YODOQUINSI: THE VOICES OF MOTHER EARTH

By Douglas Thompson

Yodoquinsi 5

Yodoquinsi is the voice of the earth,

It’s the voice of the wind,

It’s the voice of water,

It’s the voice of fire,

It’s sound flowing in fibers of color….

With this invocation, recited by the group within their Day of the Dead performances, we are welcomed into the ritual space of Yodoquinsi. Yodoquinsi are four sound wizards from Oaxaca, Mexico, employing only pre-Columbian instruments to create their sonic universe. The dream begins as deer antlers strike rhythms across tortoise shells, quartz hammers dance over hand-chipped obsidian rocks, diminutive “sphere within a sphere” wind whistles blow up to the squall of a hurricane, and a giant snake-shaped rain stick shakes the water free. The elements have come alive in the hands of Yodoquinsi.

Read more: YODOQUINSI: THE VOICES OF MOTHER EARTH

JOHN STEWART AND THE PHOENIX CONCERTS

A DREAMER ON THE RISE

By Terry Roland

John StewartThis Saturday, November 29th, there will be two intimate concerts honoring singer-songwriter, John Stewart’s landmark The Phoenix Concerts live album. The original bassist, Arnie Moore will appear along with Tim Dismang and The Chad Watson band and special guest Duane Thorin. The shows will be at The Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena, California at 3:00 and 7:00pm.

In the spring and summer of 1974, singer-songwriter, John Stewart was, in the words of one his best loved songs, a dreamer on the rise and much more. He was a phoenix ready to fly.

Read more: JOHN STEWART AND THE PHOENIX CONCERTS

A GREAT DAY IN UTAH

NOVEMBER 19, 1915—NOVEMBER 19, 2014

By Ross Altman

Joe HillNinety-nine years ago today the great state of Utah executed labor’s troubadour Wobbly songwriter Joe Hill by firing squad. The author of such labor song classics as Rebel Girl, There Is Power in a Union, Pie In the Sky (The Preacher and the Slave) and Casey Jones, the Union Scab went to his death with his head held high. His last known words were addressed to fellow Wobbly Big Bill Haywood: “Don’t Mourn for me, Bill; Organize.”

Read more: A Great Day in Utah

BOB STANE AND THE COFFEE GALLERY BACKSTAGE

I WANT A STAR ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME!

By Bob Stane

Fork in the RoadBob Stane says.....Be impressed. I started these guys as teen agers in high school. This is what I do and I want my star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Use photos as you please. Please label the one as....The Fork In The Road....the iconic Pasadena street art of Bob Stane and The Coffee Gallery Backstage bringing Christmas to all who need a giant fork of their own and for others who just want a nice meal. The Coffee Gallery Backstage has gathered about 10 tons of food for the hungry over the last 5 years. Maybe a lot more. We "do" all the charities it seems from animals, to hungry folks to Meals On Wheels. And we would, also, like to give away a lot more and support even more charities. All they have to do is ask.

Bob Stane says: Sometimes I get bitter. I have been starting the stars of the future for a half century. The Coffee Gallery Backstage is the best kept entertainment secret in Los Angeles. I want The Coffee Gallery Backstage to start being known for what it is. Just because we are not on Sunset and do not sell liquor does not mean we do not "get it done."

Read more: BOB STANE AND THE COFFEE GALLERY BACKSTAGE

THE MAGIC OF MILTON

Milton Nascimento and the Música Popular Brasileina

By Audrey Coleman

Milton Nascimento with guitarI first encountered the magic of Milton Nascimento some 15 years ago. My jazz buff husband had just put on a CD he had bought of saxophonist Wayne Shorter. It opened with a full and strong yet child-like voice singing a cappella in the upper register. Suddenly the music had me riveted. I didn’t understand the Portuguese but I felt uplifted by both the melody and the quality of the sound. Several bars later, Shorter and his ensemble eased in, the saxophone melding perfectly with these opening vocals. I had not experienced such a strong reaction to a voice since my first time hearing a recording of Billie Holiday. The CD was a digital remaster of Native Dancer, first recorded in 1974 and prominently featuring not only the voice but the compositions of a musician already acclaimed in his native Brazil. The opening selection, Ponta de Areia, was by Milton Nascimento as were four other songs.

On Friday evening, November 28, Milton Nascimento will perform at Royce Hall as part of a world tour celebrating his 50 years of music-making. Born in 1942, this artist deserves the attention of anyone attracted by Latin American or world music and this concert is an opportunity to hear his unique voice in an excellent acoustic space.

