May 26 2011

Shape Note Singing Workshop @ LAOTS

Jessica Catron leads the Shape Note Signing workshop at the 6th Ever Los Angeles Old Time Social @ Nomad Studios.

May 24 2011

6th Ever LAOTS::Velaslavasay Panorama Theater

Velaslavasay Panorama Marquee!

Velaslavasay Panorama Theater

Evie Ladin

Old Sledge

For the past 5 years, the Friday Night Concert has been held at The Velaslavasay Panorama Theater. The theater presents to the community art forms that have been all but lost due to the technological advancements of our time and tucked away upstairs is a beautiful 360º painting of cold icy mountains. There’s a gorgeous garden in back and bunnies and the small theater inside is a perfect setting for an old-fashioned sit-down concert.

This year we had the honour of seeing Gene Burdo with Tom Sauber. Gene is a fantastic guitar player and singer of songs and it was pretty special to hear his old Gibson with Tom’s F-hole Gibson. They sounded like brothers. They also switched up the duets by inviting Patty Wolfe (Swingin’ Patty) up to fiddle. Twin fiddles or fiddle and banjo with Gene’s accompaniment was just lovely.

Next was Evie Ladin down from Oakland. As a banjo player, singer and dancer she has been part of the Stairwell Sisters for 10 years and has recently released a solo album, “Float Downstream” of original material rooted in an old timey sound. Her performance was centered around her new album and it was fantastic! Great stories and songs and dancing that had everyone hootin and hollerin’. We were also treated to a couple of harmony duets with Sabra from Old Sledge.

Ending our Friday night concert was Old Sledge from West Virginia. It helps if you have an in in the form of a sister–that is Sabra Guzman, Ben’s sister, to get such a sizzlin’ hot group out to Los Angeles. You’ve got Sabra on guitar and vocals, Chance McCoy on fiddle and vocals, Ben Townsend from The Fox Hunt on banjo and Jake Hopping on bass. Their set was on fire!  They cooked us good! Got some folks to their feet cuz they just couldn’t sit still. In addition to the flaming fiddle tunes, Chance and Sabra sang us some beautiful songs and ballads. They just released a new album, “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” that you MUST get!

May 20 2011

6th Ever LAOTS::HM157

The 6th Ever Los Angeles Old Time Social kicked off this year at HM157 (shout out to Angel and Brad of the Hyperion Tavern!), our lovely victorian hosts in Lincoln Heights of the squarevolution for over a year. A perfect, albeit chilly backyard concert with a solo mostly banjo performance by Walter Spencer. He debuted a new song for a Virginia fiddler that was epic and lovely. Next was duo, The Driftwood Singers, singing Carter Family songs and other oldies switching off between double guitars and guitar/autoharp with beautiful harmonies. Last, Mt. Baldy and LA-area old time stringband, The Modal Tease, with a tight set of modal fiddle tunes. A great evening of music to start the festival off right.

Walter Spencer

The Driftwood Singers

The Modal Tease Stringband

May 5 2011

L.A. Old Time Social Workshops

Sat. 5/19 1:00pm – 6:00pm:

American Legion Hall Post 206, Highland Park, 227 N. Ave. 55 90042

$20 for the day (workshops & dance included)

Please email for registration & questions.



Clogging with Ruth Alpert from 5 – 6 pm:
Don’t have a partner to promenade but still feel like shaking your tailfeather?  Learn how to freestyle Appalachian-style with the phenomenal Ruth Alpert.

Raised in New York City, Ruth has been studying and performing dance since 1956, attending such prestigious schools as George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet and The Merce Cunningham School. Ruth graduated from Bard College with a major in dance and was part of the post modern scene in Soho in the 1970s. She is also an Appalachian freestyle clogger, which – along with improvisational theatre – she has performed regularly.
Please email for registration & questions.

West Virginia Fiddle Repertoire with Andy Fitzgibbons 1 -2 pm:
I learned to play West Virginia fiddle tunes in the old style from Lester McCumbers, Melvin Wine, Ralph Roberts, Murrell Hamrick, and other residents of central West Virginia.  My workshop will present a repertoire of rare and unusual tunes and bowing styles unique to the region, as well as discussing the background of the tunes and the fiddlers who played them.  Rather than teaching a whole tune, note-for-note, I will instead use several tunes to illustrate the bow, fingering, and timing techniques that are integral to West Virginia fiddle music.   Any level is welcome, and recording devices are encouraged.  Please email for registration & questions.

