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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A full day's film fest, exploring the legacy of nuclear power - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TODAY, Wednesday, April 27, noon-11 pm is...

"THE ATOMIC AGE FILM FEST," the premiere event launching the global 2016

Appropriately timed for the 30th anniversary of the disastrous Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown.

The Guide has brought you two feature stories (the first more than a month in advance) plus numerous listings in "events" with info to get your FREE tickets.

It happens today at Raleigh Studios, in thr Charlie Chaplin Theater, 5300 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, California 90004

It's still FREE with tickets...

Comp tickets, contact: Alexandra Radlovic, Event Producer, LA BRAND MANAGEMENT Mobile: 323-206-7025

Or, use either of these email addresses: and

Full info:

About the festival, in brief...

The International Uranium Film Festival is dedicated to all films about nuclear power and the risks of radioactivity, from uranium mining to nuclear waste. The festival was founded 2010 by the non-profit arts and cultural organization, “Yellow Archives” (Arquivo Amarelo), based in Rio de Janeiro. Objective is the preservation and support of cultures in danger and the production of videos, films, CDs and DVDs against oblivion and displacement. The Yellow Archives is a project against forgetting and to keep valuable knowledge alive. The event welcomes any support and your donation.

More at:


• noon: SPECIAL SCREENING, tba...

•  2 pm: "NUCLEAR SAVAGE: THE ISLANDS OF SECRET PROJECT 4.1," USA, 2012, 87 min, Documentary, Director: Adam Jonas Horowitz, Marshallese & English. Featuring recently declassified U.S. government documents, survivor testimony, and unseen archival footage, "Nuclear Savage" uncovers one of the most troubling chapters in modern American history: how Marshall islanders, considered an uncivilized culture, were deliberately used as human guinea pigs to study the effects of nuclear fallout on human beings. (Winner of the Yellow Archives Award 2013). Director Adam Horowity will be present for Q & A with the audience.

•  4 pm: "Hot Water," USA, 2015, Documentary, Drama,1 h 20 min by Liz Rogers and Kevin Flint, Executive producer Elizabeth Kucinich. The Uranium Industry's Dirty Little Secret: When you were growing up, how many people did you know who had cancer? How many do you know today? Filmmakers Lizabeth Rogers and Kevin Flint travel to South Dakota following a story about uranium contamination—only to discover that the problem flows much farther and runs much deeper than they could have imagined. Hot Water tells the story of those impacted by uranium mining, atomic testing, nuclear energy and the subsequent contamination that runs through our air, soil and—even more dramatically — our water. - Directors and Producers will be present for Q & A with the Audience.

•  4:15 pm: "Final Picture," Germany, 2013, Fiction, Drama, 92 min, German with English subtitles, director Michael von Hohenberg, with Nadine Badewitz, Julian Bayer, Hubert Burczek, Michael Schwarzmaier. Producer White-Lake-City Filmproduction, - A movie about the senselessness of atomic war. Iran used an atomic bomb against Israel. In a short period of time America, Russia and China take part of the conflict. The war escalates and America starts his atomic rockets. In a small town in the middle of Europe, Caroline, Frank and Peter try to get save in an old military bunker. The people have a civil bunker, but not for all residents. The head of the district has to decide between saving some lives or dying of all. The movie is shot in original bunkers at a landscape region in Germany. In team and cast are many young people, shooting their first professional movie. (Winner of the Yellow Archives Award 2014) - Director Michael von Hohenberg will be present for Q & A with the audience.

•  6:30 pm - Red Carpet with filmmakers and Hollywood personalities.

•  7:30 pm: "The Man Who Saved the World," Denmark, 2014, documentary, 105 min, with Kevin Costner, Stanislav Petrov, Walter Cronkite, Robert De Niro, Matt Damon, Director Peter Anthony, Produced by Jakob Staberg, Christian D. Bruun, Mark Romeo, Raphael Avigdor, Svilen Kamburov - The Man Who Saved the World tells the gripping true story of Stanislav Petrov - a man who single-handedly averted a Nuclear World War. “Few people know of Stanislav Petrov, yet hundreds of millions of people are alive because of him.”

•  9:20 pm: Nuclear Power Panel of Speakers, with:

√ Harvey Wasserman - Co-Moderator,  journalist, author, and “No Nukes” strategist and organizer for over 30 years. He teaches history and cultural & ethnic diversity at two central Ohio colleges, and works primarily for the permanent shutdown of the nuclear power industry and the birth of Solartopia, a democratic and socially just green-powered Earth free of all fossil and nuclear fuels.

√ Kat Kramer - Co-Moderator, founder of “Films That Change The World.” Daughter of legendary filmmaker, Stanley Kramer, who directed and produced the original nuclear holocaust film "On The Beach.“ Kat Kramer is an actress and producer, was Miss Golden Globe for The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and recorded an album of Mick Jagger solo covers.

√ Esai Morales - award-winning actor and activist is a graduate of New York's High School for the Performing Arts. Describing himself as an “actorvist”, Morales has combined art and activism to build bridges of understanding. He is involved in a bevy of charities and non-profit organizations that span everything from social to environmental issues.

√ Mimi Kennedy - the 3 career woman, actress, author and activist, well known for her performances in television dramas and comedies.

√ Libbe HaLevy - she produces and hosts Nuclear Hotseat, the weekly international news magazine on all things nuclear... from a different perspective. She is also the co-creator of Radiation Awareness Protection Talk, or RAPT ( ), an audio series on how to best protect from the negative impact of radioactivity on our health.

•  10 pm: After party with live entertainment and Cachaça Magnífica, a speciality from Rio de Janeiro.

Festival venue:

Raleigh Studios Hollywood, where tradition meets innovation. Originally founded by Adolph Zukor as the Famous Players Fiction Studio in 1912, the Raleigh Studios Hollywood is the oldest independent studio in continuous operation. Undergoing a five-year renovation and expansion when first acquired in 1979, the 11 acre complex of 13 sound stages, production and support space, serves as the headquarters for Raleigh Studios.

The studios' beautiful Chaplin Theater is named after Charlie Chaplin, who made several films at Raleigh Studios in the 1920s and 30s.


Music news, FESTIVALS, and events are in the UPDATED edition originally published April 16 and available at a separate click.

Much more, soon, on other topics.


The Guide brings you frequent editions covering MUSIC NEWS, arts and industry events, and ticket alerts, available right here on the Guide's Blogspot site.


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Contents copyright © 2016, Lawrence Wines & Tied to the Tracks. All rights reserved.
♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS and views of interest to artists everywhere, more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music, both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues, and schedules and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues monumentally large and intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the roots of the blues and where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell.

Friday, April 22, 2016

EARTH DAY EDITION (green, green... where the grass is greener still)...

√ Happy Earth Day! We proudly present our A-to-Z guide to what YOU can do — yes, actually, really DO. It's quite comprehensive with a lot of resources and has been published elsewhere, as well.

• We've been listening to an album titled "Green" (what could be more appropriate?) It's by the fine nu-folk duo, Sabrina and Craig. Google it to catch a selection or buy your own copy. We promise it's just as good after Earth Day.

√ Yesterday the music world lost yet another giant. We published a special edition that's received lots of acclaim — here and elsewhere where it was published.

√ As for THIS WEEKEND...

• Music news, FESTIVALS, and events are in a very much UPDATED edition originally published April 16 (but updated several times). It's readily available at a separate click.



by Larry Wines

With all the causes; campaigns; concerns; appeals; projects; initiatives; social media triple exclamation points; hyperventilated rhetoric from totally unauthentic wannabe leaders; cable news stampeding into oblivion; and trivialities competing for attention? There is still one thing that does not make us cynical. That is the wonderful array of dedicated, nonprofit, volunteer-driven organizations, large and small, who try so diligently to save the planet — in spite of the resolve of its occupants to thwart their efforts by destroying it, anyway.

Okay, we do get cynical about what they, on the environmental front lines, are up against. Which is to say, what we — meaning all of us who inhabit this overpopulated blue sphere — are up against.

Earth Day is both a day for celebrating nature's heroes spreading growing awareness, and all that enables, and a day for emphasizing every way we can to recruit more people and ring more alarm bells for all that is being irrevocably lost.

There is plenty that needs doing. We'll offer you some effective options and let you in on some things you should know about.

Let's start with the positive. There's breaking news that 150+ countries are signing-on to tackle the climate crisis. You can even take part in that.


"A generation from now, we will look back on this Earth Day as a turning point for humanity and our work to tackle the climate crisis," says Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. [ ]

If that sounds too rosy, he continues, "Today at the United Nations, a signing ceremony marks the first phase of implementing the Paris Climate Agreement. Representatives from the United States, China, India and more than 150 countries from around the world will officially sign on to the historic agreement."

You may recall the grief visited on President Obama by conservatives who said the Paris Climate Accords would destroy opportunities for American business (meaning multinational megagiant corporations with rich American stockholders who move operations to countries with no constraints on pollution and no worker safety laws).

Brune sees it differently. He asserts, "This is a turning point in our efforts to save the planet and move toward an economy powered by 100 percent clean energy. Citizen support for climate action made the Paris Agreement possible and will be critical to its success."

And by "citizen support," he means something quite specific, in which you can take part. That's the first of our three participatory exercises.


Brune says, "By delivering tens of thousands of signatures to the UN today, we can send a powerful message to world leaders that we’ve got their back. This Earth Day, add your name as a citizen signer of the Paris Climate Agreement."

[ ]

You can even add your personal message.

"We can be proud that the United States is among the first countries to sign the agreement. As countries sign on to the agreement and begin to implement their climate action plans, we must remain engaged. In the U.S., policies like the 'Clean Power Plan' and grassroots campaigns like the 'Beyond Coal Campaign' and 'Ready for 100' will be critical to reaching and exceeding our carbon reduction goals," Brune adds.

In fact, he'll tell you that we have much to celebrate this Earth Day. Across the world, the growing climate movement is organizing to keep dirty fuels in the ground, achieve 100 percent clean energy, and challenge the corrosive influence of the fossil fuel industry.

Speaking for the environmental community, not just his Sierra Club, Brune says, "Make no mistake, we are a powerful force for global climate action. Add your name as a citizen signer to the Paris Climate Agreement to celebrate this historic moment of action!"

[ ]

That's surely a "feel good" single action that can help support like-minded world leaders and awaken others. Maybe even some Republicans.

Other actions make unquestionably lasting little changes. And a sum total of little changes can have profound impact.


U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D), Oregon [ ] is the only member of the senate to endorse Bernie Sanders. His progressive credentials are Stirling. He observes, "Today, world leaders are signing on the dotted line to move forward with the historic Paris climate agreement. It’s the largest one-day signing of an international agreement, and that’s something to celebrate!"

Then he sets-up his call for your action. "The only way the United States can keep up with our side of the deal is by moving forward with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The plan moves us away from carbon-based fuels and toward a green energy future," says Merkley.

And here it is: "On Earth Day, let’s keep up our end of the bargain. Sign the Petition: stand up for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan!" [ ]

It's more than your typical petition. It's a citizen's amicus brief, sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey, Sen. Chris Coons, Sen. Martin Heinrich, Sen. Angus King, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Ron Wyden, and Rep. Xavier Becerra, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Rep. Matt Cartwright, Rep. Peter DeFazio, Rep. Joe Kennedy III, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Kathleen Rice, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Sen. Merkley says, "This is a pivotal moment. At the same time that the world is moving toward a real solution to climate change, our climate progress is under attack here in the United States. Fossil fuel barons like the Koch brothers are doing everything they can to block the Clean Power Plan. Now is the time to stand up and be counted. Join me and sign on to defend the Clean Power Plan!" [ ]

Of course, you need to be careful. Things can be like those Big Oil funded tv ads trying to recruit you to be "an energy voter."

