• 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

    SPOTLIGHTS

    YUVAL RON ENSEMBLE
    Rumi's Wedding Night

    Yuval Ron Ensemble

    TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2019 - 8:00PM
    Holy Spirit Retreat Center
    4316 Lanai Rd., Encino, CA 91436

    Read more: YUVAL RON ENSEMBLE

    MOLLY’S REVENGE
    Winterdance

    Mollys Revenge

    FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2019 - 8:00PM
    California Institute of Technology - Ramo Auditorium
    332 South Michigan Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106
    Presented by Pasadena Folk Music Society
    -----
    SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2019 - 7:30PM
    Pilgrim United Church of Christ
    2020 Chestnut Ave., Carlsbad, CA 92008
    Presented bySan Diego Folk Heritage
    ------
    SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2019 - 2:00PM & 7:00PM
    BeeKay Theatre
    110 South Green St. Tehachapi, CA 93561
    Sponsored by Fiddler's Crossing

    Read more: MOLLY’S REVENGE

    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    November-December 2019

    IF I HAD A HAMMER:

    December 2, 1954, 65 Years Ago Today…

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    Senator Joseph McCarthy at National Portrait GalleryThe United States Senate censured Senator Joe McCarthy for what amounted to reckless endangerment of the US Constitution. The Senate’s action brought the most famous domestic confrontation of the Cold War era to a close—the Army-McCarthy Hearings, in which McCarthy tried to convict the army of harboring communists. The Senate’s action, however, was almost an afterthought: McCarthy had already been condemned in open court by attorney Joseph Welch, with the single most moving quote to emerge from the McCarthy era: “Senator, have you no decency; at long last, Sir, have you no sense of decency left?”

    Read more: IF I HAD A HAMMER

    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 12/9/19


    MUSIC


    fwpick

    7:30pm TOMMY EMMANUEL / JIM & MORNING NICHOLS

    Musco Center for the Arts - Chapman University

    One University Dr., Orange, CA 92866

    844-626-8726


    fwpick

    8:00pm ROY ZIMMERMAN

    Coffee Gallery Backstage

    2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, CA 91001

    626-798-6236 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



    DANCE


    NO EVENTS TODAY


    RECURRING EVENTS


    MUSIC


    7:00pm - 10:00pm FOSTER LIBRARY UKULELE SONG CIRCLE (SONGMAKERS)

    second & fourth Monday

    E.P. Foster Library

    651 East Main St., Ventura, CA

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


    7:30pm - 10:30pm BROMBIES BLUEGRASS

    every Monday

    Viva Rancho Cantina

    900 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91506

    818-845-2425

    Jo Ellen Doering 323-874-0213 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.


    8:30pm - 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


    7:45pm - 10:45pm WEST LOS ANGELES FOLK DANCERS

    every Friday

    Brockton School

    1309 Armacost Ave., West Los Angeles, CA

    Beverly Barr 310-202-6166 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    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.

     

November-December 2010

JUDY COLLINS:
IN HER LIFE

By Dave Soyars

When thinking of the music of Judy Collins, there is an inevitable identification with the period when, what was called folk music, enjoyed its greatest universal popularity. Collins may have started out as a classically-trained pianist rather than a guitar-toting troubadour, but who else is so inextricably linked to both the early 1960s acoustic movement as well as the 1970s singer/songwriter era? She is also decidedly more than a footnote in the careers of such other icons as Leonard Cohen, Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, and even Bob Dylan himself, whose songs she was covering practically from the very beginning of his career.

And yet, upon careful listening, that's not what stands out. While she is in some ways the quintessential folkie - her early records indeed focus largely on traditional material with light acoustic backing - the experimentation and desire to look beyond the world of hootenannies and coffee houses started almost from the very beginning. By her third album, she's already trying out songs and arrangements that vary from the norm with the help of, among others, future Byrds leader McGuinn and jazz bassist Bill Lee (also Spike's dad). By the time we get to the first of these CDs, [originally released on Elektra, but reissued earlier this year by Collector's Choice], she's already become a diverse, interesting and above all musical artist, and one not easily categorized.

Judy Collins' Fifth Album (RATING: !) [orig. release 1965]

There's still more than a touch of "old guard" to this, with two traditional songs and a series of (mostly fairly straight ahead) covers from popular songwriters of the day. Certainly compared to what Dylan and the like were working up to at the time, it's pretty tame. But there's also a palpable sense that she's already looking beyond the easy or expected. The arrangements are diverse and unpredictable, though still acoustic based. The songwriters are a talented group, from the ever dependable "Trad. Arr." to the three Dylan songs (two of which had been yet to be recorded by Dylan). But the musical highlight is the dulcimer playing of good friend Richard Farina on Farina's own Pack Up Your Sorrows. Farina, as part of a duo with wife Mimi, had already put his stamp on the era, using dulcimer as a primary rhythm instrument rather than the usual guitar, setting the stage for performers to find new and unexpected ways to express themselves. Collins would show she was up for it soon enough.

