Ash Grove Music Presents

2009- 2010-2011



In a Benefit Concert for FolkWorks

July 17th at 2 PM

at the

Tropico de Nopal Gallery, in Los Angeles,
1665 Beverly Boulevard, East of Alvarado

Swing Riots is an LA Jazz Gypsy Balkan Klezmer Folk ensemble with six versatile fully digitized members who recreate the brilliant music of two-finger Belgian Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt— quite a feat, in that it takes them only sixty fingers to accomplish what Django did with two. Perhaps that’s why the word genius is so often found within two syllables of Reinhardt’s legendary name. 

But if you close your eyes, it hardly matters; you can drift back in time to the sweltering erotic nights of Paris’s Left Bank in the 1930s, when Reinhardt was remaking the landscape of modern Jazz, and having to relearn the guitar after suffering major burns in a 1928 fire that changed his life and modern music forever. Without the use of the third and fourth fingers on his left hand he played everything with just the two he had—and that proved to be enough.

The Swing Riots perform an irreverent gumbo of Gypsy & Creole Jazz, Klezmer & Romanian Horas, Parisian Musette & the occasional wild card thrown in for good measure.  The Swing Riots are comprised of 6 core members who have played for decades in everything from Balkan dance bands to traditional Swing groups including: Bill Marks: Guitar & Voice; Pat Mac Swyney: Mando-Guitar, Tenor Banjo, Mandolin, Cornet, Ney, Harmonica & Voice; Linda Kodaira: Violin; Nick Casillas: Clarinet & Soprano Sax;Ben Getting: Upright Bass.

Ed Pearl has done a bit of his own reshaping of the musical landscape of Los Angeles, as the creator of the legendary folk music club The Ash Grove in 1958, and had Django Reinhardt not passed away in 1953, he would surely have graced the Ash Grove stage as well, along with Muddy Waters, Bill Monroe, the New Lost City Ramblers, The Greenbriar Boys, Phil Ochs, Mance Libscomb, Lightning Hopkins, Flatt and Scruggs, Mississippi John Hurt, Jackie DeShannon and Ry Cooder.

Now Ed has embarked on a new venture, catching up with lost time as it were, and will present Swing Riots in his new summer concert series sponsored by Ash Grove Music (

It will be a doubly special event, since it is a benefit concert for FolkWorks, LA’s free and only folk music magazine, now in its tenth year of continuous publication, covering the waterfront of LA’s sometimes bewildering variety of folk related solo performers, dance and instrumental groups and festivals, as well as national touring artists that come through town.

FolkWorks ( was just honored this past May with the Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest Music Legend Award for 2011, and needs the influx of funds from this extraordinary concert to keep the presses rolling, as it tries valiantly to beat the odds that have made magazine publishing a quixotic and oft-times heroic endeavor.

So support the Ash Grove, support FolkWorks, and enjoy an unparalleled afternoon of world music from the Lost Generation that these wonderful Los Angeles musicians have rediscovered, mastered and made their own. For this musical experience of a lifetime Swing Riots will be joined by vocal duet Jess Basta & Christine Tavares, formerly of VOCO in a variety of Yiddish and early jazz standards. Don’t you dare miss it!
                                      --Ross Altman




The Ash Grove
Summer Series

Opens with a Celebration of

Freedom songs, gospel, blues and the word,
all coming together on

Sunday afternoon,
June 19th,

Powerful Alabama singer
Bettie Mae Fikes
a leading voice among the
Freedom Singers of the Civil Rights Movement. 

She’ll be joined by master blues man
Bernie Pearl

S. Pearl Sharp,

and those teenage wizards of poetry,

the Get Lit Players. 

  June 19th, 2:00 p.m.,  

at the

Tropico de Nopal Gallery, in Los Angeles,
1665 Beverly Boulevard, East of Alvarado

The Ash Grove
Summer Series

The Ash Grove Summer Concert Series begins with a celebration of Juneteenth on Sunday, June 19th, the date when slaves in Texas learned of their freedom, years after the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted and months after surrender of the Confederate States. The date and name have become the symbol of Black Liberation, throughout the U.S.

