Top Stories

Free Folk Festival 2012

SFFMC’s San Francisco Free Folk Festival, now in its 36th year, is scheduled for June 9th & 10th, at Presidio Middle School. Our Festival attracts thousands of participants and fantastic local talent, and features folk music and dance traditions from around the globe. As always, it will be 100% free and family-friendly.

Expect music and dance performances on three stages, over 100 music and dance workshops led by performing arts experts, jams, food, raffles, crafts from local artisans, and more. The festival website is continually updated: If you have questions, email You can also keep abreast of Festival planning, pre-festival events and its active community on its Facebook page.

Who knew that when the first San Francisco Free Folk Festival was produced in 1976 it would grow up to become a fixture on the local arts and culture landscape? But the enduring nature of the folk tradition and decades of hard work on the part of our committed organizers and amazing volunteers has made it just that.

Volunteer: Each year, we need a small army of volunteers to make the festival run smoothly. Pre-festival (now), we need volunteers to help call people and organize. And volunteering is not all work and no play; volunteers have been known to get jam sessions going at instrument check, at the info desk, in the parking lot... To lend a hand, contact (N.B.: this has been corrected; the email address given in earlier editions is a dead end.)

Put it on your calendar! Tell all your friends! Volunteer! Bring an instrument for a spontaneous jam! Whatever you do, don’t miss the fun at our yearly gift to ourselves, the music community, and the wonderful city of San Francisco.

Memorial Day Campout

Friday, May 25, 2012, 2:00 p.m. - Monday, May 28, 2012, noon

We will return to Mark Levy’s place at Waterman Creek—a site among the redwoods in Santa Cruz County on the way to Big Basin State Park—about an hour and a half from the Bay Area. We can have the usual campfire sings and jams without the usual 10:00 p.m. curfew imposed by state parks.


There are spaces throughout the 7.5 acres of woods for parking and tents, including four spaces where RVs can connect to electricity, but no other hookups. In case of inclement weather, we can use a heated shelter, which is 30 feet in diameter and has a roof and walls, for playing and singing.

Water is available. Bring food and regular camping equipment, including tables and chairs—also instruments. Please pay attention to the signs about disposing of trash. Portable toilets will be provided.


We will organize a work party to help get the site ready. People who want to help with this can come as early as Wednesday and can camp free of charge for days they are helping. Contact Melissa Sarenac, at 415-647-1474, for more info. If you can come, please email Mark Levy at and let him know when you will arrive.


NEW! Register at camp—no advance registration. You need not be a folk club member to attend. Cost is $8.00/night per adult and $4.00/night per child under 16. Babes-in-arms are free. Day use fee will be $5.00. No pets are allowed and—as at all SFFMC campouts—no radios or TVs, and no beeping phones or electronics of any kind are allowed. RVs are OK.


If you need directions and a map, contact Melissa Sarenac: or Ed Hilton:,

Remembering Bruce Duncan (U. Utah) Phillips, May 15, 1935—May 23, 2008

We will remember the late Utah Phillips as labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, poet and as the “Golden Voice of the Great Southwest,” especially at this campout; and we’ll sing all the songs that have become our favorites, such as “The Goodnight Loving Trail,” “Daddy, What’s a Train,” “Starlight on the Rails,” and many others.

For more about Utah Phillips, see or Google: utah phillips.

Occupella Launches Website

Check out, where they post schedules, their downloadable song book, and links to Occupy singers and songwriters from far and wide. It’s growing daily! They also have a Facebook page:

The folknik covered Occupella’s recent activities in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue.

Fold-in/Folk Sing April 29

The fold-in is at noon, Sunday, April 29, at the home of Marv Sternberg & Shary Levy,

The more, the merrier. Help with the folknik, enjoy a meal afterwards, and make music. Bring a potluck dish and instruments.