Clawhammer Banjo of West Virginia and Tenessee with Ben Townsend 2 – 3 pm:
In this workshop Ben focuses on Central West Virginia banjo.

West Virginia native Ben Townsend grew up amidst Hampshire County’s rich musical heritage. At a young age he learned to play banjo and guitar in the old-time way. Encouraged by such local fiddlers as Paul Roomsburg, Joe Herrmann and Israel Welch he has gone on to amass a great catalog of traditional fiddle tunes, banjo pieces and songs. While in college at Shepherd University Ben used his summers to study banjo from stalwarts such as Riley Bogus and Jimmy Costa at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV. Apon graduation, again with the help of the Heritage Center’s apprenticeship program, he went on to study the traditional fiddle styles of Central West Virginia and Kentucky from Dave Bing of Roan County, WV and John Harrod of Owen County, Kentucky. Having spent time learning both banjo and fiddle in the styles of both West Virginia and Kentucky, Ben’s knowledge is not quick to run out.

While traveling and learning traditional music, Ben also took the time to join The Fox Hunt, a string band from the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. He is also a member of a more traditional string band called the Iron Leg Boys with fiddler Andy Fitzgibbon and guitarist Matt Metz.  Please email for registration & questions.

Shapenote Singing with Jessica Catron 2 – 3 pm:
Shape note singing is a uniquely American tradition dating back to the late 18th century that brings communities together to sing polyphonic hymns and anthems. It is a proudly inclusive and democratic part of our shared cultural heritage, designed to facilitate congregational singing.  You are invited to come learn as well as participate in this unique, alternative musical language.   No prior singing experience or musical knowledge is necessary.  The music is easy, the sound is joyously resonant, and all voices and ages are welcome — a willingness to sing is the only requirement!  Please email for registration & questions.

Incredible Fiddle Jam Tunes from Virginia and Kentucky with David Bragger 4 – 5pm:
This workshop is for all levels! The objective is to get the fiddler playing some incredible tunes that will rock any jam session. I’ll be drawing from a vast repertoire of Kentucky and Virginia jam tunes that are fun, rhythmic and easy to grasp. I will also be teaching these exact tunes in a clawhammer banjo workshop entitled “Incredible Banjo Jam Tunes from Virginia and Kentucky.” Fiddlers and banjoists can rejoice and play them together afterwards at the Social or at the numerous jams in Los Angeles and beyond! Please email for registration & questions.

Incredible Banjo Jam Tunes from Virginia and Kentucky with David Bragger 5 – 6pm:
This workshop is for all levels! The objective is to get the banjo player playing some incredible tunes that will rock any jam session. I’ll be drawing from a vast repertoire of Kentucky and Virginia jam tunes that are fun, rhythmic and easy to grasp. I will also be teaching these exact tunes in a fiddle workshop entitled “Incredible Fiddle Jam Tunes from Virginia and Kentucky.” Banjoists and fiddlers can rejoice and play them together afterwards at the Social or at the numerous jams in Los Angeles and beyond!

As always I will provide audio recordings of the workshop tunes with detailed instruction and variations for all the attendees. This way, beginners will have a chance to work through the basics and the more advanced banjo players will have variations including drop-thumbs, rakes, syncopations, etc. Please reserve your spot!

David Bragger plays banjo, fiddle and mandolin in the old-time jugband Sausage Grinder and in several local dance bands. David teaches old-time fiddle, banjo and mandolin to students of all ages and levels. His students have won awards at festivals from Topanga Fiddle Banjo Festival to Galax, Virginia. Most importantly, he shows you how to have a foot-stomping ruckus of a good time! Please email for registration & questions.

