From The Folknik November/December 2003
(Volume XXXIX, Number 6)

e-zine of the San Francisco Folk Music Club
(click here for membership info)

The San Francisco Folk Music Club is a nonprofit corporation
dedicated to the enjoyment, preservation and promotion of
acoustic music in individual, family, and community life.


Table of Contents

Harmony in the Old and New Year

Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2003-Sunday, Jan. 4, 2004
Camp Harmony approaches! If you haven't sent it yet, be sure to get your registration to Mary right away. The deadline is December 6. If you are already registered and realize you can't attend all or part of camp, please contact Mary at mary@luckhardt.com (Subject: Camp Harmony Cancellation) or by phone at (510) 233-5065 (before 9:00 PM please!) as soon as you can. Prompt cancellation gets you a bigger refund, and allows more folkies a chance to get in.
If you lost your registration form you can print one from our website at http://www.sffmc.org. Click on Camp Harmony and then on Forms and Registration (you may need to scroll past the photo).

Late Registrations and Drop Ins
If you have not signed up by December 6, check with Mary to see if camp is full. We may be able to take a few late applications. Phone before 9:00 PM or email as above with the subject: Camp Harmony Registration. If camp is full, members are still welcome as drop-in campers. A drop-in day is 2:00 PM to 2:00 PM the next day, and includes a bed in a cabin if one is available. The price is $43/day ($25/day for kids 3-11) plus one chore. No meals are included in the price, but some meals may be available for purchase from preregistered campers. Check the Meal Sales box at camp.
Camp Harmony is held at Camps Campbell and Harmon, 16275 Highway 9, Boulder Creek, CA, 3 miles north of Boulder Creek town center.

Workshops
This camp has all-volunteer staff, so any camper can (and is encouraged to) hold a workshop. There is always a special need for beginning-anything! If you can teach a workshop, please contact Joan Hall-Feinberg at jhfeinberg@juno.com or (510) 451-1122 (for beginners workshops) or Katie Grist at katie@luckhardt.com or (510) 548-4727 (for everything else). Joan is also the person to contact if you can loan an instrument to a beginners workshop. She is especially looking for child-sized fiddles and guitars, but will coordinate the loan and use of all loaner instruments. Joan and Katie will fit all those workshops into the camp schedule. There will be plenty of space left at camp for more workshops of all kinds. Check the workshop calendar when you arrive.

Chores
Workshops, evening concerts and dances and song and tune sessions are only a few of the activities at camp. One of the most rewarding activities is the way you help camp work for all of us: your chore hours. Helping Debby in the kitchen is one of the main ways, or doing a stint in a parking lot is a great way to work off those required hours. You can sign up for those, and other jobs, when you arrive at camp. If you can commit now to 2-3 hours on January 4 for Take Down, please contact Mary Luckhardt. This will fulfill all your chore hours for a full 5 days at camp! There are 12 of these choice spots, and we will all be able to enjoy camp, knowing there will be enough hands on tap to make the work go smoothly at the end. Mary can be reached at mary@luckhardt.com or (510) 233-5065. Whether you commit early or sign up for your chores at registration, the basic rule is the same: your chore hours are part of your "payment" for attending camp. You are responsible for the chores signed for in your name. Please show up on time and do them regardless of how much fun you might be having at the time.

Bring Your Cup!
Of course you'll bring your own mug to camp and carry it with you everywhere. Just in case you forget, we will again have rental cups available in the Dining Hall, Reg Room and a few in Sommer Lodge, $1.00 for the whole week. These cups are your responsibility for the duration of camp, so you must wash them yourself. Camp staff will not wash any cups during camp, which is one of the many reasons we must now provide our own. We also will have a limited number of paper cups available, but to discourage waste and cover our costs, we will need to charge 10 cents for each cup you take. We've used over 6000 cups each year in the past, and this change has significantly cut the amount of waste we generate. Parents, please provide cups for your children, too. Please bring and carry your mug with you!

