• FOLKWORKS CALENDAR (click here)

     
  • FOLKWORKS CONCERTS

    FUTURE Concerts

    (Click on hyperlink for tickets)

    Series at the Talking Stick Café

    1411 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

    NEVENKA    September 27
                  East European Women's Choir
          

    SYNCOPATHS    October 25th
                  Upbeat Celtic
          

     
  • FILM REVIEW

    DINESH D’SOUZA’S AMERICA:

    HIS LAND AIN’T MY LAND

    By Ross Altman

    Dinesh DSouzas AmericaDinesh D’Souza’s America opens in medias res, in the midst of the American Revolution, and before we have had time to settle in, we see General George Washington riding by as he is…shot dead by a British sniper’s bullet. What if, D’Souza’s movie speculates, George Washington had died that way and America had never been born. What would the world look like today?—a fascinating hypothesis--but apparently not enough to hang a movie on.

    As John Milton found out while writing Paradise Lost every epic needs a villain as well as a hero, and often the villain—in Milton’s case Satan—is the more interesting character than—in his case the Lord. In Dinesh D’Souza’s pseudo-documentary America: Imagine a World Without Her, a hypothetical retelling of the American story the hero—it goes without saying—is America—while the villain is the late great Boston University historian and author of The People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn.

    Read more: DINESH D’SOUZA’S AMERICA

     
  • CONCERT REVIEW

    A THING OF BEAUTY

    DON MCLEAN AND JUDY COLLINS IN CONCERT

    AT THE FOX PERFORMING ARTS CENTER IN RIVERSIDE - JULY 25, 2014

    By Ross Altman

    Judy Collins - Don McLean

    Legendary singer-songwriter Don McLean and living angel Judy Collins brought a show to Riverside last night that was one for the ages—and the times we live in. Judy Collins, looking resplendent in a simple black sequined pant suit highlighted by her shining silver hair flowing down her shoulders gave the most moving tribute to her “old friend Pete Seeger” of all the tributes I have heard since he passed away last January 27.

    She offered her heartfelt narrative of her friendship with America’s Tuning Fork from the time she walked into Pete’s (and her soon-to-be) manager Harold Leventhal’s office fifty years ago only to find Pete stretched out fast asleep on the floor his banjo by his side and heard Leventhal say quietly but firmly, “Shh! Don’t wake him! He’s resting for three shows I am taking him to this afternoon; this is his only chance to get some sleep!” She then recounted the thrill of singing Turn, Turn, Turn with him on his self-produced folk TV show Rainbow Quest on a small public station (“before PBS was even invented!” she told us)—a performance which you can still enjoy on YouTube.

    Read more: DON MCLEAN AND JUDY COLLINS IN CONCERT

     
  • FEATURED INTERVIEW

    [Editors note: The following are parts 1, 2  and 3 of Ross' interview with Don McLean. The introduction to this interview is Ross' July-August Column ]

    DON MCLEAN: THE FOLKWORKS INTERVIEW

    PART 1

    By Ross Altman

    Don McLean with instrumentsIn the following interview Don McLean has a few things to say about Pete Seeger that may raise some eyebrows, especially since the interview was conducted well before Pete passed away last January 27; so I want to preface it with this lovely tribute by Don McLean for Pete and what his loss meant to him; it is copied directly from his web site and shows how complex love can be.

    Thank you, Don.

    Pete Seeger

    For about seven years from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s, I knew the Seegers (Pete and Toshi) about as well as anybody. I worked with Pete Seeger frequently. He was very generous and encouraging at a time in my life when it meant a great deal to me. 

    Read more: DON MCLEAN PART 1


    DON MCLEAN: THE FOLKWORKS INTERVIEW

    PART 2

    By Ross Altman

    July 14, 2014, Woody Guthrie’s 102nd birthday—a day to celebrate folk music.

    Don McLeanRA:      Let me ask you about your father. You said at some point in the interview that I read that you were being encouraged to quit music because you weren’t making enough or weren’t successful enough and then the way you looked at it was you were making more in a day than your father made in a week…

    RA:      Okay, so to repeat that you were making more in a day than your father was earning in a week, which was about $150, and so you couldn’t see the argument. So I wanted to ask you, what did your father do for a living? And what influence did he have in terms of values and the things that you saw around your home?

    DM:     My father was a district manager for Consolidated Edison, the utility.

    RA:      Oh, okay.

    DM:     And he sold gas heat to people. And I never knew one single thing about what he did. He never spoke about what he did. He never talked about himself too much at all. He was taciturn in some ways, but near the end of his life when we were together, he told me all about childhood which was very tough. And then he died when I was with him.

    Read more: DON MCLEAN PART 2


    Don McLean: The FolkWorks Interview

    Part 3

    By Ross Altman

    Don McLean with Banjo at LenaRA:      How did you get acquainted with Pete?

