• SPECIAL  ANNOUNCEMENT

    THE NEW FOLKWORKS

    January 1, 2020 will mark FolkWorks’ 20th anniversary! We started out as a hard copy newspaper with 15k distribution, and have morphed into an online resource with over 400k hits/month! Our website offers news about artists and the arts, CD reviews and other articles of interest. FolkWorks supports mature and new talent through concerts, dances and festivals that both entertain and educate. Our Calendar has become the “go to” source for folk/roots events in SoCal. Our columnists are a resource for artists and their audiences with topics ranging from commentary to history and folk tales. The popularity of this part of our work forms the basis of an exciting new phase of FolkWorks.

    In keeping with our rapidly changing world of broader access to information, and technology that enables wider communication, our focus will be to provide a pathway for geographic expansion, interactive programming and collaborative support and exchange. To attain these goals, our plan is to:

    • grow our audience by moving to a statewide, west coast or national platform
    • develop curated access to the FolkWorks’ calendar, which will provide event and venue producers, artists, agents, teachers, and educators the ability to directly enter events. Event details could contain detailed descriptions, photos, links, maps, and calendar exports
    • continue and expand our columns as blogs, with the ability to easily add new writers
    • partner with individuals, formal and informal groups, and organizations that share our vision of a centralized source for events, featuring a variety of traditionally based folk/roots music, dance and art to a large audience.

    We want to thank all of you in the community who have made FolkWorks possible. Please support our new adventure by becoming a FolkWorks member, or renewing your current membership. We will soon have a button on the website for one-time donations.

    We welcome your thoughts, ideas and contributions as we move toward a bold New FolkWorks.

    Read more: SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    January-February 2020

    Old-Time Traveling at the Tiki Parlour

    By David Bragger

    Banjo Newsletter July 2019 Bragger COVER crop for web 600x7072019 appeared and disappeared in a puff of Holy Smoke! In a perpetual state of reflection and thankfulness, I think of all the wonderful people in the old-time community that have helped make this whirlwind of a year possible. As an experiment for this typically non-touring musician, I decided to say “yes” to nearly every performance offer that came my way in 2019. In the last thirteen months I’ve had the great pleasure of performing and teaching twice in Europe and at various festivals in the States

    Read more: OLD-TIME TRAVELING AT THE TIKI PARLOUR

    CONCERT REVIEWS

    TOMMY EMMANUEL CGP, AT THE SMOTHERS THEATRE

    FEATURING SPECIAL GUESTS JIM AND MORNING NICHOLS

    PRESENTED BY LISA SMITH WENGLER CENTER FOR THE ARTS PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY

    THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2019, 8pm

    The Thunder from Down Under

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    TommyEmmanuel5 10 18copyMaybe there’s a better guitar player on Pluto, or Saturn, or Jupiter, but down here on Planet Earth Tommy Emmanuel is the best we got. He inspires adulation: “There’s Tommy and there’s everybody else,” wrote one reviewer. That would be Certified Guitar Player (CGP) Tommy Emmanuel, so named by Mr. Chet Atkins—the greatest in history. He appeared for the eighth time at Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theatre.

    Read more: TOMMY EMMANUEL CGP, AT THE SMOTHERS THEATRE

    ROY ZIMMERMAN AT THE HEARING

    CORNERSTONE MUSIC CONSERVATORY - SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2019, 8:00pm

    THE WHISTLEBLOWER

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    zimmerman

    Unlike that other Zimmerman, Roy Zimmerman’s answers aren’t blowing in the wind—they’re right in your face.

    You want to know who the whistleblower is-- well, I’ll tell you. Roy Zimmerman—that’s who. He’s been blowing the whistle ever since the day after Election Day, 2016.

    Read more: ROY ZIMMERMAN AT THE HEARING

    CD REVIEWS

    ARTIST: STEPHEN WADE:

    TITLE: A STORYTELLER’S STORY: SOURCES OF BANJO DANCING

    LABEL: PATUXENT MUSIC

    RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 13, 2019

    From the Tavern to the Theatre

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    A Storytellers StoryBy the happiest of accidents I found myself in Chicago in May of 1979, blissfully unaware that a one-man show was about to open at the Body Politic, a local theatre. It was called Banjo Dancing, or the 48th Annual Squitters Mountain Song, Dance, Folklore Convention and Banjo Contest…and How I Lost. Its star was Stephen Wade.