The same applies to what some legislators can misrepresent. Environmental Action's [ [ ] Drew Hudson says, "Even as hundreds of world leaders meet to ratify the Paris climate agreement this Earth Day, the United States Senate celebrated by passing a dirty energy bill that will subsidize fossil fuels — especially fracked gas — and expedite the construction of new pipelines from coast to coast. And that Paris agreement — as historic as it is, and despite the fact that it's being ratified faster than any similar international agreement in history — doesn't do enough to protect our climate."


Maggie Bruns of the League of Conservation Voters [ ] offers an opportunity "to support our clean energy future by choosing clean, renewable energy today."

No, we're not forwarding some appeal from her organization to send them a donation. This is really something you can DO.

Bruns explains, "We are working with Arcadia Power to provide you with the tools to go green this Earth Day. Arcadia Power has developed a platform that enables you to choose clean energy at your home or apartment. Hundreds of LCV members all over the country have joined, and this Earth Day we encourage you to join, too."

Wait. Don't you only have service from the company whose wires connect to your apartment, house, or other humble abode? Well, no. The laws have changed and you have options.

Bruns says, "Starting with your next electric bill, Arcadia Power covers every kWh you use with clean, renewable energy, and you keep your service with your local utility. You get a personalized energy dashboard, a great customer service experience (you get to talk to humans!), exclusive member rewards, and you can monitor your monthly positive environmental impact."

That's nice. But really, why do that? "Right now, the majority of American’s utility bills support more fossil fuel production and not every utility provides their customers with an affordable clean energy option," as Bruns asserts.


We are nearing the end of this year's annual National Parks Week. And 2016 marks the centennial of the National Park Service, the perpetually underfunded guardians of what the acclaimed Ken Burns' documentary calls "America's best idea."

Fortunately, there is a nonprofit support organization to make up some of the missing funding and support. That's the National Park Foundation [ ]. That organization's Senior Vice President,Susan Newton, wants you to know, "There’s still time to celebrate National Park Week by visiting any park free through Sunday, April 24th."

National and state park units preserve both natural and historical sites. Everything from Civil War battlefields to alpine wilderness to beaches and fragile reefs.

In Southern California, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is a mosaic protected by the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service, and state and county park rangers and trained volunteers. On May 15th, the annual Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival happens there, under the auspices of NPS. It's held at the only remaining rural movie ranch with an old Western town, Paramount Ranch, near Agoura. The site was nearly lost to private estates for the rich. Every park and monument needs advocates to get even rudimentary funding.

We'll add that any time you visit any park, monument, museum, or historic site, be sure you sign the register. When budgets are determined, proof of visitors is critical for funding. The simple power of the pen.


Every National Park, National Monument, state park, and other protected place has its own back story of how it was preserved.

We'll tell you a story you don't know. Once upon a time there was an organization called the Save the Redwoods League. We can't give you a cyber link for it because it's gone. Founded in the 1890s, it put itself out of business by succeeding. As late as the 1970s and '80s, there will still huge groves of ancient old-growth redwoods in California and Oregon that were not protected. They were slated for "harvesting" by timber companies. The League nearly all of them, and along the way, was largely responsible for Redwood National Park.
Yes, you CAN do things that make a difference.


Any journey begins with a single step. Just like doing your part with water conservation, there is always more each of us can do. Often, that begins with a simple commitment to awareness.

Though it's rather unbelievable how certain people choose to remain willfully unaware.

Most of us know that science is finding it necessary do something that people in white lab coats are not known for: screaming at us to look at the overwhelming concurrence of mountains of data. From public personas like Neil de Grasse Tyson to Bill Nye the Science Guy to people who generally surface once a year at academic conferences to present research findings, the message is clear. There is simply no question that human activity has produced a headlong rush into sudden and rapidly accelerating global climate change.

That should, in no way, be political. But it is. One party exploits it to galvanize support for its position and elect its candidates. The other party acknowledges the validity of science and calls for action — even if part of that is to galvanize support for its position and elect its candidates.

The Democratic National Committee didn't miss the opportunity to capitalize, sending an email blast that reads, "Today we celebrate Earth Day, but as Democrats, we know we have to fight every day to protect our planet because it's the only one we've got."

The email offers a chance to "Add your name if you're ready to make sure we elect leaders who understand the stakes couldn't be higher when it comes to acting on climate."

To make sure no one misses the point, they quote each of the GOP presidential candidates:

• "I don't believe in climate change." — Donald Trump.

• "Some theory that's not proven." — John Kasich.

• "Scientific evidence does not support global warming." — Ted Cruz.

"Adding your name" to the DNC's list to "make sure we elect leaders" attuned to scientific reality does, of course, bring-up a box to click in agreement. That, in turn, brings-up a fundraising page. But you can do the former without getting fleeced on the latter.
[ ]


A central tenet of understanding the environment is that everything is connected to everything else. Nothing is an isolated case. Preserving an economically convenient amount of wild lands while developing the rest is a Disneyland approach. In no way does that enable indigenous species to have the minimum range to sustain their habitat, or the range needed for the plants and animals on which that species is ultimately dependent.

In today's America, every day, more than 6,000 acres of open space are lost.

The San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land [ ] is a key organization focused on preventing that. Thanks to supportive partnerships, they are able to save $4 worth of wildlands, parks, and historic places for every $1 you donate. Currently, a generous matching gift opportunity can save $8 worth of land for every dollar of public support.

Will Rogers — not the early 20th century humorist, but the group's President and CEO — speaks of a "passion for stopping unchecked development from eating away at wild open places... building parks in communities where green space is seriously lacking... and protecting historic landmarks that define our national identity."

Currently, Rogers' organization is funding critical work in many special places, from the iconic "Sierra Checkerboard" of mixed public and private land in California, to a unique nature sanctuary on an old mill site in Montana, to a 3.5-mile park in New York City that was once a hotbed of drug use and pollution.

The Trust for Public Land must also fight for full reauthorization of the federal government's Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). That has long been the budgetary lifeblood for parks and open space in the United States. Now, like so much else, LWCF faces mindless demands for budgetary cutbacks or actual elimination in the name of "austerity," today's Republican mantra.


If success or failure of many environmental causes makes all the difference between asphalt or natural habitat, between life and death for wildlife and ancient plant communities, other times it can mean the difference of life or death for human advocates of wild lands.

Six weeks ago, environmental activist Berta Cáceres was murdered in Honduras. She was killed because of her opposition to an environmentally devastating dam project. In the weeks since, Berta’s fellow activists — including Friends of the Earth Mexico’s Gustavo Castro — have been threatened, attacked, and prevented from leaving the country. Despite the risks, they’re still fighting to stop the dam.

That story was related to us by Jeff Conant, Senior international forests campaigner for Friends of the Earth. [ ]

Conant also turned his attention to the U.S., as he continued, "Today is Earth Day — a day to call on our government to protect the planet. There are thousands of demonstrations happening across the U.S."

And no wonder. In writing this, I want to emphasize that we're not talking about "environmental wackos" conducting and participating in those demonstrations. My own experience over the past fifteen months, working to save an entire mountain complex from complete destruction by surface mining, demonstrates that our environmental laws are absolutely inadequate.

Despite proving the existence of a critically endangered species — and that it lives only in the mountain complex currently being destroyed — there is no clear way to save it in its habitat. Let's be clear: that's the only place on the entire planet where that species lives.

Yet our government, at all levels, has no interest in stopping the total destruction of a unique habitat where unique things live. The only place they live. And frankly, I have reason to be concerned for my well-being because I'm trying to stop this destruction.

Friends of the Earth's Jeff Conant, who has a long list of concerns, says, "...throughout Central America, activists are being murdered for defending the environment. The violence may seem far away, but our actions here in the U.S. can help put a stop to it. Pressure from people like you helped get Gustavo safely home to Mexico. And your calls to Congress have helped drum up support for an independent investigation into Berta’s murder."

That may sound encouraging, but it's not just the editor who has found a deaf government in our own country.

We do provide contact information for your federal and California state elected representatives in a section that follows, and additional reasons why you'll want that.

Conant, addressing murder, threats, and travel bans imposed against activists in Latin America, cites the need for ordinary Americans to exert pressure at the intersection. He says, " the situation continues to deteriorate, we need to keep the pressure on the U.S. government to intervene."


It can all seem overwhelming. But ordinary Americans putting pressure on government — national, state, regional (like AQMD and MTA), county, and local, can make a difference.

Even down to your own city, where decisions are made that allow rapid, ill-advised development because they want to collect fees from issuing permits and property taxes on new structures. That, despite the fact those developments will force water rationing and strains on electrical and transportation grids, wastewater disposal, and by driving-up property values, further diminish affordable housing in the near-term future. All politics are local, and they bring environmental impacts.

It's not just about banning a pesticide because it kills bees, or campaigning for labels that reveal what GMO "Frankenfoods" are in your local grocery store, or buying dolphin-safe tuna. It's about being informed enough to be a responsible citizen, even as we drown in information that is mostly pablum amidst contrived noise intended to distract us.

It's about attaining an awareness that we are but one species in a complex, interwoven, interdependent web of life that changes in response to environmental stresses — whether or not those changes make a fortune for "the right people." And it seems that each day — sometimes with great drama and tv reporters hamming it up leaning into the blast — those stresses include weather, climate, drought, flood, apocalyptic wildfires, glacial melt, loss of farmland, lack of pollination, overpopulation, famine, and the ultimate threat to our very survival: human activities that exceed natural assimilative and regenerative capacities.


Earth is abundant with life because we are a water planet. And the health of our fresh water sources eventually devolves to our oceans. Sometimes that's pollution. Sometimes it's the impacts of overfishing because we fail to manage our land-based food production.

Lauren Parks of the nonprofit Oceana is dealing with a "right now" crisis that's getting visibly worse, daily.

She says, "It started four years ago and is happening again: a surge of baby sea lions stranding on California’s coast, starving and dehydrated. We’re in the peak of the crisis right now. More and more arrive each day. Emaciated and weak, most of them will die. Overfishing sardines during a natural population decline has severely reduced the number of these forage fish that sea lions rely on."

So, Oceana — an organization that knows how to do it — has a campaign, raising money to provide nutrition for all these starving baby sea lions.

Of course, Oceana wants "Your support right now," but not just to feed these starving sea mammals.  The organization wants you "to help us ensure the fishery stays closed until the sardine population recovers."

That requires pressure on U.S. regulatory authorities to, as Parks says, "make meaningful changes to how the fishery is managed to prevent future collapse, and implement other science-based strategies that will allow these fish — and the sea lions who depend on them — to recover and thrive."


Another important organization looking to the health of what makes our blue planet blue is the D.C. based Ocean Conservancy. [ ]

Nicholas Mallos is the director of "Trash Free Seas" for the Ocean Conservancy.

He says, "We talk trash a lot, because there’s a lot of it in the ocean — and it’s getting worse. Much worse. Today is Earth Day and we need your help to create solutions that will cut the amount of trash entering the ocean in half by 2025."

Simple and direct. They want to "STOP trash from entering the ocean, and like numerous organizations, they have a matching-gift sponsor who signed-on for Earth Day.

Mallos tells us, "Unfortunately, one of the most visible, most vivid reminders of just how much trash is in our ocean is a trip to the beach where you can find bottle caps, straws, plastic bags and more. This definitely alters your beach day. Trash is an unpleasant experience for beachgoers — but much more so for wildlife."

He continues, "In recent months, some 30 sperm whales have beached off the North Sea. While not determined as the cause of death, their bellies were full of ocean trash. Forty-three-foot long fishing nets, car engine covers, buckets and more — in their stomachs!"

