Recordially, Lou Curtiss

Getting Together

It’s always seemed to me that certain musicians who never seem to play together ought to. I can think of hundreds of instances where opportunities should be made for that to happen. At least for musicians to hear each other and maybe the folk process will get a chance to work.  I remember a radio show that I did with George Varga where Robin Henkel, Chris Clarke, and Gregory Page all appeared and played some together. I remember thinking how well Chris’ mandolin worked with Mr. Henkel’s guitar. It almost took me back to hearing Yank Rachel and Sleepy John Estes at the Newport Folk Festival back in the mid ’60s. I don’t recall the two of them playing much together here locally although both are certainly busy with their musical lives. Now that’s one thing this new spring festival on Adams (Adams Avenue Unplugged) is going to be about. Bringing performers together in venues big and small to make music together as well as to play solo. The dates are April 21 and 22 and it’s going to run the length of Adams Avenue from Kensington all the way down the Street to about the Texas Street bridge and maybe farther. There’ll be a wide variety of music going on in clubs, bars, restaurants, coffee houses, and out in the parks. There’s going to be the familiar and those not so familiar. Watch out for news here and around other places. This festival is going to be new and different in San Diego. Make sure you are a part of it. I’m so happy to be a part of the Adams Avenue scene again and working on my 56th music festival. Hope you’ll think this idea is as unique as I do.

Well we are just finishing the transfer from reel-to-reel to digital format of the 10th San Diego State Folk Festival, which took place in 1976 at SDSU. As always copies are going to the Library Of Congress in Washington DC, the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archives, and, most recently, the San Diego State University Library (who plan to put it up on their website). The Grammy grant that got us started has long ago run out, so Russ Hamm and I have been continuing the work with some funds from a couple of local fundraising concerts. We really need some help with the funding in terms of a grant writer. This Archive is a city of San Diego treasure yet no one in San Diego has come forward to help with the project. The guy who said that “folk music is the step child of the arts” knew what he was talking about.

If any of you would like to hear some of the music from those first 10 festivals, some from the concerts at Folk Arts Rare Records, the Heritage Coffee House, the Sign of the Sun bookstore, and other local venues you can go to my Facebook page (at Louis F Curtiss) to hear quite a bit of the good stuff dating from the early ’60s to the mid ’70s. There is also quite a bit of stuff from old 78s and things I just think someone ought to hear. Check that out.

As I go over all the tapes of folks we’ve presented in concerts and festivals over the years, I’m reminded every day how many of these wonderful musicians are no longer with us. San Diego was fortunate to have some of the following appear at one of our events: Cliff Carlisle, Sam and Kirk McGee, Tommy Jarrell, Jim Ringer, Gil Turner, Rose Maddox, Fro Brigham, Sam Chatmon, Hally Wood, Hank Penny, Doye O’Dell, Wilbur Ball, Bonnie Jefferson, Patsy Montana, Stan Hugill, Carl Martin, Lowell Fulson, Roy Brown, Dewey, Will and Rodney Balfa, Mike Seeger, Harmonica Frank Floyd, Sam Hinton, Howard Armstrong, Charlie Bailey, Lily Mae Ledford, Bashful Brother Oswald, Buddy Blue, Johnny Bond, the Hoosier Hot Shots (Hezzie and Ken Trietsch, Gabe Ward), Robert Pete Williams, Thomas Shaw, Bessie Jones, Bob Jeffery, Henry Ford Thompson, Johnny Walker, Vern Williams and Ray Parks, Hazel Dickens, George Tucker, Nimrod Workman, Juke Boy Bonnert, John Hogg, Phillip Walker, Sandy Paton, Ted Bogan, Napoleon Strickland, Allen Singer, Tanya Rose, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, James Earl Wilkins, Smokey Rogers, and so many more. It’s always important to continue to present new and exciting music to the public but it’s also important to preserve the sounds of the past and remember where the music came from.

Lou Curtiss

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