Swing Dance Night
Adam Cavan is coordinating the music for Swing Night at camp. If you want to bring an electric instrument to camp, please talk to Adam first. Remember, Camp Harmony is primarily an acoustic music camp, and electric instru-ments are discouraged at all but this special camp event. Contact acavan@suika.com or (415) 989-7552.

Notes
If you have any health, disability or dietary concerns, con-tact Ray Frank at ray@muircommons.org or (530) 756-7089. Flu shots are highly recommended and are most effec-tive at least 6 weeks before they are needed. Isn't that right about now? As always: NO PETS! Also no beeping things are allowed to beep at camp.

Button Party
The Camp Harmony Button Making Party is Tuesday, December 2 at David and Mary Luckhardt's house in Richmond. Call (510) 233-5065 or email mary@luckhardt.com for directions. Make a special button for yourself, and help crank out the 400 buttons we will need for camp. This is always a fun party.

Happy New Year to all our Harmony Family from the Camp Committee. We hope to see you all at Camp!


Fold-in/Folk Sing December 13

The fold-in is at noon, SATURDAY December 13, at the home of Abe & Joan Feinberg. The more, the merrier-to help with the folknik, enjoy a meal afterwards, and to make music. Bring a potluck dish and instruments.


Solsthannukamass Party

SFFMC's annual Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas and other observations of the holiday season party is Friday, December 26, at 885 Clayton at 8:30 PM.

Bring favorite seasonal treats-cookies, cakes, fruit, cheese, crackers and such-along with good cheer and heartfelt songs. Both non-alcoholic and wine grog is provided by the club.


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. 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.
“There is no standard set for the singing here, but we set a very high standard in listening.”
-- motto of the Góilín Traditional Singer's Club, Dublin, Ireland

Date November 14 November 28 December 12 December 26
Setup  
Melissa Sarenac  
Faith  
Yvette Tannenbaum No special crew members; this is our annual “Solstannukumaszaa” party. Participate as you will with songs of the season!
Bulletin Board Joy Salatino Faith Debbie Klein
Host/ess Mary Anne Greb Phil Morgan Alison Pryle
Host/ess
Yvette Tannenbaum 
Faith Shirley Baker 
Singing Room Phil Morgan Julie Bidou Greg Bouts
Theme Home and Family Favorite Songs Cops and Robbers 
Cleanup Vic Saravia Vic Saravia John Kelly

         
NEXT FOLKNIK FOLD-IN: SATURDAY (not Sunday), December 13, at high noon; Joan Hall and Abe Feinberg’s. back to top

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.
November 11: Marian Gade’s house
December 9: Phil Morgan’s
January 13:  Marian Gade’s house
Current members: Faith Petric, President; Phil Morgan, Vice-President; Thad Binkley, Charlie Fenton, Ed Hilton, Kathryn LaMar, Jerry Michaels and Melissa Sarenac, Members-at-Large.
There are currently vacancies on the Board. If you can help, please email sffolk@aol.com or call (415) 661-2217.

Club News

A special “Women in Music Festival” is scheduled at the Sebastopol Community Center's Youth Annex, 425 Morris Street, on Saturday, November 15, 1:00 to 9:30 p.m. This is a benefit for Music in the Schools. For details call (707) 974-3571 or see www.seb.org.

We are looking for an Assistant Treasurer for the Board of Directors. If you can help administer a budget of around $50,000, call Faith at (415) 661-2217 or email sffolk@aol.com.

The San Francisco Free Folk Festival needs you! Director Michael Jones is looking for people to serve on the committee for the 2004 Festival. Also, T-shirts from the 2003 Festival are on sale: most sizes, cedar or violet, $10 each, or less for more. To join the committee or buy a T-shirt, email director@sffolkfest.org.

Ted Clunie, Jessica Bryan and Malcolm Rigby want to let their Club friends know about their new traditional folk music album, “WATER-BOUND: High and Dry”” It's due out December 1 and will be available at the annual Christmas party and at Camp Harmony. Questions? Call (831) 335-7696.

