May-June 2016

The 11th Ever Los Angeles Old-Time Social:

Concerts, Workshops and Dance!

By David Bragger

LAOTS-11 WIP-REVIEWWe are now in our second decade of the Los Angeles Old-Time Social! For those of you who are new to the Los Angeles old-time music scene, we’ve got a lot going on here from weekly jams and a thriving community to concerts/films/lessons at LA’s own Old-Time Tiki Parlour. And once a year we pool our resources and put on this huge volunteer-led event: The Los Angeles Old-Time Social! People from all around the country come to play, dance, learn and perform for this three-day event! Acoustic Guitar Magazine even included us on their Top Ten Festival Bucket List! The Social will be held May 12-14th!

High Life Cajun BandThursday Night (May 12th) is the Kick-Off Concert/Party at the Honky Tonk Hacienda at El Cid in Hollywood. It’ll feature mainly local old-time musicians, including Echo Mountain String Band, Squirrel Butter and The High Life Cajun Band! There will be Cajun dancing at this event!

Friday Night (May 13th) is the formal concert at the Velaslavasay Panorama Theater featuring these stellar acts: The Canote Brothers, Earl & Adrian White, Tom Marion & Frank Fairfield and Sausage Grinder.

Tom Marion and Frank FairfieldOn Saturday (May 14th) at the American Legion Hall is a full day of workshops including flatfooting, fiddle, ukulele, guitar, banjo, dance calling, harmony singing and mandolin! As co-producer of the Social and workshop coordinator, I will tell you now that this is not to be missed. The workshops are immediately followed by the greatest Cakewalk in Los Angeles and an epic square dance featuring the concert musicians!

Without further ado, here is this year’s workshop schedule. See you at the Social!


12:00-1:00pm Harmony Singing with Charmaine and Charlie Beck

Let’s reveal the magic of harmony singing in this workshop... we will dissect a simple song, learn how to use our ear to find the harmonies, and sing while staying in our lane. All singers welcome!

Squirrel ButterSquirrel Butter, husband and wife duo of Charlie Beck & Charmaine Slaven, started performing together after meeting at a music festival in 2005. Sharing a deep love of traditional music, they explore the genres of old-time, early bluegrass, blues, country, & Cajun while adding their unique perspective to these traditions and threading these influences into their original compositions. Multi-instrumentalists, they play banjo, guitar, fiddle, steel guitar, step-dance, and sing in harmony. Occasionally, Squirrel Butter appears with guest musicians to form a trio or quartet. Currently both members of honky tonk project, The Lucky Shots, and were also half of venerable string band, The Tallboys. They are anchors of the old-time music, honky-tonk, & square dance communities in the Pacific NW and beyond.

1:00-3:00pm How to Call a Square Dance with Susan Michaels

Learn how to call squares for your friends and family. Beginners welcome. Or just show up and get your dancing shoes on.

Susan Michaels is a teacher and a caller of traditional American dancing, especially contra dancing and square dancing. She has called and taught dances at local evenings, weekend workshops, week-long elementary school programs, week-long family camps and dance weekends throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Charlie Beck3:00-4:00pm Clawhammer Banjo with Charlie Beck

Playing clawhammer banjo is a real joy, and through some great, old songs we'll take a peek at the banjo's many plucky possibilities.  I'll start with some foundational banjo techniques, and then cover their many uses and variations. There will be an emphasis on creating solid grooves, and we'll examine interplay between the banjoist, singer and other potential instrumentalists. All experience levels welcome. We're gonna have fun and learn stuff too, so bring your banjo, any banjo questions you may have and your voice!!

Born and raised in Indiana, Charlie Beck moved to Seattle and became a founding member and banjoist of the The Tallboys String Band. He currently performs in the duo, Squirrel Butter, with his wife, Charmaine Slaven, and in their 5 piece country band, The Lucky Shots. An avid songwriter, he has recorded three albums of original and traditional music and other songs of his are featured on many Tallboys and Squirrel Butter albums. On banjo Charlie plays clawhammer and finger styles, displaying a deft touch and a propensity for creative explorations within the music. His love of old-time, bluegrass, country, blues and swing is evident while he happily offers his own voice to the music. He is also a talented singer, guitarist, fiddler, lap/pedal steel player and teacher.

4:00-6:00pm Flatfooting with Evie Ladin and Ruth Alpert

Evie LadinDanced to the fiddle & banjo of Old-Time music, flatfooting is the percussive dance tradition that lights the fire under the music. In this workshop, we will learn a few basic steps that get you to dancing to stringband music, as well as during square dances. It's a rhythmic good time! No experience or special shoes necessary, though hard soled shoes might be more fun to dance in. We'll pepper the teaching with some basic Hambone, African-American body percussion from the slave era and talk about where and how it all evolved.

Ruth Alpert has been flatfooting for 34 years. She has taught workshops, danced with old-time Appalachian string bands, busked (street performed) in various cities in at least 6 states, and is a two time National Champion in Senior Buck Dancing, 2013 and 2014. Currently, Ruth is the percussion section of The Honeysuckle Possums, an all-female string band playing original and traditional music.

Evie has always been surrounded by music – credit to her upbringing as daughter of an international folk dance teacher, and an old-time folk music devotee, she grew up thinking that playing music, dancing, singing with others was what people do. Though entrenched in the traditional cultural arts of Appalachia, her home was in Northern New Jersey, New York City, Baltimore – in cities, not mountains. But the tradition bearers came through these towns, and stayed in her house. They played in her living room, and weekends were spent running free at music festivals and house parties.


