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.

“Music is just happiness in search of your ears. ­”
—Missouri Clem (W. Clem Small)
Date September 10 September 24 October 8 October 22
Setup Susan Wilde Bob Allen Debbie Klein Melissa Sarenac
Bulletin Board Debbie Klein Mary Cryas Stephen Hopkins Estelle Freedman
Host/ess Estelle Freedman Joel Rutledge Pazit Zohar Victor Landweber
Host/ess Marisa Malvino Mary Cryas Stephen Rothenberg Melissa Sarenac
Singing Room Dave Sahn Jeannie Menger Melissa Sarenac Debbie Klein
Theme Rich & Poor Beatles Songs Flora & Fauna Rain & Cold
Cleanup Al Goodwin Forest McDonald Melissa Sarenac Linda Grace

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.

NEXT FOLKNIK FOLD-IN/FOLK SING: Sunday, April 25 at home of Joan Hall & Abe Feinberg,

Club News

For those who didn’t see his post on the Harmony list, Denis Franklin has moved from the Bay Area to Arizona to live near his daughter. He has already discovered that there is an active contra dance community and at least a Celtic cultural center to act as an entrée to the local jams. Our best wishes go with you, Denis!

Terra Linda High has a new club with lots of interested kids but they need your help. The Guitar Club needs 15 guitars, acoustic preferred, happy to get in any condition. Do you have one in the closet or one in the garage waiting to get played again? Help support kids in the arts. If you can help please contact Daniel Thomson at

Laurent Vintaer tells us of a new folkie website,, that offers information about traditional French folk music and dance in the SF Bay Area, and a schedule of live events. Please take advantage of this wonderful new community resource to learn, play, dance or hire! For questions, call Larry at (415) 517- 8129 or email him at

Songwriting Classes Live or Online

Longtime club member and published songwriter Jim Bruno will teach two songwriting classes at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA, &lsquot;Songwriters Workshop&rsquot; (MUS 58A), focusing on the craft of songwriting, and &lsquot;Music Publishing for Songwriters&rsquot; (MUS 18), focusing on the business of songwriting. Both classes are appropriate for all levels. No knowledge of music notation or music theory required.

Both classes are accredited and both can be taken either online or live, with the Songwriters Workshop meeting on Monday evenings and Music Publishing for Songwriters meeting on Wednesday evenings. The classes last 12 weeks and the tuition is only $68. Register early—both classes fill up! Fall Quarter starts Sept 20th. Need more information? Check out or you can contact Jim directly at

Jim will also be teaching a songwriting class on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley starting August 31st. The class consists of six sessions and the cost is $120 in advance. For more information, email or call 510-644-2020 ext. 127.

You can go to to learn more about Jim.

Folk Music & Beyond in September

From Joann Mar, host and producer of Folk Music and Beyond on KALW 91.7 FM, Saturdays 300-5:00 p.m.:

Website is

Bettine Wallin’s Memorial Service

By Lawrence Wallin

A memorial service for Bettine Wallin, who died on June 5, will be at the Santa Barbara Carrillo Recreation Center on September 19, 2010.

The schedule:

There will be a time for comments from the assembled, but those who want to play music or would like to be on the program during the memorial service should let me know. For groups I would like to have one person be the contact point. As we get closer to the date I, or someone else, will be coordinating the various speakers and musicians and singers.

Michael Mendelson will be coordinating the band(s) for the contra dance. 805-686-4141.

Donnalyn Karpeles will be coordinating the callers for the dance. 805-682-1877.

Bay Area Radio Shows of Interest to Folkies








From the Northern California Bluegrass Society's Radio Page.

Faith’s 95th birthday celebration

The Freight will be celebrating Faith Petric's 95th birthday celebration! Come join in the fun at this vaudeville/folk extravaganza—and be inspired and invigorated by the great music, bracing wit, and boundless energy of this grande dame of the West Coast folk scene. A folk singer with a staggering repertoire, Faith has been an invaluable resource and inspiration for several generations of musicians, often through the folk club sessions she has hosted at her home in the Haight for over four decades.

The show offers an outstanding medley of folk and vaudeville performers, with a little bit of something for just about anyone. Faith performs songs with guitar and harmonies provided by singer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Kessler. Other guests from Faith's long and illustrious career include “America's Bubble Guy” Tom Noddy; wild comedian Frank Olivier; famed songstress Ronnie Gilbert (of Weavers' fame); Estelle Freedman with Don Burnham (of Lost Weekend fame) and Marisa Malvino; Vaudeville-style rope trick artist Karen Quest; country blues fingerpicker Alan Smithline; and yodeling cowgirl comedienne Cici Dawn. And who knows who else may show up?

Born in a log cabin on a homestead in Idaho in 1915, Faith first learned music from her father, an itinerant Methodist preacher. She discovered cowboy and country songs in the mid-’20s, and protest songs during the Spanish Civil War. She marched for civil rights in Selma, took the helm of the San Francisco Folk Club in 1962, and helped found the Portable Folk Festival a decade later. These days, Faith continues to host the Friday night San Francisco Folk Club jam sessions, as well as writing a column in Sing Out! magazine and enlivening festivals, clubs, and protests with her songs of peace and justice.

Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, Saturday, September 11th, 8 pm (doors open at 7) $18.50 advance / $19.50 at the door.