Congratulations to Richard Rice and Lisa Whitman, married October 11. Art Peterson showed up and helped the band over a few rough spots with his accordion.

Thanks to Faith, Richard Rice, and Alinda Franklin for their contributions to “In Memoriam.”
Having a gig, a wedding, a hoot, or a baby? Putting out a new CD? Looking to buy or sell an instrument? E-mail the Club News editor: jmkelly@ieee.org. back to top


In Memoriam

This year saw the passing of:
George Fouke (December 2002), a local songwriter, folksinger, and political activist since the 1940s. George wrote "The Family of Man," the unofficial anthem of the Freedom Song Network.

John Henry Mitchell (January), schoolteacher, square- and contradance caller, labor activist, folk singer, long-time member of the Club and charter member of the East Bay Fiddlin' and Pickin' Potlucks. John performed at the 1962 Berkeley Folk Festival and was a regular at the Ashkenaz. He played with Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and Country Joe and the Fish at places like the Fillmore West.

Thommy Thompson (January), banjo picker for the Red Clay Ramblers, the band he formed in 1972 with Bill Hicks and Jim Wann. Taking their inspiration from bands like Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, they blazed the trail followed twenty years later by bands like the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Frank “Hylo” Brown (January), bluegrass and country singer. Brown started out in 1939 singing at the age of 17 on a live radio program in Ashland, Kentucky. That led to a half-hour show on WLOG (West Virginia), a regular gig with Bradley Kincaid, and work with WWVA, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, the Grand Ole Opry and the first Newport Folk Festival. He performed until 1991 and joined the SPBGMA Hall of Fame in February 2003.

Johnny Paycheck (February), honky-tonk singer and country music outlaw most remembered for “Take This Job and Shove It” (1977). Paycheck's life fit his outlaw image: intermittent success as a musician, prison stints, drug problems, and a bout of homelessness. After his last prison term, for shooting a man in a barroom brawl, Paycheck made yet another comeback and in 1997 was made a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Nancy Whiskey (February), the “queen of skiffle.” Her 1957 recording of “Freight Train” with the Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group kicked off the British revival of skiffle, a 1930s American style that mixed jazz and country blues on simple instruments like guitar, jug, kazoo, and washtub bass (the “tea-chest bass” in Britain).

Tom Glazer (February), legendary fellow-pioneer with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Josh White in the urban folk movement of the 1940s. We all know “On Top of Spaghetti,” but who remembers that Glazer wrote it? He might prefer to be remembered for “Because All Men Are Brothers” or “Skokiaan.”

Edwin Starr (April). Soul musician Starr made his mark in 1969 with “25 Miles to Go”; his 1970 “War” (“What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!”), is still a staple of anti-war protests.

Freyda Epstein (May), fiddler and singer. Her career began with Trapezoid, a seminal West Virginia folk group, and included her own group, Acoustic AttaTude, and the World Harmony Chorus, which she co-directed.

June Carter Cash (May), a member of the famous Carter family, a musician and actress in her own right, and wife of Johnny Cash. Her musical partnership with Cash followed a promising career she had started with her sisters Helen and Anita Carter; she was offered her own network variety series, but chose instead to tour with Cash. They were married in 1968; “Ring of Fire” grew out of their courtship.

Henry Redd Stewart (August), singer and co-writer of “Tennessee Waltz,” “Bonaparte's Retreat,” “Soldier's Last Letter,” and other songs. He and Pee Wee King wrote “Tennessee Waltz,” the story goes, on the inside of a torn-up matchbox while driving to Nashville.

Johnny Cash (September), a country singer who earned a name as one of the great folk singers. In the folk tradition, he borrowed from whatever genre suited his purpose; he strengthened the bond between folk and country music, collaborating with Bob Dylan and covering tunes by Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and Simon and Garfunkel. Pop-rock artists like Stevie Nicks and the Beat Farmers returned the compliment, covering “I Still Miss Someone” and “Big River.”