His goal: "If we prevent trash from entering the ocean, we can make a difference on a global scale."

Mallos expects "Millions of people will take action today to show their support for the environment — and our ocean."

We hope he's right.


In honor of Earth Day, the Guide asks YOU to do something simple: put pressure on the U.S. government to protect our national, local, and global environment, and environmental defenders.

Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing we can do to protect anyone or anything. To save endangered critical habitat. To stop violence.

"But in fact, the opposite is true," says Friends of the Earth's Jeff Conant. 

Speaking specifically of murders and intimidation of environmental activists in Central America, he says, "The U.S. government has the power to put a stop to these human rights violations." "We need to demand that it uses that power!" says Conant.

He continues, "That’s why we’re demanding that Congress and the State Department cut off funds and military assistance to these governments. Thousands of people like you have called your Representatives and have written to the State Department demanding just that — and we’re starting to gain some traction. But now, we need to make it stick. So we’ve been organizing Congressional briefings and meetings with local activists — so our decision-makers can hear directly from local communities about how the U.S.’s actions are impacting them. We need your help to keep this work going... [to] stop the U.S. government from condoning violence against activists."

Reporting on the work of his organization, Conant says, "Local communities throughout the tropics are fighting back against deforestation from palm oil development and other destructive projects. Last year, a first-of-its-kind environmental court in Guatemala charged a palm oil company with ecocide. The ruling was a huge step forward for people and the planet! But nearly every community victory over the abuses of the palm oil industry is met with threats and violence. Immediately after the ruling in the ecocide case, the leading plaintiff, Rigoberto Lima Choc, was killed."

If that makes you think that it's just the way things are in corrupt little countries, think about the guy who wrote this, and the threat he faces for trying to save a unique place right here in America.

Earth Day isn't just about planting geraniums. It's serious — sometimes deadly serious — for those on the front lines. Even here.

Murders of environmental activists overseas are facts. "And the U.S. has an important role to play in these tragedies," adds Conant. He explains, "Our government helps fund the governments that drive the destructive projects — and condone the violence against activists."

The people on those front lines aren't naive about things. "It’s going to take all of us working together to convince our government to stand up for activists overseas," says Conant, continuing, "But I know that if you and I do our part, we can push the U.S. to do the right thing."

Hence, the section, just ahead, with links to contact your representatives.


For Conant, that drives his Friends of the Earth campaign to push the U.S. government into standing up for Guatemalans facing murderous opposition to defending the environment in their country.

For me, it means going to the next level in trying to save an entire mountain complex — and its unique life that lives no where else on Earth — from being destroyed by surface mining. You'll see more about that soon, when it's safe to go public.

In the meantime, check in with your elected officials. Tell them that clean air and water matter to you. Tell them that the most credible science agrees overwhelmingly that rising sea levels, due to proliferating greenhouse gases causing global warming, are a threat to human civilization. You might want to add that clean, renewable energy and clean "green" transportation matter to you.

Make sure to tell them you're watching them in this election year, that they're hearing from you because Earth Day inspired you, but you'll still be watching them even when April is long past.

Tell them instead of contributing to their campaign SuperPACs, you're sending a few bucks to your favorite environmental education or wildland advocacy orgsnization, or a park support organization — or to somebody doing hard science, measuring melt rates of glaciers or documenting changing atmospheric or oceanic chemistry — or to somebody working to save the lives of those who speak-up for the natural world against the greed and destruction of money-grubbing exploiters.

Here's how to find and contact your elected federal and state representatives:

Your U.S. government representatives.

[ ]

Your California State representatives.

[ ]

Make those four calls or send them each an email. Be general or be specific. Plenty of basic, general, points and some specific ones are above.

Any environmental organization will happily bring you up to speed on specifics of their current efforts, if you want to address something specific. The important thing is that you call or email your elected officials and tell them maintaining a healthy and habitable environment for you and your family really matters to you, and you're watching them. It's a fine way to spend a few minutes helping the planet to celebrate Earth Day. Or any day. It's doing something simple that really matters.


For some, getting a politician's office staffer for three minutes on the phone won't feel effective, even when it is. Let's face it: we all know people for whom direct action seems the most effective course. Perhaps that's you.

We've already cited Drew Hudson, who represents the group, Environmental Action [ ]. They were founded in 1970 with the first Earth Day. Hudson makes the point that this is "Not a day, but a movement."

He says, "Our movement is in the street, alive with the possibility of this moment. Because our movement is not made up of days — it's made of people."

He recounts what got his organization, and the rest of us, here: "Forty six years ago, millions of Americans took to the streets at the first Earth Day and affirmed our unalienable right to clean water, clean air and a sustainable planet to live on. That simple idea is alive today in our movement to save the planet and all of us who just live on it."

If you're looking for a place to physically impose yourself between the exploiters and protecting nature, Hudson's organization may be one to check out.

He says, "I've seen it in the wave of protests we're planning next month to break free from fossil fuels and #KeepItIntheGround. I've met this movement in the streets of New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, Miami, and dozens of other cities. Our movement is powerful, and that power threatens politicians and polluters. That's why I've seen members of it get arrested on the Steps of the U.S. Capitol, in the streets of the our financial districts and in a dozen cities and towns where people refuse to be silent in the face of injustice, oppression and pollution."

Hudson will tell you the movement is "also hopeful," saying, "I've literally danced with it in the streets of Paris, and the Earth Day events and parties happening in hundreds of cities and towns today are a testament to our achievements. I've also prayed for our movement along with leaders of dozens of faiths, many of whom have opened their doors to us so we could meet in their pews, sleep in their basements and share their peace regardless of what gods we do or do not believe in."

He takes the front-line approach, saying, "Our small but mighty staff are spread all over the country today at events in DC, Texas and beyond. It's not always easy. There is no permanent progress for our planet."

Hudson cites "the nearly one million people who've taken action with us online," as he seeks to "build a bigger, better, more inclusive movement with the guts and honesty to do what it takes to protect our planet."


For most of us, getting involved in, or supporting, the many other organizations and their leaders and spokespeople named herein will be better, certainly safer, options.

Plus, there are a great many more organizations we didn't get to, including the Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, and others that all deserve acclaim and support. Many have one or more specializations as their focus. Mostly staffed by enthusiastic volunteers who arrived with specialized knowledge or who received training to acquire new knowledge, they take their missions seriously. All would welcome your support.

Because everything is connected to everything else. And every day is Earth Day.


Music news, FESTIVALS, and events are in the UPDATED edition originally published April 16 and available at a separate click.

Much more, soon, on other topics.


The Guide brings you frequent editions covering MUSIC NEWS, arts and industry events, and ticket alerts, available right here on the Guide's Blogspot site.


Direct to the current editions /


editions load quickly at
CONTACT US at / send Questions / Comments to: . Tiedtothetracks (at) Hotmail (dot) com
Contents copyright © 2016, Lawrence Wines & Tied to the Tracks. All rights reserved.
♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS and views of interest to artists everywhere, more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music, both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues, and schedules and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues monumentally large and intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the roots of the blues and where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

SPECIAL EDITION: Prince — an American original musical genius and more...

This is a special edition. Music news, FESTIVALS, and events are in the UPDATED edition originally published April 16 and available at a separate click.



★ Friday, April 22, NASA released an image of "The Purple Nebula," in memory of Prince.

★ Saturday morning, April 23, when the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery opened in Washington, D.C., visitors discovered a new addition to its collection -- a portrait of Prince. We do not know if the Gallery holds portraits of Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, B.B. King, or Merle Haggard -- we intend to ask.


(Updated at 8:26 pm, 4-21-16)


by Larry Wines

We'll start in an esoteric place. Today's crop of innovative banjo players can trace their realization of the instrument's non-traditional potential to just two people: Bela Fleck and Prince.

Today, we lost one of them. And if you're thinking, "I won't take time to read this because it's not about a genre I care about," please don't be dismissive. Because this guy could play anything, every instrument you can think of, like David Lindley and a handful of people on this Earth.

And Prince absolutely knew and understood music and could very specifically envision the right person in the right place, like any classical conductor you could name.

Prince was found dead today at his estate and recording studio in Minnesota.

The President of the United States put-out a statement noting the shocking loss of "one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time."

Prince was full of surprises. No two of his albums were stylistically the same — and there were 39 of those albums over 37 years, his first at age 19. Sometimes he'd record with unconventional instrumentation, like horns and viola, sometimes things were all strings, but not what you'd expect. He has notable tracks with no bass, so the melody line can carry the day, or the artistry of the percussionist is clearly on display.

He really didn't like or respect rap or hip hop. His innovation often went in the direction of admiration for those who had come before him.

And really, the reason you don't know a lot of things about Prince is not because his genres were not folky, which they weren't, or because of the freaky gender-bending sex-imbued badaas character he sometimes enjoyed playing — as a game with the public and the media.

You don't know a lot of things about his musical genius because so much of him was unassuming and anything but grandstanding. Prince embodied the artist who pursues art for what it tells you about yourself. Not for what you can put up in lights and say "look at me."

Seven GRAMMYS, an OSCAR, a Golden Globe, inducted as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 100 million records sold worldwide, number 27 on the all-time list of the top 100 recording artists, 39 albums over 37 years — plus a central role in calling-out exploitation, discrimination, and things that were just plain wrong. That includes fighting for artists rights and a lot more.

After-hours Eastern time, the New Yorker released next week's magazine cover: solid purple with big raindrops. Purple rain.

He was only 57 years old, still making music last month, after releasing his first recording in 1978. His passing is causing an all-day pre-emption of cable tv. In our time, when a new pop music phenom — mistakenly presumed to be "an artist" — is "a sensation" that's around and gone in three years, Prince is from another era, when there were stars who endured.

It's been a tough year for music icons. Before this, we lost Merle Haggard. Before that, David Bowie, and Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey, and the essential "fifth Beatle," George Martin.

What makes somebody influential? Artists of every genre owe a huge debt to Prince for taking-on the piratical business model of Big Music. It cost him plenty, including having to give-up using his name, so he could say "no" to the exploitation of big record labels — in his case, Warner Music. Changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol and writing "Slave" across his face were perceived and presented by corporate mainstream media as unbalanced or even insane. But it worked to bring public attention to the gross inequities of the music biz.

Only the comparatively obscure but landmark case that folk artist Michelle Shocked took to the Supreme Court had a greater impact on recording artists' rights; the Court agreed that her label was holding her in "involuntary servitude," banned as slavery by the 13th Amendment. But Prince's battle with Big Music showed how much more needed to be done.

"People want music when they want it, but who do they think it's going to come from if nobody is willing to pay the artist for creating it?" asked Brian Williams, in one of the most concise summations of the central, perhaps existential, problem of the music business.

Despite public misunderstanding in the pre-internet age about his "symbol guy" status, he remained innovative in and out of music. Before long, Prince was THE pioneer in digital online distribution of music, when hidebound execs simply cowered in fear. Yet, he was something of a control freak, so no one else was as perfectly positioned to achieve that technological breakthrough.

Who else could play Jimi Hendrix and James Brown while still being ideosyncratically a music master? He was enigmatic, and he embraced it, because that was Prince, being authentically himself.

All those and plenty more recognitions are part of the tributes coming out of the shock.

Guide contributor Michele Marotta worked with Prince when he first attained fame. She wrote this remembrance to share with readers:

"Prince's passing hit me like a thunderbolt this morning. I was on the freeway and had to pull over. Then spent the next ten minutes crying, and let the shock sink in.

