• SPOTLIGHT

    Levitt Pavilion Pasadena Weekly Back Cover Ad

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    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    July-August 2015

    OLD-TIME MUSIC IN LOS ANGELES

    By David Bragger

    old time tiki 3Old-Time music in Los Angeles has a long and wonderful history. It is a genre and culture that really thrives here. I’m often asked by musicians and newbies what it’s like out here in the West. I’ll often cite the names of great SoCal musicians who have had a huge influence in the area such as Earl Collins, Mel Durham, Tom Sauber, Ed Lowe and others. Lately, an 81-year old Cajun/Creole accordion player, Mr. Joe Fontenot, has swept many of us off our feet (literally) and is inspiring local Cajun players and novices, myself included!

    Read more: OLD-TIME MUSIC IN LOS ANGELES

    PASSINGS

    SUNRISE, SUNSET: THEODORE BIKEL RIP

    (MAY 2, 1924-JULY 21, 2015)

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    Theodore BikelLet others write about his versatility, his songs in 21 languages, his character actor roles from all over the globe, and his celebrated beginnings as Captain Von Trapp—the role he created for the original stage production of The Sound of Music.

    To me Theo Bikel will always be Tevye—the put-upon dairyman from Fiddler On the Roof, a part he played for an epic 2,000 performances. And first and foremost he will always be the quintessential Jewish folk singer. Theodore Bikel died last night in Los Angeles at 91 years old—a world away from Vienna, Austria where he was born May 2, 1924—and which he always disowned for their “shameful treatment of my people.”

    Read more: SUNRISE, SUNSET: THEODORE BIKEL RIP


    TRIPLE CROWN: A LONG STRANGE WEEK FOR FOLK MUSIC

    RIP: WILL HOLT (APRIL 30, 1929 – MAY 31, 2015), 
    JEAN RITCHIE (DECEMBER 8, 1922 – JUNE 1, 2015), 
    AND RONNIE GILBERT (SEPTEMBER 7, 1926 – JUNE 6, 2015)

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    Will Holt

    Jean Ritchie Ronnie Gilbert

    American Pharoah wasn’t the only Triple Crown winner last Saturday, June 6, D-Day. God took home the Belmont when he crowned the Weavers Ronnie Gilbert and gave her an angel’s wings; she already had an angel’s voice. What a long strange week it has been.

    The gods of folk music, as if in a conspiracy of malevolent intent, have robbed us of three of our most significant and distinctive voices—like a destruction myth parody of Genesis: In the beginning God took home the songwriter and popular folk musician Will Holt, who wrote Lemon Tree; and on the 2nd day God took home the singing family of the Cumberlands’ Jean Ritchie, who wrote Black Waters and The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore; and even on the 7th day God did not rest—He sent his henchmen to take the gorgeous alto of The Weavers, Ronnie Gilbert, whose clarion voice soared high above Pete Seeger, Lee Hayes and Fred Hellerman—raising them to the skies.

    Read more: TRIPLE CROWN: A LONG STRANGE WEEK FOR FOLK MUSIC


    FEATURE ARTICLE

    THE WOODY GUTHRIE PRIZE:

    WHAT IS IT AND HOW DO YOU GET IT?

    A FOLKWORKS COMMENTARY

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    Woody Guthrie PrizeI had no problem with the first recipient of the “Woody Guthrie Prize,” which was awarded to Pete Seeger last year. With Pete’s name on it you could count on a little press.

    Unfortunately, between the time the prize was announced, and the time Pete was to receive it at an event in New York City co-sponsored by the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles—and for which Arlo was to serenade Pete as the highlight of the ceremony—Pete—whose timing was usually impeccable—passed away. Kind of took the wind out of the Clearwater’s sails. Nonetheless, they went ahead with the ceremony and it became one of hundreds of memorials for America’s Tuning Fork, albeit with a lot more cachet due to Arlo. But all in all it was not an auspicious beginning for the “Woody Guthrie Prize” to be bestowed upon a dead man. If it was to amount to anything they would have to be very careful on whom they bestowed it the second time around.

    Read more: THE WOODY GUTHRIE PRIZE


    CD REVIEWS

    TITLE: I CAN SWING FOREVER

    ARTISTS: TRACY NEWMAN / CHARLOTTE DEAN

    LABEL: KABEAUTY MUSIC

    RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 12, 2014

    By Stefani Rosenberg

    TRACY NEWMAN - I CAN SWING FOREVERToday, many artists feel the need to record only the music that they have composed; for many, this works. The same holds true in the world of children's music. For every CD that stands out, there are two that are just mediocre.

    Among the best we have Malvina Reynolds, Ella Jenkins, Jose-Luis Orozco, Suni Paz, Marcia Berman, Patty Zeitlen, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and “Uncle Ruthie” Buell. Their music and stories have withstood the test of time.

