• 2018 Festival Logo Wide

    Click on video to see highlights from the March, 2018 festival and a peek into our plans for 2019: Exploring our African roots from Zimbabwe to Appalachia.

    Ticket sales for producing a festival typically do not cover the cost of production. And that’s where you come in! FolkWorks depends on your generosity. When you click to donate below, 100% of the money we raise in this campaign will go to pay talented performers and teachers.

    Please donate what you can to allow us to present the best diverse musical traditions for this amazing event.

    Read more: FolkWorks Folk/Roots Festival Appeal


    July-August 2018


    By Dennis Roger Reed

    CD shelfI own a lot of CDs. Somewhere more than five hundred and less than a million, I think. And of those, there are three CDs that I have two copies of each. They are not my favorite CDs but they have something in common: I love them and I’m afraid they’ll go out of print and I’ll lose or destroy my only copy. I have other CDs that I think are better or enjoy more, but they are generally more mainstream artists whose work will probably stay available. Also, two of the artists have passed on and won’t be making any new recordings. Notice I have not mentioned the Cloud or iTunes or other more recent music storage systems, because I still like to have a “thing” with music on it. And since I’m still wrestling with the whole belief in gravity thing, the Cloud is well beyond my ken.




    AT THE GRAMMY MUSEUM - JULY 31, 2018, 8:00PM


    By Ross Altman, PhD

    Dave and Jimmie 300px
    Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Dave Alvin

    Lubbock, Texas is one of those towns that would feel right at home in Stephen Vincent Benet’s classic poem, “American Names”, that gave us the line, “Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.” It shimmers brightly in every music lover’s imagination and memory, resonating with the whirlwind life of one of Rock and Roll’s greatest artists—one of its glorious pioneers—known to us all by just his first name: Buddy.



    Louis F Curtiss

    (July 2, 1939 – July 8, 2018)

    A remembrance and appreciation

    By W Bruce Reid

    Lou CurtissLouis F Curtiss has passed away at home at age 79.

    In 1972, a few months after I arrived by thumb in San Diego from my native New England, I was on a city bus and saw a sign, "Hoot Night Tuesday" in a shop window. So I screwed up my courage and returned some Tuesday soon after, played a few songs, and was asked by the proprietor to come back and do a weekend concert and, later, play in the locals first night concert at the San Diego Folk Festival. That was Lou at his store, Folk Arts Rare Records. He and his wife, Virginia, his essential partner in all things, kind of adopted me, giving me the third chair in The Old Home Town Band like so many young players before and after me. They introduced me to Sweet's Mill and encouraged my musical pursuits in countless ways.

    Read more: RIP: LOUIS F CURTISS






    By Christine Lovelace

    Paul Brown CD CoverI received my copy of Paul Brown’s eponymous DVD/CD release with Tiki-Parlour Recordings (the brainchild of David Bragger and Rick Hocutt) in the mail last week and fired up the DVD player immediately.

    I was watching it, trying to come up with profound words to describe it, like “homey” and “mellow”, but in the intro to the set, celebrated novelist and writer on American music, Tom Piazza sums up Brown’s first solo banjo and fiddle outing by saying “It’s the understatement of the year.”

    Read more: PAUL BROWN CD-DVD



    Striking Iron

    Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths, is an international traveling exhibition that combines scholarship with objects of great aesthetic beauty to create the most comprehensive treatment of the blacksmith’s art in Africa to date. The exhibition includes over 225 artworks from across the African continent, focusing on the region south of the Sahara and covering a time period spanning early archaeological evidence to the present day. Borrowed from American and European public and private collections, it features wood sculptures studded with iron, blades, and currencies in a myriad of shapes and sizes, diverse musical instruments, body adornments, an array of ritual accoutrements, tools and weapons, and other important objects that enabled Africans to forage and hunt, till the soil, and assure their own protection and prosperity.

    JUNE 3 – DECEMBER 30, 2018

    Fowler Museum at UCLA - UCLA North Campus
    405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095







    By Ross Altman, PhD

    Pete at Grammy MuseumThe Grammy Museum has thwarted the twisted un-American ambitions of Red Channels~ the primary instigator of the notorious blacklist that destroyed the careers of the Weavers and Pete Seeger during the late un-great red scare of the McCarthy era in the “Silent Generation” of the 1950s by mounting a glorious tribute to Pete on their fabled 4th floor, enshrining the man that poet Carl Sandberg called “America’s Tuning Fork” in the definitive home of the very best in American music.


    everything but ...