"I first met Price in 1985. My sister, Karen, worked for his management company, Cavallo, Ruffalo and Fargnoli. Through this connection, I was fortunate enough to go on the controversial Purple Rain tour. Drugs and alcohol were not allowed. Anyone caught with or on either, was immediately dismissed.

"Prince was a unique individual. He was a perfectionist. He prayed before every show. And he wore purple lace. As a musician he was a professional in every sense of the word. He was also the only musician on his label given complete creative control.

"He and his ex-wife, Mayte, had a child that died shortly after birth. A tragedy for anyone, famous or not. I believe they divorced shortly thereafter.

"Like the creative person he was, he wrote music to get through the pain.

"He was eccentric, which was part of his charm. Prince was a kind, generous and giving person. He was a musical genius and he will be missed."

Michele is among the many musicians shedding tears today. News sources and social media are filled with proof of that.

Prince music videos were among the pioneers of that art form in the '80s. On MSNBC, they've been running all day between interviews with musicians.

As known as he is for his own distinctive performance art, he goes beyond it. There is so much there. He wrote "Manic Monday" for the Bangles, and "Nothing Compares to You" for Sinead O'Connor. He said he grew-up listening to the Bangles, though he was making his own mark when they became famous.

He was such a contradiction, an enigma, in so many ways. Puritanical about touring band members using drugs. Prayer and spirituality. And the most blatantly scandalous sexy lyrics of the time.

Rachel Maddow reminisced, "Years before the music industry came up with those little warning stickers, Prince's label decided they needed to affix something... just for his records. Now, as a kid growing-up in the '80s and going to record stores, those little stickers could not have been a more powerful attractant. I wanted those records sooo much. Scandalized parents had everything to do with it. Those little stickers could not have been a better marketing tool."

"He was unconventional, wearing flamboyant clothes, hair, and makeup. He was a heterosexual man who was never afraid to explore the female parts of his own character," noted National Correspondent Joy Reid on MSNBC.

So much there. Prince wasn't passive when he saw opportunity for people to be involved. And life always demanded passion. If you attended a Prince concert, you were expected to be on your feet as a participant.

In New York City, the marquis of the Hard Rock Café is now displaying lyrics from "Purple Rain." Outside the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, people are dancing to Prince's "I Would Die for You."

Last year, Prince gave a free concert in Baltimore after the death by police of Freddie Gray — the artist trying to bring that torn city back together. After the Trayvon Martin tragedy, Prince founded and very quietly funded "Yes We Code" to teach high-end high tech industry skills to underprivileged young people.

Prince always sought-out talent. Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman worked closely with him before and after doing iconic tv show themes on their own, including "Crossing Jordan," where they also wrote memorable material for Jill Hennessey to perform on acoustic guitar as part of the story lines. Novi Novog played viola on his tours and records; before that, Novi played for Frank Zappa. When you see a booking around town for STRING PLANET, that's Novi Novog and Larry Tuttle. Very innovative stuff. Go see them.

Thinking and writing about Prince inescapably brings freely-associating thoughts. Perhaps he'd like that. He certainly causes it.

Saturday Night Live knew that, too, through several casts and many years, parodying the reclusive, elusive star and his remarks (when he made them), that often seemed astutely incongruous or mildly scandalous.

Rev. Al Sharpton was a Prince friend who went on tv today to relate how Prince supported a lot of civil rights causes and never wanted credit. And if that sounds like an odd association, Sharpton worked for music icon James Brown for more than 20 years.

CNN went to an all-day Prince tribute. Brian Williams hijacked MSNBC's broadcast schedule for hours, evicting the bloviating politicians and echo chamber of pundits. Both cable channels got music luminaries on the phone —including Aretha Franklin with Williams and Stevie Wonder with Anderson Cooper — and many more flocked to cite Prince's influence on their careers.

Susan Rogers engineered some of his most notable recordings. She notes, "Very few artists have worn the 'triple crown' of public fame, artistic respect, and critical acclaim. Duke Ellington was one... Prince was one who wore that triple crown."

Rogers continues, "When we were on the Purple Rain tour, we would do special shows during the day for handicapped kids..., people who couldn't come to the regular shows at night. He would do that on the condition that the press not be told. I have heard from many artists who say he kept their careers alive by funding their tours. As we hear more stories coming in, people will be amazed at who this man really was."

Prince's other principal engineer, Chuck Zwicky, said, "He was gifted and talented and innovative." And to emphasize what "innovative" really means, he added, "We used to say at the end of the day that if something wasn't f'ed up, it wasn't a Prince record."

The Recording Academy® — the GRAMMY organization — released a statement that reads:

"Our GRAMMY® family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of seven-time GRAMMY Award winner Prince. Today, we remember and celebrate him as one of the most uniquely gifted artists of all time. Never one to conform, he redefined and forever changed our musical landscape. Prince was an original who influenced so many, and his legacy will live on forever. We have lost a true innovator and our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends, collaborators, and all who have been impacted by his incredible work."

— Neil Portnow President/CEO, The Recording Academy.

Prince was a vegan. He drove people crazy on tour with his Jehovah's Witness religion. Beyond that, he was deeply spiritual and so private he was accused of being reclusive.

Many people who knew him are noting, as Brian Williams is emphasizing, that the unreleased catalog of his recordings is overwhelmingly enormous. Talk will be abundant about what it will take to release the material that Prince didn't.

Alicia Quarles, a freelance entertainment writer, notes that he was working on a book about his life, edited by his brother. "Too many people around him would have said 'yes' to everything, and he needed someone who could be harsh and critical and tell him 'no,' so he would only allow his brother to be involved with his book," she said.

Quarles named Tavis Smiley, Dave Chapell, Eddie Murphy, and Tamron Hall as people with whom he was close.

"Prince made pancakes for Eddie Murphy and his brother after they played a basketball game. Growing up, Prince was quite an athlete," she added.

Van Jones, a CNN political commentator, spoke of Prince's athleticism, too. "He could absolutely kill you at table tennis, and talking trash the whole time."

Jones also said, "He was one of the funniest people I've ever known. He could have you on the verge of peeing yourself, you were laughing so hard. He could do so many things."

Prince wrote "Nothing Compares to You" for Sinead O'Connor. He grew-up listening to the Bangles. "He was unconventional, wearing flamboyant clothes, hair, and makeup. He was a heterosexual man who was never afraid to explore the female parts of his character," noted Joy Reid on MSNBC.

If you attended a Prince concert, you were expected to be on your feet as a participant.

In New York City, the marquis of the Hard Rock Café is now displaying lyrics from "Purple Rain." Last year, Prince gave a free concert in Baltimore after the death by police of Freddie Gray —the artist trying to bring that torn city back together. After the Trayvon Martin tragedy, Prince founded and very quietly funded "Yes We Code," to teach high tech industry skills to underprivileged young people.

James Peterson, Prof. of Africana Studies at Lehigh University, cited the importance of Prince's presentation and how he enabled fans to comfortably embrace it. "With rap and hip hop pushing a model of hypermasculinity for black entertainers, [Prince] was invested as an artist in being the most prolific artist he could be... in a way that transcends anyone's stereotypes and expectations."

Jersey has the Boss. Seattle has Heart and Nirvana. L.A. had the Doors and the Byrds. Minnesota has long been just as proud of Prince.

Tonight, on the facing banks of the Mississippi in Minnesota's Twin Cities, baseball's Twins have their stadium bathed in purple. So do both downtowns, where thousands of Prince fans have congregated to hear local bands play his music, all organized on five hours' notice from a local radio station. Appropriately, all is bathed in purple. And it's raining.

Today we lost an artist and an authentically American original. A man whose influence transcends music. A man who positively gifted American and global culture.


Music news, FESTIVALS, and events are in the UPDATED edition originally published April 16 and available at a separate click.

Much more, soon, on other topics.


The Guide brings you frequent editions covering MUSIC NEWS, arts and industry events, and ticket alerts, available right here on the Guide's Blogspot site.


Direct to the current editions /


editions load quickly at
CONTACT US at / send Questions / Comments to: . Tiedtothetracks (at) Hotmail (dot) com
Contents copyright © 2016, Lawrence Wines & Tied to the Tracks. All rights reserved.
♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS and views of interest to artists everywhere, more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music, both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues, and schedules and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues monumentally large and intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the roots of the blues and where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

UPDATED! Mid-April, onward: music news, events, what you need to plan tuneful times...

This edition has ADDITIONS. It also has CORRECTIONS for the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, happening APRIL 20-24.

News, events, a round-up of the best Merle Haggard tributes, the festival & concert scene, special releases for Saturday's annual "National Record Store Day," Earth Day, a wonderful retro show coming to Caltech, and two special features: banjo & fiddle, to get you ready for next month's Topanga•Banjo Contest & Folk Festival.

Here's what's in this edition...









9)  BANJO "HOT RODS" - by Barry Hunn

10)  PAINTED VIOLINS — PROS & CONS - by Will Cornell

Let's get started!


# 1 news feature...


It's seen a lot of changes in the past two years, and there were plenty of skeptics when a Hollywood production arrived and ran the festival out of its original, longtime home at Gene Autry's old Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studios. But last year's makeshift move to Hart Park worked, and looks to be permanent.

There's plenty of Western movie and tv heritage in and around Santa Clarita and especially old Newhall, one of the original towns absorbed into the modern commuter bedroom community. Today's town sprawls through canyons and keeps bringing condos and McMansions into river bottoms.

But once a year, the focus is on that rich cowboy heritage, which has included working horse and cattle ranches and countless old movie locations, some with singin' cowboys. The latter started with Autry, and led to the movie-set western town at his ranch. And there's the new festival site, Hart Park, a gift long-ago "to the people" from silent-era movie star William S. Hart. It was Hart's working ranch, and the buffalo literally still roam there.

The Cowboy Festival, which began as a cowboy poetry festival with some music, flipped those emphases end-for-end more than a decade back, en-route to becoming one of the nation's top Western music festivals. Even with the forced move away from Autry's movie town, top music-makers — from traditional cowboy to contemporary Western and honky tonk — all play here every year. That hasn't changed. But what you need to do to see them has.

The biggest change is, it's no longer a one-price-for-all-stages event. The daytime Saturday-and-Sunday main festival site has multiple stages. But the headliner acts are scattered around town in some very nice theatres, starting Wednesday night. Each of those shows requires a separate ticket. That concept is actually a return to the early days at Melody Ranch, when top acts were inside the sound stages and required extra tickets.

Friday at 11 am, there's a satellite festival at historic Rancho Camulos out Hwy 126 near Piru. It's under the auspices of the main festival, and it's where you go to see headliner Dave Stamey, winner of 'purt near every award there is in Western music. It's the place where "Ramona" was written. One of the top-selling novels of the 19th century purportedly based on an old Californio Romeo & Juliet who lived there, though the annual "Ramona Pageant," California's official outdoor play, is in Hemet, April 18-May 3 (see listing) a couple hundred miles inland. (Friday's Santa Clarita satellite festival is "CALIFORNIA FIESTA DE RANCHO CAMULOS" at Rancho Camulos Museum, 5164 E Telegraph Rd, Piru 93040.)

Mostly, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival headliner acts only perform full sets in the assortment of theatres around town, though some will play short sets at Hart Park on Saturday or Sunday. There are also bus trip tours to famous film locations, the induction of new honorees on the Western Walk of Fame and dedication of their monuments. And activities in the park include champion ropers, six-gun twirlers, crafts, food — with the ever-popular dutch-oven biscuits 'n gravy and peach cobbler.

So, bottom line? You still park free in a central lot and ride a free shuttle bus — to Hart Park instead of Melody Ranch. Admission to the main site activities is cheaper than it was at the Ranch, but you likely won't see the big stars there in the Park. You'll need individual tickets to those various venues for that. Last year — the first with this new set-up — proved it is still a lot of fun, and still very worth going. But it is a very different festival, and all those extra tickets can get expensive.