Cousin Jack” Franklin (September). A long-time Club member, Cousin Jack was born Pleasant Deneen Puckett on June 15, 1929, in Belmond, Iowa, and came to California with his mother at age 3. He began his musical career at 14, and played and sang folk music all his life. In the 1980s he and his wife Alinda moved to Mariposa, where he worked tirelessly to promote music. “Famous since 1929” (as his postcards billed him), Cousin Jack founded the Fun Club: “No dues; no rules; no meetings; no nothin'; just do it! Be good to yourself.” He touched many lives, as was evident by the community's outpouring of love and affection during his illness. A celebration of his life was held at the Mariposa Fairgrounds September 27; his last wish was, “Everyone plant daffodils.” back to top


Hootenanny Night Returns

Hootenanny Night – the SFFMC's monthly free music showcase – is back! November 8th is our big 2nd Anniversary Party. This should be one of the best shows ever, with several of our favorite performers from the past year joining us. Great music and free food – what could be better? Each Hoot ends with a jam, so bring your instruments along.

On November 8 we have:
Michael Stadler: One of the Bay Area's best roots country Celtic folk voices (www.michaelstadler.com).
Faith Petric: Grandmama of Bay Area folk music scene and walking folk music encyclopedia (members.aol.com/faithpet).
Shut-Ins: Get ready for Hulabilly Shut-Ins style. They do Hawaiian, Tin Pan Alley, and Louvin Brothers-style vocal harmonies and make them all sound like Shut-Ins originals (www.theshutins.com).
AJ Roach and Mia Thompson: AJ’s best songs sound like lost traditional classics. With Mia Thompson doing harmonies and Alisa Rose on fiddle (www.roachmusic.com).
Hiram Bell: One of the Bay Area's top ukulele players. He's an engaging performer and all-around great guy. (www.freeranger.com/hbell).

On December 13:
Christene LeDoux: Christene is a charming singer/songwriter who makes new fans and friends whenever she performs (www.christeneledoux.com).
The Last of the Blacksmiths: Moody enigmatic alt/folk from this Bay Area combo (www.lastoftheblacksmiths.com).
Stuart Rosh: He sings quirky charming originals (www.stuartrosh.com).
The Attenders: We liked them so much the first time, we asked them back again. Harmony singing in the grand folk tradition (www.theattenders.com).
Mokai: A San Francisco coffeehouse fixture making his Hootenanny debut (www.mokaimusic.com).

Hootenanny Night is presented monthly by the SFFMC at Café International, 508 Haight St. (at Fillmore), San Francisco. Performances start at 7:00 p.m.; the final jam begins around 9:30 p.m. For more information, contact Richard Rice at (415) 775-0221 or equalrice@yahoo.com. Check out this month's poster at www.sfhootenanny.homestead.com. back to top


SFFMC 2004 Calendar

Musical Meetings

January 9, 23  July 9, 23
February 6, 20 August 6, 20
March 5, 19 September 3, 17
April 2, 16, 30 October 1, 15, 29
May 14, 28 November 12, 26
June 11, 25 December 10, 24

Campouts

New Year's Day (January 1)
Memorial Day (May 31)
Independence Day (July 5)
Labor Day (September 6)

Free Folk Festival

TBA—probably in June back to top

Festivals 'n Such

Women in Music Festival Nov 15
1:00-9:30 PM. Sebastopol Community Center's Youth Annex, 425 Morris Street, Sebastopol CA. A ben-efit for Music in the Schools. Afternoon and evening tickets, $10.00 each. Tickets available online. Info: (707) 974-3571, www.seb.org

West Coast Ragtime Festival Nov 21-23
Red Lion Hotel, Sacramento, CA.
Five venues for listening and dancing to every kind of ragtime and ragtime related music, as well as semi-nars on all facets of ragtime. After-hours jam sessions, dance instruction, open piano, piano lessons, Ragtime Collectors Exchange. Info: Petra Sullivan (916) 457-3324, WCRSTickets@ragtimemusic.com,
www.westcoastragtime.com/festivalcy.htm