Rosalie Sorrels Retires

For those who don’t know Rosalie, she is one of the greats in folk music. Utah Phillips once said that her mind is like an attic with so much in it that you can’t find it. She has always been a delight to talk to, a living encyclopedia of folklore and history. Rosalie is also a true lady; she has always brought a feeling of class to whatever room she stepped into. Rosalie is a typical folk artist, never gaining financial rewards in return for what she has given. But along the way, she gained a rich experience of life that few can equal. She has shared this with others as a songwriter, singer, and storyteller. Her wealth was in friends she made along the way, and each of us gained from knowing her. She is one of our last remaining icons from the Beat Generation.

“Old Devil Time, you’d like to bring me down, but when I’m low, my friends all gather round to help me rise, rise and sing it one more time.”
—Rosalie Sorrels.

Her voice has been described as “an instrument as mellow and finely aged as an antique viola.” The Boston Globe called her “one of America’s genuine folk treasures.” Gamble Rodgers called her the “hillbilly Edith Piaf.” Studs Terkel said “Rosalie Sorrels sings songs the way you’ve always hoped they’d be sung: Deeply felt, effortlessly, and altogether loverly.” Utah Phillips admired her ability to “get into the guts of a song.” The Chicago Reader wrote, “Sorrels has decried the music industry’s attempt to homogenize women and ethnicity into something blander. She’s living proof that there are some things the biz just can’t whitewash.”

Deeply moved by her performance, the late John Wasserman, entertainment critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, commented, “She did something that only the best can ever do; she brought back memories that we never had. She’s one of the geniuses, Rosalie Sorrels is.” Others have described her vocals as “well-weathered and wise; real substance; true and powerful; a grain of crusty toughness; a voice that cuts like a knife and purrs like a kitten.” The last time she attempted to retire, she went on to record two Grammy-nominated CDs, and her travels continued; some referred to this as semi-retired, some might call it necessary, but mostly we are all happy that she didn’t stop singing then.

Rosalie has conquered all her setbacks and heartbreaks with the help of her friends, family, and, most importantly, her music. She has served as a role model for many, and she will always remain true to her beliefs without regard to the “fickle wind of trends.” Although the years are catching up with Rosalie Sorrels’ physical way of life, they will never catch her inner diva.

Now at 78, she can no longer tour because of health reasons. She has come to a time in life when she just wants to be at home—the home that many have come to know through her stories and songs, which was built by her father’s and brother’s hands. The cabin, located 28 miles north of Boise, was referred to as “Querencia,” named by Rosalie’s mother, Nancy Stringfellow. In Spanish, querencia; describes a place where one feels safe, a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn, a place where one feels at home. Her cabin has been visited by many noted singers, songwriters, story tellers, poets and authors.

Because the cabin is a handmade work of art, it feels as if it simply grew right out of the ground, and Mother Nature has taken a toll on the structure. There are some issues that make it complicated to stay there. The work that needs to be done is remodeling the bathroom, repairing the plumbing and putting in a walk-in shower.

The family is making a request to raise the necessary funds to make these renovations to the homestead so that it is possible for Rosalie to stay where she is most happy and more comfortable. If you care to make a donation, please send it to: Rosalie Sorrels,

(excerpted from Ancient Victorys News, Winter 2012,

Lark Camp Registration Is Open

Lark Camp 2012 Music, Song & Dance Celebration takes place on July 27–August 4. The 2012 Schedule is now online along with lots of information about Camp: Lark often sells out early.

World Music Website

If you aren’t addicted to the amazing world music performances and interviews on Michal Shapiro’s InterMuse “vlog,” you just haven’t watched enough. The index of her high quality, well shot material reads like a music atlas. The recordings travel from the Arctic to Zimbabwe (literally), with stops pretty much everywhere along the way. And they range from hopping, to engrossing, to deeply moving. Michal posts a weekly world music blog on Huffington Post, but InterMuse ( is her own website with an archive of her HuffPo posts and material exclusive to InterMuse. I just wanna watch one more, just one...