By Audrey Goodman

About a year ago, I was really missing acoustic folk music- BAD.

I was embarking upon a self imposed break from music education, in order to refresh myself as a musician and explore some different paths to take. One of the first things on my task list of ‘things to do to re-energize the musician within,' was to see if I could reconnect with some kind of folk music scene here in Los Angeles. I had recently realized how much I missed having this genre of music heavily in my life, as it had been during my teen years when I was teaching myself guitar, writing songs, and hanging out at local coffeehouses in Cambridge to play and listen to others play. At first, I was not terribly optimistic to find a real ‘scene' of folk music in what I considered to be this slightly music-cynical, ‘folksily challenged' Los Angeles we live in. But I was determined that if such a community existed, I would find it if it took me weeks to do so. Interestingly enough, it only took me about a day!!

Having raised two kids who were naturally immersed into the modern cyber world we live in, I at least had been trained by them to, ‘when in doubt, GOOGLE'! So, I typed in ‘Folk Music + Los Angeles' and wowie zowie! There was this glorious site called FOLKWORKS, in caps no less.

Like a Jewish person who hadn't had a deli sour pickle in months, (and yes, that was true for me too!), I was emotionally salivating, hoping this would be the resource I craved. I rapidly typed out the URL, and my fingers literally tripped over each other in the process. I even thought I could hear the refrain of a Paxton tune in my mind as I watched the screen light up with colors, photos, events, and oh my gosh- pictures of people with folk instruments in hand actually PLAYING. Woo hoo! Did I ever find the folk scene oasis!! I was saved.

As I scoped the month's calendar the first groups which leapt out at me was one called "Songmakers," a somewhat organized network of folk music players, composers, historians, groups and myriad venues to interact with same from Ventura County down to San Diego. Members enjoyed the opportunity to come together for performances and/or jamming session events. There was an event scheduled somewhere in the So Cal just about weekly! Many events were held in private homes; potluck, bring your axe, sit in a circle and go ‘round taking turns leading songs for others to come in on with various instruments. Fiddles, guitars, mandolins, bass guitars, ALL ACOUSTIC, all fine players, all delightful people. Each event was for an entire night of music. Yup, I'd found just what I was after but little did I know... the BEST was yet to come!

I chose an event to participate in that was located near me in West LA that very weekend. I arrived with my beloved neo pawn shop, well reworked 12 string Guild dreadnought guitar, and sat in. Loved it. That night, I also discovered that I could do just this for an entire weekend, with about 4 times as many musicians and instruments in two weeks time. This event had been going on for a number of years already and was still known as "Music in the Mountains". What can I say - without hesitation I signed up, attended, and never regretted a moment. Far from it, I'm attending this year as well, weekend of November 5-7 2010.

This is a memorable weekend of live folk and pop acoustic music. All levels of fiddlers, guitar and banjo players, mandolin players, percussionists and singers spend the weekend jamming together in impromptu groups, plus participate in their choice of scheduled workshops and events. Saturday night is a concert performance for all who would like to, whether solo or in small groups. Sunday is a group music event where we share our own definition of spiritual songs. It's designated simply, "Songs of Meaning" and is completely left up to each individual musician to share a song which is meaningful to him/her. The workshops cover everything a folkie could want such as, instruction on playing slide, music theory for the folk musician, specific group instrument lessons on guitar, recorders, fiddle, mandolins or banjo, even a folk dancing workshop so those not playing, can have something to do with their feet when they hear all this great toe tapping stuff played live. Every year showcases a different group of talented folk professionals who share their talent and love of the genre. And it's ALL acoustic, nothing is plugged in. Nature baby. It's the real deal folk music lovers!

Camp DeBenneville Pines is pristine and beautiful, about a half hour drive into the San Bernardinos from Redlands. Wood cabins provide either private rooms for a family or couple, or small dorm style rooms for 6-8. They are all beautifully painted and decorated. Five delicious meals are provided by the culinarily talented staff, with lots of healthy snacking food available in between. At 6,800 feet, one could never argue that it wasn't a truly ‘elevated' experience. The beautiful mountain ambience brings out the creative muse in all who attend. And the price is still unbelievable $98.00 per adult attendee.

So, if your ‘folk tank' feels a bit empty these days, I can't recommend this event highly enough. You will love it, guaranteed. For information on registration, go to Music in the Mountains.