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OLD-TIME MUSIC IN LOS ANGELES
Old-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!
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SUNRISE, SUNSET: THEODORE BIKEL RIP
(MAY 2, 1924-JULY 21, 2015)
Let 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.”
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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)
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.
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THE WOODY GUTHRIE PRIZE:
WHAT IS IT AND HOW DO YOU GET IT?
A FOLKWORKS COMMENTARY
I 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.
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TITLE: I CAN SWING FOREVER
ARTISTS: TRACY NEWMAN / CHARLOTTE DEAN
LABEL: KABEAUTY MUSIC
RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 12, 2014
Today, 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.
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ARTIST: LESLIE BEAUVAIS
LABEL: LESLIE BEAUVAIS
RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 15, 2014
I 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.
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TITLE: YOU’RE HOME NOW
ARTIST: RICHARD BERMAN
LABEL: ARIES RECORDS
RELEASE DATE: 2014
Richard 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.
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TITLE: THE NE’ER DUWELS
ARTIST: THE NE’ER DUWELS
RELEASE DATE: JUNE, 2015
There 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.
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