Folk Dance Scene Institute Nov 22
10:30 AM-midnight, Westchester Senior Center, Los Angeles, CA. Croatian dance and workshop featur-ing Zeljko Jergan. Cost: $25. Info: (310) 391-7382; ay651@lafn.org, http://us.geocities.com/FDFedSouthInc/events/scenewkshp031122.htm

52nd Annual Kolo Festival Nov 28-30
San Francisco Russian Center, 2450 Sutter St., SF, CA.
The premier Balkan folkdance festival of the West Coast. Zeljko Jergan, Jaap Leegwater, Joe Graziosi, Martin Koenig. Info: (510) 652-7859, (800) 730-5615, asha@KoloFestival.org, www.kolofestival.org

17th Annual No-Snow Ball Dec 6
Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension, Oakland, CA. Dances are called by Santa Claus and one of his assistants, with music by several of Santa's favorite help-ers. Featuring Cathie Whitesides. Info: bacds@bacds.org, www.bacds.org/events

Blythe Bluegrass Music Festival Jan 16-18
Colorado River Fairgrounds, Blythe CA. Blue Highway, Back Country, Dave Peterson & 1946, Goldwing Express, Harmony Breeze, Lost Highway, Silverado, the Special Consensus, Wildfire and more. International food, crafts, Bluegrass Quilter's Quilt Show, Pete's Husband Calling contest. Info: (760) 922-8166, www.blytheareachamberofcommerce.com

NW Women's Music Celebration March 21-23
Cazadero Performing Arts Camp,
Cazadero, California. Instructors: Janet, Nan, Marie and Kathleen from Motherlode; Crystal Reeves and Kate Munger. Singing, dancing, fiddling, play-ing the mandolin, guitar, harmonica, writing songs, being in a band and much more! Whether you're a beginning musician, an accomplished performer, or someone who just enjoys music, there is a place for you here. Info: (707) 253-2406, tmgeo1@aol.com,
www.motherlodemusic.com/nwmc.html


Otter Opry Concert Series

More from the lineup at the Otter Opry in Santa Cruz, offering regular concerts of fine bluegrass from all over. Concerts at the United Methodist Church, 250 California St. in Santa Cruz. For more info on this and other shows: (831) 338-0618.
December 8, 8:00 PM. World-class modern bluegrass with Due West.


Sweet Honey in Fresno

The internationally acclaimed African-American female vocal ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock comes to Fresno's historic Warnors Theatre, 1400 Fulton St., on Friday, December 12, at 8:00 PM For tickets call the Warnors Theatre box office at (559) 264-2848 or visit http://evobluestein.com/shirconcert.html.

The December concert will be Sweet Honey's first Central Valley appearance in 15 years. The event promises to be particularly memorable because it will be one of the group's final appearances featuring its founder, Bernice Johnson Reagon, who will retire from performing in February 2004.

The daughter of a rural Georgia Baptist minister, Reagon started Sweet Honey after performing with The Freedom Singers, an African-American vocal group formed during the height of the 1960s civil rights struggles. The Freedom Singers were one aspect of the nationwide campus orga-nization, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The Freedom Singers crisscrossed the nation, singing such 'Movement' anthems as "We Shall Not Be Moved," as well as songs handed down from black churches, many of which featured themes of freedom and justice.

The ensemble took its name from the spiritual "Sweet Honey in the Rock." After teaching the group this song, Reagon asked her father about its significance. He told her it was a parable describing a land so rich that when rocks were cracked open, honey flowed from them. Reagon thought it was a suitable metaphor for African-American women: strong as a rock, sweet as honey.

