We were glad to meet you at the Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest

Thank you very much for stopping and chatting with us at our Pasadena Folk Music Society booth during the Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest and Folk Concert, back in May.  It was great to meet you, and it seemed like everyone was enjoying the festival as much as we were.  There was a lot of great live music to choose from.

In the next couple of weeks, we expect to announce a great Pasadena Folk Music Society show for September.  This will be a huge step forward for us following the upheaval of COVID limitations. Watch for that news.

We’ve been presenting great performers on the Caltech campus in Pasadena since 1983.  Click on the links here to get an idea of some of the shows we have presented by artists from around the country, across the Atlantic, and right here in California.  Acoustic music is our specialty, and we offer Celtic, bluegrass, singer/songwriters, guitarists, old time, fiddlers, harpers, and much more.  Even if you live across town, we hope to tempt you to come to shows in a few months.

Meanwhile, we want to share some news about music and concerts happening this summer.

As we adjust to the closing of Altadena’s cozy folk-music venue, Coffee Gallery Backstage, this spring, we’re paying closer attention to some of the venues farther afield.  The listings on Folkworks website help.  For example, the Ventura-based band Whole Hog will be playing at Angry Ferret Brewing Company in Moorpark tomorrow evening (Friday, June 30). This band blends bluegrass, Irish, swing, country and old-time music.

McCabe’s Guitar Shop, in Santa Monica, usually has a choice of attractions each week on its concert schedule.  On Saturday, July 15, singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman will perform there.  We enjoyed her as a guest on one of John McCutcheon’s livestream shows that we co-sponsored last year.  The next evening, Sunday, July 16, it’s The Americans, not that ’60s band led by Jay Black, but a roots-rock band (playing an acoustic set) whom T Bone Burnett calls, “genius twenty-first century musicians that are reinventing American heritage music for this century.”

On the concert schedule for Boulevard Music, in Culver City, you’ll find an intriguing combination of mountain dulcimer and klezmer on the same program. That’s Saturday, July 8, when the Urban Gypsies, featuring Joellen Lapidus on dulcimer, share the gig with Klezmer Juice, featuring Gustavo Bulgach. 

Some venues closer to Pasadena also offer opportunities to enjoy performances that fit under the broad umbrella of folk music.  Every Sunday evening this summer, bands perform live at Memorial Park in La Cañada Flintridge.  The schedule shows that Miskey Mountain Boys will be picking and singing bluegrass there this Sunday, July 2.

The Folk Music Center in Claremont schedules an open-mic night on the last Sunday of every month and performances by professional musicians on some other evenings.  Next up: Liz & Pete, from Tucson, harmonizing on “Sonoran contemporary” folk music on Saturday, July 22.

A recently remodeled venue in Pasadena, Crown City Dancehall at 140 S. Rosemead Blvd., has been booking some Western Swing shows that set the joint jumping. On Sunday, July 23, a “Barndance Boogie” from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. will feature Carl Sonny Leyland’s band and two others.

Less than 100 miles south of Pasadena, in Vista, Calif., Summergrass San Diego 2023 will feature several bluegrass bands over a three-day program Aug. 18, 19 and 20.

There’s a worthwhile interview with British guitarist and folk singer, Martin Simpson at Tradfolk, that reminds us of the concerts Martin played in our series in the late eighties and nineties.  In at least one of those shows, he memorably performed the very moving song, Icarus, such a perfect blending of his masterful guitar playing and excellent vocal on that song.  You can also hear a live version here.

Fans of Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor may be interested to know that he will be doing a one-man-show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday, September 30.  The concert schedule for the Coach House may also have other attractions for you.

Called “a genre-defying musical genius” by NPR, fans of mandolinist Chris Thile will be interested in his concert at the Hollywood Bowl on August 22.  Chris is best known for his work with the progressive acoustic trio Nickel Creek and the acoustic folk and progressive bluegrass quintet Punch Brothers. He helmed the long running show Live from Here, which replaced the Prairie Home Companion. Chris has also recorded and toured with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma for The Goat Rodeo Sessions.

The great singer/songwriter Paul Simon did an interview with Tom Power last week on his show, Q.  You can see and hear the interview here. and you can hear the music Simon talks about at the beginning from the album, Seven Psalms, here.  Pretty interesting.

We’re sad to note that two of the few remaining first-generation legends of bluegrass died in the past week:  Jesse McReynolds on June 23 at age 93 and Bobby Osborne four days later at age 91.  McReynolds was the lead singer and innovative mandolin player of the great duo, Jim and Jesse.  Hear them at the 1988 Monroe County Bluegrass Festival, featuring the classic harmonies typical of their 55 years performing together, on soaring songs such as Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes and You Are the One.  Osborne, also on mandolin, teamed with his banjo-playing brother, Sonny, as the Osborne Brothers for more than 50 years.  Their piercing harmonies can be heard on songs such as Rocky Top and Once More.