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50th Anniversary Event at UCLA
April 18-20, 2008

The Ash Grove: Overview & Vision

The Film

History of  the Ash Grove

Press & Performers Comments

Performers and Panel participants
UCLA 50th Anniversary Event
April 18-20, 2008

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  Musician, performance artist and poet, Linda Albertano has been unleashing her vibrant language on U.S. and European audiences for decades. She is one of L.A.'s "Nearly Fatal Women".
  During the 1960's Gordon Alexandre was a student and activist at UCLA. In 1967, he helped in the Peace and Freedom registration campaign in Southern California, which had a major organizing center at the Ash Grove. Two years later, he began working at the Ash Grove, doing publicity during the day and managing the nighttime operation. He is now a full-time teacher at Glendale Community College, where he remains an activist, having been the chief negotiator for his local teacher's union for 12 years, and is currently serving as union president.
  Michael Alpert has been a pioneering figure in the renaissance of East European Jewish klezmer music for over 30 years. He is internationally known for his performances and recordings with Brave Old World, Kapelye, David Krakauer, Theo Bikel, and Itzhak Perlman. He is noted for his original Yiddish songs, and as musical director of the Emmy Award-winning PBS Great Performances special "Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House." An important link to Old World Jewish musicians and a research associate at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Alpert has documentated traditional Jewish music and dance worldwide. He is Co-Artistic Director of "KlezKanada" and teacher of East European Jewish traditional dance, and has taught and lectured at Oxford, Columbia, and Yale universities, and the New England Conservatory of Music.
L.A. folk singer Ross Altman writes and sings songs to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. A red diaper baby, Ph.D. in English, columnist for FolkWorks, president of the Santa Monica Traditional Folk Music Club, and co-founder of Songs for Social Change, his songs have been featured on Pacifica’s Democracy Now!, NPR’s All Things Considered, KCET’s Life and Times, and E! Entertainment’s Mysteries, among others. Ross just released his 12th album on Grey Goose Music, High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Dave Alvin's older brother Phil was a blues fanatic who allowed his kid brother to tag along to the Ash Grove to hear the great blues musicians. Years later, the brothers formed the Blasters, in 1979. Dave wrote the songs and played lead guitar on the four rock'n'roll albums the Blasters put out in the '80s. In 1986, Dave left the band and briefly joined X and The Knitters and launched his solo career with the 1987 album, Romeo's Escape. His subsequent solo albums have ranged from twangy roots-rock,. to storytelling country-folk, to the muscular blues of Ashgrove. His 2000 album, Public Domain: Songs from the Wild Land, won the Best Traditional Folk Grammy Award. He has also produced albums for several rockabilly, pop and alt-country artists and his songs have been recorded by artists as varied as Dwight Yoakam, Los Lobos, Buckwheat Zydeco, X, Joe Ely, Little Milton, James McMurtry, Johnny Rodriguez, and Robbie Fulks.
  John Bilezikjian is America's Oud Virtuoso. He has appeared all over the world in concert presenting original, contemporary and Middle-Eastern music. He has appeared with the Boston Pops Orchestra and The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as well as being recognized as one of America's leading folk musicians. John has some 30 CD's available on his record company, Dantz Records.
  Laurel Ann Bogen has been called "The Queen of Los Angeles Poetry". She's the author of "Washing a Language" and several other books of poetry and fiction. She teaches poetry at the UCLA Extension Writers' Program.
  Stuart Brotman, a UCLA graduate (in 1967) in string bass, with an emphasis in Ethnomusicology, was a member of the UCLA Folk Song Club when Barry Hanson gave analytical presentations of historic rural and urban blues recordings. These lectures led to collaborations in bands that included Barry, Bernie Pearl, Dave Cohen, Al Wilson, and other talented local blues and folk musicians, and eventually led to the formation of Canned Heat, in which he played electric bass. Brotman performed in many acts that played the Ash Grove, especially with Mike Janusz, Canned Heat, and Kaleidoscope.
  Sandy Carter's writing on music, popular culture, and politics has appeared in the San Franciso Bay Guardian, the San Francisco Chronicle, Southern Exposure and Z Magazine. He currently works as a high school teacher in Novato, California.
