Search Results for "Folk School"

Folk School Fiddle Contest 2012

The favorite Folk School held its second annual Fiddle Contest this past Sunday afternoon in Strauss Park at Grand Center. I never had entered a contest before. I did not expect to make this one. It fell on a work day last year, and this year, I had been on home call every other night for the two weeks prior. Work ended with plenty of time to go, though. I thought of a few favorite tunes to play, and H and I headed over.

The Root Diggers, a local old-time band, opened the afternoon. They played a good set to get everybody in the right frame of mind. I spent the time looking for an accompanist.  I asked blogged friend  Ryan Spearman to back me up. To my delight, he asked the same of me. We learned how to back up one another’s tunes just in time. Local musicians Geoff Seitz, Marc Rennard and Gary Hunt judged the contest, and banjoist Dave Landreth served as master of ceremonies.

I did not win, but I still had a good afternoon. I decided on a Mississippi themed program. I just could not play my first tune, “Possum on a Rail,” how I wanted. I felt bad while messing up the first tune because I knew that I had two more to go. My next one, “Tombigbee Waltz,” went a bit better. On the last tune, “Sullivan’s Hollow,” I tried to let it flow, and it was good fun. I backed up Ryan a few contestants later, and he won second place.

KDHX posted these photographs from the contest. The set is on Flickr, too. Here I am fiddling with Ryan on guitar, and here I am on guitar backing up Ryan. The Folk School has this album on Facebook. Friend Bob Clark posted this album on Facebook, too. It probably is only viewable if you have the right Facebook friendship. He is fond of the slogans, “Old-time music: More fun than it looks!” and “Old-time music: Better than it sounds!” I promise that I was having more fun that it appears.

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Michael M. on September 12th 2012 in General, Live, Music

Folk School, Kinky and Prine

The first weekend of December provided a musical feast.

That Thursday featured blogged Betse Ellis opening by herself. She plays in the Wilders, but this time she filled the stage with her voice, her fiddle and a little stomping. She played to help the favorite Folk School celebrate its tenth anniversary. It was a great night. The duo of blogged Pokey LaFarge and blogged friend Ryan Spearman followed. They made Thursday night. I only wish they had filled the Sheldon. KDHX has these photographs, and the Riverfront Times published broader coverage of the anniversary.

Since the concert, I have joined the Folk School Board of Directors although my name is not on the page yet. I learned to fiddle there, and I took up the banjo with help from Folk School classes. I learned new guitar styles and even taught one class, Introduction to Fingerstyle Guitar. I continue as a student, and I hope to teach again someday. Serving the Folk School in a new capacity is an honor, and I hope to contribute to continued success and growth.

In the nights after the anniversary concert, H and I saw twice blogged Kinky Friedman again at Off Broadway. It was his Hanukkah Tour. The jokes do not change much from show to show, but I still enjoy them every time. We stayed for part of the 1st Annual Hanukkah Hullaballoo with the Brothers Lazaroff, but I tired out early.

The next night was twice blogged John Prine at the Touhill. The review on the KDHX blog covers the basics. Blogged Jason Isbell opened with a solo acoustic set. Some of his betters songs worked in the format, but his electric rock is better. Prine was terrific. He played his familiar greats, both accompanied by his band and alone. He performed without appearing tired or resentful of past successes. He seemed grateful and charming, and he gave more than straight reproductions. I have wanted to see him in person for a while, and doing so easily met expectations. I hope I can attend more of his concerts in the future.

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Michael M. on January 31st 2012 in General, Live, Music

Folk School on Missouri Get Your Business Online

Missouri Get Your Business Online is a Google project that offers free websites for businesses. It recently featured the favorite Folk School of St. Louis as one of its success stories. The video on YouTube turned out great. Catch a glimpse of me in a photograph on the web page at 51 seconds into the video!


Michael M. on September 7th 2011 in General, Music

Folk School on Cityscape

KWMU local arts program Cityscape featured the beloved Folk School on today’s program. The last Folk School segment, as far as I know, was on the blogged May 27, 2005 program. Friends director Kelly Wells and blogged instructor Ryan Spearman were interviewed today. They also performed two jug band numbers, “Yes She Do, No She Don’t” and “Take It Slow and Easy.” Their blogged Green Strum Project got some well deserved promotion. Listen to enjoy the songs at to learn more.

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Michael M. on August 12th 2011 in General, Music

Folk School profiles is a web site with a section for Maplewood-Brentwood. Lately, my favorite Folk School has been getting good attention in it. It started with “Fiddlers Fill Downtown During Maplewood ArtsWalk.” The Folk School sent volunteers to play at local businesses in downtown Maplewood for the ArtsWalk Fiddle Fest. H and I played in front of Gisèle’s as guests of Floyd and the Barbers mentioned in the article. It was a great time. Since then, the site has carried “Fiddlers Follow Passion Later in Life” about two of my fiddling friends and “Folk School Builds Community Through Music” about the Folk School itself.

I am a happy member of that community. Just last week, the twice yearly showcase overtook the upstairs room at the Schlafly Tap Room. I had a great time singing and playing guitar in the Classic Country Ensemble. For the Old-Time Ensemble, I sawed on my fiddle. For one of our numbers, I backed up a friend as he debuted his original song! Two weekends before, I managed to make it to part of the jam at the Kirkwood Farmers Market. Now I am looking forward to the next session of the Old-Time Ensemble starting tomorrow night.