The event features the powerful Alabama singer Bettie Mae Fikes, the youngest of the great Freedom Singers, now living in LA, when not performing blues, gospel and freedom songs throughout the world.  She’ll be accompanied by bluesman Bernie Pearl, who has toured with Betty, including last Fall’s historic homage honoring the 50th anniversary of the anthem, We Shall Overcome. Bernie will also perform his own usually brilliant solo set, accompanied by his formidable bassist, Mike Barry.

The show continues after intermission with poet S. Pearl Sharp, and those teenage wizards of poetry, the Get Lit Players. The Players have just returned from performing at the White House, organized by first Lady, Michelle Obama. 

The afternoon will conclude with the entire cast, and audience participation in the songs of liberation.  Food, Drink, CD’s, et al, available throughout the day. 

For more on S. Pearl Sharp, click on,

The Get Lit Players are at,

Bettie Mae Fikes is at,

Juneteenth, at


Highlander is where Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of others sang, learned, and trained in working for social justice and equality. Highlander today continues this program and those goals.

Since 1966, the Highlander Research and Education Center has administered the
We Shall Overcome Fund, which receives royalties for the commercial use of the worldwide anthem for freedom and justice, “We Shall Overcome” and supports grassroots efforts at the nexus of culture and social change within Southern African American communities.  Guy Carawan set up that fund along with Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Dorothy Cotton and Faye Bellamy Powel.

In 1961, Guy Carawan, Music Director of the Highlander Center, helped arrange and spread a gospel and union song into 'We Shall Overcome," which became the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, and was first sung at meetings, churches and rallies in the deep South, and now all over this world - by people working towards social justice.

Singing out for Justice
A Concert of Celebration and Support for The Highlander Research and Education Center, honoring
Guy Carawan
for his 50-plus years of tireless service as a cultural worker with the Highlander Center

Saturday, October 23, 2010
2:30 – 5:00 PM

The Home and Garden of
Jan Goodman & Jerry Manpearl
939 San Vicente Blvd., Santa Monica, CA
(NW corner of Larkin)

Presented by Ash Grove Music and The Highlander Center, with the leadership and support of Highlander alum Rev. James M. Lawson, friend and co-worker of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and pastor Emeritus of Holman Methodist Church.

Guy and Candie Carawan, Len Chandler, Ross Altman, The Get Lit Players, Betty Mae Fikes of the Freedom Singers, Bernie Pearl, and special surprise guests
S. Pearl Sharp, poet

General tickets are available for $35, with larger donations encouraged. To purchase tickets and/or make a donation visit:
Call 310-391-5794
or call 865-933-3443, ext 226.

Our website:
Our trailers:

Profiles …

Guy & Candie Carawan, Southern California natives, met at the Highlander Center in Tennessee in 1960 -- each drawn by the Civil Rights Movement. For more than 40 years they worked as cultural activists and educators supporting the important work of the school by encouraging and nurturing regional artists as participants in social change. Throughout the four decades, Guy also continued to perform and record music himself, locally, nationally and internationally, building his repertoire largely around experiences in the southern United States. In the 1950s Guy was instrumental in the formation of the historic Ash Grove and performed there opening night and many times over the years, often bringing traditional musicians from the South with him.

Bettie Mae Fikes from Selma, Alabama, is known as one of the great voices of the Civil Rights Movement. She has performed often with the SNCC Freedom Singers and as a soloist. Being the descendant from a long line of country gospel singers and preachers, she brings the power and inspiration of the times that changed this country. Living for many years in Los Angeles, she is also in demand nationally and internationally as a blues artist. She brings the same power, passion and artistry to the blues as to her freedom repertoire. Her musical goal is to help people in struggle.

Rev. James Lawson is the architect of Non-violent resistance in America. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he trained the shock troops of the Civil Rights Movement in Nonviolent philosophy and strategy and continues to be an eloquent spokesman and teacher for this powerful method of challenge and change. During his years in the South, he was an important source of inspiration and support to Highlander, as well as to the Carawans personally.