Len Chandler wrote three songs a days five days a week for a year on the award-winning Credibility Gap, seven songs a week for the KCET-TV show The Newsical Muse, songs on the Selma to Montgomery march that were included in the documentary "King" and played on the March on Washington accompanied by Dylan and Baez. Len has performed in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Greek Theater and every major folk venue in the US and Canada. He recorded For Columbia, Folk Ways and has songs archived in the Library of Congress.
The requinto races, the jarana strums and gritos resound as sisters Cindy and Libby Harding lead Conjunto Jardín, updating and reinvigorating the lively son jarocho music of Veracruz, Mexico. The group features Libby on the small, strummed 8-string Mexican guitar called the jarana, and Cindy on requinto, a 4-string lead guitar. With a supercharged band including Chiapas, Mexico native Jorge Mijangos on jarana and vocals, keyboard-harpist Gary Johnson, Peruvian cajonero Gino Gamboa and bassist Rick Moors, Conjunto Jardín offers a fresh, appealingly modern approach to a timeless tradition.
  Ry Cooder is an American guitarist, singer, and composer known for his slide guitar work, his interest in American roots music, and his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries. Cooder was ranked number 8 on Rolling Stone's "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time." In the 1960s, he played with Taj Mahal in The Rising Sons and then with Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band and was a guest session guitarist on several Rolling Stones records. His later work has explored a variety of musical genres. He has also scored many film soundtracks and was a producer on the Buena Vista Social Club recording, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000. Cooder’s 2005 album Chávez Ravine is a tribute to the Los Angeles Latino enclave, which was bulldozed by developers in the 1950s.
  Culture Clash --an ensemble composed of Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza-- have been creating political works for the national stage since 1984. Chavez Ravine, Water & Power and Zorro in Hell are but a few of the plays that make up their anthology of over 12 stage plays. Montoya is a Sundance Directing Fellow for his feature film project based on his play Water & Power. Siguenza and Montoya are city commssioners serving El Pueblo and Cultural Affairs respectively. The groups’ third book of plays will be published next year. Chavez Ravine travels to Chicago in August of 08.
At age 80, Barbara Dane is celebrating a lifetime of singing hot jazz, cool blues, American folk and hard-hitting songs with which she has traveled all over the world. Her son, Pablo Menendez, is the leader of Mezcla, one of Cuba's most popular bands, and he joins her on guitar, direct from the island, especially for Saturday night's performance
  Mike Davis was a rabble-rouser in Los Angeles from 1965 to 1998. He now lives in San Diego and teaches urban history at U.C. Irvine.
Kenny Edwards, as a consummate backup ace, has participated in the creation of libraries full of hit songs and as a member of the Stone Poneys (with Linda Ronstadt) and of Bryndle (with Karla Bonoff).
Ash Grove regulars remember Ramblin' Jack Elliott interspersing his songs with stories about his running away from home to join a rodeo; traveling with Woody Guthrie; playing throughout Europe and influencing teenage Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney; coming home to meet up with a young Bob Dylan; and performing with Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and many other musical legends. Since then and still rambling, he has garnered a Grammy, a Presidential Medal of Arts award, a Sundance-Award winning bio film, and a new generation of admirers. Most recently, he has contributed a song to the soundtrack album for 'I'm Not There', the film about Bob Dylan.
The Ellis Island Band is L.A.’s oldest most reknown klezmer/world music fusion band. Founded in the '70s by Barry Fisher and Stu Brotman who both performed at the Ash Grove in the 60’s and studied at Festival sponsor UCLA’s Ethnomusicology Department, the band played from Nashville’s Opreyland to Poland’s Krakow Jewish Festival, to a star’s Umbia Italy wedding, and have appeared on TV and film, including Wedding Crashers and Meyer Lansky’s wedding scene in the film Mobsters. Other current EIB members playing this week-end include multi-instrumentalist Dan Weinstein and Isaac Sadigursky. Ethnicity interaction/fusion is central to much of EIB’s work, including performance with Romani ("‘Gypsy"), Mexican, Korean, Celtic and other artists.
