John McCutcheon’s online Winter Solstice show was our last for 2022. Last year was filled with challenges remaining from effects of the pandemic, and the need to add some new Board members, nevertheless, we made significant progress. We offered two live, in-person concerts of outstanding Celtic music, plus seven livestreamed concerts with John McCutcheon and others. January 21 marks our 40th anniversary! Caltech chemistry grad student, Brian Toby, had helped organize a few live folk shows on campus, and in 1983 he established the Caltech Folk Music Society, featuring Joanna Cazden in the first offical CFMS show. Brian graduated and went back east with his Ph.D. and continues to be a prominent synchrotron and neutron powder diffraction crystallographer in Illinois. The Society later evolved into the Pasadena Folk Music Society in 2013. The wonderful performers in 434 concerts during these four decades have presented an amazing diversity of folk music. More than 40 of the concerts since 2000 have been presented in partnership with Caltech Public Events. Heading into 2023, we continue to work on the barriers that are keeping us from scheduling regular shows (no shows currently scheduled), and we hope to achieve a breakthrough to go well beyond our 40th anniversary. We also hope that 2023 is a better one for all of us around the world.
Online & radio melodies
The non-profit Arhoolie Foundation preserves, celebrates and documents regional roots music and its makers. It stems from the work of Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz, now 91, who has spent much of his life recording and sharing regional music, with an emphasis on blues, Cajun/zydeco and Tejano/Norteño. Smithsonian Folkways acquired the record company in 2016, but the foundation keeps expanding ways to share the music. This year, it launched the “Arhoolie Foundation Presents” series of performance and interview videos recorded over the past 30 years. Performers include Taj Mahal, New Lost City Ramblers, Ruthie Foster, Lydia Mendoza & Flaco Jimenez, and Lawrence Ardoin & Canray Fontenot. The foundation’s donation page is here.
Check out the streaming music from Folk Alley. Another recently posted feature offers samples from 10 “best albums of the year” for 2022, as selected by Folk Alley staff. One of the features is podcasts like Why We Write, with Kim Ruehl, where she interviews enormously talented songwriters like John Prine’s son, Tommy Prine, who does not sound like his dad, but proves to be a fine original voice and composer in his own right. Check out his song, Ships in the Harbor. His first recording will be released in the coming months.
If you like bluegrass music, you might want to sample Bluegrasscountry.org the round-the-clock station, which features our ol’ friend, Frank Hoppe‘s Bluegrass Etc. (noon to 3 p.m. on Thursdays). The shows are archived for two weeks here, but you have to know the time and day of the show you want, so read the directions carefully.
Meanwhile, Roots Music and Beyond, with rotating hosts, Tom Nixon, Patrick Milligan, Art Podell, Mark Humphrey, and Mary Katherine Aldin (Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. — new hours) and FolkScene, hosted by Allen Larman and Kat Griffin (Sunday nights, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) continue on KPFK, 90.7 FM. These shows are also archived for two weeks and can be found in the KPFK Archives. You can also find FolkScene live interview/performances at FolkScene Radio Soundcoud and FolkScene Podcasts. There are lots of great performances here. And check out Mary Katherine Aldin’s comprehensive folk music calendar at the Roots Music and Beyond Facebook page (even if you aren’t on Facebook — click on the “more” link in the right column). KPFK has some other fine music shows on the weekends, too, along with Global Village, Monday-Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. See the full schedule here. KPFK has more fund drives than we would wish for, but even during the pledge drive which do provide an opportunity to help keep these shows on the air by subscribing. Even during a fund drive, they’ll be playing the same great music, interviews, and other features.
And while we’re talking about giving, check out Folkworks.org for all kinds of folk-music videos, interviews, reviews, calendars and more. If you like what you find, consider a cash gift for them, as this group that does so much to support folk music is in need as well.
We stumbled on 10 minutes of great, informal, live and cleaned up recordings from back in 1965 on Youtube featuring Bob Dylan and Joan Baez that are a total delight to watch and hear. Listen to it here. Dylan’s voice and acoustic guitar are are quite formidable, and Baez’s voice sounds so perfect on harmonies. If you weren’t around or paying attention to their music together in those days, you should definitely check this out.