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.
|Date||May 7||May 21||June 4||June 18||July 2|
|Setup||Joel Rutledge||Bob Allen||Marisa Malvino||Debbie Klein||Bob Allen|
|Bulletin Board||Estelle Freedman||Debbie Klein||Debbie Klein||Marisa Malvino||Marisa Malvino|
|Host/ess||Marisa Malvino||Marisa Malvino||Paula Joyce||Marisa Malvino||TBA|
|Host/ess||Glen Van Lehn||Glen Van Lehn||Steve Rothenberg||TBA||TBA|
|Singing Room||Dave Sahn||Melissa Sarenac||Joel Rutledge||Paula Joyce||Marisa Malvino|
|Theme||Separations & Reunions||Light & Darkness||TBA||Starting Over||Sun/Sea/Sky|
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, June 27 at Joan Hall & Abe Feinberg’s.
Many of you (especially those who subscribe to the Harmony List) already know, but for those who don’t: After a fall that resulted in a broken hip, Faith Petric had hip replacement surgery, went through rehab and physical therapy, and returned home on Thursday, April 8th with a new titanium hip and using a walker.
As the folknik went to press on April 17, Faith needed 24-hour care. Faith’s friend and long-time club member Dorrit Geshuri set up a Web site with Lotsa Helping Hands that allowed Faith’s friends to get updates on her progress, post pictures and get-well wishes to Faith, and sign up to help her by bringing food and coming to visit. As of April 27, Faith was doing “remarkably well,” and no longer needed 24-hour care, but friends are still welcome to call and see if she needs anything.
House exchange. Club member Beryl Schwartz, living 8 miles from Yosemite, seeks to connect with non-smoking East Bay folkies who have a spare room with bathroom access to stay 2-3 days/month when she visits the S.F. Bay Area. She can either pay for the use of the room or swap for an equal number of days at her large house on 5.5 private acres, with decks, comfortable guest rooms, views from every window, and use of the hot tub, kitchen, and more. Parking, handicapped accessible, not good for dogs, small children, or those with cat allergies. Contact Beryl at (209) 962-6781 or
Evo Bluestein’s new Web site. Josh Freeman of Ten Tortoise Design and Evo Bluestein announce a newly launched version of evobluestein.com. (Also new: evoharp.com takes you directly to the Evoharp section of the site, containing information on the Evoharp & Sparrowharp, including new options developed by the luthiers of those instruments.) One of the new features is the availability to download mp3s—the vaults have been opened and music made available that has not been for a long time (and some music that has never been available!) You can sample songs for free. “Events” links to a calendar of concerts and workshops. Even though the new site is launched, it will continue to develop. Send feedback on the new site to Evo Bluestein at (559) 297-8966 or
Monthly sing at Tunnell Center. During Faith’s recent stay at the Tunnell Center for Rehabilitation, members of SFFMC held a sing-along for the center’s residents. Karren Kraus, the Director of Therapeutic Recreation, appreciated the sing-along and saw positive effects on the patients who attended. She’d like us to come back again on the third Sunday each month from 3:00–5:00 p.m. She says that a bus stops a block away, and parking on Sundays is not difficult. This would be fun and a valuable community service. The center’s address is 1359 Pine Street, San Francisco . If you can participate, contact Karren at (415) 673-8405 or
Sabine Baring-Gould workshop. Club members Dick & Carol Holdstock are organizing a workshop presented by Martin & Shan Grabe from Gloucester on a recently-found folk song collection from the West of England collected by Sabine Baring-Gould. Tea will be served as well. Sunday May 9, 2:00 p.m. in the Claremont region of Berkeley. Sabine Baring-Gould was the first of the large-scale collectors of folk songs in England during the late 19th century, and he remains the major source of collected song from Devon and Cornwall. With the discovery of previously unknown manuscripts and notebooks, there has been a remarkable amount of interest in his work and its significance. Martin Graebe is an authority on Baring-Gould’s life and work. In this presentation he talks about Baring-Gould, his approach to collecting songs, and the men and women from whom he collected them. The “Devon Tradition” project, which is digitizing Baring-Gould’s manuscripts and making them available on line, will also be described. The talk will be illustrated, and Martin and Shan will sing and teach some of the songs from the collection. Copies of some of these songs will be given to all participants. For more info see www.sbgsongs.org and www.martinandshan.net. A $20 donation is requested, and only a limited number of seats are available. For reservation and directions, e-mail Dick and Carol Holdstock at or call them at (530) 795-5555.
Step back, mortal music-makers, and give your other-world counterparts some room, for it’s their turn to strut their musical stuff. If human musicians can affect, lure, and seduce denizens of the other-world into consequences that are perilous to them, it’s equally true that other-world musicians can return the favor and give as good as they get.
Because of the longtime reputation of the fiddle as hell’s own instrument, the devil often takes human shape in many tales as a fiddler, and ironically enough, in the role of judge, jury, and executioner in punishing wicked behavior. In one case of nasty retribution, Old Nick turned an entire party of wedding celebrants into a circle of standing stones in the small British town of Stanton Drew in Somerset. After the local piper refused to play because Saturday midnight had become Sunday, a fiddler suddenly made his appearance to help them continue their musical merrymaking. Too late did the bride, groom, and other celebrants realize with whom they were dealing—by then, the dire punishment had been administered. In other tales, the devil comes to a dance in the guise of a fiddler, and his target is a young haughty girl who refuses to obey her parents after they have forbidden her to go to a dance. In other cases, as in the Quebecois story of Rose La Tulipe, the young lady is saved only through the quick intervention of a suspicious relative who finds the fiddler’s physical appearance rather odd to say the least.