emma’s revolution is a new duo of award-winning, activist musicians, Pat Humphries & Sandy O. Their music has been featured on NPR's "All Things Considered" and Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" Their songs "Peace, Salaam, Shalom" and "Keep on Moving Forward" are sung at vigils and demonstrations around the world and "If I Give Your Name" was Grand PrizeWinner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
Peter Feldmann has long been a musical mainstay in Santa Barbara and Southern California. Founder of the Blue Bird Cafe in 1971 and Santa Barbara Old Time Fiddler's Convention in 1972, he actively performs bluegrass and old time music with a variety of groups, Peter is also known as a bluegrass historian, collector, music consultant, photographer, teacher, and producer, both of live concerts and radio/tv programs throughout the area. He was a regular performer at the Ash Grove with his old-time / hillbilly band, "The Scragg Family".
  Michael C Ford is a legendary voice in the L.A. poetry scene. He's been an innovative producer of print and recorded literature for the past four decades.
  Catherine Foster has been performing Balkan music for 30 years. She has recorded with the Yuri Yunakov Ensemble and Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band, and is a founding member of Kavala Brass Band, Urban Women/Village Songs, and Kadife ensemble
 

The Freedom Singers were a quartet of freedom workers who toured the country to raise funds and share the songs and stories of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Members of this historic West Coast reunion performance are Bernice Reagon, Rutha Mae Harris and Charles Neblett.

Cheri Gaulke's art and life were profoundly changed in 1975, when she moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles to join the Feminist Studio Workshop at the Woman's Building. There she embraced the notion that feminist art could raise consciousness, invite dialogue, and transform culture. She worked primarily in performance art from 1974-1992, and co-founded collaborative performance groups Feminist Art Workers (1976-81) and Sisters Of Survival (1981-85), who will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at the Bronx Museum of Art. Gaulke's art continues to be a vehicle for social commentary. Her public art includes a Metro station and a Filipino WWII Veterans Memorial.. Gaulke, who has produced several widely-distributed artists' books and videos, is also an educator committed to empowering youth
  Since 1970, Barry "Dr. Demento" Hansen has hosted a nationally syndicated radio program of "mad music and crazy comedy," perhaps best known as the launching pad for song parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic. He's also written widely on many forms of traditional and roots music. While working on his master's degree in Folk Music Studies at UCLA in the 1960s, he was an M.C., sound and light man and usher for The Ash Grove.
  John Harris is a pillar of L.A.'s literary community. He was owner of the legendary bookstore, Papa Bach's, and in 1972 founded the Beyond Baroque Poetry Workshop, which continues to this day.
  Jack Hirschman., thes Poet Laureate of San Francisco, has been called "America's most important living poet". His poetry is a meld of art and politics, a vehicle of social transformation.
Rooted on the ideals of the Latin American New Song (nueva cancion or trova) movement of the 1970's, Huayucaltia's style is mainly an instrumental fusion of Andean, Afro-Peruvian, jazz, rock and classical influences. They have toured throughout much of the United States, and Perú. The group --made up of Cindy Harding from California, Julio Ledezma from Argentina, Hernan Pinilla from Colombia, Antonio Ezkauriatza from Mexico, and Peruvian Ciro Hurtado--were nominated in 2001 and 2002 for best World Music/Recombinant band in LA Weekly's Best of Los Angeles Music Awards. By playing indigenous and contemporary instruments, Huayucaltia's compositions strive to blend their traditions and dreams to express musically the wonders and magic of the timeless cultures of the Americas, all of them..
  Former Ash Grove staff person, Jerry Kay became so deeply inspired by Lightnin' Hopkins, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and El Teatro Campesino that he left Los Angeles to become a farm labor organizer for Cesar Chavez's UFW. Later, he organized farmer's markets and businesses involved with spreading organic growing practices and hosted a live music radio show featuring roots performers. He now lives in Santa Cruz, Ca.
Laura Love --mixing incredible vocals, folk, blues, bluegrass, country, and R&B-- has been touring with her “folk-funk” ensemble since 1992. She has played every great music festival in North America, has released ten CDs and published her memoir in 2004. Laura’s performance is uplifting, wildly textured, and great fun.
