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July 4th Weekend Campout

The SFFMC campout will once again be in the redwoods at the Boulder Creek Scout Reservation—the same place as last year’s July 4th and Labor Day campouts. It’s about a mile from Boulder Creek, off Bear Creek Road. The address is 250 Scout Ranch Road. See the attached flyer for a map.

Dates: Camp will be for three nights: Thursday, July 4, beginning at 2:00 pm; Friday, July 5; AND Saturday night, July 6. Leave Sunday July 7, at 11:00 am. Note new checkout time.

New Rates: Adults: $17/night per person, kids under 16: $8/night per person, up to two kids in a family. Additional kids in the same family: free. Day use: $10/person.

Registration: Again, no advance registration. Register at camp only. It’s first-come, first-serve for campsites and tent cabins. There are about 17 tent cabins—usually enough for those who want them.


Jams and workshops: Informal jams in the daytime and around the campfires at night, two nights of open mics, and varied workshops. We’re planning workshops on sea songs, two and three-chord songs, Utah Phillips, Tom Paxton and many more. Some suggestions: songs of the Carter family, Malvina Reynolds, Bill Staines, and instrument instruction.

Anyone can lead a workshop. If you’d like to lead one, or have suggestions for a topic, e-mail Phyllis at or sign up at camp at the workshop bulletin board near the registration table.

Open mics: Usually the second and third nights of camp, about 8:00 pm, at the main outdoor amphitheater. A sign-up list will be at the registration table.

Swimming: Bring your swimsuit! The July 4th weekend is usually great weather for swimming. We plan to have the required lifeguard and open the pool on the second and third days from 1:00 to 5:00 PM. (New hours.)

Potluck: Community potluck Friday night, 6:30 pm. at the outside dining area near the kitchen. We can use the camp’s kitchen, with refrigerator and freezer, stove, oven and microwave to store and heat potluck food. Also available: plates, silverware, pans, and serving utensils. All dishes, pots and pans, etc. need to be washed afterwards. Label any leftovers you want saved.

IMPORTANT: The kitchen must be kept cleaned up if we want to continue using it; this is a do-it-yourself chore for anyone who uses the kitchen.

Hiking: Several hiking trails begin at the camp: a self-guided historical trail about 3.5 miles long, and a nature trail about 2.5 miles long, among others.

SFFMC T-shirts: will be for sale at the registration table at $15.00 each. Newest color—burgundy—plus blue or maroon, in various sizes.


The camp capacity is several hundred, so there is plenty of room. Many campsites have fire pits, and there is usually firewood available. Near the kitchen is an outdoor dining area and deck, picnic tables and umbrellas (and a machine with free ice).

Also nearby are the swimming pool, eight tent-cabins with cots, and a bathroom with showers and flush toilets. At the bottom of the hill by the parking lot is a large flat site for tents; bathrooms with flush toilets and running water are nearby. RVs are welcome; they park in the parking lot.

We cannot drive directly into campsites; we park vehicles in the parking lot or alongside the paved road and use carts provided by the camp to take our gear a short distance to the campsites.

The camp has neighbors directly across Bear Creek, so any music near the creek after 10:00 pm—the usual noise curfew—needs to be quiet. If you plan to sing late, please locate your circle as far from Bear Creek as possible, and at a distance from the ranger’s house.

Pitching In

Everyone over 12 years old (except day-use attendees) does an hour of camp duty: registration and parking, cleanup after the potluck, or camp cleanup on the last day. Please sign up at the registration table as soon as possible after arriving. And please show up for your chore. If you can’t, leave a note at the registration table so we can cover the time.

If you arrive early (before 2:00 pm Thurs., July 4), you can help post signs, register campers and direct parking. Contact Phyllis Jardine at if you can come early and help out.


We want to publicize this campout widely to increase attendance so we can afford to keep coming to this location—one of our favorites. Spread the word to all your friends who are interested in folk music! It is not necessary to be a member to attend, although we encourage new members.

Membership forms for new members and renewals are available at the registration table at camp and on line at Notice the new rates for dues.

Color postcards publicizing the July 4 and Labor Day camps will be available at the fold-in June 30. If you can help distribute some to places such as folk events, Freight & Salvage and libraries, please contact Phyllis Jardine at

What’s New at SFFFF 2013

by Marlene McCall

Those of you have been coming to the SF Free Folk Festival for years will of course be able to enjoy again this year many of the workshops, performers, and events that have become your favorites over the years. But you will also be able to enjoy a whole slew of brand new programs, workshops, performers, and even vendors. In our efforts to improve the festival every year, we (the directors and committee of the festival) are constantly on the lookout for ways to offer a fabulous experience to festival goers, both long-time folkies and folks coming to the festival—and being attracted to the folk music community—for the first time. Here are some 2013 “firsts”:

Film. In the past, we’ve presented an occasional film in our workshop schedule, but beginning this year, we’ll have a room serving as a theater devoted exclusively to showing films on folk music themes both days until 6:00. A sampling: The Complete Earl Scruggs Story (followed by live Q&A with the film’s producer), For the Love of the Music: The Club 47 Folk Revival, Behind the Bellows (a documentary about the accordion), Folk-Rock on Film (rare documentary footage), and Playing for Change: Connecting the World through Music.