    This is a very rare video of the late Scott Didlake, 1948-1994, pioneer gourd banjo builder and the lost origin of the banjo researcher. He his talking at a Gourd banjo workshop during the Tennessee Banjo Institute event 1992 together with Mike Seeger and Clark Buehling.

    Read more: Scott Didlake and the origin of the banjo


    MUSIC       DANCE

    TODAY'S CALENDAR 8/15/18


    7:00pm FILM: BLANKMAN

    Striking Iron Film Series

    Fowler Museum at UCLA - UCLA North Campus

    405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095


    8:00pm ROY ZIMMERMAN

    Coffee Gallery Backstage

    2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, CA 92675

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







January-February 2007

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Goodbye Kulak's and Highland Grounds


By Larry Wines

Not all progress is smooth. Seldom does anything race, or even plod, continuously in the same direction without hitting ruts, experiencing reversals, giving us cause to question, and sometimes to mourn losses along the way.

Tales of zoning, land use, conditional use permits and cranky neighbors might seem far removed from performing and enjoying folk music, but 2006 proved that wasn’t so.

By the time you read this, the controversial and celebrated Kulak’s Woodshed in the Valley Village area of North Hollywood may be a memory, or perhaps a homeless concept looking to land somewhere else. Not unlike New York City’s CBGB’s, the demise of the Woodshed has been predicted many times. Paul Kulak’s frequent appeals for help always produced legions of musicians to testify at zoning, planning commission, LA City Council and other assorted hearings.

The Woodshed, its ambiance and five-camera live webcasts, have been beloved by many, but the sand has left the hourglass. Last spring, Paul Kulak was given six months to correct numerous building and safety code violations. The deadline for completion arrived on October 31, and no work had begun. During the same time, an arrangement for use of a parking lot across the street was to have been formalized, and that turned out to be no more than talk.

The Woodshed’s woes with two of its neighbors, including a prominent ex-porn actor and his run-ins with Kulak and the “Shedhead” folkies, have made police blotters, newspapers and national TV. The sensational nature of that, along with a lot of wishful or oblivious thinking, were enough, for over a year, to draw popular attention away from the requirements of numerous city agencies.

For the landlord, endless wrangling among his tenants was one thing, but the continued insurability of his multi-tenant building, given those documented and uncorrected code violations, was the breaking point. In early November, Paul Kulak received a 60-day notice to vacate. The latest news, or one side of it, anyway, is probably posted at www.kulakswoodshed.com .

The popular and award-winning Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena also faced zoning issues and hostile neighbors who resented parking and other impacts on their adjacent residential street. Both the coffee bar-café and entertainment venue have been operating outside the allowed uses of their commercial zoning. A pair of hearings with many music fans testifying eventually brought a unanimous recommendation from the Altadena Town Council, aimed at securing full approval for the Coffee Gallery and its “Backstage” performance venue from the LA County Planning Commission. This one is looking good, but it’s not over yet.

Meanwhile, Highland Grounds will experience an interior and exterior makeover in January, and emerge as “The Dive,” devoid of live music. Their last show is currently scheduled for Friday, December 22.

Co-owner Leslie Brenner, who has also worked for BMI, said in a phone interview, “We presented seventeen years of live acoustic music at Highland Grounds. Everything has a cycle to it, and it’s time for a change. It’s tough for small business.”

She explained that they own three other restaurants, Hugo’s in West Hollywood and in Studio City, and Hugo’s Tacos in Studio City. She added, the transformation of Highland Grounds “Is a business decision to emphasize our restaurant and bar at that location, continuing those activities into the evening hours. We’ve added a professional mixologist.”

That’s a mixer of drinks, not sound.

Another establishment chose not to continue as an acoustic performance venue. Gayle’s Perks, a Northridge coffeehouse, had hosted music since January, 2005, and had bookings extending months in advance when the end came. The proprietors were simultaneously hit with ASCAP’s demands for performing rights license fees in arrears, and from residential neighbors who were not enjoying the music over their back walls from Gayle’s patio. The latter was a zoning issue, and resolving either would have cost money.

