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.

“There was a time when the beauty and the music were all within, and I sat and listened to my thoughts, and there was a song in them.”
—Henry David Thoreau

Date September 9 September 23 October 7 October 21 November 4
Setup Melissa Sarenac Joel Rutledge Debbie Klein Melissa Sarenac Joel Rutledge
Bulletin Board Debbie Klein Debbie Klein Joel Rutledge Rick Myers Estelle Freedman
Host/ess Bob Allen Melissa Sarenac Mary Cryns Roan Michaels Estelle Freedman
Host/ess Pazit Zohar Jean Oggins Tes Welborn Dave Sahn Jo D'Anna
Singing Room Melissa Sarenac Marisa Malvino ‘D’ Nunns Jim Letchworth Melissa Sarenac
Theme Calypso Rhythms Personalities Hard Luck & Humor California Thanks & Praise
Cleanup Kim Probst Lyla Menzel Jim Letchworth Dave Sahn Ken Hayes

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, October 30, at Joan Hall and Abe Feinberg,


Websites of Interest

To Hear Your Banjo Play — 1947.

In this 16-minute video, Pete Seeger narrates Alan Lomax’s documentary on the evolution and appreciation of American folk music. Cameo performances include Woody Guthrie and Brownie McGhee, amongst others. Interesting to hear Pete describe John Henry — remember, this is 1947 — as a “new work song with a beat of steel engines in the rhythm.”

Casey Jones

The most famous railroad engineer of all time has been immortalized by musicians as diverse as Mississippi John Hurt, Josh Ritter, Joe Hill, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, Tom Russell, Kris Kristofferson, the New Christy Minstrels, and the Grateful Dead. If you want to know the full story of John Luther “Casey” Jones, and what happened in the early morning hours of that fateful day of April 30, 1900, check out this website:

Bay Area Open Mics

This website lists a whole slew of open mics in the San Francisco Bay Area, sorted by the day of the week on which they occur, and providing a geographic filter so you can (if you wish) view only those open mics in a particular area — San Francisco, East/South Bay or North Bay. If you’re looking for open mics at which to perform, or if you’d simply like to hear some live music while eating your dinner and drinking your beer or coffee, check it out.


Have Something to Say to 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 that contribution is 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

Ken Graydon: Cowboy Poet, Songwriter and Storyteller

by Jeannine Menger

It is with great sadness that I pass on to you all that this weekend past a Southern California legend left us. Ken Graydon was a cowboy poet, songwriter, and performer, and as fine a human being as you would ever meet.

[Editor’s note: Jeannine wrote this on August 1, so her reference to “this past weekend” refers to Ken’s death on July 30.]

He lived his last years in the avocado country in San Diego County (Fallbrook). Ken and Phee were an integral part of “Songmakers” in L.A. for years, then they moved their show and parties to Fallbrook (San Diego county). The late July party at Ken ’n’ Phee’s has been legendary for decades. This last weekend was supposed to be the party, and, as late as Thursday, Ken was ready to greet his guests when things turned. The party was called off, but many who had been in transit did not get the message. We came anyway, and in her usual manner, Phee welcomed us all and adapted. WOW. She turned what was to be a party into a chance, instead, for us to console each other, to play for Ken and read Ken’s poetry while he lay in a coma. While there were tears, it was in some ways, the greatest and most festive party we could have had.

I will miss Ken Graydon. Two years ago, during the annual party on a Sunday morning, I stood with him and his friend Carlos in the grove while the sun came up to warm things. Ken spun tales of life in the Central Valley and projects he had worked on. As most great cowboy poets do, as he spun the tale, he drew us in deeper and deeper. It was not a poem he was saying, per se, but it was poetic in any case. It was the tone of his voice and how he delivered each line. I was riveted by his story and wanted to know with each syllable what was coming next. You could see in Carlos’ eyes that he too was drawn in.

It was THIS energy that Ken brought to his poems his music and his life. In so many ways this last weekend I felt, looking at him breathing hard in that hospital bed, that I was back in the grove two years ago with Carlos that warming morning hearing Ken spin his tales. Just as I never wanted the stories to end then, this weekend I did not want to see him go.

When I go one day — and I will — I want to go like Ken.

Reprinted with permission from the Harmony List.