This performance is presented by The Gene Bluestein Memorial Fund, a fund established in honor of the late CSUF Professor of American Literature and Folklore. It's mission is to present lecture and concert events in the field of folk music and American studies. "Gene would have loved this," says his son, Evo Bluestein. "Sweet Honey in the Rock typifies the sort of multi-cultural music our father brought to this community during his many years at the University."


Sea Music Concert Series

Don't forget the last two performances aboard the ships in SF's annual Sea Music Concert Series at Hyde Street Pier.

Nov 15, 8:00 PM: William Pint and Felicia Dale. They per-form traditional and modern music and "songs reflect-ing the immense vitality of those who live and work on the sea." The energetic couple captivates audiences with vocals and guitar, mandola, Irish pennywhistles, percussion and the hurdy gurdy.

Dec 12, 8:00 PM: Alasdair Fraser. His richly expressive playing ranges from haunting laments from the Gaelic tradition to classically styled airs, raucous dance tunes and improvisations based on traditional themes. His repertoire spans several centuries of Scottish music and includes his own compositions.

Tickets: $12-$14. Seating is limited, purchase tickets in advance. Tickets: 415-561-6662, also available at the Maritime Store, 2905 Hyde St., (415) 775-2665. Info at www.nps.gov/safr/concert.html


2003 Christmas Revels

An Elizabethan Revels, December 12-14, 19-21, at Oakland's Scottish Rite Theater on Lake Merritt. For information go to www.calrevels.org, or call (415) 621-1216.

This year, Revels visits the colorful Renaissance world of Queen Elizabeth I. Follow Will Kemp, the irreverent and brilliantly talented clown from Shakespeare's company, as he Morris dances from London to Norwich to meet the Queen! Along the way, he'll encounter townsfolk and tavern keepers, courtiers and comics, singers and storytellers, all set against a background of magnificent Elizabethan music, dance and drama.

In this year's Revels production, Will Kemp will be portrayed by the Bay Area's own Master of Revelry and favorite Fool, Geoff Hoyle. He will be joined by Deborah Doyle (of California renaissance faires) as Queen Elizabeth I, fiddler Shira Kammen, as well as top Morris and Renaissance dancers. Rounding out the cast is our chorus of over 80 singers, dancers, actors and children, along with the Brass West Ensemble, the Golden Ring Morris Men, and the Solstice Singers. Audiences can look forward to traditional Revels favorites, includ-ing the ever-popular audience-participation 'Lord of the Dance.'


Beautiful Origins of "Strange Fruit"

Excerpted from "How Can I Keep From Talking: Ethel and Julius" by Ross Altman. Printed with permission.

...to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, I didn't come here to talk about the Rosenbergs, I came to talk about Abe Meeropol. Meeropol was a high school English teacher from Dewitt Clinton High School in New York who wrote songs on the side. He and his wife Anne were close friends of the Rosenbergs, and after the [Rosenbergs'] execution they adopted their two young sons, Robby and Michael (six and ten years old respectively).

Meeropol was also a leftist and to protect his source of income as a teacher he published his songs under a pen name-Lewis Allan. You may have heard two of these songs-"The House I Live In" and "Strange Fruit."

Perhaps you thought that Billie Holiday wrote "Strange Fruit," not surprisingly since Time Magazine credited her as the song's author when they voted it the "Song of the Century" in their last issue of the 20th Century. She sang it, but it was a Jewish leftist who wrote it-in the early 1930's on the heels of one of the worst periods of lynching in our nation's history.
In the late 1920's the Ku Klux Klan was on the rise throughout the south in numbers that had not been seen since just after the Civil War. So were lynchings-thou-sands of Black men were lynched in just a few short years, and all efforts to pass something so basic as an "anti-lynching law" came to naught. Congress wouldn't pass a law, but a member of the group that Shelley described as "the unacknowledged legislators of the world" did write an anti-lynching song. He found an extraordinary image for this despicable act-one [couldn't] even call it a crime, since there was no law against it-"strange fruit, hanging from the poplar tree." In 1939 he got the song to Billie Holiday and the rest, as they say, is history.