Schedules, maps, and tix info:

Main Festival site general admission - single day -(Saturday OR Sunday)
Adult $10.
Child (age 3-12) $7.
VIP pkg tix $75.

Tix include free round-trip transportation from parking area to festival site at William S. Hart Park Event Area, 24151 Newhall Av, Santa Clarita 91321; 661-250-3735;


# 2 news feature...


One day a year, we celebrate a happily improbable turn-around in what seemed an irresistible change. And that day doubles as an excuse to go out and discover your new favorite album — that you never knew existed.
That's National Record Store Day. And it's this Saturday.

Not long ago, the record store — any record store, whether a retail chain or indie — was on the cultural endangered species list. Thanks to a whole lot of factors that include fortitude, grassroots uprising, intransigent inability to accept one-size-fits-all distribution of limited offerings of music, nostalgia, and the irreplaceable feeling of being with "your people" musically, you can again find one of (more, if you're lucky) those magical places that invites you to flip through CD jewel cases and vinyl album jackets, freshly minted or resurrected with Lazarus himself.

The most entrepreneurial labels get in on the celebration by releasing new, often blink-and-you-miss-them, limited editions. Rhino Records has announced "27 Limited Edition Vinyl Releases," all available at participating independent record stores on April 16.

Those 27 Rhino specials for Record Store Day from include:

√ "TRUCK DRIVIN' MAN (LIVE)" (SIDE BY SIDE SERIES) — Willie Nelson / Uncle Tupelo

√ "THE CRITERIA SESSIONS" — Buddy Guy & Junior Wells

√ "LIVE AT THE BOTTOM LINE 2/12/96" — Son Volt

√ "LIVE IN PHILADELPHIA 1975" — Allen Toussaint

√ "WEREWOLVES OF LONDON" (SIDE BY SIDE SERIES) — Warren Zevon / Flamin' Groovie.

√ "BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN" (SIDE BY SIDE SERIES) — Albert King / The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

√ "THE DEMOS 1994-1998" — Alanis Morissette

√ "THE ROULETTE SIDES" — John Coltrane




√ "(ALTERNATE) TUSK" — Fleetwood Mac


√ "TVC15" — David Bowie

√ "CAPITOL THEATER 4/25/77 - PASSAIC, NJ" — Grateful Dead

Plus there are all those other labels and whatever each store does on its own for the day.

Find your local retailer at:

Happy hunting. And remember to tell the proprietors thanks for being there!


# 3 news feature...


PLENTY is out there, from this weekend through the rest of Spring. Some require prompt action before tickets are gone.


√  THE HONEY WHISKEY TRIO: Sat, Apr 16, 7 pm, at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena. Reservations (10 am-10 pm, 7 days) at 626-798-6236. Tix, $18.


√  WESLEY STACE (formerly known as John Wesley Harding) plays Sat, Apr 16, 8 pm, his first McCabe's show in quite some time, at McCabe's, 3101 Pico Bl, Santa Monica 90405; 310-828-4497; Tix, $20.


√  ANDY & RENEE: Sat, Apr 16, 9 pm-12 am, starting after the King's playoff game, they're a superb roots-Americana / roots rock / Dylanesque band, playing at Texas Loosey's, 22252 Palos Verdes Bl, Torrance 90505; 310-540-9799.


√  MURPHY'S FLAW BLUEGRASS BAND plays two days, Sun, Apr 17, noon-2 pm brunch; Mon, Apr 18, 8 pm for the monthly BASC BLUEGRASS NIGHT, both at Cody's Viva Cantina, on Riverside Dr in Burbank, next to L.A. Equestrian Center.


√  3rd Annual "ALTADENA COWBOY MUSIC & POETRY FESTIVAL," Sun, Apr 17, 3 pm, at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena. Reservations (10 am-10 pm, 7 days) at 626-798-6236. A sit-down show in an intimate venue, avoiding the hubbub of next weekend's big Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival. With (billing with characterizations as we received them): THE SAGUARO SISTERS, “Songbirds of the Golden West”; CLIFF EMMICH, “Cowboy Poet of the Year”; MARK TWAINMAN, “The Sam Clemenski of Stand-Up Humorists”; KATY CAVERA, “Princess of the West”; JOHN “PRESTO” REYNOLDS, “Potentate of the Plectrum”; WILL RYAN, “King of the Radio Cowboys” & author of “The Tiny Little Book of Cowboy Haiku”; IPHAGENIA PENTAMETER and KATIE LEIGH, from the International Society of Cowboy Poets and Lyricists, Geneva, Switzerland; BENNY BRYDERN, “Wenceslaus of Western Skiffle Swing”; and from Cactus County, California, “The Band that Won the West,” WILL RYAN & THE CACTUS COUNTY COWBOYS. Tix, $20.


√  ERNEST TROOST and RICK SHEA: Sun, Apr 17, 7 pm, at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena. Reservations (10 am-10 pm, 7 days) at 626-798-6236. Tix, $18.


√  RICHARD SMITH, guitar wizard: Sun, Apr 17, 8 pm, at McCabe's, 3101 Pico Bl, Santa Monica 90405; 310-828-4497; Tix, $15.


√  Annual "RAMONA PAGEANT" runs Apr 18-May 3 in the Ramona Bowl in Hemet. “Ramona” is "California’s Official Outdoor Play" and the longest continuously-running outdoor drama in the United States. It's based on a a bestselling 19th century novel that was written at Rancho Camulos in inland Ventura County and based on a legend of old Californio Romeo & Juliet. So, naturally, the book became a play performed in a theatre bearing its name — nearly 200 miles away. Nestled in the heart of the beautiful rolling hills of Hemet, California, embraced by a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, The Ramona Bowl, established in 1923, is a genuine historic landmark and a California treasure. Through the summer, the Ramona Bowl hosts concerts and other outdoor entertainment..Info on the concert season & tix for "Ramona" — before they sell-out for the year — at:


Spotlight feature story...
√  STREETLIGHT CADENCE: Thu, Apr 21, 8 pm, at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena. Phone for reservations (10 am-10 pm, 7 days): 626-798-6236. Winners of a NaHoku award for their second album (that’s the Hawaiian equivalent of a Grammy). Not Hawaiian, but from Hawaii. They honed their performance chops on the sidewalks of Waikiki, as yes, street performers. But don’t for a minute think that these guys are not super pros. They are all classically trained, they all sing in gorgeous harmonies, one plays three instruments at the same time (yes, that's right). They’re funny, and they know how to keep you bouncing in your seat from song to song and in between. They write folky, poppy, happy, catchy melodies and they layer lyrics that are meaningful and memorable from the first listen. Their songs stick with you. They've been in L.A. barely 4 months and have wowed audiences, even performing on the rooftop patio of the Grammy Museum downtown. You can sometimes catch them in a coveted spot on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, but the best way to hear them without street noises is in the intimacy of this little hideaway while seated in Bob's fine plastic patio chairs. Bob Stane says, "You won’t catch them for long at this price. Their newest album is up for another NaHoku. Can the Grammys be next?" Tix, $18.


√  HAGFEST: A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO MERLE HAGGARD:  Fri, Apr 22, 8 pm, at McCabe's, 3101 Pico Bl, Santa Monica 90405; 310-828-4497; Curated by McCabe's own Fred Sokolow and featuring a stellar cast of L.A. players, including some of Merle's band mates. L.A.'s finest country musicians gather to celebrate Merle Haggard and his songs. Fred Sokolow leads a band that includes Taras Prodaniuk (Merle's bass player for many years), Harry Orlove, Dean Parks, Marty Rifkin, Dillon O'Brian, Aubrey Richmond, Brantley Kearns, Zac Sokolow, and more. Many singers will perform, including Rick Shea, Ronnie Mack, The Americans, Nettie Rose, and lots of surprise guests. Tix, $12.50.


√  Annual "SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA STORY SWAP FESTIVAL" is Sat, Apr 23, 8:30 am-3:30 pm, presented by South Coast Storytellers Guild, at the Anaheim United Methodist Church, 1000 South State College Bl, Anaheim 92806.


√  FREEBO & His FABULOUS FRIENDS: Sat, Apr 23, 8 pm, in Thousand Oaks, (full band show), at Hillcrest Center For The Arts, 403 W Hillcrest Dr, Thousand Oaks 91360. Freebo says, "I’ll be joined by my excellent L.A. band of CHAD WATSON (bass), FUZZBEE MORSE (guitar) and MICHAEL JOCHUM (drums) for a very special show at Steve Brogden’s new venue in Thousand Oaks, CA. It’s been a long time since the band has played together, and adding Michael Jochum on drums will be a real treat. We will rock & jam, yet fill your ears with great songs with excellent lyrical content." Advance tix, $20, at:


√  KRISTEN KORB & FRIENDS: Sat, Apr 23, 8 pm, at Alvas Showroom, 1417 W 8th St, San Pedro 90732;; adv. tix: 310-519-1314.

The venue has gotten in heavy jazz immersions, beyond where most Folk-Americana tastes go — except for the above, and these other highly recommended shows (tix avail. now):

•  Tim Weisberg: Sat, Jun 18; 8 pm.
•  John York: Sat, Jun 25; 8 pm.
•  Sarah McQuaid: Sun, Sep 18; 4 pm. 

Complimentary hot coffee, tea, cocoa, and a filtered water fountain are provided. Bring your own food & drinks.


√  17th Annual "NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL" is spotlighting Irish cinema and culture on Sun, Apr 24, 6 pm, with screening of "My Name Is Emily" at Edwards Big Newport, 300 Newport Center Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660. The post-screening celebration at Muldoon's Irish Pub, 545 Newport Center Dr, Newport Beach. Tix & info:


√  "INTERNATIONAL URANIUM FILM FESTIVAL," Wed, Apr 27, noon-11 pm, is FREE with advance tix, at Raleigh Studios Hollywood.Featuring live music in a courtyard reception with filmmakers following a series of films and a brief panel discussion moderated by Harvey Wasserman and Kat Kramer. The Festival questions the proliferation of nuclear power and the risks of radioactivity, from uranium mining to nuclear waste. Comp tickets are available by contacting:


√  BIG STARS THIRD LIVE with Full Orchestra & special guests: Wed, Apr 27, 8 pm, at the Alex Theatre, 216 N Brand Bl, Glendale 91203.  Tix,


√  "MALIBU GUITAR FESTIVAL," Apr 28-May 1, in the center of Malibu, built-around an all-day outdoor festival concert held at the Cross-Creek area. Footsteps from the beach and various local parks, stores and restaurants. Featuring performances from award-winning legendary musicians from around the world, including Kenny Wayne Shepard, Albert Lee, Laurence Juber, Dale Watson, Randy Jackson, Michael Hayes, Eddie Money & the Sound Of Money, Buzz Wizzards featuring Steve Stevens, the Maze with Michelle Wolf, and more, plus more to be announced. Limited Early Bird tix now available, and all info, at:


√  Annual "STAGECOACH FESTIVAL" is Fri-Sun, Apr 29-May 1, at Empire Polo Grounds in Indio. Tix:


√  26th Annual "DYLANFEST" hosted by the award-winning band Andy & Renee & Hard Rain, is an exceptional event with Grammy winners and nominees and top touring and session musicians. Each performs one or two songs written by Bob Dylan, with no songs repeated, all day. Some selections bring-out fans with costumes, props, placards, and the like. It's all-ages, with kids activities, and plenty of indoor space for anyone needing more shade than the trees. Held on a nice stage in the courtyard of the Torrance Performing Arts Center. Info and adv. tix (recommended) at


