• CONCERT REVIEW

    CAT STEVENS-YUSUF IN CONCERT

    NO SEX, NO DRUGS, NO ROCK AND ROLL—GOT FOLK?

    AT THE NOKIA THEATRE—LA LIVE - DECEMBER 14, 2014

    By Ross Altman

    Cat Stevens with D-28England’s greatest mathematician, pacifist and philanderer once said of Austria’s greatest logician and language philosopher: “Ludwig Wittgenstein came to Cambridge and taught the English to speak their own language.” Bertrand Russell, meet Cat Stevens. With his new album Tell ‘Em I’m Gone—from the Lead Belly chain gang song Take This Hammer—English folk singer Cat Stevens has come to the U.S. and taught Americans to sing our own folk songs—black, blues, and even the singing cowboy Gene Autry classic (written by former Louisiana Governor Jimmy Davis) You Are My Sunshine, a song relegated to nursing home sing along song sheets until Cat reshaped it into a modern blues and made it shine all over again—as he did with Lead Belly.

    Read more: CAT STEVENS-YUSUF IN CONCERT


    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    November-December 2014

    CONFLICT AND LEGACIES

    BY LINDA DEWAR

    Young and CrosbyOK, I’m not sure this is actually news… it seems that Neil Young and David Crosby have had a serious disagreement, and as a result Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young will never perform together again. That’s according to Young. Crosby, though, says the statement is a bit “like saying there are mountains in Tibet,” and that the whole thing will blow over. There’s no mention of the nature of the blowup, but Crosby did take the opportunity to mention that he knew “at least 20” guitar players who are better than Young.

    Read more Conflict and Legacies

    CD REVIEWS

    TITLE: BEYOND THE BLUE

    ARTIST: THE DUHKS

    LABEL: COMPASS RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: 2014

    By Jackie Morris

    The DuhksThe Duhks are back...flying higher than ever with their 5th CD, Beyond the Blue. After taking a hiatus of two years, this celebrated Canadian neo-trad folk band demonstrates, yet again, the bold, beautiful, eclectic, exciting and innovative music that has consistently earned them critical acclaim. All of their previous CDs have been nominated for Juno Awards - winning Best Roots & Traditional Album by a Group in 2005, and a Grammy nomination in 2007.

    Beyond the Blue is a stunning album, almost addictive in its adventurous rhythms, harmonies and arrangements....mixing a strong Celtic base with a lot of everything else: Appalachian... old-timey....a little blues....a little soul...a French song from Mali...and a lot of driving folk-rock and Afro Cuban rhythms.

    Read more: DUHKS - BEYOND THE BLUE


    TITLE: ALEXIS ZOUMBAS: A LAMENT FOR EPIRUS 1926-1928

    ARTIST: ALEXIS ZOUMBAS

    LABEL: LONG GONE SOUND/ANGRY MOM ARCHIVES

    RELEASE DATE: APRIL 20, 2014

    By Jonathan Shifflett

    Alexis Zoumbas78-rpm collector Christopher King has a way of making old music seem new. Although he grew up listening to pre-war blues and hillbilly recordings, he focuses now on reissuing 78-rpm recordings from performers outside the American vernacular. What he finds is that the rawness, the spirit and the energy of the early American performers like Skip James or Dennis McGee is evident in ethnic recordings as well. In a sense, he curates the blues and country music of other cultures.

    His most recent production, Alexis Zoumbas: A Lament for Epirus 1926 -1928 profiles Zoumbas’ masterful violin adaptations of Greek sheepherding music, now available on a beautiful gatefold LP with artwork by R. Crumb. An immigrant to the States from the Albanian influenced region of Epirus, Zoumbas recorded for Columbia in Prohibition-era New York City. Apart from his recorded works, very little biographical information exists about the exiled performer.