But she wasn't the only one who sang it. The great folk blues guitarist Josh White also started singing it, and made the mistake of singing it in the very club [where] Billie Holiday had introduced it-Café Society in New York City. When Billie Holiday heard that someone else was singing "her song," she went down there to put a stop to it. She came into Josh White's dressing room after the show and pulled a knife on him, threatening to cut his throat if he did not cease and desist. (They did not have restraining orders in those days.) Josh White replied to her with quiet eloquence, "Billie, we should both sing that song until no one ever has to sing it again." She put her knife away.

Abe Meeropol was a songwriter who not only talked the talk-he walked the walk. He and his wife Anne gave a home to two orphans who had been victimized-whatever one may think of their parents' case-by McCarthyism and the ensuing witch hunt that turned two quite ordinary people into martyrs. He lived the song he wrote, and Robby and Michael Meeropol are now carrying on their adopted and their birth parents' legacy with a foundation called "Children of Resistance," to offer support to children of parents who, for whatever reason, become political prisoners.

Strange Fruit
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
-Music and lyrics by Lewis Allan, © 1940


Reviews

If you have just released a CD or scholarly tome, we'll be glad to review it! Send a review copy to: SFFMC, 885 Clayton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117; or to someone who has agreed to review it, and send the review to me (Kathryn LaMar, 21295 Birch Street, Hayward, CA 94541; 510-733-0425; kathryn_lamar@yahoo.com). If you have already received a CD to review, please do so and send it on! If you're a writer of excellent taste, and regularly acquire items to review, by all means review them and forward the review for publication right here! Thank you!! Reviews of things other than CDs, along with rants about anything that bugs you about publishing and the music biz these days, we welcome all that too!

RECORDING REVIEWS

FRASER UNION: From There to Here. FU 002. Available from Fraser Union (FU) has been delighting folk and acoustic music fans in Vancouver, BC, and its environs for 20 years or so; the current line-up has been in place since 1988. FU features Dan Henning on vocals, Hank Piket on vocals and guitar, Roger Holdstock on vocals, guitar, and mandolin; and Barry Truter on vocals, guitar, and octave mandolin. This is their second recording, and the 14 songs on this offering show just why they have become favorites among the folk throughout western Canada and adjacent places. Only two of the songs-Make Me a Pallet and Lady Franklin's Lament-are traditional. The other 12 songs were written by a diverse group of songswriters including Stan Rogers, Linda Allen, Jim Payne, Gallaher, John Lyon, FU's own Barry Truter, Andy Vine, and Pacific Northwest parody specialist extraordinaire, Zeke Hoskin. Here are songs depicting the personal tragedy of the 18th centryy Scottish highland clearances (Don't Cry in Your Sleep), the hardships of pioneer life in the context of Canadian History, Woman of Labrador and Augustus and Kathryn, the plight of fishermen in Newfoundland (Empty Nets), the migration of workers from one industry to another (Free in the Harbor), the dangers of global-ization and corporate expansion (The Big Highway), chemical poisoning in modern plants (Canaries in the Mine), and the prospects of personal computers running wild (Ghost Program, a parody on Ghost Riders in the Sky). FU knows how to pick and deliver a song: good harmonies; direct, evocative, and powerful lyrics; and songs with content. Their songs are about places far and remote as well as close to home, times past and gone as well as up-to-date, and issues that trouble one's thoughts and tweak otherwise impervious hearts and consciences. From There to Here deserves a lot of praise, and yours truly says a big three cheers to them for a recording well worth the 8 years' wait since their first. –Robert Rodriquez back to top