√  "VICTORIAN FAIR" is Sat & Sun, Apr 30 & May 1, 1-5 pm both days, FREE, at the Homestead Museum, 15415 E Don Julian Rd, City of Industry 91745;; 626-968-8492. Bring spending money for food and shopping. No pets allowed (only certified service animals are permitted). All ages are invited to travel back in time to participate in a lively Victorian Fair on the beautiful grounds of the Homestead Museum. Live music, dancing, crafts, historic house tours, demonstrations, much more. This museum also produces the "Ticket to the Twenties" festival every fall. The museum provides a unique way to look at Southern California's history from the 1840s, when this land was still part of Mexico, through the 1920s, when Los Angeles came to be known as a major metropolitan city. This six-acre site features the Workman House, a Victorian-era country home constructed around an 1840s adobe; La Casa Nueva, a 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival mansion noted for its architectural crafts; and El Campo Santo, one of the oldest private cemeteries in Southern California. Through all of its programs, the museum strives to create advocates for history through the stories of greater Los Angeles. Info: 626-968-8492 or


√  PACIFIC SYMPHONY SANTIAGO STRINGS Youth Ensemble: Sun, May 1, 7 pm, at Renée & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 615 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa. FREE, but tickets are required. More info / reserve tix, call 714-755-5799 or online at: Recently returned from a tour to Florida and energized by a season of artistic achievement, Santiago Strings delivers an electrifying musical culmination of its silver jubilee. From Copland’s toe-tapping “Hoe-Down” to the jazzy rhythms of “Cook it Hot or Get Out of the Kitchen,” there’s something for everyone to dance to in this brilliant display of young talent and robust dance styles. This concert reflects on Santiago Strings’ 25 years of musical excellence and celebrates the future with a world premiere commission by Pacific Symphony Composer-in-Residence Narong Prangcharoen. Also, Dvořák’s “Slavonic Dance” in E Minor, Bartok’s “Dances of Transylvania” and more.


√  2nd Annual "SOIREE TO BENEFIT THE LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY:" May 11 at the Teragram Ballroom, 1234 W 7th St, Los Angeles 90017. Singer-songwriters Jason Ryan Taylor and Brian Ripps are hosting with LLS Woman of the Year nominee Stephanie Insalaco. Taylor is previewing his upcoming album "Creation Creator," plus indie artists Erland, Chris Ayer, Alex John Butte, and Saint London will perform, along with Puscie Jones and Brenda Carsey & the Awe. Adv. tix, $20, available online or at the Teragram Ballroom Box Office, or $25 at the door. A limited number of VIP meet-and-greet tickets are available, including a chance to meet Robby Krieger from The Doors at the event.


√  Annual "LOS ANGELES OLD TIME SOCIAL" returns Apr 12-14 to several venues around L.A., as the perfect lead-in to Sunday's Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival. This one is all about the revival of that fun, lively, raucous music that pre-dates bluegrass. While bluegrass is often caught-up in murder ballads, fire-and-brimstone religion and other depressing topics, "old time is good time" and smiles abound. There are a couple of evening concerts, dances, jams, and Saturday is a full day of workshops. More info soon.


√  JANIVA MAGNESS, May 14, at McCabe's, 3101 Pico Bl, Santa Monica 90405; 310-828-4497; It's a CD release concert by the Blues Foundation "Entertainer of the Year" winner, bringing her full-tilt blues and R&B.


√  Annual "TOPANGA BANJO•FIDDLE CONTEST & FOLK FESTIVAL" is Sun, May 15, and, as we've been telling you for years, the best one-day festival anywhere. It is a delightful day in the country in the Santa Monica Mountains, where the National Park Service protects nature and the Old West town movie sets at Paramount Ranch. The event attracts contestants from several states and presents professional musicians on multiple stages and superb jamming. New this year is trad dance competition. Adv. tix and complete schedules:


√  Annual "CLAREMONT FOLK FESTIVAL" is Sun, May 22. More info soon.


√  Annual "HUCK FINN JUBILEE BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL" is June 10-12, with a great line-up, in Ontario.


√  "A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION" FINALE is Fri, Jul 1, in the Hollywood Bowl. Tickets go on sale May 1 for Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion in its final appearance in Los Angeles, as he retires from the landmark show that has been a delight and, notably, a tremendous national stage for folk musicians for over 40 years. This will sell-out very fast.


Miscellaneous things to do...


Apr 7 – Jun 15...
Eighth Biennial Ontario Invitational Art Exhibit


Apr 29 – May 1
Upland Lemon Festival in downtown Upland is FREE and includes live music and everything lemony that's edible. Info:


May 1
Third Biennial Invitational Sculpture in the Garden exhibition


May 28 & 29
"STAR WARS READS" with actor Billy Dee Williams is a special event in the literacy program at the Rancho Cucamonga Library at Victoria Gardens.  It's a two-day event over the Memorial Day weekend. Thousands of "Star Wars" fans are expected to enjoy a free, fun, family time with several entertainment options. On Sunday, a limited number of people will have the opportunity to take part in “A Conversation with Billy Dee Williams” at the Lewis Family Playhouse. Then he will read to the crowd outside the theatre.


# 4 news feature...


GRAMMY Museum Opens "Shining Like A National Guitar Exhibit"

On your next visit to the GRAMMY Museum, make sure you check out their newly installed special display on the fourth floor, "Shining Like A National Guitar." The display features the largest collection of guitars from the National company, and was gifted to the Museum as part of its permanent collection.

The National company built an amazingly varied and creative line of acoustic resonator instruments until World War II forced the company to effectively cease production.

The folk revival of the 1960s saw a renewed interest in the resonator guitar, and since that time, the original instruments have been highly sought by discerning players.

Blues artists including Tampa Red, Son House, Bukka White, and, more recently, Taj Mahal, Johnny Winter, and Mark Knopfler have all used National instruments extensively in recording and performance. These instruments are as beautiful to look at as they are to play.

The Grammy Museum is located adjacent to the Staples Center and LA Live complex and contains an astonishing array of music history and interactive displays. You can ride the Metro rail Blue Line to Chick Hearn Station and avoid expensive parking.


# 5 news feature...


Merle Haggard was one of the few authentically essential Americana songwriters and musicians. He died on Wednesday, April 6, on his birthday, at age of 79. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard had released their excellent "Django and Jimmie" album in 2015. Merle had a new one, partially finished.

Chuck Todd, host of tv's "Meet the Press," opened that Wednesday's "MTP Daily" broadcast with this: "As Merle Haggard used to say, 'The good times aren't over for good.'"

That's influence on the national culture.

Of course, the famous all came forward with tributes, commencing the moment the world learned he had died. So did many others.

The Guide's founding editor, Larry Wines, says, "I can see him like it was a couple hours ago, on stage ten feet away, that sly smile when he made eye contact, absolutely in his natural element. Then I think of Tracy Newman's great song about the unaware teenage waitress who waited on him in a coffee shop, somewhere in America, on a late night after he had played a concert.

And there's the real-life tale from photographer Michele Marotta, born into a show biz family, but for a time in her youth, rattling around, waitressing in the middle of nowhere. As Michele tells it:

"I met Merle Haggard just once, in 1974. I was a waitress at a dive coffee shop and he and his entourage came in for food. This was in El Paso, Texas, at a diner named Jord-inns. A real dive.

"I introduced myself to him and told him how much I loved his music. He knew from my accent I was not from Texas or any part of the Southwest. When I told him where I was from and who my family was (yes, music biz) he very firmly told me to get back to L.A. and go back to work in music.

"We reconnected in Facebook last year. He said he remembered me, however I doubt he did. He was just that kind of guy — the perfect gentleman. I never saw him in concert. He and his music will be missed."

She speaks of that long ago meeting as a crossroads.

A certain amount of mythology accompanies any celebrity. But there are too many stories, giving ample reason to know that this guy was the real deal. Starting with his being born in a converted boxcar in Oildale (I was driven by that old wood-sheathed Santa Fe boxcar which must have been retired from the rails nearly 100 years ago. It was still there, not more than two years back).

But the story really takes form with his place in lockup in San Quentin, as a hopeless hard case — until Johnny Cash came to play there, and record that famous "live" album. It was transformative for the young Haggard. He would always say it was literally when he resolved to turn his life around. And how he did.

Plenty of links and excerpts for words and music follow in a moment, proving that point.

The tributes poured forth, so abundantly that no one could have kept up with the best of them at the time.

Having had time to catch our breath and read a fair number of them, we have chosen a few to recommend, ones very worth your time. Here they are, with a few excerpts.

Cathy Spaulding writes for the Muskogee Phoenix. In her story, she looks at how "Merle Haggard's legacy lives on in Muskogee" — Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA. It was picked-up by the Richmond Register, in Virginia. Like everything about "The Hag," as friends called him, his influence reaches well beyond the Oklahoma his impoverished parents fled as Dustbowl refugees. Indeed, there are few whose music has gone farther. To wit:

"When the Apollo 16 mission to the moon was launched in April 1972, Charles Duke Jr. was the lunar module pilot. Wanting to take along something that was quintessentially American,he took two identical cassette tapes of songs. 'Okie From Muskogee' was on those cassettes...

"Duke played the cassettes while in space and then left one at the base of the American flag that he and his crewmate John Young planted on the moon’s surface. Duke brought the other cassette back to Earth, and he donated it to the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum."

Cathy Spaulding's full story is at:

On NPR, Patterson Hood of the band Drive By Truckers remembers growing up with Merle Haggard's music "carved in stone." Part can be read, part is for listening, at:

Brian Dugger, whose job title is "staff writer" at the Toledo Blade in Ohio, has interviewed way more than his share of famous musicians. How he begins his story, and where Merle takes it, make it a must-share:

"April 6, 2016. It’s a day that country music fans will never forget.

"It’s the day that Merle Haggard, one of the fathers of outlaw country and the Bakersfield Sound, died.

"Seven months ago, I interviewed Merle and it was an experience I will always treasure. I tell people that I love my job because I have the opportunity to talk to the giants of country music: Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton. They all will be interviews that I will recall fondly when I write my final story.

"But Merle was different. He was a legend, and I paced around my house nervously waiting to call him in September, so nervous in fact that my wife, Victoria, took notice. 'Why are you nervous? You talk to these guys all the time, and you never get nervous.'

"Incredulous, I responded, 'It’s MERLE HAGGARD.'

"Over and over when I talk to artists, they mention Merle and his influence on their lives. Eric Church recorded a song called 'Pledge Allegiance to the Hag.' Years ago, I remember Blaine Larsen telling me about a song on his album, 'If Merle Would Sing My Song.' One of the lines in the song was 'If Merle would sing my song, I could go back home and tell everyone I know that dreams come true.' And Larsen’s dream did come true because Haggard sang the final lines of the song.

"He was revered, and I was more nervous than I have ever been before that September interview.

"But Merle made the nerves go away.

"He answered the phone, and it was like talking to my grandfather. He told stories about the good old days. His stories were captivating, about meeting Johnny Cash in San Quentin Prison and becoming lifelong friends with Willie Nelson, and about how marijuana is God’s gift to mankind. And he complained about the young kids of today, how no one can hold a melody, and they just scream too much. Interestingly, he also talked about about how he really admired Taylor Swift, how she was one young musician he really appreciated.

"But mostly, he talked about what a truly special life he has had.

"'It’s been wonderful, it’s been interesting, it’s been exciting, it’s been terrifying,' he said. 'It’s been everything. It’s been unbelievable.'