    DM:     I got acquainted with him because, well I always loved his records, and loved that image which I felt was the perfect image for me, you know, because I was always kind of an outsider. I didn’t really want to work with people. I didn’t get along with people. I was always getting punished for things I was saying, you know, even at home. In school, at home, whatever, I would say something that was the truth, but it would get me in a lot of trouble and it kind of continued right on.

    RA:      Can you think of an example off the top of your head of that kind of thing?

    DM:     I can – wow, I mean, no. But I was always being impertinent, let’s say.

    RA:      Okay.

    DM:     The biggest example was American Pie, you know, where everybody sort of crucified me for – Rolling Stone crucified me for trying to take over the telling of the history of rock and roll.

    Read more: DON MCLEAN PART 3

     
  • COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    July-August 2014

    DON MCLEAN: THE FOLKWORKS INTERVIEW

    By Ross Altman

    Don McLean legendaryI happened to be at a roadside coffee stand yesterday where the radio was tuned to K-Earth 101; they were taking a commercial break to promote the station, and were playing two brief song excerpts to do so. The first was the Rolling Stones Satisfaction and the second was Don McLean’s American Pie. That’s all—no Beatles, no Madonna, no Elvis, no Rod Stewart, no Chuck Berry, and no Dylan; just the Stones and Don McLean. After the sound samples concluded the announcer breaks in and delivers the tag line: The greatest songs on earth—K-Earth 101. He doesn’t even bother to identify the artists or the songs, that’s how universally well-known they are. The Stones I got; but Don McLean? And then I connected the dots.

    Read more: Don McLean: The Folkworks Interview

Print

BATTLEFIELD BAND’S NORTH AMERICAN TOUR

By Ron Young

Battlefield_BandScotland’s venerable Battlefield Band has been playing great Scottish and Irish music since their formation in 1970, and they are just embarking on their latest tour of North America. Unlike some Rock and Roll bands who have become sad caricatures of themselves, they have stayed to the forefront of traditional music. They have pretty much seamlessly pulled it off with the timely changing of personnel, not always an easy or satisfying feat to accomplish.

I first saw them in the early nineteen eighties at the home of Clark and Elaine Weissman in Tarzana, who in my estimation did more to promote this kind of music in Southern California than did all the Scottish and Irish cultural organizations put together at the time. The Weissman’s also hosted Silly Wizard, Ossian, and the Tannahill Weavers, among others. To say that I was blown away, is a serious understatement, as I really thought that I had died and gone to musical Heaven! I subsequently saw then at McCabe’s in Santa Monica, the Barn at U.C. Riverside and Cal Tech in Pasadena and always enjoyed them.

The Battlefield Band, named for an area in the South of Glasgow, has had a great deal of lineup changes since their founding, and their list of alumni reads like a who’s who of great Scottish and Irish musicians. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the current line up were just a gleam in their parent’s eyes, when the band first hit the road.

The current musicians are Sean O’Donnell (vocals, guitar), Ewen Henderson (fiddle, bagpipes, whistles, piano, and vocals), Alasdair White (fiddle, tin whistle, banjo, bouzouki, Highland bagpipes, small pipes, and bodhran), Mike Katz (Highland bagpipes, small pipes, various whistles, bass guitar, and guitar). A swift piece of arithmetic comes up with around twenty instruments, which must be no fun for their roadie!

They are currently beginning their umpteenth tour of the States, which will include AMSD Concerts in San Diego on the 24th of March, Ojai Women’s Club on the 27th and Freight and Salvage in Berkeley on the 28th. If you have seen them before, then you will know that they are the real deal (or make that the reel deal), and if you haven’t, then you are in for a treat. From frenetic jigs and reels to traditional (and not so traditional songs, such as O.V. Wright’s hit That’s How Strong My Love Is (made famous by Otis Redding). The tunes and songs continue to sound fresh, and you get the feeling that they are really enjoying themselves. Their somewhat different version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising will always be a classic for me!

Philadelphia Folk Festival 2011
(http://www.youtube.com/v/Vn7vKDjOq1s )

I had a really interesting conversation on the 9th of March with Robin Morton, who has managed and produced them since the early days. Robin was an original member of the Boys of the Lough, so he has a very good pedigree in this particular field. It was somewhat surreal, as he was in New York, and I was in the Scottish Highlands. We talked about the current economy and its effect on musicians in general. We also discussed the current line up, and talked about the early days.

In this current climate of the internet, there is a whole world of information at your fingertips, so look them up, see what they are about, and attend one of their concerts near you. You will not regret it.

Tour Dates

New Album:

Battlefield Band's latest record Room Enough For All was released in the USA on the 19th March, by Temple Records.


Ron Young had the good fortune to grow up in rural Scotland, surrounded by the traditions of Scottish music and dance. He would like readers to know that whatever you heard about that sheep, it’s not true. Ron has spent the better part of thirty years involved with various Celtic and Scottish cultural organizations in southern California, and now back in Aberfeldy where he has continued to pursue his love of traditional music.

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