• PASSINGS

    Remembering Guy Clark:

    Goodbye to a Great One You Never Knew

    By Larry Wines

    Guy ClarkGuy Clark, an unquestionably influential artist, has left us. Johnny Cash was the first to record one of his songs. Next, Bobby Bare made the top-40 with another. All en-route to a number-one by Ricky Scaggs with a third. There were more. And it wasn't just his writing. He received two Grammy nominations for albums of his own, and there was a Grammy nom for the two-disc tribute by lots of big names singing from his deep catalog of originals.

    I interviewed him twice, once for print, once on live radio, where he sang with his guitar and longtime side man Verlon Thompson, and rang the phones off the wall. Both occasions were truly memorable. We'll get to that.

    Read more: REMEMBERING GUY CLARK


    SPOTLIGHT

    Topanga Days

    Topanga Days pictureTickets

    See Read more... for location, schedule and videos

    Read more: TOPANGA DAYS


    CONCERT REVIEW

    THE SHOW PONIES IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE

    WITH MOONSHINER COLLECTIVE AT BOOTLEG THEATER, MAY 20, 2016

    By Tom Cheyney

    The Show PoniesOn a clear night when a full moon’s south pole glow spread like a mountain man’s beard, The Show Ponies tapped deep into their own particularly luminous brand of rockin’ string-band Americana at the Bootleg. Rambunctiously professional musicianship, tightly wrapped harmonies, rootsy soulfulness and an evangelical-edged zest for living brought band and fans together in a sweaty salvational embrace.

    Read more: THE SHOW PONIES IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE


    CD REVIEWS

    TITLE: ALL THESE YEARS

    ARTIST: SOLAS

    LABEL: THL RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 17, 2016

    By Anya Sturm

    Solas - All These YearsFor the past 20 years, Solas has blurred the line of modern and traditional Irish music. In their new album, All These Years, they blend traditional and contemporary tunes, American and Irish music, and even rock with traditional Celtic energy. Moira Smiley, the new singer, joins the long standing members consisting of Seamus Egan (flute, tenor banjo, mandolin, whistles, guitars, bodhran), Winifred Horan (fiddles, vocals), Eamon McElholm (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and, Mick McAuley (button accordion, vocals).

    Read more: SOLAS - ALL THESE YEARS


    TITLE: BEHAVE THE BRAVEST

    ARTIST: NUALA KENNEDY

    LABEL: UNDER THE ARCH RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: January 29, 2016

    By Jackie Morris

    Nuala Kennedy - Behave the BravestA true Celtic gem! Nuala Kennedy’s fourth solo album, Behave The Bravest – Traditional Music from Ireland, Scotland, and Beyond - is a brilliant display of the acclaimed singer and flutist’s multi-faceted talent. The album, recorded over six months on three continents – while Nuala was on tour with her band in the U.K., Australia and the U.S. – provides a lovely mix of traditional music with an excitingly fresh sound. There are ancient ballads...a waulking song, sung in Gaelic...love songs from Scotland and Ulster...a contemporary Celtic instrumental...and two instrumental medleys, one of reels and the other of jigs.

    Read more: BEHAVE THE BRAVEST - NUALA KENNEDY


    TITLE: CAN’T STAY HERE THIS A-WAY

    ARTIST: BRUCE MOLSKY

    LABEL: OLD-TIME TIKI PARLOUR

    RELEASE DATE: MAY 2016

    By Pat Mac Swyney

    Bruce Molsky - Can't Stay Here This a-Way Last summer, the trailer for this latest release from the Old-Time Tiki Parlour started showing up on social media. It opens with black screen audio of Bruce Molsky blazing through the classic fiddle tune Old Sledge followed by a seemingly audacious quote from Darol Anger, a founding member and fiddler from the David Grisman Quintet; declaring Bruce Molsky to be “The Rembrandt of Appalachian Fiddle.”

    Read more: BRUCE MOLSKY - CAN’T STAY HERE THIS A-WAY


    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    May-June 2016

    STORIES WE COULD TELL

    By Dennis Roger Reed

    1984RalphStanley-300If you are around music for long, you have music stories. Here are two. The names have been changed to protect the innocent, unless I forgot or want to name drop. I find if I am vague about the who, the greatly exaggerated what may be overlooked.

