Sat. 5/19, 6:30pm, $10: Family Dance & Cakewalk!
8pm: Big Ol’ Square Dance!!
American Legion Hall Post 206, 227 N. Ave. 55, 90042
Joe Wack was first enthralled by old time music as an art student in West Virginia University in the early ’70′s. From that time he has maintained the dual vocations of musician and artist. As a banjo player, he was an original founder of the still-active WV stringband Stewed Mulligan. Since moving to the L.A. area in ’93, he has worked in animation as a character designer in the long-running TV series The Simpsons, all the while playing fiddle, guitar, and banjo with friends and his fiddler wife Katherine. He especially enjoys the repertoire of his native West Virginia. Joe will be joined by his frequent musical companions Steve Lewis and Laura Osborn. Steve started playing old-time banjo the same year he began his teaching career, and since then has been a regular performer at dances and festivals throughout southern California. For ten years he has hosted the monthly old-time jam at Encino, and he produces the 4th Saturday Contradance in Brentwood. Steve is also a member of the dance band The Screaming Earwigs. Laura Osborn has been a lifelong musician, performing and teaching flute in the Los Angeles area for almost twenty years. While enjoying a robust family life with her husband and two children, she finds time whenever possible to play old-time music on guitar, banjo, and banjo-uke.
The Flat Rock Stringband, from Portland, Oregon, plays old-time American stringband music with an emphasis on fiddle driven dance tunes. Although the members of band come from disparate parts of the country (Texas, Ohio, Washington, and California), it has been the years spent around Portland’s lively Old-Time music and dance scene that has given the band their old-time music foundation.
Fiddler Linnea Spitzer is a native of Custer, Washington. In addition to playing in The Flat Rock Stringband and other square dance bands in Portland, she was one of the original members of Bellingham Washington’s Mighty Ghosts Heaven.
Brooks Masten has been playing banjo since 1992 in various old time bands. In 1999 Brooks started his career as a banjo maker and has been making banjos full time since 2005. He has made hundreds of handmade banjos for folks across the U.S. as well as Scotland, Ireland, France, The Netherlands, UK, Australia and Japan.
As a youth in Dayton, Ohio, Eric Bagdonas was introduced to old-time music by his uncle and aunt, both string band musicians and cloggers, but was re-introduced to the music upon moving to Portland. It was Eric’s brother Brian who encouraged him to take the step from punk rock bassist and trade his amp for a banjo.
Robin Wilcox grew up in Texas where she was forced to listen to county music and dabbled with the piano and trumpet. Robin discovered old time music when she snuck into the Portland Old Time Gathering (who knew they let everyone else in for free, too?). She’s played bass with Ebenezer and the honky tonk band Ric-Rac, and later Eric recruited her for the old time band Salmonfly Stringband and then Flat Rock.
As much of a tune session between friends as a band, Flat Rock plays the music in the manner that we imagine the old-timers must have: to renew themselves after a day of work, to ennoble the joys of the day or to sweeten its troubles, and to just kick back and enjoy the evening.
While the sky unleashes on us Portlanders for six months straight every year, we’re rocking out in living rooms, rental halls, and pubs with fiddles and banjos, dancing, playing tunes, and enjoying each other’s company.
Amy Hofer is another Californian who moved up to Portland OR. She fiddles, calls square dances, and helps put on the Every Sunday Square Dance. By day she is a librarian.
Fri. 5/18, 8pm, $15:**
The Velaslavasay Panorama, 1122 West 24th St., 90007
**pre-sale tix available HERE.
Modal Tease String Band has been playing old tunes for new times since 2009. We grew out of the Los Angeles old time music scene, where folks meet regularly to jam and share tunes “around the campfire.” Our
penchant for modal tunes brought us together, and our fascination with obscure, crooked fiddle and banjo tunes sealed the deal. While rooted in and respectful of old time traditions, we’re flexible, adventurous, and versatile. If it feels old, is foot-tappingly addictive, musically interesting, or begs for tight vocal harmonies, odds are we want to perform it. And so our motto is Music From Appalachia and Beyond.
Modal Tease is made up of Belinda Thom on the Devil’s Box (fiddle), Cliff Latimer on mandolin, Jim Hamilton on clawhammer banjo, Lawrence Ullman on standup bass, and Stephen Schauer on guitar. Recently, they won awards at the Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Competition and the GoletaOld-Time Fiddlers Convention. In December 2011, they released their first CD, Aggravatin’ Beauty.