"It was 50 years of unbelievable. It was 50 years ago that he had his first breakthrough hit, 'Swinging Doors,' which peaked at No. 5 on the country charts. By the time his career ended on Wednesday, he had piled up 40 No. 1 hits, including chart-toppers in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

"He proved his relevance last year when he and Nelson released an album, 'Django & Jimmie,' which debuted at No. 1 on the country albums chart and No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart for all genres. When he talked to me, he said he had been working on his own album at his studio on his 250-acre ranch in California. He said it was about three-quarters of the way done. At this point, that album has not been released.

"Before I hung up with him, I asked if there was anything else he might want his fans to know.

"He just chuckled. 'I think my fans know more about me than I do.'"

Read Brian Dugger's full story at:

Rolling Stone published two full feature tributes in as many days. The first was a team effort of its staff and a great many prominent musicians and show biz luminaries.

Titled, "Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Clint Eastwood Remember Merle Haggard," the subtitle is, "Celebrity friends also including Ron Howard, Eric Church and Tanya Tucker pay tribute to the late country music legend." And that doesn't begin to scratch the surface of the who's-who in this story.

Here's just one:

"Haggard once admitted a big crush on Dolly Parton, with whom he toured in 1974 and 1975. Their many collaborations included a few songs on Parton's own television show. 'We've lost one of the greatest writers and singers of all time,' says Parton. 'His heart was as tender as his love ballads. I loved him like a brother. Rest easy, Merle.'"

Read the many quips and quotes in the story — and enjoy the extensive Merle Haggard music playlist link — at:

Rolling Stone's second feature came on April 7th. David Menconi smartly thought of the book by Ray Benson of quintessential Texas band Asleep at the Wheel. His story, "Ray Benson Recalls Fightin' Side of Merle Haggard," is built on an excerpt from Benson's book, in which he tells the story of a heated Music Row argument.

Read it at:

The L.A. Times provided fine coverage with solid perspective, too. Randy Lewis reaches the essence of the artist, the man, and his vital place in the pantheon on American folk music, in his story, "Merle Haggard: The authentic and gifted voice of the people."

Lewis asserts, "Honky tonk laments were just the tip of the iceberg. If folk-protest hero Woody Guthrie had a lifelong country music ally and disciple in his unflagging empathy for the plight of working people, it was Haggard. Time and again he returned to the subject of those who have to scratch out a living any way they could in the land of plenty."

Lewis also notes:

"Merle Haggard's songs always seemed to channel the people he sang for through his 79 years: blue-collar workers, prison inmates, forlorn lovers and everyday Americans looking for signs of reassurance or stability as their world changed around them.

"He didn't invent the so-called 'Bakersfield sound' in country music, a punchier, twangier, edgier counterpoint to what was coming out of Nashville's recording studios in the 1950s and '60s. That credit belongs to some of Haggard's predecessors in the oil- and agricultural-rooted community: Tommy Collins, Bill Woods, Wynn Stewart and, the first bona fide country star out of Bakersfield, Buck Owens.

"But Haggard, born in nearby Oildale, quickly became the most erudite and insightful voice of the Bakersfield sound. In song after song, he articulated with utter authenticity the dreams, the fears, the hurts, the hopes of not just his fellow Americans, but his fellow human beings.

"In his first Top 5 country hit, 'Swinging Doors' from 1966, he freshened up the even-then clichéd subject of the hapless guy booted out of his home, forced to take up residence at the local honky tonk:

'I've got everything I need to drive me crazy

'I've got everything it takes to lose my mind

'And in here the atmosphere's just right for heartaches

'And thanks to you I'm always here till closing time.'

"In 'I Take A Lot of Pride in What I Am' from 1969, he sang of one who owned his place on society's fringes, and keeping his head unbowed:

'Home is anywhere I'm livin'

'If it's sleepin' on some vacant bench in City Square

'Or if I'm workin' on some road gang

'Or just livin' off the fat of our great land

'I never been nobody's idol, but at least I got a title

'And I take a lot of pride in what I am.'"

Lewis also notes:

"His love songs are among the best ever written, which is why they've been recorded and performed by others extensively over time. 'I Started Loving You Again,' from 1968, has a lyrical nod to Owens' earlier hit 'Crying Time,' yet still became a country classic on its own."

We noted political tv anchor Chuck Todd's on-air tribute. Randy Lewis explores the complexity of the politics of Merle Haggard's music:

"Haggard was long a favorite of political conservatives, in no small part because his early anthems seeming to espouse traditional values such as 'Okie From Muskogee' and 'The Fightin' Side of Me.' Yet when Democrat Barack Obama was elected president, Haggard was filled with patriotic pride.

"'I think we're probably guilty of living up to the Constitution for the first time in the history of America —which is really something to say,' Haggard told me in 2009. 'In my lifetime, they were still lynching blacks without a court, without a trial. To see it come all the way to [an African American] being elected president is really something.'

"Every time I watched him sing 'Okie From Muskogee' — outwardly poking fun at the hippie peace-and-love generation that was in full flower when he wrote it in 1969 — I tried to discern whether he was being sincere, or being slyly ironic. I finally concluded it was a little of both, which also was part of his great gift as a writer.

"As much as anyone, he recognized that life wasn't etched in black and white but in a full complement of colors. And like Mark Twain, Haggard could convincingly capture the attitude of any number of characters in his songs, without necessarily internalizing the views he helped them express."

You can enjoy the full piece by Randy Lewis at:

You will, for sure, want an additional link from the L.A. Times to these Merle Haggard recorded performances, including "Okie from Muskogee." It's a nice compilation of music performance links, with a title that shows the reach of the man's music: "'Okie from Muskogee' to Obama." The link is:

Finally, for the more stodgy Folk aficionado, hit the internet and find the very fine and fun album by Chris Hillman and Herb Pederson, "The Bakersfield Sound."

In fact, stodgy folkie or not, you'll love that album. Beyond that, you can't beat any of Merle Haggard's own records. And they'll still be saying that, many years from now.


# 6 news feature...


National Park Week, America's biggest annual celebration of our nation's greatest treasures, is much older than Earth Day. For those able to take a trip, it's all about exploring incredible places. Whether you can physically go, it's still about connecting with our nation's rich history and culture, and giving back to help strengthen and sustain "America's Best Idea" – our national parks.

This year's National Park Week is especially important as we commemorate the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service. Honoring the achievements of the last 100 years, we must all do our part to fight mindless "austerity" and assure adequate funding for the future of our national parks — and a legacy we will pass on to the next generation. How we care for our national parks today determines how our children and our grandchildren will experience these treasured places tomorrow.

Your help is always sought to preserve America's public lands for the indigenous creatures and plants that live on them and for future generations. This year, we honor "National Park Week " and the National Park Service Centennial, as the first of our parks turn 100 years old.

Use your browser. See what your favorite park needs. Or discover ones you didn't know were there, and help them.


# 7 news feature...


Presented by the Pasadena Folk Music Society, this is a highlight of the Spring concert season as this road show passes through California. The concert in Beckman Institute Auditorium at Caltech, aka "Little Beckman," has limited seating, so don't dawdle getting tickets.

Jayme Stone is a world renowned banjo player from Canada who has traveled the world, bridging musical styles in wonderful ways. In this project, the music stays in North America and features an assortment of great roots music, some familiar, some new to most listeners.

The original "Lomax Project" recording features 20 songs that were collected by Smithsonian folklorist Alan Lomax, who in the 1930s and 1940s traveled throughout the South, recording rural music with the hope of preserving it and making it better known in a changing world.

This new recording was nominated for a 2016 Juno Award for “Traditional Album of the Year.”

There have been many musicians involved in the recording and various roadshows, including Tim O’Brien, Bruce Molsky, Margaret Glaspy, Moira Smiley, Brittany Haas, Julian Lage, Eli West, and others. The line-up for this show includes Jayme Stone (banjo, vocals), Sumaia Jackson (fiddle, vocals), Joe Phillips (bass, vocals) and Moira Smiley (vocals, accordion).

"Songlines" called the project, "A groundbreaking piece of work" and National Public Radio said, "They’ve put a fresh contemporary sound on musical treasures found in Lomax's deep and rich archives."

Sat, Apr 23, 8 pm is showtime. Tix for the show at Caltech are $20 for adults and $5 for Caltech students and children. It'll sell-out. Order at 626-395-4652, or online at:

Or go in person to the Caltech ticket office located at Winnett Student Center on campus; buy in person without a processing fee; open 9 am-4 pm, Mon-Fri.

* COMING UP in the series: Andrea Beaton and Dick Hensold on Sat, May 21.

* JUST ADDED: fiddler Kevin Burke on Sat, Jun 18. Tix for May & June shows available soon.

Full info at:


# 8 news feature...


Victoria & Alfonso, aka THE BLUE DOLPHINS, get to go hiking every day in the Santa Monica Mountains where they live. If you aren't already jealous, they are sharing especially exciting news, deserving of multiple congratulations.

Victoria says, "The Molly Malone's show on the March 11 turned out to be memorable in three different ways. We celebrated Alfonso's third Grammy win, his birthday and... a proposal. After a decade of writing love songs together, he popped the question at the end of our song, 'Shelter Me'. I said yes. It was epic!"

Always the musician, she adds, "We are also excited to have hit the Top 25 in the Indie Radio Alliance chart and No. 8 on Reverb Nation's local chart this month." There's more at:

Their next gig...

√  THE BLUE DOLPHINS play Mon, Apr 18, 8 pm, at The Six, 23536, Calabasas Rd, Calabasas 91302, plus songwriters Joee Corso, Sophie Rose, Jody Jones, and Paul Damon. Expect excellent music, food and drinks all evening.


# 9 news feature...


(Editor's note: With the annual Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival coming up in May, it's time to think banjo. Plus, players of multiple string instruments sometimes harbor assumptions about similarities or differences that just are not correct. You'll find plenty in here to guide you through what is and isn't so — beyond the banjo. The good folks at Deering are just in time with this easy-to-follow single-read D-I-Y clinic on all that, plus what to do and what not to do to have your banjo ready for Topanga.)


Inherent in the construction of banjos are certain parts that help address the needs of banjo set up. Among these are what we will call your “hot rods” – the coordinator rods and the truss rods. But what does all this mean to you, the player, when it comes to banjo set up?

We get a lot of questions from our beginner banjo customers about making adjustments on their banjos and these two particular parts of the banjo are sometimes regarded with fear and apprehension. This “hot rod” topic is complicated by myth and misunderstanding commonly borrowed from the world of guitars by both players and technicians.

The first thing we want to know is what each of these rods do, the reason that they exist, and then how they work together so you can do a proper banjo set up.

Truss Rods

The truss rod is usually some sort of steel threaded rod that is embedded in a fretted instrument neck beneath the fingerboard. There are adjustable truss rods that offer “adjustment” to the amount of curvature in the neck and there are truss rods that are a stiff, solid material that are not adjustable.

The first myth regards the use of the truss rod. Folks believe you use it to “prevent the neck from warping” because of the tension of the strings. Well… Yes, sort of, but not exactly.

The Effects of Mother Nature:

Traditionally, banjo and guitar necks have been made of woods, like maple, mahogany, walnut and other various hardwoods. Also traditionally, some have had fingerboards made of rosewood or ebony that is glued to the playing surface of the neck.

Woodworkers throughout history have learned that gluing two different species of wood together, depending on the shape, thickness, size etc., can be subject to issues of “natural movement of the woods.” In other words, when we glue an ebony fingerboard to a maple neck, the ebony will expand and contract completely differently than the maple. It is this combining of two completely different materials that both have their own expansion and contraction properties that causes “warping” or twisting in banjo and guitar necks.