Rhythm and Chord Patterns for the Guitar in Old-Time Music with Tom Sauber from 3 – 4pm:
Before the guitar entered the old-time ensemble in the early 20th century, the fiddle and banjo supplied the melody, rhythm and lots of droning.   The addition of the guitar added something new to the mix -  bass notes and chords -  while augmenting the rhythm.  We’ll look at 4 rhythm patterns (right hand) that can support and add to the energy of the lead instruments.   Chords for  fiddle and banjo music are usually implied, at best, and are often totally absent.  That doesn’t mean you have to play just one chord.  We’ll look at a few tunes to see what chord patterns can work and why; also how chord choices can complement the melody as opposed to slavishly following it.  Plus, we’ll briefly review the chord numbering system, something every guitar player should know.  Please email for registration & questions.

Square Dance Calling with Susan Michaels from  3 – 5 pm:
Learn how to call squares for your friends and family.  Beginners welcome.  Please email mike@triplechickenfoot.comfor registration & questions.  Or just show up and get your dancing shoes on.

Clogging with Ruth Alpert from 5 – 6 pm:
Please email for registration & questions.

May 4 2011

American Legion Dance Video & Pics

Photo by Nima Razfar

Photo by Nima Razfar

May 2 2011

3 Man 1 Man Band Show May 20th

An evening of one man bands from around across the Pacific playing music from the road, the past, and now.  Local songwriter Olentangy John, New Zealand guitar player and stomp box man Tom Rodwell, and the Pacific NW’s one man band McDougall, will cover the gamut of contemporary troubadours.  Don’t miss this once in a blue moon chance too hear these amazing performers before they part ways and spread out across the world again.
Entropy and this damned sunshine surround Olentangy John now, here in Los Angeles. Olentangy John, an Ohioan with Ohio’s name, not sure what he’s doing here. Where are the dying leaves? Who is anyone? Whence, exactly, this unshakable sense of foreboding? One answer to which questions might be: Olentangy John is in the right place. It is this troubling, after all, that inform and preoccupy his songs. And it is from specific troubling he derives broad if inexplicit truths about everywhere – even the places where the leaves die, sense is makeable, and homebound familiarity dampens the disquietude. Before here, Olentangy John spent three years in New York, first as actor, then musician, culminating in his first full-length, O! Be Joyful (Trailer Fire), which L.A. Record would describe shortly after his emigration as suggesting “solitude as the solution to desperation.” He’s now at work on his second full-length, on which he’ll run expanding if recognizable themes through an emerging toned-up aesthetic. Over the course of his brief-yet-productive music career, Olentangy John has been an essential member of Indianola, The Elephant Army, and Born At Sea, and an occasional supporter of numerous others who seek him for his multi-instrumental and singing proficiencies.

Sample Track Here:  Olentangy John-Angry Little Town


Tom Rodwell and Storehouse

Storehouse is the improvising blues ensemble gathered around UK / New Zealand guitarist Tom Rodwell, “Sheffield’s answer to Lightnin’ Hopkins,” according to the NME.  Built on Rodwell’s bassy electric guitar and stomping foot, their sound is purposefully austere, but full of enough suggestive rhythms and audacious rearrangements to make brain surgeons do the limbo and wheelchair users to shake it, in ruined Swiss castles to smoky cellars in Ogden, Utah, playing over 700 shows since 2003.  The band head down unusual alleys – slave chanteys, calypso smut, street preacher rave, vivid female blues from singer Coco – but there’s a spontaneous spirit that marks them as that rare beast – living blues not weighed down by either cliche or puritanism.  If you imagined a subgenre of world music that evolved parallel to rock and roll, but that retained blues intimacy, improvisation and sense of social function (dance rhythms) you might conjure up Storehouse.   Returning to LA for the fourth time, their new album “Live Humble” is due soon from Fireplace Recordings.

Sample Track Here:  Tom Rodwell-07 Bang Bang Lulu



McDougall is a noble little grizzly with precious old timey wisdom.  His songs of travel, discovery, and perseverance will purify your every day lifestyle and ring adventure when driving home from another day at the office.  As the bush bearded road wrenched McDougall quietly sits down at his humble set up of kick drum, high hat, harmonica and simple stringed instruments, the fans making up his growing national following begin taking turns shouting “McDougall!”  His toe tapping, punk infused old time songs bring fury to the dance floor, and poetry to your record player.  Don’t fight it…this is the way.

Sample Track Here:  McDougall-18 Days of Rain