May-June 2007

The Taybank used to be owned by Dougie Maclean, the Scottish singer-songwriter, and he was there from the beginning of the session along with his wife Jenny, who was one of the organizers. Not everyone realizes that Dougie is not just a singer, but also one of the best fiddlers in Scotland, and it was a real treat to play with him and to have him fiddle while I sang. There were dozens of others, too, playing everything from accordion to upright bass, piano, and banjo. I managed to play from about 11:30 to 1:00, then took a break and played for another hour or so. By 4:00 when I had to leave there were plenty of musicians on hand to spell each other.

This has to have been just about the most fun I've ever had at a session, and it was a very successful fundraiser for MAP, too. There was no admission charge, but they passed a donation bucket around several times and collected the equivalent of $1000 in pounds sterling. Might be a great idea for some of the music organizations in southern California to try.

What's the definition of an optimist?
A folk musician with a mortgage.

What's the difference between a musician and a savings bond?
One of them eventually matures and earns money.


Once again the Grammy Awards have come and gone, and if you blinked at the wrong moment you may have missed hearing about the awards in categories like Folk, World, and other genres that are of interest to FolkWorks readers. So, here is a summary:

Traditional Folk Album: We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions, Bruce Springsteen

Contemporary Folk / Americana Album: Modern Times, Bob Dylan(Interestingly, Dylan also won in the Best Rock Vocal category for a track from this album)

Bluegrass Album: Instrumentals, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder

Native American Music Album: Dance With the Wind, Mary Youngblood

Best Mexican Album: Historias de mi Tierra, Pepe Aguilar

Traditional World Music Album: Blessed, Soweto Gospel Choir

Contemporary World Music Album: Wonder Wheel, The Klezmatics

And, rather than to list all of the categories separately, it is easier to say that the Dixie Chicks won in just about every category they were nominated in, including Best Country Album, Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. If I may be permitted to don my activist hat for a moment, may I just say "Hooray for Free Speech in America!"


An anthropologist decides to investigate the natives of a far-flung tropical island. He flew there, found a guide with a canoe to take him up the river to the remote site where he would make his collections. About noon on the second day of travel up the river they began to hear drums. Being a city boy by nature, the anthropologist was disturbed by this. He asked the guide, "What are those drums?"

The guide turned to him and said "Drums OK, but VERY BAD when they stop."

Then, after some hours, the drums suddenly stopped! This hit the anthropologist like a ton of bricks, and he yelled at the guide: "The Drums have stopped, what happens now?"

The guide crouched down, covered his head with his hands and said, "Accordion solo."


Q: What happens if you play a country-western song backward?

A: Your wife comes back, your dog comes back to life, and you get out of prison.


Want to hear a great live performance of classical, symphonic music without spending a dime for admission? Here's a wonderful idea: "The Power of Music" Musical Instrument Donation Project is a collaboration between The Pasadena Symphony, Charter Communications, Fidelity Bank and the Pasadena Educational Foundation to raise awareness for the need of musical instruments in Pasadena Schools.

If you have a new or used musical instrument gathering dust in a closet, why not donate it to our schools so they use it or renovate it for our young, future musicians? Bring any instrument to one of the upcoming concerts of The Pasadena Symphony and you will get two free tickets to that concert!

For information, visit the orchestra's web site at

(Ed note: Perhaps donate old banjos, harmonicas, washtub basses, etc. Maybe they'd get the point, do ya think?)


Music is a friend of labor for it lightens the task by refreshing the nerves and spirit of the worker.
~William Green


An American now living in Scotland, Linda Dewar is a singer and a player of various instruments with strings and keys. She can be found performing Scottish and American folk music at gatherings on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as singing In the Aberfeldy and District Gaelic Choir. Visit her web site at


All Columns by Linda Dewar