    Ralph Stanley and the Jogging Suit

    I know a gentleman who is not only a great musician and singer, but also a great songwriter. Bluegrass icon Ralph Stanley has recorded some of his songs, and he and Ralph are friends. About 25 years ago Ralph and the Clinch Mountain Boys were playing a few engagements in Southern California, and Ralph stayed at the songwriter’s home in the Inland Empire. The songwriter worked out regularly at a local gym, and he invited Ralph to join him. And to entice him to do so, he bought Ralph a then “stylish” purple, velour, jogging suit. If you are a Ralph Stanley fan, you have no doubt seen him photographed wearing workout clothing, but 25 years ago, you had not. If fact, you’d probably expect to see Mike Tyson playing hot five string banjo before you would dream that you would ever see Dr. Ralph in workout gear.

    Ralph’s next gig was in South Orange County at Shade Tree Music on a Monday night. He obtained lodging near the beach.

    At the Shade Tree gig, the songwriter told me about Ralph having stayed with him, the gym and Ralph’s new jogging suit.

    Read more: STORIES WE COULD TELL

    everything but ...

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY

    BOB DYLAN

    (May 24, 1941)

    Click Read more... for
    TOPANGA BANJO-FIDDLE CONTEST WINNERS

    Read more: BOB DYLAN AND TOPANGA BANJO-FIDDLE CONTEST WINNERS


    FULL CALENDAR

    MUSIC       DANCE

    TODAY'S CALENDAR 5/30/16


    MUSIC


    fwpick

    11:00am-6:00pm TOPANGA DAYS FAIR

    With Murphy’s Flaw and others

    Topanga Community Club

    1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, CA 90290

    310-455-1980 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



    DANCE


    NO EVENTS TODAY


    RECURRING EVENTS


    MUSIC


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

    Kulak's Woodshed

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

    818-766-9913


    7:30pm BROMBIES BLUEGRASS every Monday

    Viva Cantina

    900 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91506

    818-515-4444

    Jo Ellen Doering 323-874-0213 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    9:00pm - 11:00pm CELTIC ARTS CENTER IRISH MUSIC SESSION every Monday

    Celtic Arts Center @ The Mayflower Club

    4843 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Studio City, CA

    818-760-8322


    DANCE


    7:00pm - 10:00pm CLAREMONT ISRAELI DANCERS every Monday

    Claremont Masonic Lodge

    272 West 8th St., Claremont, CA

    Yael Steinfeld 909-921-7115 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:15pm - 8:45pm SIERRA FOLK DANCERS every Monday

    Temple City Christian Church

    9723 Garibaldi Ave., Temple City, CA

    Ann Armstrong 626-893-0303


    7:30pm - 9:30pm SAN PEDRO BALKAN FOLK DANCERS every Monday

    Dalmatian American Club

    17th & Palos Verdes, San Pedro, CA

    Zaga Grgas 310-832-4317


    7:30pm - 10:30pm SKANDIA SOUTH (SCANDINAVIAN DANCING) every Monday

    Downtown Community Center

    250 E. Center St., Anaheim, CA

    Ted Martin 714-533-8667 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm - 9:00pm SAN DIEGO FOLK DANCERS every Monday

    Balboa Park Club

    2150 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA

    Jean Cate 858-278-4619 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:45pm - 10:45pm WEST LOS ANGELES FOLK DANCERS every Friday

    Brockton School

    1309 Armacost Ave., West Los Angeles, CA

    Beverly Barr 310-202-6166 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    8:00pm - 9:00pm CELTIC ARTS CENTER IRISH CéILí DANCE every Monday

    Celtic Arts Center @ The Mayflower Club

    4843 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Studio City, CA

    818-760-8322


    8:00pm WESTWOOD ISRAELI DANCING every Monday

    Westwood Masonic Lodge

    2244 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

    Erica Goldman 617-388-7457 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    8:00pm SAN DIEGO ISRAELI DANCERS every Monday

    Infinity Sport Dance Center

    4428 Convoy St., San Diego, CA

    Yoni Carr 760-631-0802 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    8:00pm RISING PHOENIX MORRIS DANCING every Monday

    Santa Monica Morris

    various locations, Santa Monica, CA

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


    9:00pm - 11:00pm UCLA FOLK DANCERS every Monday

    UCLA Ackerman Student Union Building - 2nd Floor Lounge Room

    Westwood, CA

    310-284-3636 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    9:00pm - 11:00pm UCLA ISRAELI DANCING every Monday

    UCLA Kerckhoff Hall Grand Salon (Summer: Ackerman Building/B

    308 Westwood Plaza, Westwood, CA

    James Zimmer 310-284-3638 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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.