• CONCERT REVIEW

    MICHAEL CHAPDELAINE’S GUITAR RIDES WITH HIM

    CONCERT AT THE PASADENA CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2014

    By Ross Altman

    Michael ChapdelaineHow good was National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion Michael Chapdelaine’s performance of solo instrumentals last night at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music? It was jaw-dropping, head-scratching, finger-picking good—that’s how good it was. But that wasn’t the most amazing thing about it. The most amazing thing about it was that it happened at all.

    Read more: MICHAEL CHAPDELAINE’S GUITAR RIDES WITH HIM


    FEATURE ARTICLES

    A GREAT DAY IN UTAH

    NOVEMBER 19, 1915—NOVEMBER 19, 2014

    By Ross Altman

    Joe HillNinety-nine years ago today the great state of Utah executed labor’s troubadour Wobbly songwriter Joe Hill by firing squad. The author of such labor song classics as Rebel Girl, There Is Power in a Union, Pie In the Sky (The Preacher and the Slave) and Casey Jones, the Union Scab went to his death with his head held high. His last known words were addressed to fellow Wobbly Big Bill Haywood: “Don’t Mourn for me, Bill; Organize.”

    Read more: A Great Day in Utah


    THE MAGIC OF MILTON

    Milton Nascimento and the Música Popular Brasileina

    By Audrey Coleman

    Milton Nascimento with guitarI first encountered the magic of Milton Nascimento some 15 years ago. My jazz buff husband had just put on a CD he had bought of saxophonist Wayne Shorter. It opened with a full and strong yet child-like voice singing a cappella in the upper register. Suddenly the music had me riveted. I didn’t understand the Portuguese but I felt uplifted by both the melody and the quality of the sound. Several bars later, Shorter and his ensemble eased in, the saxophone melding perfectly with these opening vocals. I had not experienced such a strong reaction to a voice since my first time hearing a recording of Billie Holiday. The CD was a digital remaster of Native Dancer, first recorded in 1974 and prominently featuring not only the voice but the compositions of a musician already acclaimed in his native Brazil. The opening selection, Ponta de Areia, was by Milton Nascimento as were four other songs.

    On Friday evening, November 28, Milton Nascimento will perform at Royce Hall as part of a world tour celebrating his 50 years of music-making. Born in 1942, this artist deserves the attention of anyone attracted by Latin American or world music and this concert is an opportunity to hear his unique voice in an excellent acoustic space.

    Read more: THE MAGIC OF MILTON - Milton Nascimento


    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    November-December 2014

    OLD-TIME TIKI PARLOUR FILMS AND WEBSITE LAUNCH!

    By David Bragger

    Rafe and Clelia Stefanini
    Rafe & Clelia Stefanini DVD filmed by David Bragger, artwork by Angelina Elise.

    I am thrilled to announce the dual launch of a film production company and website, both devoted to old-time music in Los Angeles and beyond: Old-Time Tiki Parlour Films and OldTimeTikiParlour.com.

    The OTTP is the music and living space of yours truly. As referenced in earlier columns, it’s where I teach old-time music, host workshops and house concerts with the greatest musicians in the genre, and film them as well. A year ago, I realized that so many of the great OT players are still under-documented. Sure, there may be shaky iPhone videos out there, but very few videos exist that are shot in high quality sound and visual. We missed the chance to get attractive archival footage of Fred Cockerham, Joseph Spence, Mississippi John Hurt and many others. So, I believe the world will be a better place if we can preserve the sights and sounds of the great active musicians around today, by shooting them in a controlled environment where they do what they do best: play old-time music.

    Read more OLD-TIME TIKI PARLOUR FILMS AND WEBSITE LAUNCH

    CD REVIEWS

    TITLE: LAUGHTER OUT OF TEARS

    ARTIST: MOIRA SMILEY & VOCO

    LABEL: WHIM RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 15, 2014

    By Jackie Morris

    Laughter Out of TearsHaunting, ethereal, and totally mesmerizing, Moira Smiley & VOCO bring an almost mystical quality to both original and traditional folk music. Drawing from a deep well of influence, their fourth album, Laughter Out of Tears, moves effortlessly from Appalachian roots to Balkan polyphony to Scandinavian folksongs; and then transcends tradition on five tracks by introducing the innovative “Choir of YOU,” a technology-empowered “chorus” of 200 voices from around the English-speaking world.

    The result is a kind of magic that is both subliminal and sublime, characterized by rich, complex harmonies, other-worldly polyphonic singing and sparse instrumentation. The 8 women who contributed to this VOCO release all sing (divinely, I should add) and play most of the instruments – a minimalist banjo and accordion (by Smiley), a tender cello (by April Guthrie), and plenty of body percussion. Single tracks are also punctuated by fiddle and uke, with guest artists on guitar, trumpet and percussion.

    Read more: LAUGHTER OUT OF TEARS - MOIRA SMILEY & VOCO


    TITLE: YOU GOT THIS

    ARTIST: HAAS KOWERT TICE

    LABEL: NONE

    RELEASE DATE: JULY 2014

    By Jonathan Shifflett

    Haas Kowert Tice - You Got ThisBrittany Haas, Paul Kowert and Jordan Tice are friends who, after meeting at various string band festivals in their youth, represent a new wave within the American string community. Bursting with their combined influences, You Got This is less like newgrass music and more reminiscent of works for a contemporary music ensemble. Released in July of 2014, the nine original compositions are densely packed with contrapuntal exchanges, changing meters and extended harmonies. The result: fiddle, guitar and bass at their most innovative. 

    Read more: HAAS KOWERT TICE - YOU GOT THIS


    BLOG

    Lily Henley new song premiers ... check out our review of last years great CD, Words Like Yours.


    Read more: THE FOLKWORKS BLOG


    NO MUSIC EVENTS TODAY, 11/24/14


    FULL ONGOING MUSIC click here

    TODAY'S ONGOING MUSIC 11/24/14


    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.