    Read more: ALEXIS ZOUMBAS: A LAMENT FOR EPIRUS 1926-1928


    BLOG

    December 21, 2014

    Joe Spence singing the best Christmas song ever
    (http://www.youtube.com/v/rEgKEbT5a7Q )


    2014 GRAMMY OF INTEREST TO FOLKWORKS READERS


    Read more: Blog Entry DECEMBER 21, 2014


    FULL CALENDAR click here

    TODAY'S EVENTS 12/22/14


    8:00pm JIM AND ANNE CURRY

    Tribute to the Music of John Denver

    Coffee Gallery Backstage

    2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, CA 92675

    626-798-6236 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    fwpick

    8:00pm THE KLEZMATICS

    Happy Joyous Hanukah

    Walt Disney Concert Hall

    111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012

    323-850-2000


    FEATURED VIDEO

     Klezmatics - spin, dreydl, spin
    (http://www.youtube.com/v/ZUMqeE-SnD0 )

    FULL ONGOING MUSIC click here

    TODAY'S ONGOING MUSIC 12/22/14


    7:00pm CELTIC ARTS CENTER IRISH CéILí DANCE

    The Mayflower Club

    11110 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91606

    818-760-8322 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm BROMBIES BLUEGRASS

    Viva Cantina

    900 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91506

    818-515-4444


    7:30pm KULAK'S WOODSHED OPEN MIC (SIGNUP AT 7:00PM)

    Kulak's Woodshed

    5230-1/2 Laurel Canyon Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91607-4934

    818-766-9913


    8:00pm CELTIC ARTS CENTER IRISH MUSIC SESSION

    The Mayflower Club

    11110 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91606

    818-760-8322 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    BOOK REVIEW

    THE RHYMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’

    TITLE: THE LYRICS: SINCE 1962

    AUTHOR: BOB DYLAN

    EDITOR: CHRISTOPHER RICKS, LISA NEMROW, JULIE NEMROW

    PUBLISHER: SIMON AND SCHUSTER

    RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 28, 2014 (NYC)

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    They LyricsThe most complete collection of Bob Dylan’s lyrics we are likely to see in our lifetime has just been published, and the most notable thing about it is the juxtaposition of Dylan’s lyrical changes in many songs from their original recorded versions to the printed versions to the various live recorded versions, yielding in some cases three rather different texts. Each section is framed by a full-size replica of the original album cover, in full color front and back. The dimensions of the LP determined the size of the book.

    As my rabbi pointed out after seeing Dylan’s third concert at the Dolby Theatre (I reviewed the first in these pages) Bob seemed to have altered the lyrics my rabbi knew in both Tangled Up in Blue and Simple Twist of Fate. What gives? He wondered; we are accustomed to hearing different tempos, arrangements, instrumentation, even melodies for many of Dylan’s classic songs in live performance; now must we also get used to different lyrics? At what point do we find it difficult to think we heard the same song?

    So I decided to order the $200, 961 page, 13 pound book and find out for myself. It just arrived from Barnes & Noble in NYC and what can I say? Rabbi, Things Have Changed.

    Read more: THE RHYMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’


CARRIE NEWCOMER
HER LEGACY OF PEACE
THROUGH MUSIC

AN INTERVIEW

By Terry Roland

CARRIE_NEWCOMER.jpg
Photo by Jim McGuire

Carrie Newcomer is not so much a hit maker as she is a legacy-maker. And it's quite a legacy she's been creating; a flow of songs that stream down from her life as a writer, philosopher, peace activist, conservationist and a silence-practicing Quaker. 'Pay attention' she says, and so doing, miracles emerge in an abundance of small ways. Her peace-activism is not about the absence of war, but the presence of a grace everyone can experience each day by practicing what she refers to as 'the greatest law, love.'

Her current tour in support of her new album, Before & After, follows a good will mission to India where she shared her music and participated in the daily life of the people there. As she spoke on the phone from her Indiana home she elaborated on her philosophy and the influences behind her legacy of songs that serve to point her audience toward a deeper appreciation of their everyday lives.

CARRIE NEWCOMER
HER LEGACY OF PEACE THROUGH MUSIC

AN INTERVIEW

By Terry Roland

Carrie Newcomer plays at McCabe's on Friday, March 12 at 8:00pm  

CARRIE_NEWCOMER.jpg
Photo by Bill McGuire

Carrie Newcomer is not so much a hit maker as she is a legacy-maker. And it's quite a legacy she's been creating; a flow of songs that stream down from her life as a writer, philosopher, peace activist, conservationist and a silence-practicing Quaker. 'Pay attention' she says, and so doing, miracles emerge in an abundance of small ways. Her peace-activism is not about the absence of war, but the presence of a grace everyone can experience each day by practicing what she refers to as 'the greatest law, love.'