 "Bernie Pearl is one of the great Ambassadors of Blues Music and history. As producer and artist, every note that arises from Bernie's careful hands is filled with the mystique, energy, and soulfulness of the blues. His appearance at the 2009 T-Bone Walker Blues Festival at Music City Texas Theater in T-Bone's hometown of Linden, Texas, was a highlight of the event. In addition to being a superb craftsman and inspired guitarist, Bernie Pearl is also a living touchstone to Blues roots and traditions. He has known and played with more legendary blues artists than perhaps anyone standing today. He knows the music, he knows the people deeply, and he knows the entire world of Blues from its inception to what's happening right this minute. Through his radio shows, his appearances with his band or solo, and producing, Bernie Pearl is one of the great Ambassadors of Blues Music and history." Russ Wright, Producer

The Get Lit Players, teenage wizards with poetry from the sonnets of Shakespeare to hip-hop are best described by Jimmy Santiago Baca, winner of the Pushcart Prize, American Book Award, and International Prize for Poetry: "The Get Lit Players are altering the lives of thousands of young people. They are tackling the darkness of illiteracy and lighting the way for our youth."

Len Chandler, one of the brightest lights in American topical songwriting, was among the elite group of writers Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Malvina Reynolds and Len Chandler who developed protest songs against the war in Vietnam and for the Civil Rights Movement, of which Len was a major part. He went to Mississippi in the early 60's and participated in the voting rights campaigns organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He wrote the music for one of Bob Dylan's most powerful early protest songs, "The Ballad of Emmett Till," about the young Negro teenager whose murder in 1955 helped spark the civil rights movement that began later that year when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

“Chandler is a treasured living connection to one of the most important chapters in modern American history, and speaks and sings with the authority of someone who was there when it counted-the troubadour of the March from Selma to Montgomery-the man who set the civil rights movement to music.” --Ross Altman, Ph.D.,FolkWorks Magazine

Ross Altman traded his professorship for a life as a political folk singer and music historian of left movements decades ago. With a PhD in English Literature, he has written songs on virtually all political topics and, for the past 25 years, has performed more than 300 gigs a year. Altman has shared the stage with Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Guy and Candie Carawan, and Len Chandler. But more than that, he has sung with the very people who created the music he sings: the disadvantaged and disenfranchised- for the homeless and homebound, human rights groups and animal rights groups, peace groups and environmental groups, labor unions and outreach programs, and at folk festivals and fringe festivals. If there's been a cause that needed a song, Ross has been on the spot with lyric and tune. Specializing in songs that comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable, this "singer-songfighter's" songs always have something to say. Ross is a recording artist for his own label, Grey Goose Music, columnist for FolkWorks, president of The Santa Monica Traditional Folk Music Club, member of musician's union Local 47 (AFL-CIO), and the Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest's 2010 Music Legend Award Winner.




You Are Invited to
An Evening of Entertainment
to Benefit

“Get-Lit”-Words Ignite

Featuring Tim Robbins and guests …

Saturday, July 10, 2010
5:30 pm

In the Garden of the Gilmore Adobe 
L.A. Farmers’ Market (3rd Street and Fairfax)

The Ash Grove invites you to a benefit dinner and a show with the
Get Lit Players, hosted by Tim Robbins and friends, featuring those
teenage wizards of poetry, great music, and a fine dinner.  That's
Saturday, July 10th, 5:30 pm, at the Gilmore Adobe, in the South-East section of LA's famous Farmers Market, East of 3rd and Fairfax, off Gilmore Rd, and N.E.of the Market's watchtower.  Look for tall trees,

Founded in 2005 in Los Angeles, Get Lit is L.A.'s leading non-profit presenter of literary performance, education and teen poetry programs. Get Lit has started a movement of young people picking up a book and a pen, often for the first time in their lives. They are committed to providing youth with opportunities to develop a love of literature and language and to present their voices in public performance, print, and on line. By inspiring teens to read, Get-Lit levels the playing field between rich and poor, mainstream and marginalized, bringing previously unheard voices to the front. 

