If you caught any of this year’s 32nd annual Humboldt Folklife Festival, then you know. It rocked. From dance ensembles to string bands, singer-songwriters to an evening of jazz, the nine-day Folklife Festival showcased some of Humboldt’s best, wide-ranging local talent. The Singing Nettles, Vintners’ Daughters, Absinth Quintet, Delta Nationals, and the Pilot Rock Ramblers (with Patrick Cleary) were but a few standouts that played the Saturday finale beneath clear Blue Lake skies. To be sure, there were many, many more fine acts.
I live here for several reasons, for the tall trees, that mighty Pacific, the backpacking and biking, and this weekend I was reminded of another great reason—local music. We’re privy to some fine local music created by incredibly talented folk, and I’m thankful to have met a few of these people, traded tips, laughed, and learned from them during the course of last week’s festival. Kudos to the Humboldt Folklife Society, its board, and Patrick Cleary for working so hard to put it all together! It was a great time, and I’m honored to have been asked to play during singer/ songwriter night and on Saturday afternoon. What an incredible experience—so glad for music, so glad to live in Humboldt.
While the Folklife Festival went on in the evenings, during the day I worked with students at the Young Writers Academy teaching songwriting. I’ve taught variations of the class for a couple years, so I’ve a basic lesson plan to tinker with to keep things fresh and interesting. Essentially, I present different ways of approaching songwriting then leave it up to the students to figure out what will work best for their creative process. Whether introspective or silly, I emphasize pinpointing the truth within a song and focusing on that to make the piece authentic and hopefully engaging. Interestingly, I’ve found that ladies tend to write more reflective, introspective pieces while the guys like to write parodies and funny stuff, which partially explains why Weird Al is such a hit with pre-adolescent boys. (The Weird One, by the way, will be playing the Van Duzer Monday, August 23.)
In our last class, we hosted a performance café in which students presented their songs, filmed it too. I am waiting to get release forms returned from parents so that Redwood Writing Project organizers can post students’ songs to their website. And I’ll post some of their work here, too, so you all can hear how these young people use words and imagery to express their feelings and experiences in song—again, I’m thankful to have worked with such conscientious and focused kids. Thank you, my dear students, for working so hard—cross your fingers that we’ll have our footage up and viewable soon!
On a final note I’ve been working as a production assistant with KHSU’s, Through the Eyes of Women. I’ve recorded a couple intros and have been writing and editing the show’s blog. On August 2nd I’ll be doing my first interview with Lila Downs, who you may recall contributed much of the music to the films Frida and Real Women Have Curves; Lila Downs will be performing August 13 at the Greek Theatre in L.A. in celebration Delores Huerta’s 80th birthday.
I’ll be Though the Eyes of Women’s new music host—so if you know of local, regional, national female recording artists you think may be a good fit for the show, pass along the info, and maybe we can get her an interview on Through the Eyes of Women.
Through the Eyes of Women airs Mondays at 1:30pm on KHSU 90.5 Arcata, Califonria.
*And if you shot any footage for a day in the life get it uploaded—I got a couple interviews for that, too, including one with local scene-ster, Bob Doran—well-spoken as always. Bob, I’ll send you a link soon—I’ve not even looked at it yet!
*Terrence McNally took the shots of Rachel & me.
‘til next week, cheers!
One last pic–Thanks, Chris Wisner.