Read more: THE MAGIC OF MILTON - Milton Nascimento

A TALE OF MANY TALES

TELLABRATION EVENTS IN NOVEMBER

By Nick Smith

storytellers
South Coast Story Teller's Guild members Bob & Linda Pruitt.

Music, dance and storytelling have been the three branches of the performing folk arts since mankind first learned to talk and sing. Weirdly, though, some folks tend to view them as totally separate things, even though there are many marvelous performers who are involved with two or more of the three. The connection between music and dance is easier to perceive, but the connection of storytelling is just as strong. Consider how much storytelling took place in performances by Woody Guthrie, Utah Phillips or Pete Seeger, or how much there is nowadays in the concerts by artists like John McCutcheon. Or, listen to Prairie Home Companion sometime and listen to how much spoken word performance there is going along with their wonderful music.

This year’s Folk Alliance Region West [FAR-West] conference in Oakland was a wake-up call for people who had forgotten the connections between folk music and storytelling. There was a panel discussion on the ways that music and storytelling are used together, and the finale event of the conference was a storytelling concert, featuring tellers from up and down the California coast.

It’s only right that this happen in the fall, because it’s story season. People think of stories at Halloween, but in fact as the days grow shorter, there have traditionally been stories told all through the fall and winter, in places where they actually have seasons.

Here in southern California, we still don’t have fall weather as such this year, but we do have the season of the story. The biggest share of it is coming in November, with an event called Tellabration. For over two decades, storytellers around the world have put on shows on the 3rd or 4th Saturday of November. While the concept started in New England, Tellabration spread around the world, with events held on every continent except Antarctica so far.

Read more: A TALE OF MANY TALES

ONE UKE AT A TIME

BENEFIT CONCERT NOV. 2

By Nick Smith

SurvivorGirlsUkeOf all instruments to use to try to change the world, ukuleles might not be your first choice. For Laurie Kallevig, though, it had the advantage of being smaller, more affordable and easier to learn than most folk instruments. That’s an advantage when you’re working with folks who have no education, no money, and almost no hope.

After learning of the horrifying way that young girls [and boys, in some cases] in Nepal and India are sold into the sex trade, she wanted to do something, but didn’t know just what. Once she learned that some children are basically raised to be sold by their families, as if they were prize pigs in a county fair, she needed to do something. Ukuleles provided an answer, and a way to let people know about the problem.

Now, every year Ms. Kallevig takes ukes to India, sets herself up at one of the unfortunately many centers on the Indian subcontinent that takes in survivors of these child brothels, and gives them something. In some cases, the music classes she teaches are the first formal education that these young people have ever had. In many cases, it’s the first time that anyone has given them positive attention for anything they’ve learned, or done.

Read more: ONE UKE AT A TIME

The Redemption Road Not Taken:

WILL TOM PAXTON’S NEW ALBUM STAND UP TO THE ORIGINAL?

By Ross Altman, PhD

Tom Paxton KickstarterOne of the bright lights of Austin, Texas—home of Austin City Limits—is L.A. born folk singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson, who tours all over the Midwest and has created more than a dozen albums of original songs since 1997, when she released her fourth album Redemption Road. The title song is track 12 and though the lyric insert sheet can be hard to read with the fine print, there is no problem reading the lyrics to the title song—they are plastered in large print all over the CD label itself—where most artists would put a flattering photograph of themselves. Not Eliza; she thought enough of her title track to make sure you couldn’t miss the lyrics; so here they are:

Read more: THE REDEMPTION ROAD NOT TAKEN: TOM PAXTON

STOCKHOLM LISTENS TO FOLKWORKS: AND FINALLY GETS IT RIGHT!! (THIS FROM 2014):

NOBEL WHO? YOU DON’T NEED A WEATHERMAN

TO KNOW WHICH WAY THE PRIZE GOES

A Commentary By Ross Altman, PhD

Nobel Prize for LiteratureAnother wasted Nobel Prize for Literature goes to someone you’ll never hear of again, while the writer whose Collected Lyrics are responsible for more quotable quotes than any book this side of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations is passed over again. What were they thinking in Stockholm, I wonder, to make yet another award for extra-literary reasons—in this case the literary remembrance of the Nazi Occupation of France—rather than for literature itself, a body of work that truly represents what Victorian poet/critic Matthew Arnold called “the best that has been thought and said.”