The evening benefits the Get Lits, best described by Jimmy Santiago Baca, winner of the Pushcart Prize, American Book Award, and International Prize for Poetry:  "The Get Lit Players are altering the lives of thousands of young people. They are tackling the darkness of illiteracy and lighting the way for our youth." 

The donation is $100 per person.  Send a check payable to the Ash Grove, write 'Get Lit' in the memo and mail to:
Ed Pearl at 901 E. Edgeware Rd., Los Angeles, CA, 90026. 


or call 310-391-5974

If you can't come and/or wish to donate whatever, please send to the above address and make check payable to the Get Lit  Players.  

KPFK is a Proud Media Sponsor

For more information about Get-Lit, visit their website at

Get-Lit deserves our support …  Give generously.

Get Lit – Words Ignite

(501c3 non-profit organization Tax I.D. No. 26-4644018)

Founded in 2005 in Los Angeles, Get Lit - using the power of literature to change lives - began a movement of young people picking up a book and a pen, often for the first time in their lives.

Now Get Lit is LA's leading non-profit presenter of literary performance, education and teen poetry programs, serving over 10,000 teens annually through its variety of in school, after school, Get Lit Player and Magic Poetry Bus programs.

Get Lit is committed to providing youth with as many opportunities as possible to develop a love of literature and language and to present their voices in a variety of ways, including public performance, printed anthologies, and on-line.

By inspiring teens to read, we level the playing field between rich and poor, mainstream and marginalized, bringing previously unheard voices to the front.

We provide an educational model for poetry and literature that helps transform underperforming LAUSD high schools to rise from the bottom of national literacy rankings to the top, becoming a model for teen literacy throughout the nation.

Get Lit has the great fortune of merging withCalifornia Poet Laureate, Carol Muske-Dukes who has incorporated her own teaching strategies and poetic techniques into the Get Lit curriculum creating an even more evolved learning strategy.

Together we have created, ‘Ignite-Proactive Poetry', an after-school literacy and spoken word project that increases teen literacy by combining “spoken word” or “hip hop” influenced poetry with traditional works, where students engage in a “dialogue” with the writers in the same style as the pieces they have chosen - a fresh, engaging, and relevant way of teaching poetry!

In addition, Carol Muske-Dukes has brought her interactive ‘Magic Poetry Bus' program to Get Lit so poetry can be experienced “on-line” in rare video clips.

Ignite! (After School) is an after school performance program exploring classic and contemporary poetry in an interactive forum, offering a sounding board for teens to construct and perform their own pieces in Workshops moderated by acclaimed poets, writers, and performers.

“THE GET LIT PLAYERS” perform classic/ contemporary poetry in addition to their own original works at schools, bookstores, universities, libraries and community events across the nation. They are creating a resurgence of interest in the printed word by making it accessible for all. Currently a documentary is being filmed about the Get Lit Players, entitled, “Literary Riot.”

The Get Lit Players were semi-finalists in the 2008 Brave New Voices International Teen Poetry Slam,where they placed among the top ten teams in the world for their own original poetry. They are the premiere classic teen poetry troupe in America.

Get Lit-Words Ignite is the official teen poetry program of the Los Angeles Public Library who hosts Get Lit Player workshops and performances at their branch locations.

“The Get Lit Players are altering the lives of thousands of young people. They are tackling the darkness of illiteracy and lighting the way for our youth.”

-Jimmy Santiago Baca, winner of the Pushcart Prize, American Book Award, and International Prize for Poetry

“Everyone loved the Get Lit Players. I'm sure we'll be asking you to present at future conferences and workshops. Thanks!” -Faye Peitzman, Ph.D. UCLA Writing Project Director

“The work Get Lit performs within the schools is outstanding. It is an organization dedicated to changing the face of illiteracy in Los Angeles by reaching out to students other organizations overlook. I would strongly recommend the Get Lit Program to any school lucky enough to get it.” -Roman Del Rosario, Vice Principal, John C. Fremont High