    Read more: TRACY NEWMAN / CHARLOTTE DEAN - I CAN SWING FOREVER


    TITLE: CHEMISTRY

    ARTIST: LESLIE BEAUVAIS

    LABEL: LESLIE BEAUVAIS

    RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 15, 2014

    By Ron Sarfaty

    Leslie Beauvais - ChemistryI first received my copy of Leslie Beauvais 's new CD Chemistry about 2 weeks before it was officially released. I had heard Leslie sing backup vocals for Severin Browne and a few times with Jaynee Thorne at John Zipperer and Friends concerts.

    My first impression of her voice was very positive. Although I mostly heard harmony, she had good breath control and a pretty good range - Alto to High Soprano. When I heard that she was working with Ed Tree to produce her new CD, I was an instant fan and preordered through her social fundraising attempt.

    Read more: LESLIE BEAUVAIS - CHEMISTRY


    TITLE: YOU’RE HOME NOW

    ARTIST: RICHARD BERMAN

    LABEL: ARIES RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: 2014

    By Jackie Morris

    Youre home now  richard bermanRichard Berman is one of the great masters of the story-song. And his new seventh album, You’re Home Now, just might be his best work yet. This is no small compliment...as decades of critical acclaim, multiple awards, and Folk DJ “favorite” lists can attest to. Poetic yet always relatable – intimate, thought-provoking, and entertaining – his songs draw you in with lovely, haunting melodies and hold you with beautifully understated feeling.

    Read more: RICHARD BERMAN - YOU’RE HOME NOW


    TITLE: THE NE’ER DUWELS

    ARTIST: THE NE’ER DUWELS

    LABEL: SELF

    RELEASE DATE: JUNE, 2015

    By Mark Dresser

    Neer DuwelsThere are times when travelers on different paths meet at a crossroads and discover they have been brought together for a purpose. Connections are forged because each knows the road ahead is right and true. Such is the case with the band the Ne’er Duwels: four accomplished musicians who have joined together to create a solid recording.

    Ken O’ Malley from Dublin, Ireland, is the lead singer of the band. Ken has entertained audiences for over 30 years, and is one of the most well-known and beloved Irish folk singers working today. His rich voice and skillful guitar work are fueled by deep passion for his people and their history. Ken pours his soul into every word he sings, every measure he plays, and the music of the Ne’er Duwels laughs, breathes, and aches with his dedication.

    Read more: THE NE’ER DUWELS


    BLOG

    JULY 23RD, 2015

    RIP: THEODORE BIKEL (MAY 2, 1924-JULY 21, 2015)

    Read more: Blog Entry JULY 23RD, 2015


    FULL CALENDAR click here

    TODAY'S EVENTS 7/31/15


    fwpick

    10:00am & 11:15am YUVAL RON ENSEMBLE WITH MAYAYA

    Children’s World Music: Middle East

    Hollywood Bowl Summer Sounds

    2301 North Highland Ave., Hollywood, CA 90068

    323-850-2000 213-480-3232


    fwpick

    7:30pm DENNIS ROGER REED BAND

    Alta Coffee

    506 31st St., Newport Beach, CA 90814

    949-675-0233


    fwpick

    8:00pm & 10:00pm THE DUSTBOWL REVIVAL

    McCabe’s Guitar Shop

    3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

    310-828-4497


    fwpick

    8:00pm CAROLINE AIKEN & IKE STUBBLEFIELD

    Singer-songwriters

    Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts

    85 East Holly St., Pasadena, CA 91103

    626-683-3230


    8:00pm THE SOUTHERN SIRENS

    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.


    8:00pm HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN

    Boulevard Music

    4316 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230

    310-398-2583


    fwpick

    8:00pm MALABOMBA

    International dance party with Gonzo Lautari
    (featuring members of SF’s La Peche, San Diego's Therianthrope
    and Los Angeles’ Fishtank Ensemble)

    Union Station - Fred Harvey Room

    800 North Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012


    9:00pm THE ROBERT CRAY BAND

    The Canyon Club

    28192 Roadside Dr., Agoura Hills, CA 91301

    818-879-5016


    FULL ONGOING MUSIC click here

    TODAY'S ONGOING MUSIC 7/31/15

    Ongoing Music


    8:00pm KATTYWOMPUS CONCERT / JAM every Friday

    Dollmakers Kattywompus

    412 S. Myrtle Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016

    626-357-1091


    8:00pm - 11:00pm PLOUGHBOYS every Friday

    Tam O' Shanter (Ale & Sandwich Bar Lounge)

    2980 Los Feliz Bl, Los Feliz, CA 90039

    323-664-0228


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.