I refer of course to the collected works of the Poet Laureate of Rock and Roll, Bob Dylan, America’s weathervane in spite of himself—the artist whose every utterance is likely to find itself in newspaper headlines whenever the editor wants to hook a reader on a story. The vapidity of the Literature Prize has become all too predictable; no one can tell without a Google Search who won after it stopped being given to writers you had to have heard of before they won the award.

Read more: NOBEL WHO? YOU DON’T NEED A WEATHERMAN

ANGEL LUÍS FIGUEROA: THE MUSIC OF SANTERÍA

By Jonathan Shifflett

SanteroShuffling through a record bin last month, an LP titled Santero from the famed Cuban label Panart caught my attention. The cover is beautiful but a little strange. Set against a fiery background, a conga player is frozen mid strike while a wraith of a beautiful woman billows like smoke from the drum, poised as if waking from a long sleep. In the liner notes, the writer claims it to be the first ever commercially recorded Afro-Cuban “cult music.” The strange track titles – Changó, Babalú Aye, Yemayá, Ochún, Obatalá, Eleggua - I recognized as the names of Santerían deities.

It was not the kind of record I would have expected to resurface in a new-age vinyl shop, but I was pleased to find it having taken a semester of percussion lessons. My teacher was the renowned Afro-Cuban percussionist, Angel Luís Figueroa, who has for the past decade, endeavored to make the music and philosophy of Santería accessible to all.

Read more: ANGEL LUÍS FIGUEROA: THE MUSIC OF SANTERÍA

A TALE OF TWO DYLANS

By Ross Altman, PhD

Bob Dylan“I did more for Dylan Thomas than he ever did for me,” replied Bob Dylan to an inquisitive journalist asking him for the umpteenth time about his relationship with the Welsh poet born October 27, 1914 whose centennial we celebrate this year. Bob Dylan changed his last name from Zimmerman to honor one of the major poets of the 20th Century when he launched his career as a folk singer in NYC in 1961 just 8 years after his namesake Dylan Thomas had died in NYCs Bellevue Hospital of a “massive insult to the brain” from consuming 18 straight whiskeys at his favorite drinking hole The White Horse Tavern on November 9, 1953. However, like many aspects of his constantly changing biography Dylan (Bob) often shied away from the obvious truth and hid behind a barrage of obscurantist tall tales, such as that he had taken his name from an uncle in Hibbing, Minnesota—yes, one of the many middle-class Jewish “Dylans” in the North Country—or had named himself after Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke fame before some reporter misspelled it in a story and it became “Dylan.”

Read more: A TALE OF TWO DYLANS

GORDON LIGHTFOOT: A TRUE KNIGHT UPON THE ROAD

A PREVIEW OF THE SABAN THEATRE CONCERT - SEPTEMBER 27, 2014

By Ross Altman

Gordon Lightfoot - Nick Tedesco
Photo by Nick Tedesco.

Gordon Lightfoot almost lost his life in 2002 when his abdominal artery burst and he was in a coma for six weeks following the surgery that saved his life. When he finally and almost miraculously woke up he could barely play the guitar and his vocal chords were so constricted his golden voice was no more. That’s when a lifetime work ethic kicked in and literally pulled him back from the dead. Talk about a ribbon of darkness over me—this was the true crossroads and test of artistic character that he passed with flying colors.

Lightfoot started to practice guitar again like there was no tomorrow—which there almost was not—until he even surpassed his previous skill-level on the instrument that defined his sound from the early 1960s on—when he helped to create the folk revival on the entire North American continent—both his native Canada and his adopted homeland America. When others who cherished his work and recorded his imperishable songs—including Bob Dylan, Ian and Sylvia, Judy Collins and fellow Canadian Neil Young—drifted into folk rock or country rock, Gordon Lightfoot stayed true to his folk roots and never put his finger into the wind to find out what the marketplace wanted to hear. That personal certitude of an inner vision and voice is what has endeared him to fans around the world for more than fifty years. It is what has kept his music timeless as the ancient ballads and current as today’s newspaper.

Read more: GORDON LIGHTFOOT: A TRUE KNIGHT UPON THE ROAD

PROMOTING THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA

A WORKSHOP WITH MOTHER HEN (JEANETTE LUNDGREN)

Sunday March 16 1-3:00pm in Sherman Oaks

Mother Hen Promotions logoWhether you are a musician, venue owner, musician’s rep or concert promoter are looking to understand or enhance your skills regarding the new world of social media, then you need to spend a few hours with Mother Hen, Jeanette Lundgren. She is visiting L.A. and we, FolkWorks, have the pleasure of hosting a workshop with her.

