrels site — — for $35, which includes all handling fees.

The New Christy Minstrels re-launched about two years ago, under the leadership of founder Randy Sparks, when they started performing throughout the West to sold-out audiences made up of adoring former fans and those who simply enjoy their enduring, refreshing pop-folk style. Of the eight current touring members, six were original Minstrels 45 years ago: Randy Sparks, Barry McGuire, Dolan Ellis, Jackie Miller Davidson, Art Podell and Clarence Treat.

The San Francisco benefit for Restore Hetch Hetchy will be their only 2007 Bay Area performance, before they start a year-long world tour in June 2007.

Websites of Interest

Info about the Harmony List and how to join. The Harmony List is devoted to announcements about any subjects of interest to the S.F. Bay Area folk music and dance communities.

The song lyrics and poems of the Malvina Reynolds, prominent topical and children's songs folkie (one of whose songs is currently being used as the theme music for the hit cable TV series "Weeds")

The 111 Greatest (Anglo-American) Folk Music Artists, a compilation undertaken for the sake of discussion, and library collection development purposes.

This list of topical songs, mostly dealing with a war theme, is from Neil Young's Living With War Today web site. Most are unsigned and unheralded. One note of caution: though there are folk and pop songs sprinkled in, a lot of the songs are rock songs.

Information about East Bay Fiddlin' and Pickin' Potlucks, musical gatherings on the 2nd Sunday of every month in various East Bay locations.

Have Something to Share with Your Fellow Folk Club Members?

Marlene McCall

As the page 2-3 editor for the folknik, I would like to welcome all members to write something — whether it’s a small item or a full-fledged article — for the folknik. Here are some questions you might want to use as jumping-off points to inspire your own ideas on which you might want to write an article for the folknik.

Send your items to me at

Website Help for Festival

Garry Wiegand

The Free Folk Festival is in need of help with maintenance of the festival website ( I was supposed to be doing 50% of it, but a problem has come up. You would be working with Michael Jones, a very pleasant fellow; the work would involve, more than anything else, keeping the listings and schedules up to date. We are currently using Dreamweaver software (I have an extra copy available) but most any software from the last 5 years would work for what we do.

If you can help, or if you know someone who might be able to help, please contact Festival co-director Michael Jones Thank you.

In Harmony’s Way Sessions

Steve Baughman

Come sing old a cappella chorus songs with In Harmony's Way 8:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month. All are welcome. Small intimate space and a fun time. No pressure to sing, just come and enjoy. Sessions are held at Epic Arts Center across from Ashby BART, Berkeley. Upcoming sessions will be on May 2 and June 6. Visit us at for more info.

Things I’ve Learned From British Folk Ballads

This is a partial list from an item posted by Jim McDonald at If you like these, check out the whole list.)

Berkeley International Folk Music Festival

The festival will be on Sunday, June 24, from 1:00 p.m. until around 10:00 p.m. when the Freight and Salvage closes. The sponsors are the Freight and Salvage and the West Berkeley International Food Festival.

There will be one stage—outside in the afternoon, then moving to the Freight after 5:00 p.m. There are no workshops.