FUTURE Concerts

    (Click on hyperlink for tickets)

    Series at the Talking Stick Café

    1411 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

    NEVENKA    September 27
                  East European Women's Choir

    SYNCOPATHS    October 25th
                  Upbeat Celtic




    By Ross Altman

    Dinesh DSouzas AmericaDinesh D’Souza’s America opens in medias res, in the midst of the American Revolution, and before we have had time to settle in, we see General George Washington riding by as he is…shot dead by a British sniper’s bullet. What if, D’Souza’s movie speculates, George Washington had died that way and America had never been born. What would the world look like today?—a fascinating hypothesis--but apparently not enough to hang a movie on.

    As John Milton found out while writing Paradise Lost every epic needs a villain as well as a hero, and often the villain—in Milton’s case Satan—is the more interesting character than—in his case the Lord. In Dinesh D’Souza’s pseudo-documentary America: Imagine a World Without Her, a hypothetical retelling of the American story the hero—it goes without saying—is America—while the villain is the late great Boston University historian and author of The People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn.






    By Ross Altman

    Judy Collins - Don McLean

    Legendary singer-songwriter Don McLean and living angel Judy Collins brought a show to Riverside last night that was one for the ages—and the times we live in. Judy Collins, looking resplendent in a simple black sequined pant suit highlighted by her shining silver hair flowing down her shoulders gave the most moving tribute to her “old friend Pete Seeger” of all the tributes I have heard since he passed away last January 27.

    She offered her heartfelt narrative of her friendship with America’s Tuning Fork from the time she walked into Pete’s (and her soon-to-be) manager Harold Leventhal’s office fifty years ago only to find Pete stretched out fast asleep on the floor his banjo by his side and heard Leventhal say quietly but firmly, “Shh! Don’t wake him! He’s resting for three shows I am taking him to this afternoon; this is his only chance to get some sleep!” She then recounted the thrill of singing Turn, Turn, Turn with him on his self-produced folk TV show Rainbow Quest on a small public station (“before PBS was even invented!” she told us)—a performance which you can still enjoy on YouTube.



    [Editors note: The following are parts 1, 2  and 3 of Ross' interview with Don McLean. The introduction to this interview is Ross' July-August Column ]


    PART 1

    By Ross Altman

    Don McLean with instrumentsIn the following interview Don McLean has a few things to say about Pete Seeger that may raise some eyebrows, especially since the interview was conducted well before Pete passed away last January 27; so I want to preface it with this lovely tribute by Don McLean for Pete and what his loss meant to him; it is copied directly from his web site and shows how complex love can be.

    Thank you, Don.

    Pete Seeger

    For about seven years from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s, I knew the Seegers (Pete and Toshi) about as well as anybody. I worked with Pete Seeger frequently. He was very generous and encouraging at a time in my life when it meant a great deal to me. 

    Read more: DON MCLEAN PART 1


    PART 2

    By Ross Altman

    July 14, 2014, Woody Guthrie’s 102nd birthday—a day to celebrate folk music.

    Don McLeanRA:      Let me ask you about your father. You said at some point in the interview that I read that you were being encouraged to quit music because you weren’t making enough or weren’t successful enough and then the way you looked at it was you were making more in a day than your father made in a week…

    RA:      Okay, so to repeat that you were making more in a day than your father was earning in a week, which was about $150, and so you couldn’t see the argument. So I wanted to ask you, what did your father do for a living? And what influence did he have in terms of values and the things that you saw around your home?

    DM:     My father was a district manager for Consolidated Edison, the utility.

    RA:      Oh, okay.

    DM:     And he sold gas heat to people. And I never knew one single thing about what he did. He never spoke about what he did. He never talked about himself too much at all. He was taciturn in some ways, but near the end of his life when we were together, he told me all about childhood which was very tough. And then he died when I was with him.

    Read more: DON MCLEAN PART 2

    Don McLean: The FolkWorks Interview

    Part 3

    By Ross Altman

    Don McLean with Banjo at LenaRA:      How did you get acquainted with Pete?

    DM:     I got acquainted with him because, well I always loved his records, and loved that image which I felt was the perfect image for me, you know, because I was always kind of an outsider. I didn’t really want to work with people. I didn’t get along with people. I was always getting punished for things I was saying, you know, even at home. In school, at home, whatever, I would say something that was the truth, but it would get me in a lot of trouble and it kind of continued right on.

    RA:      Can you think of an example off the top of your head of that kind of thing?

    DM:     I can – wow, I mean, no. But I was always being impertinent, let’s say.

    RA:      Okay.

    DM:     The biggest example was American Pie, you know, where everybody sort of crucified me for – Rolling Stone crucified me for trying to take over the telling of the history of rock and roll.

    Read more: DON MCLEAN PART 3


    July-August 2014


    By Ross Altman

    Don McLean legendaryI happened to be at a roadside coffee stand yesterday where the radio was tuned to K-Earth 101; they were taking a commercial break to promote the station, and were playing two brief song excerpts to do so. The first was the Rolling Stones Satisfaction and the second was Don McLean’s American Pie. That’s all—no Beatles, no Madonna, no Elvis, no Rod Stewart, no Chuck Berry, and no Dylan; just the Stones and Don McLean. After the sound samples concluded the announcer breaks in and delivers the tag line: The greatest songs on earth—K-Earth 101. He doesn’t even bother to identify the artists or the songs, that’s how universally well-known they are. The Stones I got; but Don McLean? And then I connected the dots.