We urge you to look at her website, Mother Hen Promotions, and see what she has to offer. Learn more in depth about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, ReverbNation, blogging and other technologies available to musicians to help get the word out and build your audience.

The workshop in Sunday, March 16 at 1:00-3:00pm at a private house in Sherman Oaks.

Tickets are $20. Purchase tickets in advance: Click here OR tickets may be available at the door, depending on availability.

Directions will be provided upon receiving your reservation.

ANYONE FOR YIDDISH TANGO?

By Audrey Coleman

Gustavo BulgachPut the two words “Yiddish” and “tango” together, and some might respond, “You’re joking?” But history bears out a strong connection between the two. These will be evident in the upcoming performance of Yiddish Tango Club at the Skirball Cultural Center on Thursday evening, August 21. Having investigated Vietnamese tango in my June column, this gives me yet another opportunity to dig for treasures in music history.

But first here’s the scoop on the show. Virtuoso klezmer clarinetist Gustavo Bulgach, who launched the Yiddish Tango Club project in 2012, will lead his ensemble in accompanying tangos with lyrics written in Yiddish as well as Argentine tango instrumentals from the early days of the genre and the innovative tangos of Astor Piazzolla. They also will be performing pieces from the klezmer repertoire, freilachs (happy, fast-paced numbers) and nigunim (improvised vocal numbers with roots in religious and particularly Hasidic texts and music).

Read more: ANYONE FOR YIDDISH TANGO?

JOINING A MARIACHI BAND

By Ella Lehavi

Ella LehaviTo begin this essay, let me give you a brief introduction. I am Ella Lehavi, professional middle school student. I specialize at transposition, sketching, writing novels, reading novels, playing instruments, math, and watching TV. However, being around people is NOT a special skill of mine, unless I absolutely must. I’m a big fan of music, both listening and making. I’ve played piano since I was around 8, and began cello in fifth grade. I have a good ear, and often figure out songs in my free time. I also like composing and writing my own songs. I prefer instruments with lower tones, like the Cello, bass, and guitaron. Instruments like those don’t often have the melody, but play an important role when it comes to rhythm. The sort of resemble me. When it comes to Hale’s (Hale Charter Academy Middle School) social structure, I’m not exactly popular or playing the melody, but it is still essential to have people like me making the rhythm.

Read more: JOINING A MARIACHI BAND - ELLA LEHAVI

Waist Deep In the Big Muddy:

How One Song Broke the Blacklist,
Ended the War and Changed America

By Ross Altman

Big MuddyWaist Deep In the Big Muddy is the Mona Lisa of protest songs, not because it is the greatest antiwar song ever written—though it surely is that—but because it occupies a historical place that will never be duplicated. It is the song Pete Seeger wrote and sang that fully restored his place in the American pantheon and public media after 17 years of being blacklisted from network television. In 1950 The Weavers—the folk quartet he, with Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman and Ronnie Gilbert, founded in 1949 and shot to the top of the Hit Parade with Leadbelly’s theme song Goodnight Irene—were cited by the entertainment industry’s blacklist Red Channels—which in turn gave rise to a book that specifically targeted folk singers called Marxist Minstrels. The Weavers were effectively destroyed just as they were really getting started and saw two years of nightclub and concert bookings cancelled overnight.

Pete Seeger, the only one of them capable of pursuing a solo performing career, never appeared on a network television show until 1967 despite hit songs like Turn, Turn, Turn (the Byrds), If I Had a Hammer (Peter, Paul & Mary), Where Have All the Flowers Gone (The Kingston Trio), Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (Jimmie Rodgers), Guantanamera (The Sandpipers), Wimoweh (recorded under the title The Lion Sleeps Tonight by the Tokens), Tzena, Tzena, Tzena (the Weavers), Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land and So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You (the Weavers), Leadbelly’s Goodnight Irene (the Weavers) and his own hit recording of Malvina Reynolds song Little Boxes. That’s a dozen hit songs—enough for a Greatest Hits album, which Pete eventually had on Columbia Records—the same label that recorded Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

Read more: Waist Deep In the Big Muddy

Yuval Ron Ensemble - May 31st Concert



Sacred dance artist Mayaya - Photo by Silvia Spross
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LUCKY ME

LETTER TO FOLKWORKS RE: YUVAL RON ENSEMBLE CONCERT

From Margot Dayel Eiser

Yuval Ron Concert - ensemble
Yuval Ron Ensemble - Photo by Eric Ahlberg.