In My Life (RATING: !!!) [1966]

This is the one, the real deal, the highlight of these reissues and almost certainly the finest record of Collins' long career. Of course by then there was already a thriving folk/rock scene- led by, among others, some folks that had played on Collins' previous recordings- so stubborn traditionalists, should they still want to stick with the "old guard," had clearly already lost the battle. Yet rather than follow the trends, Collins finds another way to stand out from the- by then rather massive - crowd. Feeling no need to artificially uphold a tradition that had clearly been stretched to the limit by the age, or to "go electric" in a attempt to stay with the times, she looked to young keyboardist/arranger Joshua Rifkin, the arranger and the producer of the Baroque Beatles Book, a striking resetting of several Lennon/McCartney songs. Collins had been impressed enough to make his orchestral arrangement of a particularly sentimental Lennon/McCartney song the title track, though it's her pure soprano which imbues the song with quiet intensity. Other tracks in this decidedly non-folkie mix include a few bits of musical theater- one from the then-popular Marat Sade and the Brecht/Weill Pirate Jenny, a likely blueprint for Steeleye Span's rendering of the same song a decade later. What she does had no precedent, and for that matter antecedent that I can think of. Most of all, she gives each song the reading it needs. Where she manages to do so most strikingly is on the first recorded appearance of songs by Leonard Cohen. Her Suzanne may be not have the edge Cohen's own version would have a scant few years later, but she draws every bit of sarcasm, barbed wit and bitterness out of his Dress Rehearsal Rag. She had long ago proven she could "sing pretty" when called for, this is where she proves she had the range and intelligence to do the opposite as well. Rifkin's arrangements, be they orchestral or featuring his own piano or harpsichord playing, also avoid fussiness while not going for easy shock value either. There were dozens of ways for this recording to go wrong, but it's to Collins' and Rifkin's credit that they found the one way for it to go right. Almost half a century later, it's still a staggering achievement, and has dated about as well as anything from the era.

Whales and Nightingales (RATING: !!) [1970]

After having hits with the songs of Joni Mitchell, Dylan and the like, Collins started the 1970s more regularly writing her own material, and what of it that's here is pretty good, though the songs don't quite measure up to the songwriters she'd been covering. No shame in that, of course, considering the high standards they'd set. Regardless, it's her ability to make songs her own that stands out here. Be it on Dominic Behan's The Patriot Game - which sharp-eared listeners will recognize as the melodic source for Dylan's With God on Our Side, - the somewhat obscure Time Passes Slowly by Dylan himself, or a couple of Jacques Brel Songs, she inhabits them all thoroughly. This is also an album that was recorded in a great variety of locations- from an empty Carnegie Hall to a crowded New York street to St. Paul's Chapel, site of her recording of Amazing Grace, one of the biggest pop hits of her career. But it's the beautiful performance of the traditional Farewell to Tarwathie featuring recordings of whale songs as accompaniment that explains the first word of the album title. It's once again an example of something that could have been a mere gimmick in the wrong hands. The second half of the title comes from an original two-part song, the first half of it baroquely arranged by old pal Rifkin.

True Stories and Other Dreams (RATING: !) [1973]

By this time, Collins has finally become the best songwriter on her own album. Probably not coincidentally, it's also the first time the majority of the songs are original. An angry (and electric- featuring some rather "heavy" guitar solos) version of Tom Paxton's The Hostage is great, though the other non-original songs don't fare as well as Song for Martin, a sensitive tribute to an old friend who'd committed suicide, or Che, of course about (now very trendy) revolutionary Guevara, refreshingly free of revolutionary rhetoric, and rich in historical narrative.

Also part of the same reissue program are Bread & Roses [1976], Running for My Life [1980], Times of Our Lives [1982], Home Again [1984] and Christmas at the Biltmore [1997]. Albums NOT part of it include are Judy Collins #3 [1963], prominently featuring a young Jim (later Roger) McGuinn (accompanying Collins on Turn Turn Turn, a hit for the Byrds two year later), Wildflowers [1967], which features her version of Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now, still the biggest hit of her career and a song likely more identified with her than with its composer, and Who Knows Where the Time Goes [1968] which features a stellar backing band including Stephen Stills, master guitarist James Burton, and pedal steel player Buddy Emmons. These albums are all still in print on their original Elektra label, and all are highly recommended

Collins' history is so interesting because she spans so many different eras in so short a time, and she's an important figure in all of them. She also recorded both before and after the time it became expected for singer/songwriter types to write their own songs. While she was up to the task, when one looks at the songwriters she's best-known for covering- Cohen, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, even Lennon and McCartney- what they all have in common is that their songs have lasted. And that's what the legacy of Judy Collins is in the end, regardless of how the music is played or interpreted. Good songs, well sung- and played with an obvious purpose, which affects both singer and listener.

Rating scale:

[!!!]-Classic, sure to be looked back on as such for generations to come.

[!!]-Great, one of the year's finest. If you have even a vague interest in the artist, consider this my whole-hearted recommendation that you go out and purchase it immediately.

[!]-Very good, with considerable appeal for a fan of the artist(s). If you purchase it, you likely won't be disappointed.

[--]-Good/solid, what you would expect.

[X]-Avoid. Either ill-conceived, or artistically inept in some way.

Dave Soyars is a guitarist, electric bass player, a singer/songwriter, and a print journalist with over fifteen years experience. His column features happenings on the folk and traditional music scene both locally and internationally, with commentary on recordings, as well as live shows, and occasionally films and books. Please feel free to e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  

All Columns by Dave Soyars