TIPSY HOUSE: Sets in the City: Irish Set Dancing at the Plough and Stars with Tipsy House. <www.tipsyhouse.com>. Although flutist, concertina player, and producer Jack Gilder says of this music, "Tipsy House isn't really a set dance band in the purest sense..." he has created a pure joy! Guitarist Richard Mandel provides the solid rhythmic groove for fiddler Kevin Bernhagen's lyrical playing that is often so intertwined with Jack's flute or concertina that it's hard to tell their voices apart. Their instrumental arrangements are spare, clean, and concise, with marvelous intonation throughout. The concept of Sets in the City was to record danceable renditions of tunes corresponding to sets of figures that are danced today: The Corofin Set (reels and jigs, ending with polkas), The West Kerry Set (polkas and slides ending with hornpipes), and The Clare Plain Set (reels and jigs). Most of the tunes are traditional, with only 3 of the 45 (!) named tunes credited to recent composers. My own current favorite is the waltz set that includes The Parting by Cyril O'Donoghue, a lovely haunting tune that travels from major to minor and back again and is a great showcase for Jack's flying fingers that facilitate the grace notes on the concertina. In the liner notes, Jim Belcher says, "The basic ingredients required for set dancing are eight dancers, traditional musicians, and a regular place to dance the quintessential experience is to find great musicians who love to play for dancers." The great musicians in Tipsy House comprise the "house" band out at the "Plough and Stars" on Clement in San Francisco. They've dedicated this recording to the memory of two great friends of traditional music and dance, Mary O'Connell and Tom Savage, whose memories are well honored by this effort. Highly recommended for both listeners and dancers. –Kerry Parker back to top

PANACEA: Panacea. rpetrie@flaming-buddha.com <www.flaming-buddha.com>.
This is Panacea's debut CD, and it's a real winner. Panacea–a five-woman ensemble–is a who's who of Bay Area traditional Balkan, Middle Eastern, and western European folk musicians, all players and innovators at the top of their classes. Bon Singer, founder of Kitka, is a fine Balkan singer. Robin Petrie is the premier Celtic hammered dulcimist on the west coast, with a taste for Greek, Scandinavian, and who knows what else. Shira Kammen plays amazing Early Music fiddle and crosses many national boundaries. Accordionist Nada Lewis is a stalwart of the Balkan scene. Percussionist Nicole Lecorgne is pursuing a masters in Middle Eastern percussion. And on it goes. The singing, with Bon on lead, is excellent, featuring classic Israeli folk dance songs from the 1950s and some great Bulgarian songs. The in-and-out interplay between hammered dulcimer, fiddle, and accordion on the instrumentals is enjoyable, and each instrument is nicely showcased by Kristoph Klover's tasteful recording work. The geographical range of instrumental music is broad; Robin contributed Finnish tunes and Shira Breton, but much is traditional folk dance music from the Balkans, played very interestingly. I, don't expect to tire of this recording for many years. Great job, folks. –Mitch Gordon back to top

TOUR DE FRANCE www.tdfmusic.com, P.O. Box 975, Mendocino, CA 95460
From the first notes of this fine CD of traditional French music, you know you're in good hands. Traditional French music is delightful stuff and deserves a wider audience. These four folks have been keeping this music alive for a couple of decades. Hurdy-gurdy virtuoso Arrigo D'Albert helped introduce traditional French music to America, Debra Dawson is a very fine hurdy-gurdy/fiddle player and an enjoyable vocalist. Alan Keith, when not elsewhere in kilt playing Highland bagpipes, is a fine proponent of the cornemuse and cabrette bagpipes. Vickie Yancy is one of the best diatonic button box players in this genre. This project has been 6 years in the making, but the results have been worth the wait. They've assembled a package of very accessible tune sets and vocal music, very interestingly produced without compromising the traditional feeling. I especially love the agricultural ambience of Marche de Venerie, complete with chirping birds and horse hoof clip-clop, and the long Turkish oud solo leading into L'Orientale. I would have preferred more of Vickie's accordion work, but her version of Marc Perrone's Waltz For Joseph and her lovely originals Ann's September Waltz and Rosette will satisfy our little cadre of Vickie fans. This is a great album all around ... and about as good an introduction as you'll get to this music, short of ordering recordings from France. –Mitch Gordon back to top