• FEATURE ARTICLE

    LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULIER!

    SIMI CAJUN & BLUES FESTIVAL

    By Karen Redding

    Simi Cajun - Blues Festival

    Forget the beach, the mountains, and Las Vegas. Camping? Who cares? Southern California's 26th Annual Simi Cajun & Blues Festival is the only place to be for Memorial weekend. With the most spectacular lineup of Blues, Cajun and Zydeco music in its 26 year history, there's no better option for entertainment for this All-American holiday. The festival is held on Saturday and Sunday, May 23 and May 24. Hours are 12:00pm-7:30pm both days.

    Read more: LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULIER - SIMI CAJUN & BLUES FESTIVAL


    SPOTLIGHT

    simi cajun blues festival detail

    Read more: SIMI VALLEY CAJUN & BLUES MUSIC FESTIVAL


    PASSINGS

    MY KIND OF GUY - GUY CARAWAN

    (JULY 27, 1927 - MAY 2, 2015)

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    Guy CarawanGuy Carawan passed away at his home in New Market Tennessee last Saturday, May 2, 2015, sandwiched in between May Day and Pete Seeger’s birthday. He was 87 years old. He would have appreciated the perfect placement in terms of the musical world he represented. Guy and his wife and musical partner Candie lived nearby the extraordinary school where he served as Music Director—Highlander Folk School (its original name) since the passing of founder Myles Horton’s wife Zilphia Horton. Both Guy and Zilphia’s (their original Music Director) names are on the copyright of their crowning achievement—We Shall Overcome. Having roots in African American hymns from the early 20th century, Zilphia had brought the song back from a tobacco workers’ strike in South Carolina in 1946 and she and Guy shaped it into the civil rights anthem we know today.

    Read more: MY KIND OF GUY - GUY CARAWAN


    CD REVIEWS

    TITLE: KEEPING UP WITH THE HEARD

    ARTIST: THE MACMAMMALS

    LABEL: SELF

    RELEASE DATE: MAY 2015

    By Jackie Morris

    macmammals - keeping up with the heardFor those of us whose first musical love was traditional and neo-traditional folk ballads, the brand new debut album by The MacMammals provides a welcome, refreshing return to the simple beauty of this genre. Garnering songs from Ireland, Scotland, England and North America, Keeping Up with the Heard is authentic, acoustic, and moving; a collection of wonderful songs, tastefully arranged, while still achieving a very full, satisfying sound.

    Read more: THE MACMAMMALS - KEEPING UP WITH THE HEARD


    TITLE: DEVIL IN THE SEAT

    ARTIST: THE FOGHORN STRINGBAND

    LABEL: FOGHORN MUSIC

    RELEASE DATE: MARCH, 2015

    By Steve Goldfield

    DEVIL IN THE SEAT - FOGHORNThe Foghorn Stringband began as five guys playing hard-driving old-time music. Two of them, Caleb Klauder and Sammy Lind, formed the Foghorn Duo. Nadine Landry then joined on vocals and bass to make them a trio. Reeb Willms added her guitar and voice to make the Foghorn Stringband what it is today. All four sing powerfully, and they play hard-driving music featuring Sammy's fiddle and Caleb's mandolin, among other combinations. This is the eighth Foghorn release, and it certainly lives up to the standards the band has set for itself. It was recorded in Hawaii, but it's full of hard-driving music and edgy singing.

    Read more: FOGHORN STRINGBAND - DEVIL IN THE SEAT


    TITLE: BALAS Y CHOCOLATE

    ARTIST: LILA DOWNS

    LABEL: RCA RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: MARCH 24, 2015

    By Jonathan Shifflet

    BALAS Y CHOCOLATEHeadlines about the recent violence in Mexico only tell half of the story. In Lila Downs’ most recent album Balas y Chocolate (bullets and chocolate), the other half is given a voice. 

    Using her signature silky register and an arsenal of regional styles, Downs uses Spanish and indigenous Mixtec words to describe the history of violence toward students and journalists. Using the themes and symbols of the Day of the Dead, she creates an allegory for the misdeeds while capturing the feelings of foreboding that follow from such violence and manipulation. The opening line of track one prepares the listener to hear the sounds of radio Mictlan – the radio of the underworld.