    Read more: STEPHEN WADE: A STORYTELLER’S STORY: SOURCES OF BANJO DANCING

    Song of Time: Two Folk Classics from Art and Paul Are Reissued for First Time

    By Joe Marchese

    (Reprinted with permission of The Second Disc)

    Art and Paul Hangin Drinkin and StuffWith a recent pair of reissues, Sony Music/Legacy Recordings has transported listeners to Greenwich Village at the dawn of the 1960s, when guitar-wielding troubadours took the stages at venues like Café Wha? to share their own “alternative” music: folk. While Connie Francis, Brian Hyland, Elvis Presley, and even Percy Faith were ascending to the top of the Pop chart, folksingers were spinning their own musical yarns that didn’t involve teenage romance or itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polkadot bikinis. Two such artists were Art and Paul – no, not that Art and Paul, but rather Messrs. Podell and Potash, signed to Columbia Records roughly three years before those other guys with the same first names. Legacy has reissued Art and Paul’s two Columbia long-players, Songs of Earth and Sky (1960) and Hangin’, Drinkin’ and Stuff (1961) to digital service providers (streaming and download) for the first time. Recorded at Columbia’s 30th Street studio with renowned engineers Frank Laico and Roy Halee, these stereo albums are intimate, immediate time capsules back to this long-gone era.

    Read more: SONG OF TIME: TWO FOLK CLASSICS FROM ART AND PAUL ARE REISSUED FOR FIRST TIME

    Artist: THE SUSIE GLAZE NEW FOLK ENSEMBLE

    Title: LIVE AT MCCABE’S

    Label: Hilonesome Music

    Release Date: September 1, 2019

    By Ernest Troost

    Susie Glaze Live at McCabes The Susie Glaze New Folk Ensemble Live at McCabe’s, Susie’s tenth album, was recorded at the venerable folk venue McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. Sound engineer Wayne Griffith knows this room exceedingly well and captured the evening’s magic beautifully. The mixing and mastering by Frank Rosato add the final polish.

    Read more: THE SUSIE GLAZE NEW FOLK ENSEMBLE - LIVE AT MCCABE’S

    GRAMMY NOMINEES

    FULL CALENDAR

    MUSIC       DANCE

    TODAY'S CALENDAR 1/20/20


    MUSIC


    NO EVENTS TODAY



    DANCE


    NO EVENTS TODAY


    RECURRING EVENTS


    MUSIC


    7:00pm - 8:30pm SDBS BLUEGRASS SLOW JAM LEARNING SESSION

    third Monday

    Our Savior Lutheran Church

    4011 Ohio St, San Diego, CA

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


    7:30pm - 9:30pm OC CELTIC JAM

    every Monday

    Peace Lutheran Church

    18542 Vanderlip Ave, Santa Ana, CA

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


    8:00pm - 11:00pm BASC BLUEGRASS NIGHT

    third Monday

    Viva Rancho Cantina

    900 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91506

    818-845-2425


    8:30pm - 11:00pm CELTIC ARTS CENTER IRISH MUSIC SESSION

    every Monday

    Celtic Arts Center @ The Mayflower Club

    11110 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, CA

    818-760-8322 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    9:00pm - 10:30pm CELTIC ARTS CENTER SLOW PLAY IRISH MUSIC SESSION

    every Monday

    Celtic Arts Center @ The Mayflower Club

    11110 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, CA

    818-760-8322 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    DANCE


    10:00am - 11:30am ROBERTSON FOLK DANCE

    every Monday

    Robertson Recreation Center

    1641 Preuss Rd., Los Angeles, CA

    310-278-5383


    10:45am - 1:00pm UNIVERSITY OF JUDAISM

    every Monday

    UNIVERSITY OF JUDAISM

    5600 Mulholland Dr, Los Angeles, CA

    Natalie Stern 818-343-8009


    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.


    7:00pm - 11:30pm 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.


    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 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.


    7:30pm - 9:30pm SANTA MONICA ISRAELI DANCING

    every Monday

    Beth Shir Sholom

    1827 California Ave., Santa Monica, CA

    David Katz 323 466-3411 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm TARZANA ISRAELI DANCING

    every Monday

    MATI Center

    19626 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, CA

    Sagi Azran


    8:00pm - 11:00pm SWEDISH FOLK DANCE CLUB OF LOS ANGELES

    every Monday

    Skandia Hall

    2031 East Villa St., Pasadena, CA

    Norman and Jane Kindig 714-777-4036 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    8:00pm - 9:30pm SIERRA MADRE FOLK DANCE CLASS

    every Monday

    Sierra Madre Recreation Building

    611 E. Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre, CA

    Ann Armstrong 626-358-5942


    9:00pm - 11:00pm INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCE CLUB AT UCLA

    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.