Even though the faerie realm loves to invite human musicians to play for them, it does not lack its own makers of music, and these include fiddlers, pipers, and harpers a-plenty, and tales of this sort can be found from Nova Scotia to the Scottish highlands with similar stories cropping up even as far afield as eastern Europe and the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Faerie music often causes travelers to stray into an underground cavern or elfin hill. When they emerge after what they think is a night of revelry, they find that anywhere from one year or seven years or even a hundred years or more have elapsed. In some cases, they are overwhelmed with grief at what they have lost in terms of family, friends, and home, and they succumb to old age within a matter of moments, crumbling into dust and decay.
Even the dead seem to have a penchant for musical talent, as seen from the large numbers of musical ghosts around the world. There are not only spectral singers, but ghosts who play everything from fiddles, pipes, and harps to more unusual instruments such as the Japanese koto, the Russian gusle, and the Turkish xurna. A tale from the American south tells of Martin, a young man who could control snakes with his fiddling. He decided to attempt an all-night serenade, but never made it to the next sunrise. His arm gave out, his bow fell from his hand, and his reptilian audience turned from eager listeners to vengeful music critics, overwhelming him, and he died of massive poisoning. Moral: never try to please your audience too much—you might not like the final reviews. For years after, up on Rattlesnake Ridge, folks said they could hear spectral fiddling from the place where Martin died.
From Switzerland comes the tale of a shepherd murdered by highwaymen. During their hanging, folks could hear the spectral alpine horn that been the dead shepherd’s. For years, it was said that spectral singing could be heard from the infamous Confederate prison camp at Andersonville in southwestern Georgia, coming from the ghosts of dead Union prisoners musically lamenting the horrors of what they endured as prisoners. In the 1940s, workers at a former Union prison camp on Johnson’s Island could hear the sound of spectral singing, former Confederate prisoners singing Dixie to the accompaniment of somber drums and trumpets. Even famous battlefield sites such as Little Big Horn in southeastern Montana, Culloden in Scotland, and Puebla in Mexico have had numerous reports of ghostly music made by human voices, pipes, trumpets, drums, or other instruments.
What it all adds up to is simply this: other-world denizens make music in tales that have been told again and again: enjoyable tales, memorable tales, often bizarre tales, and that is the way it should be, now and always, where a good story is concerned.
On Saturday, June 19, Faith Petric, beloved 94 year-old folksinger and loyal friend, will be honored at the Cowell Theater in Fort Mason at 7:30 pm. The show is a gift to Faith from her New Old Time Chautauqua (NOTC) family. NOTC presents all-age community celebrations to fulfill its mission to “foster community with education, entertainment and laughter.” (www.chautauqua.org).
Many of Faith’s friends, old and new, will come together and honor her music, activism and love of community. Right now the list includes Seattle Jim Page, Tom Noddy, Dusty Roadz and her Handsome Cowboys, Mark Growden, Kuddie, the Fighting Instruments of Karma Marching Chamber Band and the guest of honor herself, Faith Petric. Some special guests are still checking their schedules—please watch for updates as the date approaches.
Tickets are $28 ($14 for folks under 13, over 65 or with disabilities.) Advance tickets will be available at the theater’s box office, online at Fort Mason’s Web site and at the door.
This is a benefit for the S.F. Bay Area’s radio station KPFA and this year’s NOTC summer tour in Northern California. Whenever possible, NOTC partners with a local non-profit organization—to help raise funds and awareness of their projects. Faith chose KPFA for its folk music programming and its community spirit, things near and dear to her heart.
Last year, Faith told NOTC that the 2008 Aqua Chautauqua Tour was her final NOTC tour. Faith’s “can do” attitude, and her quiet but persistent desire for authenticity, fairness and peace is an inspiration. And she’s funny, too. She will be sorely missed.
In the 1980s, Faith and Utah Phillips visited NOTC while on tour in Idaho. Both were right at home. Faith and Utah became members of our annual summer tour, Utah for two years and Faith until 2008. (Utah served on NOTC’s Board of Advisors until his passing in 2008.)
Memories of Faith on tour include performing in hospitals, nursing homes, jails and juvenile detention centers, hardened criminals melting into little boys while singing along with “grandma,” hiking miles to an Idaho hot spring, performing for courageous Hurricane Katrina survivors and emergency volunteers, playing a madam in a Moulin Rouge play at the Oregon Country Fair, a beautiful and colorful impromptu ceremony when Faith became NOTC’s beloved and respected Crone and…
In April, Faith fell down and broke her hip. She’s now home and walking, with the aid of a walker. Her doctor predicts a full recovery. That Faith, what a trooper! Faith’s accident reminds us all to love our friends and family abundantly, and celebrate and honor them when we can.
Saturday, May 8, three fine musicians will be available to provide instruction in autoharp, mountain dulcimer, and singing with your acoustic instrument. There will be a concert following the workshops and the day will end with an all acoustic jam session.
Cindy Harris, visiting from Pennsylvania, plays autoharp and fiddle.
Carey Dubbert from Occidental is a championship player of both autoharp and hammered dulcimer.
Ron Beardslee from Hayward is a teacher and performer on mountain dulcimer.
Here is an opportunity for a day of instruction, entertainment, and participation. For reservations and directions contact Ron Bean at Phone: 415-425-2150.
Friday, May 28 Andy Cohen of Memphis, Tenn. will be in town and present a concert at the home of Ron Bean.
Andy is a talented player of six and twelve string guitars, banjo, piano, mandolin and autoharp. He has been a back-up musician to many stars in Nashville. He is particularly noted as the one and only soloist on the dolceola, a 1950 parlor instrument.
Contact Ron Bean at Phone: 415-425-2150.