• URGENT

    REGARDING COVID-19 VIRUS

    Concerts, dances and festivals have all been cancelled in order to contain the spread of the covid-19 virus.
    Stay at home! Watch the numerous postings on social media of folk/traditional artists.
    If you find something you find exceptional that we haven't shared, please let us know and we will spread the word.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The FolkWorks CALENDAR of EVENTS and the RECURRING EVENTS)
    have been suspended until the stay at home orders have been lifted.

    ALIVE AND ONLINE

    Given that most of us are in  quarantine and at home with our computers and TVs, here are some things you can spend time enjoying:

    Folklife Festival online

    NORTHWEST FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL

    Saturday, May 23, 2020 - May 25, 2020

    Click for Schedule

    Read more: ALIVE AND ONLINE

    PASSINGS

    RIP: JOHN PRINE

    (OCTOBER 10, 1946 - APRIL 7, 2020)

    JOHN PRINE IS GONE: AN APPRECIATION

    ANOTHER COVID-19 CASUALTY

    PARADISE LOST

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    John Prine“Daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where Paradise lay…” Like another John--John Milton—we lost Paradise today.

    “The world has lost John Prine to COVID-19. After he survived throat and lung cancer, I was hoping he was perhaps immortal. Nobody could write songs like him, at once spare, profound and amusing. There’s an unbelievable story about how he was discovered that is apparently true. He was at an open mic night at the age of 24, a mailman at the time, making fun of the talentless performers. He was challenged to get up and play himself. He got on stage and played Sam Stone, Paradise, and Hello In There. After the first two he was met by dead silence, the audience stunned at what they had just heard. After the third, it was raucous applause, and he was off to the races. Can you imagine being at an open mic night and a kid gets up and plays those three songs back to back?” (Ryan Grim from The Intercept)

    Read more: RIP: JOHN PRINE

    KENNY ROGERS

    (August 21, 1938 – March 20, 2020)

    Folk-Americana reached beyond his Country Music stardom.

    By Larry Wines

    Kenny RogersMarch 21, 2020 - Word comes from Keith Hagan of SKH Music that the Rogers family is sad to announce Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25 pm at the age of 81. Rogers died peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.

    Read more: RIP: KENNY ROGERS

    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    May-June 2020

    STAY-AT-HOMER MUSIC SERIES

    By David Bragger

    Magic LanternWe’re excited to launch our NEW MUSIC SERIES for all of you stay-at-homers! These are half hour music shows featuring some of the best traditional musicians in the world. Our first episode features the musical genius of the Thompson’s and the Stefanini’s. Enjoy fiddle duets, Cajun, Old-time, Blues, breakdowns, rags and more. There’s even a banjo!

    Read more: STAY-AT-HOMER MUSIC SERIES

    EXTENDED LENGTH VIDEOS

     

    FULL CALENDAR

    MUSIC       DANCE


    REGARDING COVID-19 VIRUS

    Concerts, dances and festivals have all been cancelled in order to contain the spread of the covid-19 virus.
    Stay at home! Watch the numerous postings on social media of folk/traditional artists.
    If you find something you find exceptional that we haven't shared, please let us know and we will spread the word.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The FolkWorks CALENDAR of EVENTS and the RECURRING EVENTS)
    have been suspended until the stay at home orders have been lifted.


    SHORT TAKE VIDEOS

    Referred to by Dave Leddel

    Referred to by Eileen Ivers in her Caltech Online concert...
    Stefani Rosenberg looked this up and found the YouTube and lyrics

    Click to read the lyrics

    Read more: Irish Black Bottom - Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five (1926)

    recomended by Colin Quigley

    recomended by Milt Rosenberg

May-June 2010 #2

Cinco de Mayo Special:
Fiddle Tunes
from the American Southwest

Nothing celtic in this particular column, but as it is getting hot and Cinco de Mayo is coming up, here are some tunes from the American Southwest that are a lot of fun to play in jams/sessions. I have played them in sessions from a bit north of the Mexican border to a bit south of the Canadian border and many places in between. Two favorite tunes in this genre are El Churrumbé from New Mexico and Purple Lilies from Arizona, which I cover in this column.

Traditional Southwest Fiddle styles (e.g. Arizona, New Mexico) sound a lot more Mexican (or Central European) than the better known Old-Time Southeast style (e.g. Virginia, Carolinas, Kentucky). Clearly, the influences and original sources were different: Maybe Habsburg Empire rather than Highland Clearances? But in both cases, the original European sources were filtered through time and local sensibilities, resulting in a new unique style of music.

El Churrumbé is a dance tune from New Mexico and I found it on several field recordings. It is an extremely easy tune to teach and yet fun to play. The only more recent commercially available would be by Jenny Vincent, entitled Spanish American Dance Tunes of New Mexico, although she plays it a little different and very slow. However, you can listen to it as it is being played in some jam sessions on YouTube (so check them out before looking at the sheet music). Another important source of tunes from New Mexico was Cleofes Ortiz, who was born in 1910 on Pajarito Plateau near Rowe, New Mexico, and began playing for dances in his teens. He stopped playing in the 1920s until he was rediscovered 50 years later. PBS did a documentary on him entitled Violinista de Nuevo Mexico, which includes some of the tunes that are often played, and which is available as I'm writing this on YouTube. The only source to buy a CD of his playing would be Bayou Seco.

Purple Lilies is one of the best known tunes from Arizona, thanks to the efforts of Bayou Seco (Ken Keppeler and Jeanie McLerie) of Silver City, New Mexico, who have kept that style alive and brought it to new players. You can find lots of versions of Purple Lilies on YouTube. The main source is the fiddle band music of the Tohona O'odham people of Southern Arizona. Utilizing instruments originally introduced by Spanish missionaries, the fiddle band sound is an unusual mix of polkas, two-steps, and mazurkas utilizing violins, guitar, and drums. One great CD is by the Gu-Achi Fiddlers, entitled Old Time O'odham Fiddle Music. It is not virtuosic and the fiddles are on the scratchy side, but the exuberance and more than compensate. This distinctive twin fiddle style eventually changed into a newer Native American style known as chicken scratch or waila (which replaced the fiddles with a saxophone and electric guitars).

Every spring, I teach these tunes in an afterschool class at a local school. I practice with students for a few weeks and teach them about 8-10 tunes by ear and then they perform at the Cinco de Mayo festivals and the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Festival. Aside from El Churrumbe and Purple Lilies, the other tunes are usually from the playing of the Gu-Achi Fiddlers and Cleofes Ortiz and they sound authentic enough for a Cinco the Mayo fiesta, especially when supplemented by a classic like Cielito Lindo. So, yes, maybe it is cheating a bit, but that way students learn an authentic traditional fiddle style.

You can hear more of this in the Eucalyptus Grove at the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Festival on May 16.

El Churrumbe

 Purple Lilies

 

Roland Sturm is Professor of Policy Analysis at the RAND Graduate School and usually writes on health policy, not music. He is the talent coordinator of the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest and leads the monthly Celtic sessions at CTMS. These days he mainly plays upright bass and mandolin.

  

All Columns by Roland Sturm