     

How to Tell the Real Bob Dylan

In Concert at the Shrine Auditorium - June 16, 2016

By Ross Altman, PhD

Bob DylanStately, skinny Bob Dylan came from the stairhead, bearing a metal harmonica rack on which an acoustic Gibson guitar and “G” harp lay crossed. He opened with The Times, They Are A-Changing. But this was fifty-three ago, 1963, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. This evening, at the Shrine Auditorium, he enters with a white, broad-brimmed hat reinforced with white coat and steps up to the microphone in front of a five-piece band with the opening strains of his Oscar-winning song, Things Have Changed.

How to Tell the Real Bob Dylan

In Concert at the Shrine Auditorium - June 16, 2016

By Ross Altman, PhD

Bob DylanStately, skinny Bob Dylan came from the stairhead, bearing a metal harmonica rack on which an acoustic Gibson guitar and “G” harp lay crossed. He opened with The Times, They Are A-Changing. But this was fifty-three ago, 1963, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. This evening, at the Shrine Auditorium, he enters with a white, broad-brimmed hat reinforced with white coat and steps up to the microphone in front of a five-piece band with the opening strains of his Oscar-winning song, Things Have Changed.

Every Dylan concert one goes to is a tableau of memorable images as well as a symphony of sound. This one begins on Jefferson Ave., around the corner from the entrance to the Shrine Auditorium. There are five humongous tour buses spread out over the entire block, with one right in front of the side door entrance to the back stage. A buzzing crowd of post-sixties fans is lined up in front and around it like a scene straight out of D.A. Pennebaker’s classic 1966 documentary Don’t Look Back—where every time Dylan was spotted in the back seat of a car in London there was an immediate flock of young moths drawn to a flame—straining to get a peak behind the sunglasses—into the flaming mind of the artist who wrote Desolation Row, Ballad of a Thin Man and Like a Rolling Stone.

Fifty years later and the mystery endures. Anywhere he is spotted, or even imagined he might be, crowds of onlookers gather ever hopeful for a glimpse. I wait as long as I dare, and would have waited for the doors to open, except that I know there is an opening act, and I am working for FolkWorks to cover the concert, not just a fan among many; so reluctantly at 7:30pm, I had to round the corner and go into the Shrine to see the performer whose father Dylan had once asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

And that’s when it hits me—this isn’t just any concert night—this is June 16—Bloomsday to Joyce fans around the world—the date that the 20th Century’s greatest novelist James Joyce met his Nora in Dublin in 1904—and the corresponding date on which his entire masterpiece Ulysses takes place. Who better therefore to stand in for Molly Bloom—the fictional Nora—based on the real Penelope from Homer’s original Odyssey of Ulysses’ ten-year journey home to Ithaca than Mavis Staples? She is the perfect—the resounding and full-throated “Yes!” to Dylan’s equally powerful “No, no, no It Ain’t Me Babe—it ain’t me you’re looking for, Babe.” Call it Homer’s “Bringing It All Back Home,” anticipating Dylan’s fourth album 2000 years ago, and Joyce’s modern parable from nearly a century ago. The 20th Century’s greatest songwriter meets Joyce.

It dawns on me that in terms of literary resonance I am standing in the Garden of Eden.

No sooner do I enter the nearly century-old ornate Baroque L.A. shrine (pardon the pun) to sumptuous conspicuous consumption than I spot my old friend and colleague (from different publications) Michael Simmons. I slowly approach him, catch his eye, and give him a big hug in welcome—our light of recognition in the knowledge that neither of us would miss Bob Dylan in Concert while there was still breath in our bodies. We bring each other up to date on our personal lives and then I slip away to climb the balcony stairs and find my seat. Michael wrote the LA Weekly cover story on Bob turning 70, and now we are both here with our hero—who just turned 75 May 24th .

Mavis Staples holds nothing back—a great Gospel and Soul singer who gives her all to every audience lucky enough to see and hear her—as we were. She is the irresistible force to Bob’s immovable object—who won’t let the audience just sit there and listen—she reaches out to the back row at the top of the balcony with new songs like Ben Harper’s I’ll Be Me (written for her new album), her old hits like Slippery People, and even the 1960s antiwar classic Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth. If she weren’t opening for Dylan, she would have stolen the show. The highlight of her set wasn’t even a song per se, but her passionate recounting of marching “on the Freedom highway, from Selma to Montgomery, with Dr. King.” She is still on that highway she wanted us to know, still speaking her mind, and captured us with both her commitment and her voice. Despite Bob’s seen-it-all pessimism of Things Have Changed, it was clear that did not apply to her. She is still the youthful and eternal optimist of America’s Promised Land.