Her current tour in support of her new album, Before & After, follows a good will mission to India where she shared her music and participated in the daily life of the people there. As she spoke on the phone from her Indiana home she elaborated on her philosophy and the influences behind her legacy of songs that serve to point her audience toward a deeper appreciation of their everyday lives.

TERRY: How did you get started with the music as a career?

CARRIE: I started early on. I didn't come from a musical family. There was a music/arts program in the public school where I was raised. I became a part of wave of musicians and artists during my teenage years. I fell in love with poetry as I learned to pick guitar. I wrote some awful songs, but I was always drawn to the stories in the music. I went for visual arts in college. I got a degree to go along with it. I didn't start out in music even though it was my first love. But, then I began playing at schools, in coffee houses, and bowling alleys.

TERRY: Your songs carry a literary feel to them. Also, there are spiritual overtones.

CARRIE: I am a big reader. I love to read books. I love ideas. I love beautifully written language. I always leaned into language and stories. My dad was an educator. For me, reading has really made a difference. Spiritually, I've been a life long seeker. I don't think there are a lot of easy answers. There are really good questions. But, it's the questions that sustain me. Good questions are at the heart of my life. You know, it's the realm of the poets, theologians and mystics. That's how I approach songwriting.

TERRY: Tell me about the new album, Before & After.

CARRIE: It's about finding something extraordinary in an ordinary day. About paying attention. The idea of being in the moment. We live such busy lives. Someone once said we don't remember days, we remember moments. We remember songs.

TERRY: In one song you refer to religious cornflakes. What is that?

CARRIE: (Laughs) It's a metaphor for the packaged religion of today. The superficial. You know, it's like fast-food. It doesn't sustain you for very long. I have a spiritual current running through my work. But it's not exclusive, it's inclusive. I don't want to put the Sacred in a box.

TERRY: You identify yourself as Quaker.

CARRIE: I didn't grow up Quaker. I discovered it later. What drew me in was the silence. I've been attending a silent meeting for over 20 years. It's funny because people will say, ‘you're a woman whose life is in sound!' But, it's a balance. Some of my best language comes out of silence. It is actually really understandable.

TERRY: The silence-meditative place inspires music?

CARRIE: Yes. Taking time to be quiet, to reflect. Being a writer is a very solitary profession. You're alone a lot. You're committed to sitting down and showing up for work. You really have to sit down and be with the practice of writing. It's been said, writers get to live their lives twice. You live it, then you write it. There's a song on the album, I Meant To Do My Work Today. It's about that idea. We're so busy and there are all of these things we need to do. But, there are times when we're called to do nothing. We're a busy culture. Doing is everything. You know, I'm a proponent of doing. I love engaging. But there's a balance between being engaged and being quiet.

TERRY: Some of this sounds a bit like Zen.

CARRIE: I've heard Quakers called Zen-Christians. Some Quakers don't call themselves Christians. But, I've heard the term and it makes sense. There's a place for the contemplative, for the practice of meditation on the simplicity of the moment. You know, the Dali Lama always stops in our little town in southern Indiana. He has a brother who lives there. It's funny to read his itinerary....New York, Chicago, Bloomington, Indiana...(we both laugh). But there's a vibrant Buddhist community in the area.

TERRY: Do you take your songs beyond the spiritual, philosophical themes?

CARRIE: As a student of philosophy and religion there's a lot in the songs about my own exploration. I find wonderful truth there. The songs then become inclusive, compelling. It's a tricky thing to have universal themes. You can't write about world peace all the time. It's just too big to get your arms around. But, you can write about things that happen everyday. I can tell a story with particular human details.

TERRY: That's illustrated in the song, I Do Not Know Its Name, the story about meeting the man on the airport shuttle.

CARRIE: It's a true story. The title comes from the saying....'the name that can be named is not the Tao.' We just experience these moments of transcendence, these moments when we feel larger than ourselves. Maybe it can be found in some formal spiritual practice. But it's there in the little moments. I was on this shuttle early when this wonderful man just started singing and he told me he sang in a gospel choir. He finished the song, the doors opened and I never saw him again. I never forgot it. These are the moments we remember. Life is a series of these moments.

TERRY: How do you deal with conversation with the larger ‘Christian' community?