Finally, musician Dave Osti had a good thing going in a burger joint parking lot in Sierra Madre, booking and playing summer outdoor concerts. But the zoning and neighbors shut that down, too.

You can seek many morals in these stories. One is, before you covet operating a performance venue, check the zoning (typically, it’ll be commercial C-2, which isn’t enough) and regardless of the building’s past uses, dedicated parking must be available to avoid denial of your entertainment license and operating permits. And, be aware that the PRO’s (Performance Rights Organizations) ASCAP, BMI and SESAC will demand their fees, ostensibly to protect their artist members.

Big Recognitions for Some Talented Folks

Let’s turn to happier news items, and the evidence that acoustic folk-Americana continues on the rise.

Stephen Michael Schwartz was honored again, this time not for his Parachute Express children’s music or individual troubadour successes, but with a coveted Ovation Award (think West Coast Tony) for his charming musical, It Came from Beyond. After winning a Broadway theater competition, the show had an LA run, got a bunch of nominations, and an Ovation for Stephen Breithaupt as Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Paul Marshall has a song, Light of a New Day, in the Robin Williams / Christopher Walken film, Man of the Year. Paul’s no stranger to success, as a member of the roots band, I See Hawks in L.A., and alum of the Strawberry Alarm Clock and the cult favorite film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

Julie Gribble, a notable LA-based singer-songwriter made her second performance on the CBS Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in December. Julie’s got great stuff.

Robert Morgan Fisher has gained global niche recognition. As opposition to the war in Iraq grew in late 2006, Neil Young’s Living with War web site expanded exponentially with worldwide submissions of new peace and antiwar songs. LA-based singer-songwriter Robert made it to #1 there with We’ll Buy a Flag. Simultaneously, Robert’s song Jester King also reached that top ten. Thousands visit the site daily to listen and vote, determining rankings of over 1,000 songs.

Both songs will be on Robert’s third album. His first two CDs enjoy nationwide airplay. His song, A Life in Music, made it to the final round of the 2005 VH-1 folk music competition. Robert has co-writes with Daryl Purpose, and the two will perform live for a full hour on the radio edition of Tied to the Tracks on January 20.“Grassroots Grammys” for Bad Haggis and Susie Glaze.

Musicians have taken to calling it the “grassroots grammys,” though event organizers aren’t foolish enough to court legal action by embracing that slogan. Winners of the international 2006 Just Plain Folks Awards were revealed at a gala show and banquet in November. Over 25,500 albums and 350,000 songs from 105 countries were entered, 8000 judges selected nominees from 70 countries, then web listener votes determined the Best Song in 67 genres, Best Album in 81 categories, best videos, best lyrics and more. All the results are at www.JPFolks.com . The five-and-a-half-hour event featured 25 performances that ran on time, providing another example for the Grammys to emulate.

Southern Californians Eric Rigler and Bad Haggis were big winners at JPF. Their six nominations produced three awards, including “Best Group of the Year” spanning all categories. You know Eric’s flute music from the movie “Titanic,” and he’s done other film and TV soundtracks. Bad Haggis mixes trad-influenced originals with Celtic rock and they’re a crowd-pleaser on the festival circuit.

Bob Malone also won big at the JPFs, as Male Artist of the Year, and with Best Male Singer/Songwriter Album for Born Too Late.

Susie Glaze won “Best Roots Album of the Year” at the JPF Awards. In FolkWorks, I named Blue Eyed Darlin’ the Best Bluegrass Album for 2005. Same wonderful CD, different cycles of recognition. Susie shared the JPF honors with her co-writer, band member Rob Carlson.

And speaking of Susie, her band Hilonesome is derived from The Eight Hand String Band, which has a unique honor. The new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois, uses their tracks, including Susie’s vocals, in its exhibits. The CD of that period music is Listen to the Mockingbird and Other Civil War Era Songs.

That’s a wrap. See you on the radio!

Stay in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and with the massive, frequently-updated, acoustic Americana music calendar and radio show news at www.myspace.com/laacoustic .


All Columns by Larry Wines