September-October 2019


By Chris Wilson

SamhainThe ghostly holiday of Halloween can trace its roots back to Samhain (pronounced SOW-en), an ancient Celtic holiday that began well over 2000 years ago. Samhain was not only a celebration of the end of the annual harvest and the beginning of winter; it was also believed to be a time when there was only a thin barrier between the world of the dead and that of the living. More information about the many Samhain myths and traditions may be found here.

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July-August 2019

The Protest Song is Alive and Well

By Chris Wilson

Protest SongsThe protest song has never really died, and the times in which we live have given musicians more inspiration than ever.  Music speaks to us, the listener, in a way that the written word alone cannot.  So, this month, I give you three such artists whose commentary on current events presents both the beauty of song and the pain of tragedy and oppression that persist in our world.


May-June 2019


By Chris Wilson

Stonewall RiotsThe month of June is celebrated by many members of the LGBTQ community and their allies as “Pride Month,” which commemorates the June 28, 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York where patrons of the Stonewall Inn bar rose up against the police. In those days, such establishments were routinely raided for crimes ranging from unspecified “disorderly conduct” to cross-dressing (illegal at that time). [1]

There are a wide variety of musical genres represented by LGBTQ performers, including folk music. My definition of “folk” comes from the late, great co-producer of Folkscene on KPFK, Roz Larman, about whom it was said “If Roz liked it, it was folk.” [2] I think that Roz would like these featured LGBTQ artists.

Read more: QUEER AS FOLK

March-April 2019

The Grandest Symbol of Ireland

By Chris Wilson

Brian Boru Harp and Guiness LogoIt has been said by partygoers everywhere that on St. Patrick’s Day “everyone is Irish.” But, I wonder what would have happened had Jay Leno visited some busy pubs on that day with his “Jaywalking” segment? For those who may not recall, Jay would leave the studio, microphone in hand, and ask random folks some garden variety questions such as “what countries border the United States?” Perhaps they became tongue-tied because he was a celebrity or because they wanted to look silly in order to appear on TV, but in any event, the televised outcome was a parade of individuals who gave amusingly incorrect answers or no answer at all.


January-February 2019

Valentine’s Day

By Chris Wilson

free vintage valentines day clipart 26Ah, romance. The day is dedicated to celebrating love and intimate relationships. A beautiful day of hearts, flowers, special restaurant dinners; it also includes familial love and platonic friendships for many. Though in common parlance the general public has dropped the title “Saint” in Valentine’s Day, most know that there was indeed a St. Valentine and that this day is named in his honor.

But who exactly was this saint? And why do we celebrate his day on February 14? The choice of this particular day is because that was the date when Valentine died in A.D. 278 – beheaded by Emperor Claudius II of Rome. It is no surprise to learn that this emperor was also known as “Claudius the Cruel.” The Emperor wanted a strong army to wage war campaigns on behalf of Rome but was having difficulty finding men willing to leave their wives and families to join his army. His solution was to forbid marriages and engagements in all of Rome. Valentine defied this order and married young couples in secret; on the order of the Emperor he was arrested and then beaten severely before his beheading.


November-December 2018

The Music of Greenland

By Chris Wilson

GreenlandThe Internet can be a window to amazing places and, sometimes, amazing music. Although I have never had the pleasure of visiting Greenland, I had heard of the music that originated from a unique blend of native Inuit and Danish culture. Looking for an escape to take my mind off of the daily news and events, I decided to transport myself to Greenland, at least in the virtual sense.


September-October 2018

The Truth about Leda and Steve Shapiro

By Chris Wilson

Steve and LedaWhile the fires of McCarthyism were burning, a young man in Queens was growing up with progressive politics. As with many others on the left, there was also an awareness that his family were outsiders, even to their local Jewish community. For Steve, life was being part of youth groups interested in “social action.” His exposure to folk music was listening to The Weavers, Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, and the like. Going to summer camps exposed him to more home grown folk music and dance. His first musical instrument was a recorder, but in summer camp he found out that people could learn to play guitar and, always seeking to be different, was attracted to the 12 string guitar. He insisted that his parents buy him one. He made the schlep to the Village with his new uncased guitar where he listened to guitars, banjoes, bluegrass and blues. He saw Bob Dylan hanging out and met blues/folk guitarist Danny Kalb; who told him to check out 12 string guitarist Fred Gerlach.


July-August 2018

Musings on Felines and Folk

By Chris Wilson

funny cat music band 300I love all animals, though I have always had a special affinity for cats. Not only do I own serve at the demand and pleasure of two of them, I admit that I am easily caught up in the multiple “cute cat” memes and videos that seem to find their way into my Facebook feed.


May-June 2018


By Chris Wilson

accordion Bierce smIf you are reading this, I’m sure you’ve heard them all. What is the definition of a gentleman? Somebody who knows how to play the accordion, but doesn't. What is the definition of an optimist? An accordion player with a pager. What do you call an accordion at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.

Where would we be without the ability to laugh at ourselves? And, of course, there are jokes about just about any instrument as well as musicians in general. Besides, I’ve heard every lawyer joke there is including the one the substitutes “lawyer” for “accordion” in the third example above.

The accordion has always intrigued me. Many years ago, I was in a pawn shop in Las Vegas and saw a beautiful turquoise piano accordion and thought about buying it. However, I didn’t have the knowledge to determine whether or not it was in good condition or worth the price. I continued to think about that accordion after I left the shop and can still picture it to this day.


March-April 2018


By Chris Wilson

Mom and Barbara smAt the time of my adoption at birth, my parents were told that I came from Irish stock, so they diligently did their best to support what they were told was my cultural heritage. They weren't even sure of their own, although they surmised that the blending of the Williams and Wilson clans from the American Midwest represented an ancestry that began somewhere in the United Kingdom.


January-February 2018


By Chris Wilson

Elon Musk 2015 sm
Immigrant entrepreneur Elon Musk

Elon Musk. This amazing man was born and raised in South Africa, began college in Canada then completed dual Bachelor of Science degrees (physics and economics) at the University of Pennsylvania. Accepted into the PhD program in physics at Stanford, he left after two days to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions which led to his co-founding of the company that became PayPal. He moved on from there into Space X and Tesla as well as many other companies.


November-December 2017


By Chris Wilson

toddler music smThe music we love gives us entertainment and community with others with whom we can share it. But can it do more? There are many studies from universities around the world that seem to give a resounding “yes” to this question. And, some are in our own backyard!

USC’s “Brain and Creativity Institute” researchers have been studying the effects of music training on child development since 2012. The study follows children engaged in group music training and, though it has not yet concluded, has found “a positive association between music training and improvements in cognitive skills including working memory and inhibitory function and as evidence by greater brain activation in brain’s prefrontal circuitry during tasks engaging executive function skills.”


September-October 2017

So What Do You Do?

By Chris Wilson

ken omalleyIntermission. Time to stretch our legs a little bit, get some coffee or tea, and chat.

I’ve made great friends at many live music shows, and often intermission is where the friendship began to blossom. These friendships have traveled to Facebook or sometimes continued down the street for a bite after the show. On occasion I’ve seen a familiar face from an entirely different part of my life and it has taken a minute to register, particularly when the last time I saw him or her we were both wearing business suits.

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