    Read more: LILA DOWNS - BALAS Y CHOCOLATE


    TITLE: THE WIDENING GYRE

    ARTIST: ALTAN

    LABEL: COMPASS RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 20, 2015

    By Anya Sturm

    Altan - The Widening GyreAltan’s new CD The Widening Gyre is a fantastic collection of traditional Gaelic songs mixed in with Irish jam regulars. The band is joined by many special guests in this collection of upbeat lively jam tunes as well as slower songs sung by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh.

    Altan is a traditional Irish band— arguably the most famous one currently playing. It was started in 1987 by Mairéad (rhymes with parade) and her late husband Frankie Kennedy. Mairéad is the daughter of Proinsias Ó Maonaigh, or Francie Moony who also contributed to traditional Irish fiddling.

    Read more: ALTAN - THE WIDENING GYRE


    TITLE: NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL

    ARTIST: SUSIE GLAZE & THE HILONESOME BAND

    LABEL: HILONESOME MUSIC

    RELEASE DATE: MARCH 2015

    By Jackie Morris

    notthatkindofgirlcoverarthi-resAfter three critically acclaimed CDs in the past 5 years, it is not surprising that Susie Glaze & The Hilonesome Band have created yet another memorable album. But Not That Kind of Girl is more than just “another.” It is, I believe, their best album yet...in part because this group keeps pushing their own boundaries...challenging themselves in terms of musical diversity, original songs and fresh interpretations.

    Read more: SUSIE GLAZE - NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL


    TITLE: DAN GELLERT DVD & CD SET

    ARTIST: DAN GELLERT

    LABEL: THE OLD-TIME TIKI PARLOUR

    RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 2015

    By Steve Goldfield

    Dan Gellert DVD-CD coverSome of Dan Gellert's early recordings seemed to have trouble capturing his unique sound and approach to old-time music. The late Ray Alden told me that he had to use two microphones, one in front and one behind Dan's banjo, to do it. This new recording from David Bragger's Old-Time Tiki Parlour succeeds on multiple levels: it has excellent sound and also comes on both a DVD where you can watch Dan play banjo and fiddle and sing and an audio CD of the same material. David told me that everyone associated in any way with its production is an old-time musician. 

    Read more: DAN GELLERT DVD & CD SET


    BLOG

    May 20, 2015

    Larry WinesFolkWorks extends a big hand to all the participants of the 2015 Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest. It was a perfect day. Click the read more for 2015 Contestant Winners.

    Congratulations to Larry Wines who was this years Legend Award Winner.

    Read more: Blog Entry May 20, 2015


    FULL CALENDAR click here

    TODAY'S EVENTS 5/22/15


    fwpick

    5:00pm & 8:00pm LOAFER'S GLORY / BRYAN BOWERS

    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 MAGNOLIA SISTERS

    featuring Ann Savoy

    McCabe’s Guitar Shop

    3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

    310-828-4497


    9:00pm THE DROPKICK MICKEYS

    Michael Kelly & Padraic Conroy

    Griffins of Kinsale

    1001 Mission St., South Pasadena, CA 91030

    626-799-0926


    FULL ONGOING MUSIC click here

    TODAY'S ONGOING MUSIC 5/22/15

    Ongoing Music


    7:00pm - 10:00pm BELL ARTS SONG CIRCLE (SONGMAKERS) fourth Friday

    Bell Arts Factory

    432 N. Ventura Ave., Ventura, CA 93001


    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


    8:00pm ROOTS MUSIC NIGHT fourth Friday

    Alex's Bar

    2913 E. Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90804

    562-434-8292


    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    May-June 2015

    THE MANY FACES OF THE MUSIC CENTER

    By Audrey Coleman

    Media-C2 World City-1415-Season-Gamelan-Sekar-Jaya2Ah, the Music Center. That bastion of high culture for the City of Angels. As a subscriber to L.A. Opera, I have strolled beneath the bands of shimmering crystal that drip from the ceilings of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. At the Ahmanson Theater, I have patronized Broadway musicals (Les Miserables twice). At the Taper I’ve sat, enthralled, as gifted and often renowned actors inhabited raw emotional terrain. Clearly the Music Center is a gift from the County of Los Angeles to the audiences for high culture. To those with the means to buy the tickets, that is.

    Hello! Roll back the tape, please! The above assessment is terribly out of date. Terribly! Like about a dozen years.

    Read more: THE MANY FACES OF THE MUSIC CENTER

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.