Four Songwriters for an April 3 Concert Online

Four marvelous songwriters — John McCutcheon, Darrell Scott, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Crys Matthews (clockwise from lower right, above) — will fill the bill for Pasadena Folk Music Society’s next concert, online on Sunday, April 3. The show begins at 4 p.m. Tickets (available here for $20 plus a $4 handling fee) give access to the live show plus 48 hours to see and hear it whenever you want. Discounts are available for students and unemployed people.

This show, “Songwriters in the Round,” is the second in a four-show series for which we’ve partnered with McCutcheon. He’s bringing on three of his favorite songwriters for a round-robin of song sharing. The four will also discuss the songs and how they write them.

The quality of the first concert in this McCutcheon series suggests ticket holders for April 3 are in for a treat. The online process ran smoothly for that concert on March 6. Audio quality was high. The setting was comfortably homey. While most of the music was traditional, such as fiddle tunes and dulcimer delicacies, McCutcheon’s songwriter chops shined in the debut of a song that he and Tom Paxton had just put together about the invasion of Ukraine.

Darrell Scott lives in Tennessee, and he straddles the line between folk and country. His songs have been made popular by the likes of Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley and Patty Loveless. With songs like the joyous It’s a Great Day to Be Alive, also performed live here and later made popular by Travis Tritt, and The Day After, a tribute to his late fellow performer, David Olney, we look forward to hearing him. He hardly ever gets out to California. He’s enormously talented and has a varied repertoire.

Early in her career, more than 30 years ago, Beth Nielsen Chapman was writing hit songs for stars such as Willie Nelson and Tanya Tucker. She gained more international reknown in the late ’90s with Sand and Water, a moving meditation on life, loss and surviving inspired by her husband’s death from cancer. Later, she co-wrote an album of astronomy-themed songs including the title track, The Mighty Sky. It earned a Grammy nomination for best children’s album. Another album, UnCovered, featured her versions of her songs previously recorded by other singers, such as Nothin’ I Can Do About It Now. Her next album of new songs is slated for release in about six months.

The dozen songs on Crys Matthews‘ newest album, Changemakers, deliver powerful lyrics and singing that not only call out injustices, but emphaze how to fix them. Hear that album’s inspirational Call Them In and heartwrenching Selfless. The great singer-songwriter Holly Near says, “Crys Matthews opens up a collection of fiery sermons, truth-telling journalism and rally cries…sung to us with her compassionate voice full of heartbreak, indignation, encounter, uprising and revolution.” Matthews won the grand prize in a new-song competition at Lincoln Center in New York in 2017, the year she released Battle Hymn for an Army of Lovers.

The 41 albums that John McCutcheon has released — so far — offer hundreds of songs he has written. Many are “children’s” songs that delight adults, too, such as Soup. Some others celebrate heritage, such as Water from Another Time. One whole album is baseball-related songs, such as Doing My Job. If news of an international brigade helping Ukraine’s good fight has reminded you of the Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War, hear his The Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

Third and fourth in this series

One week after “Songwriters in the Round” comes the third concert in this online series, “Instrumentalists in the Round,” on April 10. For that one, McCutcheon has invited Muriel Anderson with her harp guitar, Howard Levy with his harmonica, and the duo Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas with fiddle and cello. The fourth show, on May 7, will be “The Story Behind the Song.” McCutcheon will tell stories about songs he’ll perform. Ticket holders may submit requests and questions in advance. Here are the ticketing-page links for April 10 and May 7. As with the page for April 3, you can find pricing options in the drop-down menu next to “Livestream Ticket.”

A portion of the ticket price comes to PFMS and will help us resume live, in-person concerts when lingering concerns about the pandemic and other issues have been resolved.

Other music

The Coffee Gallery Backstage remains an active local venue for live music. Bob Stane, impresario extraodinaire, has lined up an impressive spring schedule including Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys, Sierra Highway, Karl McHugh and The Evangenitals.

Radio station KPFK, at 90.7 FM and programs folk music on FolkScene from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays and on Roots Music and Beyond from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturdays. The latter show is making a lineup change beginning in April with Peter Milligan taking over the second Saturday slot and Mary Katherine Aldin moving back to the fifth Saturday for months that have one.

We’re late for Saint Patrick’s Day, which is highlighted in Larry WinesAcoustic Music Guide, but he has plenty of other features on other local shows, some good samples of Ukrainian music, and more.

Help Ukrainians, hear music

Here’s a musical way to help raise funds for the Ukrainian people via UNICEF on Sunday, April 3, at 5 p.m., just south of Pasadena in a backyard, outdoor setting. No matter what happens in the coming days of this horrific war, the need for humanitarian assistance will be enormous. Local singer-songwriter-guitarist Jordan Sollitto will be joined by Herb Pedersen (banjo, guitar, vocals), former member of Loafers’ Glory and the Desert Rose Band, and session man for Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and many others. Jose Prieto (flamenco-style guitarist and composer of scores for film and TV) and bass player Peter Freiberger (toured with Yvonne Elliman, Bobby Vinton, Diana Ross and others) will join them. RSVP and get the address by sending an email to [email protected]. There’s no cover charge, but two anonymous donors have offered to match every dollar raised with one of their own. That means your donation at this event is immediately multiplied by three. Be generous. You can leave a check made out to UNICEF or cash.

Caltech public events

The schedule of upcoming public events at Caltech does not yet include any indoor concerts. It does include a March 24 talk about the history of space rockets, a March 25 talk about the origin of photosynthesis, an April 13 talk titled “The Rhetoric of Chance in Times of Pandemic,” and an outdoor orchestral concert on April 10. The March 24 talk, part of Caltech’s Behind the Book series, will focus focus on Frank Malina, a genius idealist who was an early leader of our local Jet Propulsion Laboratory before becoming a politcal refugee from postwar United States, creating art in Paris. It will be interesting to see whether Fraser MacDonald, speaking about his book, Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket, will mention that Malina’s dad was a professional musician who hoped his son would become one, too. Read about this event in the Pasadena Weekly and sign up here.

Barbara Morrison

We sadly note the passing at age 72 of Barbara Morrison, LA’s own fantastic jazz and blues singer, who did a yearly performance in Pasadena’s Memorial Park, as well as shows at her own Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center, in Leimert Park, and many other halls.  Read her obituary in the Los Angeles Times, and see an ABC7 news segment here.   She was a great singer, so full of life and fun, and an inspiration to many budding performers.  Catch her at her last appearance at the Central Avenue Jazz Festival, with a great band.

Aiding a founder of De Dannan

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Frankie Gavin, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 esophageal cancer. He was a founding member of De Dannan and he has toured widely and recorded with many musicians since the band broke up.  We wish him the best.