We’re on a roll!

The Pasadena Folk Music Society’s concert with the Mari Black Trio last month, our long-awaited return to Beckman Institute Auditorium, succeeded on almost every level.  We sincerely thank all of you who attended despite the delay in ticket availability.  Mari and the band were energetic and sounded great.  Our crew of refreshment volunteers offered tasty fresh-baked cookies and brownies, as well as coffee and tea.  Everybody seemed to enjoy the show.  Unfortunately, the one flat note was that we had to turn away a couple dozen people because of lack of seats in a sold-out show, though we were able to send most of them home with a free cookie.  They also got one song, as Mari showed a lot of class when she came out and performed a song in the courtyard for those hoping we might be able to find a few more empty seats.

Your response has given us optimism that we will be able to continue the series, and we’re working hard to arrange more concerts, likely starting in January 2024.  None are confirmed yet, but we hope to make some announcements soon.  We know we probably won’t sell out every time, but you can help us by spreading the word about our concerts and even inviting others to join you for a show.  In future messages, we’ll let you know more about how you can help by becoming a volunteer or making a donation to the series.

Folk Music in October

Aside from planning future Pasadena Folk Music Society concerts, we like to share information about other opportunities for hearing folk music in the area.

Brooks Williams, an acclaimed guitarist-singer-songwriter with more than 30 records in three decades of performing, will play a solo concert on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Knox Presbyterian Church, 225 S. Hill Ave., Pasadena.  The show will start at 7:30 p.m.  If you’re not already a fan, check out videos of own songs, such as Here Come the Blues or My Turn Now, and fine covers, such as Dave Alvin’s King of California or Don Everly’s Hello Amy.  More information about the concert is at this link.  Knox Presbyterian Church (close to both Caltech and Pasadena City College) will also host a “BBQ & Bluegrass” evening on Friday, Oct. 14.

Coming up sooner — this weekend — are folk-music events in Los Angeles and near Santa Barbara:

The great Irish group Clannad, on its farewell tour, comes to Los Angeles this Friday, Oct. 5, at the Orpheum Theater downtown.  Clannad’s Moya Brennan played our series in 2011.

The “First Annual Los Angeles Folk Festival” will be Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8, at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on Cahuenga Boulevard East.  Organizers call it “a two-day celebration of intimate songcraft and the city of Los Angeles’ historic role as an epicenter of modern folk music.”  Saturday’s lineup includes Sierra FerrellValerie June and David Garza.  Sunday’s features WaxahatcheeThe Milk Carton Kids, and Haley Henderickx.

The “51st Annual Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddlers’ Festival” will be Saturday, Oct. 7, at Rancho La Patera & Stow House in Goleta. Performers will include The Canote TwinsHog-Eyed ManSpencer & RainsEcho Mountain and others. Also on the festival program are a fiddling contestworkshops and an instrument petting zoo.

More music and stories

This Friday evening, Oct. 6, you could go hear Dan Bern, at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. He is an imaginative — often hilarious — songwriter and intense performer.  Or you could go hear Darlingside at The Lodge Room in northeastern L.A.  They are a Boston-based quartet once described on NPR as “exquisitely arranged, literary-minded, baroque folk-pop.”

On Sunday, Oct. 8, as a 5 p.m. add-on to that day’s Americana Harvest Festival at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, the Geer family and special guests will present a program about Woody Guthrie.  Guthrie was a friend of Geer’s and lived in Topanga in the early 1950s. The program will frame Guthrie’s life story with some of his songs, such as Pastures of PlentyWorried ManUnion Maid and This Land is Your Land, and selections from his writing.

Another pal of Woody’s, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, a legendary singer/songwriter/guitarist and certainly a storyteller, will be just southeast of downtown L.A. at the Pico Union Project, Thursday, Oct. 12.  Here he is singing Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.  There’s always a story…

On Saturday, Oct. 14, the Cactus Bloom American Folk & Roots Music Festival, a new one near Palmdale, will feature performances by the Honey Buckets and the Lazy Dog Mountain Band.  Music starts at 1 p.m.  Gate opens at 12:30 p.m.  The venue has been changed to The Outpost, just off Highway 138 at 34141 116th Street East, Pearblossom.  For information about advance ticketing (using Venmo), contact [email protected].

Speaking of the Honey Buckets, this Cucamonga-based combo impressed some Californians at a recent bluegrass festival in Arizona.  Others will have opportunities to hear them closer to home at Cal Poly Pomona’s Pumpkin Fest this month and at the California Bluegrass Association’s South State 48 event in Carlsbad next month.  The Pumpkin Fest runs Fridays through Saturdays all month, with plenty of live music including — on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 only — the Honey Buckets in the Discovery Farm area between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.  South State 48, Nov. 2 through Nov. 5, will have round-the-clock jamming sessions plus featured bands and workshops.

The Folk Music Center in Claremont continues its decades-long history of live concerts with Klezmer Juice on Saturday, Oct. 14, and a duet of Rick Shea and Tony Gilkyson on Saturday, Nov. 11.

Book recommendation

Perhaps you remember that Bob Dylan’s first album had only one song that he penned himself. That one, Song to Woody, takes its melody from Woody Guthrie’s 1913 Massacre, which tells how more than 70 people, mostly children, died when trapped inside a Christmas party in a Michigan union hall after some heard a stranger shout “Fire.”  Daniel Wolff’s book Grown-Up Anger deftly blends stories about both songwriters, copper-mining and labor-union history, growing up in the 1960s, and even some new information about the 1913 event.  The book was published six years ago but, like the songs, ought not be forgotten.

Caltech events, radio reminder

Caltech has some fine programs in October, including a free screening of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium.  The film depicts Lack’s daughter (played by Oprah Winfrey) as she investigates the unauthorized harvesting of cancer cells that were used for creating the first immortal human-cell line.  The film will be followed by discussion of ethical issues it raises. This event is part of the Movies that Matter series.  A calendar of upcoming Caltech events also includes a Zemlinsky Quartet concert on Snday, Oct. 15, presented by the Coleman Chamber Music Association.  You can hear a brief sample from the quartet here.

Finally, as a quick reminder of the fine folk music available over L.A.’s radio waves, check out Gold Rush played by Tricia Spencer & Howard Rains, which Mary Katherine Aldin and David Bragger aired on KPFK’s “Roots Music and Beyond” last Saturday morning.