Dylan—as his loyal followers now know all too well—has moved in other directions since the days when he symbolized the freedom and antiwar movements in the “Decade of Change.” He has pursued his art as a personal calling and long ago abandoned any superimposed role as “spokesman” for any cause, let alone a generation—a role he left for the taking. In as dramatic a departure from his own best-known songs as any since he became—for a few years—a born-again Christian—he has recently immersed himself in another Bible—the holy scriptures of the Great American Songbook, zeroing in on songs identified with Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra. He has just released his second album of standards, Fallen Angels, (the title for which may well have come from an old Kris Kristofferson song of the same name). Except for Hoagie Carmichael’s Skylark, all were recorded by Sinatra. Dylan incorporates a generous sampling of them in tonight’s show—from Melancholy Mood to the achingly pure I’m a Fool to Want You to the plaintive Why Try to Change Me Now (from this album’s predecessor Shadows In the Night) to Irving Berlin’s heart-breaking What’ll I Do to the concert-closing sublime rendition of Johnny Mercer’s Autumn Leaves. Dylan has made these songs his own, and I almost felt as if he was singing only partly to us, and partly to Frank Sinatra in Heaven.

Dylan made clear his enormous admiration for Sinatra long before he started singing any of “his” songs. He was the final performer on the 80th birthday tribute to the Chairman of the Board—and a class act if there ever was. After the usual suspects like Tony Bennett, doing songs in Frank’s signature style, Dylan closed with a simple heartfelt tribute to the man who taught him everything he knew about the art of singing—which he boiled down to one impeccably chosen word: “phrasing.” Wow! It had nothing to do with lung power, or intonation, or sonic splendor, or a God-given mellifluous vocal instrument—it rather had to do with intelligence and meaning, conveying the fullest sense of what the song was about. In short, it was something anyone can do, if they care enough, and study and practice enough. It was a revelation. Then Dylan ended the show on a perfect note, with Restless Farewell, the last song from his The Times, They Are A-Changing album—adapted from the song he learned from the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem during the heyday of the Greenwich Village folk revival—The Parting Glass.

Dylan’s tribute brought tears to Sinatra’s old blue eyes. To see how he is performing Frank’s classic songs now is therefore not so much a departure as the fulfillment of his early recognition.

While not dwelling on his own 1960s and ‘70s classics Bob makes room for the timeless She Belongs to Me (“She’s got everything she needs/She’s an artist/She don’t look back”—source of the Pennebaker film title)—Tangled Up in Blue and the consummate encore, Blowing In the Wind—set to a new tune and piano arrangement. If you wonder what Dylan’s greatest song is, he has outvoted Rolling Stone’s pick of Like a Rolling Stone. Mr. D not only performs the civil rights and antiwar anthem of a generation, he has even put the ever-mysterious answer to his song’s still-haunting questions on a beautiful blanket out in the lobby hanging behind the merchandise table—selling for $75. “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.”

I only wish he had made room for his other civil rights classic—and answered the request from a lone voice late in the evening—for The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll—about the black hotel maid murdered in Baltimore by the scion of privilege William Zantzinger, for which he received “a six-month sentence.” I have been thinking about this song in connection with the Stanford rapist and competitive swimmer who received exactly the same sentence by an equally clueless judge. The first line would even scan with the five-syllable “Brock Allen Turner” standing in for “William Zantzinger. That would have made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end—which was A.E. Housman’s definition of poetry. Dylan has his own Muse, however; and never veers from Her path.

But, unexpectedly and unaccountably, outside the Shrine the concert is far from over. There is an enchanting, totally freewheelin’ early Dylan impersonator holding forth—singing other songs that Bob left out of his show: It Ain’t Me, Babe, Like a Rolling Stone and Don’t Think Twice. No tour buses, no band, no sophisticated lighting, and no Frank Sinatra songs—the Bob Dylan everyone came to hear—with just a guitar and harmonica. His name is Frankie, and he is a joy to listen to. He even ends his set with the aforementioned Blowin’ In the Wind—and guess what—the tune is the same one that Bob sang on Freewheelin’. Ah, what can I say? Don’t look back.

After all the Dylan concerts I’ve attended, and reviews I’ve written, would I go see the real Bob Dylan again—the one you may have some difficulty recognizing—who no longer picks up a guitar and who keeps messing with his old tunes and even lyrics? Here is Molly Bloom’s answer at the end of Ulysses, and mine too: “Yes I said yes I will Yes.”

Saturday June 25 at 2:00pm at the Allendale Branch Library in Pasadena Ross Altman performs his tribute to the national pastime; 1130 South Marengo Ave. Pasadena, CA 91106 The Baseball Reliquarry ; free.

Los Angeles folk singer and Local 47 member Ross Altman has a PhD in Modern Literature; Ross may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.