“Music as a Vocation” workshops. This series of workshops, never held before, will provide practical help for musicians ready to move from playing recreationally or performing for tips to really making a profession out of their musical projects. Topics will include Getting Your Music in Movies or on TV (Lisa Aschmann), Working with a Producer (Mark Lemaire), Careers in Music (John Tuttle), and Producing Your Own CD (Jonathan Gill).

Music Performances. We have many performers every year who haven’t graced our stages before, of course. In fact, the person who books the musical acts, Richard Rice, tells me that at least 50% of the stage acts in 2013 have never performed at the festival before. But here are four that might particularly interest you: Dustbowl Revival (a unique self-minted Dixieland meets rockin’ folk blues style), Anne and Pete Sibley (a folk duo whose voices mesh with presence and subtlety, and whose original songs are warm and full of emotional conviction.), Maurice Tani & 77 El Deora (an alt-country band with distinctive vocals, well-crafted songs, and simple organic sound), and the T Sisters (Three genuine sisters with lovely harmonies on Andrews Sisters gems, mountain classics from the holler, 60s girl group nuggets, and original compositions).

Carlos Ramirez (1938–2013)

You may have heard Carlos Ramirez singing with Freedom Song Network, reading poetry at Café La Boheme, or sharing children’s songs he wrote. Carlos was a Bay Area singer, poet, lover of words, and playful spirit. He passed away March 10 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“As he lay dying, friends came to say goodbye. Some gifted him with songs, others with words. Poetry was abundant. He listened and nodded. His beloved Linda assured him that he’ll be remembered, and there was nothing in this physical world that he needed to worry about. He often brought flowers that had passed their prime and overripe fruits to the Poetry Salon. He saw beauty in things that people discard. Time was neither enemy nor friend. He would sing to a cynic as well as to an ant.”—Clara Hsu

“He sang ‘Brother, Can You Spare A Dime’ at Bird & Beckett one evening. This is where I first met him, at a Glen Park Bookstore. And then one afternoon, in Golden Gate Park, overlooking the ocean, a gathering of poets sitting on the grass, cool, sweet breeze wafting through and Carlos got up to sing, radiating as much light and joy and that which surrounded us. At Clara Hsu’s Salons, I always waited with happy anticipation for Carlos’ turn to get up and recite or perform his own poetic words, or someone else’s, at any gathering he blessed us with. I remember his sweet demeanor, beautiful glistening eyes… Loving and kind, he shone his light wherever he went. What a beautiful man! He will be missed a great deal.”—Marlene Aron

“Carlos wrote settings to several poems by Langston Hughes in one-on-one classes at the Capp Street Music Center. As far as I know, he didn’t play any instruments, but he loved to sing, and he loved poetry. When he sang or recited, it lit him up from inside.” —Bernard Gilbert, Freedom Song Network

Carlos was born in San Francisco to El Salvadorean parents in 1938, went with his family to El Salvador at age three, then returned to the United States four years later, when a revolution forced them to flee. He spent the next ten years in SF, moving with his family in 1955 to the Los Altos-Sunnyvale area of Santa Clara County, where he graduated from high school in 1956. He attended New College of California, where he began writing poetry in 1983, encouraged by his teacher, Nina Serrano. She urged him to write about the murals in the Mission District. He later took a poetry course at City College of San Francisco and won a prize in the Academy of American Poets CCSF poetry competition. He attended weekly writers’ workshop gatherings at Hospitality House from 2006 to 2011 and was a long-time weekly attendee of a Buddhist group, Mission Dharma.

Carlos traveled to El Salvador in November 2012 to take part in the third annual International Festival of Children’s Poetry, Manyula, as a member of Talleres de Poesía. The group honored him with a poetry evening at Café la Boheme in San Francisco on March 15.

His poems have been published in various Bay Area poetry anthologies. Carlos’ book, My Heart in the Matter, was published in 2012. He is survived by his younger brother, various nieces and nephews, and his partner Linda Atkins. —Hali Hammer (with bio info from El Tecolote)

Les Blank (1935–2013)

Les Blank, the renowned independent American documentary filmmaker best known for his portraits of American traditional musicians, died on April 7 of bladder cancer. His films provide intimate, idiosyncratic glimpses into the lives, culture, and music of passionate people at the periphery of American society.

Following his university education, he founded his own production company, Flower Films, and most of his films since then were independently produced, often with the assistance of grants from cultural agencies, both governmental and non-governmental. Most of his films focused on American traditional music forms, including (among others), Afro-Cuban drummers, Appalachian fiddlers, blues, Cajun, Creole, Hawaiian, Mexican, Texas bluesmen, Tex-Mex, Polish, polka, Serbian-American, tamburitza. Many of these films represent the only filmed documents of musicians who are now deceased.

Les’s films focusing on musical subjects often spent much of their running time focusing not on the music itself but on the music’s cultural context, portraying the surroundings from which these genres of American roots music come.

Les, who received lifetime achievement awards from the American Film Institute and the International Documentary Association, did not think of himself as a documentarian, his former wife Chris Simon said, but rather as a filmmaker whose work happened to be about real people.

Director Taylor Hackford said in a telephone interview, “You could call him an ethnographer, an ethnomusicologist or an anthropologist. He was interested in certain cultures that Americans are unaware of. He shot what he wanted, captured it beautifully, and those subjects are now gone. The homogenization of American culture has obliterated it.”

Les was married and divorced three times. In addition to his son Harrod, whose full name is Leslie Harrod Blank III, he is survived by a daughter, Ferris Robinson; another son, Beau Blank; and three grandchildren.