Belinda Thom has played her grandpa’s violin most of her life. In college, it became her fiddle — “a violin with attitude” — returning full-circle to her grandpa’s heritage. The Bubba George String Band gave her a taste, but it was 20 years of dabbling in blues, jazz, folk, and computer music before she met folks in L.A.who named the old time sound and shared its traditions with her. Belinda is raising her family, teaching fiddle, transcribing old recordings, and performing.
Cliff Latimer grew up in Detroit and was playing guitar in rock bands by age 13. Always a fan of the mandolin in country music, he picked one up around 15 years ago and never looked back. Cliff played bluegrass with L.A. bands The Spikedrivers and The Homebillies before being swept away by the archaic, modal sound of old time music. Cliff teaches Motion Picture Sound Design at the Cinema Schools of both USC and Loyola Marymount.
Jim Hamilton grew up with folk and bluegrass music in Texas. He first heard old time in 1999 while on a pilgrimage in West Virginia, where he fell in love with this music and promptly moved over to “the dark side.” He bought an open back banjo, gave up bluegrass, and has ever since immersed himself in this tradition. Jim goes back annually to attend his favorite workshop, Allegheny Echoes, in West Virginia, where he always brings back new gems for the band to play.
Stephen Schauer was raised in a place known to folks in the area as Kentuckiana. He played guitar as a kid, picking up mandolin and texas style tenor guitar while living in Seattle and Dallas. In Seattle, champion fiddler Pete Martin introduced him to the extraordinary music of Benny and Jerry Thomasson. Since then, he’s completely immersed himself in the rich and broad history of old time music, recently joining Modal Tease on guitar.
Having misspent his youth performing Renaissance and Baroque music on period brass and woodwind instruments, Lawrence Ullman underwent a wicked mid-life crisis and took up clawhammer banjo after his brother gave him “O Brother Where Art Thou”. Although he still manages to frail some banjo at old-time jams, he gravitated to the upright bass after an instrument originally purchased for his teen daughter to play in middle school became available.
The Driftwood Singers unassumingly take the stage and sing songs that could have been written ages ago but were more likely written in the last few weeks. Just barely in their 20′s The Driftwood Singers are prolific writers immersed in the folk tradition building on songs and stories that at their heart are observations of the human condition in all it’s gruesome variations and beautiful splendor.Constantly on the road since beginning the band nearly two years ago at the age of 19, playing all over the country and Canada, The Driftwood Singers are quite a surprising contrast to what one might expect from two kids born and raised in the heart of Los Angeles. They prove that one can love the Carter Family and traditional music and still be firmly in the present with songs as vibrant and alive as any we’ve heard and an attitude that embraces the anti-elitist and DIY ethos of the punks we love
Their debut, 5-song EP, Look! beautifully exemplifies their determination. After experimenting with some big studios and becoming frustrated with the intervals of multi-tracking and the stale output of Protools, they decided one night to pare everything down to its stark essence and begin recording it on a Sony Walkman which they did by laying it on their living room table and pressing record. What’s captured is the immediacy of their performances and what they call “the transparency of sound”.
How can you go wrong with songs of death and hope, murder and love, lechery and splendor, transcendence and cruelty and all points in between! We’re looking forward to being a part The Driftwood Singers story as it winds it’s way through the hills, hollers, canyons and caves out of the shadows of the blue ridge mountains of Pocahontas, West Virginia to wide open starlit skies of Joshua Tree, California.
The Iron Leg Boys, from eastern and central West Virginia, play old-style string band music and fiddle tunes unique to their home state. Since forming more than ten years ago, the group has played cakewalks, family reunions, house dances, weddings, flatfoot contests, concerts and bar gigs across the state. They have appeared on the Augusta and Clifftop stages, and the November release of their long-awaited first recording has helped expose the band, along with a unique repertoire of West Virginia fiddle tunes, to a wider audience.
Andy FitzGibbon of Elkins, Ben Townsend of Jones Spring, and Matt Metz of Harpers Ferry handle fiddle, banjo, and guitar duties respectively. For the L. A. Old Time Social, Matthew McElroy of Athens, Ohio, (who is, conveniently, also named Matt) will take over guitar duties.