12:00-1:00 Italian & New Mexican Music with Paul Rangell & Emily Abbink

This will be a workshop to play music, not to watch. All instruments welcome. Paul will go through tunes phrase by phrase for melody makers on fiddle or mandolin, while Emily will play the chords on guitar. We provide our own style of chord charts for everyone. We'll teach a march, a shotis, and mazurka - time permitting - and get everyone on board the train.

Paul Rangell and Emily Abbink play traditional music from the old country and the new world. They specialize in tunes from Italy, Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona, and the Carribean that feature angular and distinctive rhythms like tangos, mazurkas, shotis, boleros, tarantellas, pasodobles and marches. They are founding members of Bayou Seco (New Mexico) and performed for seven years with El Teatro Campesino (San Juan Bautista, CA) in theatrical productions. At home in Santa Cruz, California, they collaborate with several notorious musicians in maintaining three weekly public gigs where people are eating and drinking. Together they have forged a large repertoire and recorded two CDs Tuesday Nights (2012) and Noche Azul (2014). In 2015, they enjoyed a seven-week music residency in Venice, Italy allowing contact with traditional musicians in the mountains of Northern Italy.

Canote Brothers1:00-2:00pm C Tunes- The Final Frontier -with Greg Canote, fiddle. Jere Canote, guitar

In this workshop we will learn a couple of happy tunes in the key of C.

Then we'll saw away until we are Happy!

2:00-3:00pm Old-Time Ukulele with Jere Canote

What's that persistent strumming sound heard at every jam these days. It's the sound of the old-time ukulele! We'll learn the basic chords in the fiddle keys of C, G, D, and A. Explore right hand strumming techniques, like the Freight Train rhythm. And cover what it takes to back up fiddle tunes and old time songs on the curvy little uke. Bring a working uke or banjo-uke tuned gCEA.

Greg and Jere Canote are identical twins whose music is all about having a good time. They do, you will. It's steeped in vintage Americana -- forgotten fiddle tunes, swing classics, and quirky novelty songs -- but with their own twists (and a few of their brilliant original takes on the world around us). They're fabulous musicians, moving effortlessly among fiddle, guitar, banjo, ukulele, and various hybrids, and their genetically-matched voices recall brother duets from the Blue Sky Boys to the Everlys.

3:00-4:00pm Old-Time Song Backup Guitar with Chris Berry

If you know your basic guitar chords this workshop is for you. We'll go over several different backup styles for old-time songs as used on classic recordings from the days of the 78. Some of the styles we'll look at: the fingerpicking of Roy Harvey with Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, the powerful gospel guitar of Alfred Karnes and the basic flat-picking of Jimmie Rodgers. Bring a regular pick and a thumb-pick if you have one, and something to record the workshop!

Sausage GrinderChris Berry has been playing country blues and old-time country music on guitar and banjo for over 25 years. He plays guitar and sings in Sausage Grinder, the Los Angeles area’s premier jug band, appearing on the Grinders’ debut CD Delicious Moments, and on the new album Big Fancy from fiddler David Bragger.

Chris especially loves those rarely documented areas where blues and old-time overlap, and learned many tunes and a lot about music generally from the late legendary Illinois/Southern California fiddler Mel Durham. Chris has taught guitar and banjo and played at many festivals including the Portland Old-Time Music Gathering, the Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest, the Goleta Old-Time Fiddlers Convention and the Old-Time Social.

4:00-5:00pm Old-Time Fiddle Tunes and Bowing with David Bragger

This workshop is for all levels! The objective is to get the fiddler playing some incredible tunes with a focus on rhythm and interchangeable variations. I’ll be drawing from a vast repertoire of Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina fiddle tunes that are rhythmic and easy to grasp. As always, my workshops emphasize the key ingredient to old-time fiddle: Bowing!! All workshop attendees will receive audio files of the tunes with phrase by phrase instruction. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for registration and questions.

David Bragger plays banjo, fiddle and mandolin in the old-time stringband Sausage Grinder and in several local dance bands. David teaches old-time fiddle, banjo and mandolin to students of all ages and levels. He is also the host of the Old Time Tiki Parlour ( which produces concerts, workshops, CDs and films by the best old-time musicians alive, including Kirk Sutphin, Dan Gellert, Bruce Molsky, Paul Brown, Bob Carlin, Eric & Suzy Thompson, Mike Compton, Joe Newberry, Scott Prouty, etc. David is in high demand as a fiddle teacher at festivals and has private students in four continents! He is renowned for his ability to break down tunes and bowing with ease and clarity.

Earl White and Adrienne Davis5:00-6:00pm Fiddle Tunes in Two Keys with Earl White and Adrienne Davis

This class will explore a few of the many tunes that are in two keys that are great for both contra and square dances. Class will focus on bowing technique for that old-time sound, and the guitar's role with lead in/ lead out bass runs. Should be fun.

Earl White and Adrienne Davis are a dynamic duo who have been icons in the old-time music and dance community for more than a decade. Earl’s energetic fiddle style upholds the Appalachian tradition while adding his trance like sound and distinct bowing. He is well known for his extensive repertoire of traditional American fiddle tunes and songs. Adrienne’s steadfast hand on the guitar completes their sound as she drives the bass notes and lays down rhythm. As a duet they perform concerts and instruct at many camps throughout the US.

The details for the locations of the the OTS, check out the FolkWorks Music Calendar.

David Bragger is a Los Angeles-based instructor and player of old time fiddle and banjo music. He also photographs, films, and collects the lore of traditional artists, from puppeteers in Myanmar to fiddlers of Appalachia The Old Time Tiki Parlour


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