“The contribution that Get Lit is making to the education of these youths is truly remarkable. If we intend to maintain an enduring interest among our youth in literature and language, we must lend our support to such programs as Get Lit.” -Pat Abrams, English Department Chair, Fairfax High School




Resistance Then, Resist Now! –

The Ash Grove Honors 45th Anniversary of The Resistance –

a meeting of the resisters of the military draft and Veterans
For Peace

Sunday, October 25 at Arlington West in Santa Monica



            The Ash Grove Foundation in its ongoing series of “Beyond November” community events will honor the 45th Anniversary of The Resistance draft resisters movement with “Resistance Then, Resist Now!” on Sunday, October 25th at Arlington West in Santa Monica, 2:00 – 4:30 p.m.   Admission is free.  The event also honors Arlington West and Veterans for Peace.   Arlington West is a temporary memorial erected every Sunday on the beach by Veterans For Peace, immediately north of the Santa Monica Pier:


The Resistance was an organization of draft resisters founded in 1964 and quickly grew nationally.  The actual anniversary date and gathering of original members of The Resistance will take place the previous day on Saturday, October 24th.


            Resistance Then, Resist Now! brings together the original Resisters and current Veterans For Peace, emceed by famed peace activist, Veteran Ron Kovic who became disabled in the Vietnam War. Kovic was profiled in the film Born On The Fourth of July, based on his memoir and the inspiration for Jane Fonda’s film Coming Home.   


Two groups of speakers will be framed by cultural presentations: spiritual drumming from the S.H.I.N.E. Mawusi women’s drum alliance will open the event, later joined at its closing drum circle by some members of the ADAAWE women’s percussion group.   Also, Get Lit Players - teenage wizards with poetry from the sonnets of Shakespeare to hip-hop - who tour Southern California school assemblies and now compete nationally in contests, and Roy Zimmerman, who the Los Angeles Times says, “…displays a lacerating wit and keen awareness of society’s foibles that bring to mind a latter-day Tom Lehrer.”   Zimmerman writes fiercely funny songs about ignorance, war and greed.  In eleven albums over 20 years, Roy Zimmerman has brought the sting of satire to the struggle for Peace and Social Justice.


The speakers on the first 20-minute panel will focus on The Resistance, then and now.   Guests include: Joe Maizlish from The Resistance, a letter read from a US Marine currently in Iraq and a speaker from The Coalition for Alternatives to Militarism in Our Schools (CAMS).   The second 20 minute panel will focus on the war budget and poverty draft with historian and unionist Gordon Alexandre.   A public health advocate will address “It’s Healthcare or Warfare.”  


The Ash Grove (1958 – 1973) on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood was a pioneering musical and political venue.   The performance standards and creative interplay among musicians, young and old, produced many great artists, enriched the lives of audiences, and gave the club a leading role in the culture of a generation.   Archived Ash Grove concerts from that era are available for listening or download at“Beyond November – Party with a Purpose” – brings together an assortment of artists, advocacy and social action organizations, to entertain, to inform and to enthuse by tapping into the vast energy for positive change sparked by the November elections.  


For more information about the event:  (310) 391-5794 or



Get Lit Players L.A. Times article:

ADAAWE women’s percussion group:

Roy Zimmerman: 


Media contact:


Teresa Conboy P.R.


Ash Grove Music Presents
Beyond November
Party with a Purpose

Celebrating International Women’s Day
Building towards Single-Payer, Universal Health

At the Southern California Library
6120 S. Vermont Avenue, LA 90044
(323) 759-6063

Sunday, March 8, 2009
2:30 pm

Featuring …

S. Pearl Sharp, Writer, Filmaker
Slideshow by Center for the Study of Political Graphics
The Lefteous Sisters
Poets, Imani Tolliver and Latrice Dixon
Author, Gary Phillips
SHINE Mawusi Women's Drum Alliance
And Jazz with Mark Maxwell  

Beyond November … 
Party with a Purpose. 
Using music, performance, and culture to organize people.
…  A traveling road show to entertain, to inform and
to inspire into action.
…  Tapping into the positive energy sparked by the Obama campaign.
…  Bringing community services together with people in need.