  Leroy Mack has been playing bluegrass music for over forty years. He played with the Kentucky Colonels, with whom he recorded several records and worked on several TV shows, including The Andy Griffith show. In 1966 LeRoy co-founded a gospel group, the Born Again Bluegrass Band, which has been together for 31 years and recorded 12 albums. LeRoy has five CD solo projects and is a frequent guest with many top bands. He has recorded with Andy Griffith, Vince Gill, John Denver, and The Laurel Canyon Ramblers and has has written several songs that are considered bluegrass standards. He also conducts Dobro workshops across the country.
Legendary musician Taj Mahal is a singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, ethnomusicologist, two-time Grammy-winner, world-class musical collaborator, musicians' advocate, world traveler, fisherman, and cigar aficionado. He has been playing his own distinctive brand of music -- variously described as Afro-Caribbean blues, folk-world-blues, hula blues, folk-funk, and a host of other hyphenations -- for more than 40 years. A self-taught musician, Taj plays more than 20 instruments, including the National Steel and Dobro guitars. His remarkable voice ranges from gruff and gravelly to smooth and sultry.
Ashley Maher is an original -- a singer-composer-bandleader who lives in the industrial West yet is truly at home with African and other world music traditions. Her highly individual and infectious brand of world/folk/jazz has gained her an international following, four acclaimed albums, and performances.
Holly Near is a unique combination of entertainer, teacher and activist. An immense vocal talent, Near's career as a singer has been profoundly defined by an unwillingness to separate her passion for music from her passion for human dignity. She is a skilled performer and an outspoken ambassador for peace who brings to the stage an integration of world consciousness, spiritual discovery, and theatricality.
Singer-songwriter Sheila Nicholls hails from Essex County, England. She has released two critically acclaimed, and commercially successful, albums: Brief Strop (1999) and Wake (2002). Her third album, Songs from the Bardo, is due out later this year.
Bernie Pearl as a teenager learned from and then played with the masters at the Ash Grove: Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Big Mama Thornton, Peewee Crayton, JB Hutto, Johnny Shines and Lowell Fulson, then moved on to Freddie King, Albert Collins aand Big Joe Turner. He has become a master teacher and player himself, solo and with his long time Band of Mike Barry - bass, pianist Dwayne Smith, and drummer Albert Trepagnier. They all join us in this Festival.
  Sherman Pearl is a co-founder of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and prize-winning author of four poetry collections. His latest book is "The Poem in Time of War".
Rod Piazza is a tried-and-true, dyed-in-the-wool blues veteran with credentials that are second to none. From his first recordings as a leader in 1967 fronting The Dirty Blues Band, through his multiple W.C. Handy award winning releases with his current band The Mighty Flyers, to his countless appearances both live and on record with the most revered names in the blues, Piazza has established himself as one of the most influential living blues harp players.
  Ethel Raim, Artistic Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York City, is a national pioneer in advocacy for community-based traditional arts. She has had a longstanding career as a performer, singing teacher (introduced Balkan singing workshops in the US in 1968) and recording artist, as well. She was founder and leader of the legendary vocal ensemble, the Pennywhistlers (1962-1976) and was a founding member of such notable folk ensembles as the Villagers, the Harvesters, the New Road Singers, Padrushki, and Urban Women/Village Songs.
Vocalist, percussionist, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter, Vicki Randle may be best known as the lead singer and percussionist of the acclaimed Tonight Show Band led by Kevin Eubanks, playing the diverse and eclectic mix of styles that makes the band so unique. For most of her musical life (that started when she was 16) she has been a staple in the studio and on the road. It's a good bet you own a CD that she is credited on, have seen a video or concert she was featured in, watched a film, tv show or commercial that features her voice.
  Bernice Johnson Reagon is a singer, composer, and scholar who was a participant in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s when she helped to create The Freedom Singers. In 1973, Bernice Reagon founded Sweet Honey in the Rock, an award-winning a cappella quintet. Besides composing much of Sweet Honey in the Rock's renowned repertoire, she has also composed music for several film projects, including the Emmy-winning We Shall Overcome. Joining her for this historic West Coast reunion performance will be Freedom Singers Rutha Mae Harris and Charles Neblett.
Mike Seeger has devoted his life to singing and playing southern traditional music and producing documentaries and concert presentations of traditional musicans, singers, and dancers. He has produced over 70 recordings including documentaries, recordings of his own music and instructionals. most recently with Smithsonian Folkways and Homespun. He continues as an active performer, mostly in the USA.