CARRIE: We talk in metaphor. As soon as you start to talk this way and people take it for something literal, it stops being a metaphor. People take it for something solid. This puts the Sacred into a very small container. I think it's interesting now. There's a spiritual movement everywhere. There's a rumble out there. People are really interested in spiritual conversation. They're not looking for easy answers, but authentic spiritual conversation. They sometimes find their way to my work. Putting ideas into action, making a difference. You know, the greatest law is love, but what does that mean? I had a conversation about this with author, Parker Palmer. He's a Mennonite. I love his work. It was this idea that we may not see the fruit of the seeds we plant but it's no less important to drop the seeds. Like the ripple in water from a small stone. But, this is not always encouraged in our culture. This is in the song, Stones in the River.

TERRY: Are there any other themes running through Before and After?

CARRIE: The title song is about moments that have changed me. They could be large or they could be very small moments. Once a friend read me a Mary Oliver poem over breakfast. I was never the same. Sometimes, it's just a friend who sits down with you. And I think, ‘how did she know what I needed most was someone to sit down and say it'll be okay?' The song Before and After is also about forgiveness, which begins with self-forgiveness. We have to give up all hope that we can ever change the past. Nothing can change what has happened. You get this loop in your head, how things might have turned out different. It takes forgiveness to step beyond that. I forgive myself, then I can forgive others. So, the songs on this album are universal themes written in a personal way.

TERRY: One of the most engaging songs on the album is Do No Harm.

CARRIE: It was inspired by a story by Scott Russell Sanders. It's from a collection of short stories, Wilderness Plots: Tales About the Settlement of the American Land taken from stories and incidents he encountered. It's funny, tragic, bewildering. This particular story was called Savages. He had read about this part of the country that was being settled by a man from the east. He was establishing a Utopian society where native Americans and white settlers could live and work together. It worked for ten years. Eventually, others came and it ended. But, the song is about trying to hold the balance with the best of our human nature. We've seen the worst, but we're quite capable of the best. We can achieve this. There is a violent side to human nature and those who don't get the idea of the greatest law, love. Look what happened in this story. We hold the tension between the worst and the very best of our nature.

TERRY: Tell me about your influences.

CARRIE: I have to say I was inspired early on by the singing poets with beautiful, interesting lyrics and poetry. Early on it was Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. That vein of songwriter and they still come out with amazing writing. Also, high on my influences list is a local songwriting group in Bloomington. There are five of us. We bring songs to the group. We give each other challenges. We push our edges. I've been part of this group for 8 years now. It's really a wonderful experience. One of the members is Krista Detor. She's so good. A good writer and singer. She sings harmony on Do No Harm. She has this beautiful low voice in the tenor range. Like Mary Chapin. It's so fun to sing with her. You don't usually hear two women with low voices. Singing together, we strike this sound. It works quite well.

TERRY: Who influences the ideas that come out of your songs?

CARRIE: Authors like Russell Sanders. I've worked with Barbara Kingsolver. Also Philip Gulley. I've really admired their work. It all works together.

TERRY: I heard you called If Not Now your first real folk song.

CARRIE: (laughs) Well, it's my first sing-along. It's a group song in the spirit of We Shall Overcome. It was written for a specific purpose. But, I hope it wouldn't be for just one thing but would reach across to all kinds of issues that need our attention, like health care. When do we start taking care of the least of these. When do we give our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters full legal rights? It can be used in a variety of ways. It's a song of hope.

TERRY: From the album, you have some really fine musicians featured.

CARRIE: Yes. There's Gary Walters on piano. He's worked with me for five or six years now. He's a wonderful pianist. He's with me on the album tour. I occasionally work with a band. A cellist and violinist. I love the musicians on this new album. They are a great combination of musicians. They're elegant players. Everyone on this album is masters of their instruments. It's not about how many notes they play, but that the right notes are placed perfectly, uncluttered. It's all about the song. That's what makes this work.

TERRY: There's a phrase which seems to sum up a lot of your philosophy. It's on the album, something about the center.

CARRIE: Yes. If holy is a sphere that cannot be rendered, / There is no middle place because all of it is center. It's inspired by a concept in physics.

TERRY: It strikes me as the inclusive/universal theme you've emphasized on Before and After and much of your previous work. I look forward to hearing the songs live. See you at McCabe's on March 12!

Terry Roland is an English teacher, freelance writer, occasional poet, songwriter and folk and country enthusiast. The music has been in his blood since being raised in Texas. He came to California where he was taught to say ‘dude' at an early age.