The Female of the Species

by Robert Rodriquez

Step back, gents, and give the ladies some room, for it is their turn to take center stage and strut their musical stuff, so to speak. Music and story have many aspects in common, and one of them is that both are an equal opportunity landscape and they take no account of such factors as race, religion, ethnicity, and especially gender. It should be therefore no surprise that persons of the female persuasion can be found in as many stories involving music as can be found their male counterparts, so here go some cases in point.

Ancient Egypt had a plethora of deities, and one of the most revered and colorful was the cat goddess, variously known as Bast, Bastet, and Pasht. She is often pictured as a tall slender woman having the head of a cat, holding a trio of items including a basket of kittens, a shield, and a musical instrument. Her temple at Bubastis, east of the Nile Delta, was the center of her worship, and it is said that she would often be seen playing a reed pipe or singing chants in order to call her devotees to prayer and worship. According to ancient Hindu tradition, music did not exist on earth until Saraswati brought the stringed instrument known as the vena to the world of mortals and introduced music to the world. According to one version of the Japanese creation story, Amaterasu, the Japanese sun-goddess, literally sang the very universe into being and it was said that her worshipers would often sing powerful songs to induce her to aid them when trouble and peril loomed on the horizon.

In his twelfth-century history of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth tells us that Brutus, legendary first king of Britain, encountered those seductive and demonic sea denizens, the sirens, while leading the descendants of the sack of Troy to their new home in Britain in the same manner as Odysseus encountered them on his way home from Troy. The Sirens, of course, using their vocal talents, lured sailors to their very doom in the same manner that mermaids have done in tales ranging from Canada’s west coast to Cornwall and from the fjords of Scandinavia to the Adriatic Sea. In Brazil, they tell of the yara, a siren-like creature who lures young men to their destruction in her watery home in and around the Amazon river. Countless stories are told of warriors and hunters who are overcome by the yara’s hypnotic and haunting voice and who eventually succumb to the creature’s hellish charms, and then it is literally all over but the funeral arrangements, as they say south of the border.

Other supernatural female denizens who skillfully employ music to ensnare hapless mortals include la diablesse from Haiti, the Rusalka of Russian folklore, the ghoula from various Arab nations, and the very sinister entity from the Philippines known as the Mananangal, among a host of others known from one end of the world to the other.

At the other end of the spectrum are various heroines whose musical skills help them escape dangerous and perilous situations. From Russia comes the classic tale of the lute-player, in which a queen disguises herself as a wandering minstrel in order to rescue her husband from imprisonment by a rival monarch. Such is her skill that he releases the imprisoned fellow into her care and she does not reveal her true identity until tale’s end. From Mexico comes the tale of El Sombreron, the demon with the hat, and the brave young lass who skillfully wards him off by playing a guitar made from the wood of a tree that grows on hallowed ground. A Scottish lass once forced Old Nick to listen to an all-night bagpipe marathon, and they say that once he managed to get away, he began to run for his very life, and they say he’s running still to this very day.

Heroines in British ballads are quite well known to students of the traditional ballads, and they include such as: Lady Janet, who helps disenchant Tamlin from the snares of the faerie queen; Lady Isabel, who thwarted and did in a serial killer; Sophia, the Turkish lady, who traveled halfway round the world in order to win her true love in the person of Lord Bateman; the Bonnie Lass of Angelcy, who engaged in one of the strangest dance contests ever and managed to defeat and humiliate one king and fifteen of his vassals; and the Maid on the Shore, who managed to save her virtue from a shipful of nasty sailors and their captain by putting them to sleep with her very singing and then managed to rob them and teach them a much needed lesson in male humility in the bargain.

One tale of which I shall speak more fully in another piece is that of the murder of one sister by another, a story involving jealousy, greed, and lust, and the creation of a musical instrument, usually a fiddle or harp, from various parts of the dead sister’s corpse and the subsequent and often supernatural elements found in this tale, known from North America to the Balkans and from the British Isles to India. It is best known in ballad tradition as the “Twa Sisters,” “Binorie,” “Wind and Rain,” and half a dozen other titles.

It should therefore be quite evident from the above examples that female protagonists, heroines and villains, mortals, other-world beings and even goddesses, play as grand a role in stories where music takes center stage. So once again, let’s hear it for the musical gals, wherever they may be found in song and story, down the centuries and throughout the world. Long may their stories be sung and told, and that’s the way it always should be where a good yarn is concerned, now and always to come.