Michelle Shocked is a Texas-born picker poet with a musical wanderlust that has taken her down the long road home; she's come a long way from campfire minstrel to praise leader in the hallelujah chorus..
After years of performing comedy and improv in New York City, Mandy Steckelberg moved west and found her inner songwriter. Her Laura Bush music video, “Liberal’s Just Another Word for Gay” has over 30,000 hits on YouTube, and you can see Mandy every 4th Thursday of the month at Lost Souls Café. LA Weekly called Mandy Steckelberg's "'comedy indie chick rock' act …. like Sarah McClachlan on truth serum."
Yale Strom, Elizabeth Schwartz and members of klezmer/Gypsy beat band Hot Pstromi, perform both traditional and new klezmer tunes and Yiddish songs. Much of the repertoire in Hot Pstromi is from the field research Strom has conducted among the Jews and Rom in Eastern Europe over the last 25 years. Hot Pstromi has recorded 12 Cds, the most recent entitled Borsht With Bread Brothers and Absolute Klezmer Vol. 2. With Elizabeth Schwartz's sultry souful Yiddish vocals Hot Pstromi's virtuosity, passion and sonic energy reach into the past and push into the future.
  Dwight Trible is a singer who combines the best of vocal virtuosity with deep soul and improvisational skills, to the delight of audiences and musicians alike. In addition to working with his own group The Dwight Trible Ensemble, Dwight is the vocalist with Pharoah Sanders. He is the vocal director for the Horace Tapscott Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra; the lead vocalist for Build An Ark; and the co-leader of the Project Sacred Urban Echoes, with the great poet Kamau Daaood. Dwight uses his music to bring people together, to protest injustice, to bridge the gap between the races and to heal the human heart.
  Mel Weisburd was a founder of "Coastlines", a literary journal that burst through the repressions of the late 1950s and early '60s. His recent book is "A Life of Windows and Mirrors".
  Carol Wells is an activist, medieval art historian, curator, and poster collector. She founded the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) after realizing that no collections were using posters to educate, agitate and inspire people to action, which is why protest posters are made in the first place. CSPG has more than 60,000 human rights and protest posters, including the largest collection of post WWII political posters in the U.S.
  Roland White is one of the true 2nd generation bluegrass/mandolin greats who played with his brother Clarence (later w/ the Byrds) in the Kentucky Colonels, with Bill Monroe, with Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass, w/ Country Gazette, w/ the Grammy-award winning Nashville Bluegrass Band, and now with his self-named Grammy nominated band.
  Suzy Williams is a member of The Backboners, with Bill Burnett, Kahlil Sabbagh and Ginger Smith, who play original songs inspired by vocal groups like The Mamas & The Papas, as well as some exciting covers. The Backboners' fresh harmonies and stellar arrangements reinvent the summer of love magic. With recent live performances from Santa Monica, California to Swans Island, Maine, The Backboners retrieve the spirit of inspired and inspiring music many grew up with.
A pioneer of Women's Music, Cris Williamson's ground-breaking 1975 recording The Changer and The Changed, remains one of the best-selling independent releases of all time. Her songs are sung around campfires and appear in hymnals and are covered by the young rockers of the day. And whether she is gracing the cover of Ms Magazine or selling out Carnegie Hall three times, Cris's accomplishments are only to be overshadowed by her amazing voice. Her latest release, Fringe, is available on Wolf Moon Records.
Terry Wolverton is the author of six books, including Insurgent Muse: life and art at the Woman's Building and three collections of poetry, and has edited fourteen literary anthologies. She spent thirteen years at the Woman's Building, a public center for women's culture, eventually serving as its executive director. She is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing center in Los Angeles, where she teaches fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also an Associate Faculty Mentor in the MFA Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles
Roy Zimmerman has been writing wickedly inventive satirical songs for twenty years. He founded and wrote all the material for the comedy folk quartet The Foremen. As a solo artist, Zimmerman has played clubs across the country and recently released his fourth album - a Christmas record called Peacenick, and another entitled Faulty Intelligence. A YouTube video of him performing his song "Creation Science 101", with over 750,000 views, was one of the most discussed videos in YouTube history