Things I’ve learned from British folk ballads

New York Girls, like Liverpool Judies, like the ladies of Limehouse, Yarmouth, Portsmouth, Gosport, and/or Baltimore, know how to show sailors a good time, if by “good time” you mean losing all your money, your clothes, and your dignity. Note: All of these places are near navigable waterways. In practical terms this means that if you’re a sailor you’re screwed (and so are any young ladies you happen to meet). See also: Great Pox; Doleful Ghost.

If you are a young gentleman who had sex it is possible the girl won’t get pregnant. In those rare instances you will either get Saint Cynthia’s Fire or the Great Pox instead. No good will have come of it.

If you are a young lady do not allow young men into your garden. Or let them steal your thyme. Or agree to handle their ramrods while they’re hunting the bonny brown hare. Cuckoo’s nests are right out. And never stand sae the back o’ yer dress is up agin the wa’ (for if ye do ye may safely say yer thing-a-ma-jig’s awa’).


Paying the Piper; Calling the Tune

By Robert Rodriquez

Question: Why do pipers always march up and down while playing the pipes? Answer: Because it’s hard to hit a moving target. This and other unkind bagpipe jokes notwithstanding, in one form or another, the bagpipe has been around for nearly five thousand years, whether as a simple mouth-blown instrument or one attached to animal bags in its construction. It is reported that the future Alexander the Great often wandered into the Macedonian hills to hear the pipes played by local shepherds, often to the annoyance of his Athenean tutors. Nero was known for many things, including matricide; he even killed his wife and numerous Christians to boot. However, he did not play the fiddle while Rome burned, but in fact he was an accomplished player of the tibia utricularis, or Roman bagpipe, often doing so to the delight of the Roman crowds. Well, there seems to be no accounting for taste, even when it concerns a power-mad megalomaniac.

Richard the Lionheart once had to invade Sicily to save his sister from a luckless marriage to a local king; he had the unfortunate monarch beheaded but wound up bringing a group of Sicilian bagpipers back to England, to the delight, it is said, of many of the ladies of the English royal court. The English chroniclers tell us that on the night before the battle of Bannockburn in 1314, a battle the Scottish forces actually won, the highland pipers gave the English a taste of the power of the pipes, the pipes making the frightened English soldiers think that all the demons of hell in all their fury had been loosed upon the hapless army of Edward II. During the battle of New Orleans in January, 1815, the only major land battle won by the U.S. during the War of 1812, even though it took place after the Treaty of Kent had been signed ending the war, a Kentucky soldier remarked that the highland pipes coming from the British side sounded like the cry of angry hogs from his uncle’s farm back home. Nevertheless, he did remark upon the smart dress of the pipers and said they would be better off at a dance than at a battle.

Everyone knows the sinister tale of the pied piper, the rat-catcher of Hamelin in Germany, and how, after he had rid the town of its surplus of vermin and was not paid by the good burghers, he took a fierce revenge upon the town by leading the children into the side of a nearby mountain, all but one lame boy who could not keep up with the others. The children of course were never seen again, and the town was devastated for decades to come. The legend may have helped lead to the modern phrase: he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Although bagpipes may have originated in India, they are known all over the world by many names: cornemuse and binou, gida and gaita, zimpoieu and Northumbrian small-pipes, among others, and they can be found from the Canadian Maritimes to Cuba, and from Britain to North Africa and Turkey. Their tales and legends are global as well. There is a Hungarian tale about a young shepherd named Laslo who attended the wedding of a strange forest dwarf and offered to play for the event. He emerged the next morning from the underground cavern, only to discover to his horror that not one night, but three centuries had elapsed in actual time. When he realized that all he knew was gone forever, grief and old age suddenly overwhelmed him and he crumbled into dust and oblivion.

A Scottish traveler, known as a fine piper, was lured into a faerie dwelling for what he believed to be one night, but in actual time, twenty years had gone by. He cruelly abandoned his now much older wife and left her lying in the road with harsh words about old age and unwanted old hags. It is said he was punished when the devil took him to hell on the following All Hallow’s Eve at another musical ceilidh he was attending. A Breton piper once managed to tie the devil to a tree and forced him to listen to an all-night concert. Eventually, so goes the tale, Old Nick managed to escape, but did not stop running until he got to the left bank of the Seine River in Paris, where it is said he still is hiding to this very day.

The motif of the musical instrument that makes folks dance without stopping is also found where pipes are concerned, as in a tale from Sicily in which the youngest of three peasant brothers outwits his enemies and gains a princess to wife by making the king and his entire court dance until they almost drop dead from sheer exhaustion. Similar tales can be found in Poland, Ukraine, Serbia, and even as far afield as Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. A piper named MacTavish, who wanted to be the best piper in the world, once saved the life of a Kelpie, a Celtic water-horse with supernatural powers. MacTavish was offered one wish, and when he told what he wanted, the Kelpie asked him if he wanted to play his pipes to please others or to please himself. To please myself, of course, was MacTavish’s reply. And thus he gained his dearest wish; he was the best piper in the world, but in the end, the only one he pleased with his music was himself.

There are lots of other tales in which pipers encounter all manner of beings, mortal and otherwise, but perhaps the best way to end is with the following winning entry in a one-sentence story contest won by, it is said, a journalism student: “It is difficult, nay impossible, to peacefully coexist with a beginning bagpipe player in a one-room apartment in downtown San Jose,” said the young woman as she handed the empty revolver to the police lieutenant standing at the door.