String Tension:

The intensity of steel string tension can exacerbate and exaggerate the movement of these two woods. But depending on how many strings there are and how thick or stiff they are, the string tension itself is not the whole story.

Truss Rod Effect:

Having said that, this is where a fixed rigid bar or a threaded steel rod can help equalize the pressure of the expansion and contraction of the combined pieces of two different species of wood… Particularly in something long and slender like a banjo neck or a steel string guitar neck.

Built In Compatibility:

Deering’s Goodtime banjos have necks made of hard rock maple, and the frets are mounted directly into the rock maple neck without a separate fingerboard, so there is no need for a truss rod. The proper curvature for the neck is built into the neck from the start. This is one reason we recommend the use of light gauge strings for the Goodtime banjo, because the proper curvature was achieved by the known tension of the light gauge strings that we use, relative to the amount of curve needed to keep the banjo fretting as easy as possible.

Deering’s new Artisan Goodtime banjos have a rock maple neck and a separate Midnight Maple™ Fingerboard. Because these necks have the same wood in them as the fingerboard, the expansion and contraction characteristics of the neck and the fingerboard are the same. So again, there is no need for a truss rod because there are no conflicting forces that arise from two different species of wood, and the proper curvature can be built into the neck during construction.

These techniques are not unique to Deering as there have been guitarmakers as long ago as the 1960s that made maple necks with maple fingerboards and maple necks with no separate fingerboard, and many of these guitars have achieved world-wide collector status and are still played today.

The second myth of a banjo or guitar neck is “It should be flat.” This is completely false.

When a banjo string or guitar string vibrates, it moves or oscillates very little at the ends of the vibrating length of the string and moves much more in the middle of the string’s vibrating length. (The vibrating length is the distance between fingerboard edge of the nut and the face of the bridge that faces the fingerboard.)

On a five string banjo with the 26 ¼ inch scale length, the string moves or oscillates the least right next to the bridge and right next to the nut. It moves or oscillates the most over the 12th fret. The 12th fret is the center of the strings' vibrating length.

The banjo that frets the easiest is the one where the string just clears all of the frets when it vibrates or oscillates. Because the oscillation or movement of the string is small at the end and bigger in the middle, trying to keep the string close to the fret means the fretboard must follow the curve of the oscillating string without touching it. The vibrating string is kind of a skinny banana shape when it’s vibrating; thin on the ends and thick in the middle. This is why all fretted instruments have strings that are very close to the frets where the nut is, and the strings get higher or further from the fretboard the closer they get to the body.

If you have a fingerboard (neck) that is completely flat with no curvature, you will either have to raise the string height extremely high above the fingerboard and the frets so that the vibrating strings don’t hit the frets, or, you will have to play so softly to prevent the oscillating movement of the string from hitting the frets that you will likely be creating very, very little sound, if any.

The properly installed truss rod that is “adjustable” does allow the player to “contour the curve of the neck” so the strings can be plucked and they will not touch frets on the fingerboard.

A third myth that comes from the world of guitars is that “the truss rod is how you adjust the action, or playability of your instrument.” This is not the whole story.

The curvature of the neck can be changed slightly to account for players with a very heavy attack or those with a very light attack. The effect of these changes is definitely real, but they are only part of the equation, and more often than not these changes are extremely subtle.

The angle at which the neck of the banjo is mounted to the body is the most prominent factor to adjust a banjo’s playability, or action. (It’s the same on a guitar; both electric and acoustic). The banjo neck angle must be precisely cut so the neck tips back far enough or mounted high enough so the strings are close enough for comfortable fretting and far enough from the frets to prevent the strings from striking the frets… Usually called buzzing.

Before we get into the angle of the neck of the banjo, let’s leave this conversation about the curvature of the truss rod at this: if the curvature of the neck is correct so that it follows the vibrating shape of the strings, then there’s nothing more the truss rod can or should be expected to do.

The truss rod does not change the neck angle that it is mounted to the body, just the neck curvature.

The Coordinator Rod(s)

The rod, or rods, that run through the middle of the body of the banjo serve three functions: (1) they hold the neck tightly to the banjo, (2) they help “stabilize” the banjo’s rim and (3) the rod that is closest to the player’s tummy can be used for very minor action adjustments. Some banjos have one rod (like Deering’s Goodtime banjos and several Vega models as well) and some have 2 rods like the Deering Sierra, Deluxe, etc.

The stabilizing function basically means that the rod helps keep the rim round by adding some rigidity to help resist the constant string tension that makes the rim want to compress or twist.

The lower coordinator Rod, (the one closest to your tummy) in addition to helping stabilize the rim from compression or twisting, is fastened on the neck end to one of the hanger bolts in the heel of the neck and holds the neck tightly to the body. The end of the lower rod is held in place by two half-inch nuts which can be used to slightly raise or slightly lower the string height above the fingerboard. So in essence, the lower rod can make minor neck angle adjustments to either raise or lower strings for playing comfort. However, the amount of adjustment is very small and can only be considered useful for “finessing” or “making very minor adjustments” to the angle of the neck.

The reasons for this are – The lower rod can exert so much pressure on the rim that the tone of the banjo will be stifled or pinched because the lower rod actually bends the rim in order to make the change in the string height.

A banjo rim that has excessive pressure, squeezing it together / pushing it apart, does not vibrate as freely as one that has little to no pressure.

That is why the angle at which the neck is cut is critical for a high quality banjo. A poorly cut neck angle cannot be corrected by super tightening a coordinator Rod. (Although some folks do it to compensate for incorrectly angled necks.) However, very small adjustments can sometimes enhance the playing enjoyment and have virtually no negative effect on the tone of the banjo.

In banjos that have two coordinator rods, the rod that runs in the middle of the body of the banjo (the one that is closest to the strings) is strictly a stabilizing device and also fastens the neck to the body ofthe banjo. It is not capable of any action adjustment whatsoever.

A Coordinated Effort

When a banjo neck has the proper curvature for the tension of the strings being used, and the neck angle is properly cut, the banjo will play its very best.

For example, Deering and Goodtime banjos are designed so that the first four strings are just about 1/8 of an inch above the 22nd fret. This is considered a “low” action by most banjo players. Some players like to have their strings just a little lower and they play so softly that they don’t create buzzing of the strings against the frets. Also, some players who play more aggressively will prefer to have their strings higher than 1/8 of an inch.

There are some players who prefer to have their strings a full one-quarter of an inch above the 22nd fret. Most players consider this a “high” action. For an action this high, a Deering banjo would have to have a specially cut neck angle, because no amount of coordinator Rod adjustment would raise the strings this high, without seriously distorting the round wood rim and affecting the tone severely.

Most of the time, a coordinator Rod adjustment can raise or lower the strings approximately 1/32 of an inch without creating too much tone change. There are players who believe the rim should have absolutely no torquing tension from the coordinator rods. There are also players who believe the banjo sounds a little better when there is just a little tension on the coordinator rods, whether it’s squeezing the rim together slightly or spreading the rim apart slightly.

Essentially though, the best playing banjos always start with a properly cut neck angle. This allows for very minor adjustments of the strings slightly up or slightly down to suit the players purpose.

On banjos with a truss rod, once the rod is adjusted to the correct curvature for the strings being used, then the majority of the action adjustment comes from the proper neck angle and very minor adjustments to the coordinator rods.

Some electric guitar players who enjoy playing with devices that create electronic distortion will sometimes insist on a neck that is virtually straight. This can work for them, as it allows for a very light touch, but any string buzzing is camouflaged by the electronic distortion they are utilizing in their amplification system. This is contrasted by an electric jazz guitar player, who is creating a very clear tone where a flat fingerboard is virtually impossible to use without hearing the buzzing sound of the strings rattling against the frets.

“Hot Rods” Banjo Set Up Conclusion:

As banjo players, we are all working toward a very clear tone. With the exception of course of some of the new, young players who are adapting their banjo-playing to rock ‘n roll music and using electronic distortion with their banjos like they do with their guitars.

When searching for a repair man for your banjo, be certain that your repairman works on acoustic guitars and banjos so the understanding of the neck curvature is part of their everyday routine. Electric guitar techs may be extremely skilled, but if someone recommends the fingerboard be completely flat, this will not work for your banjo adjustments.

So, the truss rod must have the correct amount of relief adjusted into the neck or, for banjos with no truss rod in the neck , the neck must be shaped or carved with the proper amount of curve built into the neck. This is where the action adjustment starts.

Next, a banjo should have the tension of the head adjusted to the tone that the player likes, with the bridge height that is compatible with the neck angle.

And finally, the neck angle must be extremely precisely cut so that the angle is compatible with the height of the bridge in the curvature of the neck for the most comfortable playability and clearest tone.

Adjusting coordinator rods and truss rods in Deering banjos is simple. What can cause complications is expecting adjustments to have more effect than they are designed to have. Trying to correct a neck angle more than string movement of 1/32 of an inch at the 22nd fret is asking for tone trouble or even part breakage for both the truss rod and the coordinator rods. Fortunately, Deering banjos generally don’t need these kinds of massive adjustments.

… And that’s one major reason Deering banjos are fun to adjust in service.




# 10 news feature...


By Will Cornell

(We first met Will Cornell at the NAMM Show a few years back. He's with Dallas-based AMV Sales, a music industry supplier. Will is a guy who delves into all-things music, sending and sometimes writing details and perspectives on music topics. Here's his latest.)

Instrument manufacturer Rozanna's Violins gets many questions regarding violins — painted… or not?

Does the paint affect performance? No more than any other coating would. Rozanna's says, "Our violins have no more layers of paint than others do of varnish, or even polyurethane seen on a lot of student violins."

Rozanna's continues, "While school orchestra leaders and teachers may want traditional looks, we respect that. But what about that aspiring fiddler that wants to rock, be a country/bluegrass star, jazz hotshot, or the next Lindsey Stirling?"

Remember, guitars used to be pretty much one color, too. Why not give the violin world some of that visual flair?

Famous violinists/fiddlers that have had colored or painted violins include:

• Doug Kershaw
• Jean Luc-Ponty
• David LaFlamme
• Sugarcane Harris
• and(!) even Stradivari himself

Each of them played violins with painted images, or an instrument of some color other than the standard finish.

Check-out youngster Alex Cameron of Oklahoma playing Rozanna's "Blue Lightning" model on the way to winning a recent "Learning For Life" competition (look for the arrow, mid-screen) in the video, at:

(Will added a note: Alex's little brother Sean came in third, with his own Rozanna's"Blue Lightning." He sent a photo of both brothers, charming little guys posing with their awards hardware.)

Here's a bit more on the subject from "Strings Magazine," March, 2013:

3 Myths About Painted Violins

...Myth: Paint inhibits tone. The notion that paint produces an inferior tone is pure speculation. After all, many inexpensive student violins are covered in a heavy polyurethane finish that offers no more chance for the wood to “breathe” than paint.

...Myth: Painted violins are poorly constructed. Many manufacturers of painted violins adhere to the same construction quality found on similarly priced stained and varnished student violins.

...Myth: Painted violins are inherently unplayable. Painted violins are no more or less playable than a comparable wood-finish student violin in the same price range.

All the rules for selecting a student violin apply: check the set-up (the bridge, the string height, the neck angle, the comfort), the condition of the fingerboard, etc.

Not all "purple violins" are created equal, so you should have an expert evaluate the sound, construction, and playability.

Will's conclusion...

Overall? Painted violins are no worse than painted guitars.

You can reach Will at:

(Warning: he'll probably sell you something. He's got a lottttt of things in that giant emporium in Dallas.)


Much more, soon, on other topics.


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♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS and views of interest to artists everywhere, more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music, both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues, and schedules and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues monumentally large and intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the roots of the blues and where the music is headed now.
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