    Read more: Don McLean: The Folkworks Interview






By Jackie Morris

EVIE_LADIN_BANDYou don’t often hear words like “traditional,” and “authentic” paired with “innovative” and “unique,” but Evie Ladin has brought them together brilliantly in the self-titled, debut album of the Evie Ladin Band, and the result is truly a high point in new old-time music.

If you are not already familiar with Evie Ladin’s music, don’t let the term “debut” fool you.  While the four multi-instrumental band members – Ladin, Keith Terry, Dina Maccabee, and Erik Pearson – have been playing together for three years, they are all seasoned professionals. And the polyrhythmic sound of Ladin’s clawhammer banjo, her clogging, and her beautifully modulated voice, have infused five previous albums with The Stairwell Sisters, as well as the 2010 release of her highly acclaimed solo album, Float Downstream. But in the 13 new old-timey, Appalachian-flavored tracks of Evie Ladin Band, Ladin surpasses herself.

What makes this album SO good? First there are the songs themselves: eight delicious, rootsy and rhythmic originals – six by Ladin, one by Maccabee, and an instrumental by Pearson; and 5 inspired covers (including songs from Lotus Dickey, Walter McNew, Carter Family, Ewan McColl, Dock Boggs, and John Ashby).

Then there is Ladin’s voice, more fluid and versatile than ever, sailing effortlessly on and around beautiful melodies with a seemingly effortless combination of strength and sensitivity. When joined in harmony by the silvery vocals of Dina Maccabee, the result is pure honey.

And then, there is the band itself, each member adding a wealth of talent to the mix: Dina Maccabee on violin and harmony vocals; Erik Pearson on guitar, banjo and harmony vocals; and last but far from least, Keith Terry on bass, cajon, pizza pan, metal toys, Engelhart Gankogui (a type of African bell), bass harmonica, body music (aka, body drumming) and harmony vocals.

A renowned percussionist and rhythm dancer, Terry, in fact, provides one of the most defining elements of this album: an incredibly compelling and often complex rhythm. And for Ladin as well, who started her career as a percussive dancer and choreographer, the rhythm is intrinsic to the sound of Evie Ladin Band (which Ladin produced, and Terry co-produced with Ivan Rosenberg).

Evie Ladin and Keith Terry
(http://www.youtube.com/v/xJ9XElawteU )

The importance of this unique and varied percussion is evident from the very first track, Got You On My Mind (by Lotus Dickey). This catchy tune opens with just Ladin’s voice, which within five words is joined by Terry’s rhythm on metal toys. Only after the first verse of just vocals and percussion does Ladin’s clawhammer banjo join in and augment the rhythm; it is followed, in turn, by harmony vocals, violin and guitar. Like an underground river that surfaces, vanishes, and then resurfaces again, the intricate metallic rhythm appears and disappears, reappearing to play behind the instrumental solos. The result is a simple, lovely melody that builds into something very diverse and exciting.

This skillful building, layering, and counterpoint of voices and instruments is evident throughout the arrangements on this album. For example, in the second track, Come Down To The Door Of My Home, Ladin’s original composition achieves a richly textured sound, with her rhythmic, funky banjo beat answered by the fiddle, and her vocals swelling to 3-part harmony as the song progresses.

At this point, I should probably point out that every song on this CD is a winner. But I do have my favorites, of course, and they are all originals by Ladin. She is, among her many talents, an excellent songwriter, and Track 3 makes that very clear. He’s Not Alone sounds like a classic to me. Sung and played like an old-fashioned country song, with a drag and a catch in the voice, a great slide guitar, and harmony in all the right places, it packs an old-fashioned, true-to-life, emotional punch. Dime Store Glasses is another “classic-in-the-making.” In the country tradition of writing upbeat songs about heartbreak, this song is energized by a wonderful, prominent bass and body music. And for something “entirely different,” there’s Ladin’s quirky novelty song, Coffeeshop, with its interesting rhythms, fun lyrics and contemporary theme.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not call out one more song on this album. It is the song made famous by Roberta Flack – The First Time, by Ewan McColl – now reborn and transformed by the Evie Ladin Band. Whether you have never heard the song, or you have it stored away among your long-time favorites, it will, pardon the pun, be like hearing it for the first time. Roberta Flack’s version was slow and sensual, tinged with melancholy. But not anymore! In Ladin’s wonderful rendition, you will hear – for the first time – the pure joy in this song. It is a celebration of love, a quickening of the senses, that is simply uplifting.

I could go on and on about this gem of an album, but in the last analysis, you must hear Evie Ladin Band for yourself. It’s just that special.

A New York transplant to the tiny town of Carpinteria, CA, Jackie is a freelance writer by profession and a singer-songwriter by passion. Her newly-released third album of original Folk/Americana songs was among Top Folk Albums of 2011 on the Folk Music Radio Airplay Charts. Jackie is also an active member in such acoustic music communities as SummerSongs, SongMakers, and FARWest Folk Alliance.

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