When I got the flyer about FolkWorks presenting the Yuval Ron ensemble on May 31, 2014, in Santa Monica, I immediately wanted to go. Thanks to the generosity of Steve and Leda Shapiro donating tickets to KPFK and the wonderful synchronistic symmetry of ‘me’ calling in at just the right time to 'win' them, I got to share the experience with a friend. Despite traffic being clogged by an accident on the way, we got to Santa Monica from the 'Eastside' in good time.

Read more: LUCKY ME - YUVAL RON ENSEMBLE CONCERT

A MEDLEY FOR PETE

By Sherman Pearl

Your music was a long time passing; where

has it gone? I know the lyrics by heart but I need

a guitar and a vibrant tenor to lead my life's

sing-a-long, help me overcome my fear of singing out.

With you playing harmony I shall not be moved.

No, I'll stay in this land till it truly is yours and mine,

as it was meant to be. Your music made the land

sweeter than wine so I rambled its ribbons of highway,

then found myself waist deep in the Big Muddy

during the season of war. I turned turned turned

toward the season of peace and swore it was not too late.

Your banjo was my hammer of justice, your voice

the bell that freed me; the song you sang all over this land

was my anthem. These days, when I'm feeling

old and alone, I shine my little light on your graveyard

and listen to the music that is still playing there.

Sherman Pearl is a retired journalist and publicist who came to poetry in his senescence. Since then he has published four books (latest: The Poem in Time of War, Conflu:X Press, 2004) and is working on a fifth. He is among the founders of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and a former co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets.

2014 Pete Seeger Tribute Concerts Photos


PHOTOS BY JUDY NAHMAN-STOUFFER


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Young girl performing at Geer Pete Seeger Tribute
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PHOTOS BY KATHLEEN MASSER


Dave Alvin and Rick Shea performing at Ash Grove Pete Seeger Tribute
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Bob Dylan’s Goal-line Stand for Detroit

By Ross Altman

Dylan - We will build your carOnce again my purist friends are out there screaming that the definitive protest singer from the sixties has sold out by doing not one but two Super Bowl commercials—one for Chobani Yogurt by licensing his original recording of I Want You to rev up your taste buds for their tangy, creamy product, and two by appearing in person on behalf of Fiat’s newly purchased car company from Detroit—the one that Dylan’s old confrere Tom Paxton brilliantly satirized back in 1980 with I’m Changing My Name to Chrysler.

As the soundtrack to Dylan’s voice over narration indicates (with his Oscar-winning song from 2000 film, The Wonder Boys) Things Have Changed.

Read more: Bob Dylan’s Goal-line Stand for Detroit

LETTER TO PETE

FolkWorks Board Member remembers Pete Seeger

By Stefani Rosenberg

Pete in late 1950s

When I was growing up, I loved the Weavers and when they broke up I went to every local Pete Seeger concert. The first one was in an elementary school auditorium. We were sitting on the floor. When he came out, rolled up his sleeves, picked us his banjo and began to sing, it wasn’t long before we all joined in.

My love of folk music began very early in my childhood. We had Pete’s albums and also the Weavers, Paul Robeson, Odetta, and Woody Guthrie. Of course, we did not have them all. So, sometimes I went to my cousin Deborah’s house to listen to her albums. Even if no one was home, I would let myself in, pull out her albums and listen to the songs on them. I memorized Abiyoyo and the Cumberland Mountain Bear Chase. I imagined how funny the corner store must have looked in his song about a foolish frog. I pictured tails swishing out the windows, grass, cows, fences, farmers and children eating crackers and drinking soda pop.


Read more: Letter to Stef

BEFORE THE POP, CRACKLE AND HISS

ANNUAL FOLKWORKS PARTY

By Larry Wines

[Ed. Note: The FolkWorks Annual Party is presented for members and supporters of FolkWorks. Larry’s appreciation represents a small snippet of the evening’s happenings. It is also representative of the jam sessions that occur all over Southern California year round.]

FW Party Around the CampfireI'm sitting in a music circle around a fire cauldron's gently dancing orange flames. Some will know what that portends before they read on, but for others who have never experienced music this way, allow me to explain.

This is the gods' own stereo. Orpheus would approve. The left channel -- my left ear -- is attuned to the fiddle of Michael Kelly of the band Sligo Rags. His band plays Disneyland. A lot.

My right ear is focused on Melanie Nolley of the string ensemble the Sweet Set, and her fine Irish fiddle.

Now the left channel has added the mandolin playing of Roland Sturm. On the right, another player is Steve O’Loughlin alternating on flute and Irish whistle.

Read more: BEFORE THE POP, CRACKLE AND HISS