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Michael M. on October 25th 2010 in General, Live, Music

Teaching at the Folk School

Introduction to Fingerstyle Guitar through the Music of “Mississippi” John Hurt is a new class at the beloved Folk School. I will teach it! I am excited for the opportunity to share music from favorite Mississippi John Hurt. The class will meet Wednesdays from 8 to 9:20 PM from July 14 through August 11, 2010. My plan is to help folks who know their chords, but do not have fingerpicking experience to get their right hand fingers moving. I need at least three people to sign up, and I have heard that I got a first one already. It might be foolish to take on the commitment given my others. I could not let it pass me by, though, especially since I do not know when the chance will happen again. If you know people in the Saint Louis area who want to get started with this music, send them my way.

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Michael M. on June 28th 2010 in General, Music

Roland White at the Folk School

H and I went to the Roland White concert at the favorite Folk School several weeks back. He came several years ago, and I got to play with him at a Folk School jam session. This time he played with local picker Thayne Bradford. His wife was to have accompanied him, but I believe that she was convalescing. The show was a bit disorganized. The two frequently had to compare lists to decide what to play next. The music itself, however, was excellent. White also had interesting stories about playing with his brother Clarence and Bill Monroe. I look forward to his return.

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Michael M. on November 30th 2009 in General, Live, Music

Folk School Trivia Night

Trivia nights are popular events here in Saint Louis. Local groups raise money, and participants enjoy a fun evening. I had a great time at one a few months ago. Now I am looking forward to my second. The beloved Folk School will host its own trivia night this Saturday, August 29, 2009. The Suburban Journals on STLToday published “Playing along: Folk School students learn instrument as part of a group.” It has information about the school and about the upcoming trivia night. The festivities will be held at Saint Margaret of Scotland Church at 3854 Flad Avenue, Saint Louis, Missouri 63110-4024 in the Shaw neighborhood. The doors will open at 6:15 PM, and the game will begin at 7 PM. I will play opening music with several of my friends from the Folk School and then play trivia.

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Michael M. on August 27th 2009 in General, Live, Music

Showed Me at the Folk School of St. Louis

I posted a few days ago about the visit of KSDK television program Show Me St. Louis to the Folk School of St. Louis, a  frequent topic of mine. I showed up at the Folk School Monday morning ready for my close up. I got it! I appear on screen briefly singing and fiddling the twice bloggedGoing Down to Cairo.” Several friends are featured in brief interviews. The segment, which aired earlier this afternoon, is now available with text and on this video page.

The Folk School has brought me many new friends and hours of fun. It is great to see it garner this attention. With the economic problems, arts and recreation organizations are on hard times. I hope this publicity helps the Folk School to survive and flourish. I am honored and thrilled to have been involved in the television story. Thanks to the people at KSDK who made it.


Michael M. on June 9th 2009 in General, Live, Mine, Music

Show Me the Folk School of St. Louis

Show Me St. Louis on television station KSDK features places and events around metropolitan Saint Louis. This Monday, the show will visit the Folk School of St. Louis, a favorite of mine, for recording. I hope I make it onto television! The program will air at the next day, Tuesday, June 9, 2009, at 3 PM CDT on channel 5.

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Michael M. on June 5th 2009 in General, Music

Folk School dance May 4

For the last two years, I have played the Wall of Sound dance. The Childgrove Country Dancers host students from the Folk School once a year. The students have been named the “Wall of Sound” name because so many participate. I mentioned it last weekend, and now the date is only a week away. The dance will happen May 4, 2008 from 7 to 10 PM at the Monday Club, 37 S Maple, Webster Groves, MO 63119. A workshop on the dances will begin at 6:30 PM. I plan to dance the first set and fiddle the second. It would be great to see friends out on the floor.

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Michael M. on April 27th 2008 in General, Live, Music

New Folk School

The West End Word published this article on the new building for the frequently blogged Folk School. The new address is 3155 Sutton Blvd, Suite 101, Maplewood, MO 63143-3917. Although I have not tried it yet, taking MetroLink will not be too hard. The new location is only 0.6 miles from the Sunnen Station, and the Folk School should get a bicycle rack sometime soon.

I have now been to two classes and two jams there. It is terrific. It has more space. The acoustics are better. I can sense all the fun yet to come.

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Michael M. on February 7th 2008 in General, Live, Music

Folk School benefit concert

The Folk School will present An Evening of American String Band Music at the Sheldon Concert Hall in Grand Center on Tuesday, May 29 at 7:30 PM. The doors will open at 7 PM. $15 is the price. Visit the calendar entry for information on tickets or buy at the door before the show.

I have had wonderful experiences through the school. Recently, the contra dance I played was terrific. I invited friends from outside the school. It was to no avail, and I was forced to have a wonderful night without them. Because the number of students who want to play at the dance has grown too large for us all to play at once, I danced the first set. I never had tried contra dancing before. Although some moves, mainly the half hey, eluded me, I had a great time. The experienced dancers at Childgrove are friendly, patient and helpful. The dancing was intoxicating. Then I headed to the stage and sawed my best through the second set. Having finally done both, I still feel that playing beats dancing, but I understand much more how people become so absorbed in the experiences and culture of dance. The night owls among us capped a great night with a trip to C. J. Muggs.

It looks like I will play the benefit show, too. Between the main acts, a group of Folk School students will play in the lobby during intermission. I feel thrilled to have been invited to fiddle as part of it. We have rehearsed once, and I hope to make enough of the coming practices to rosin up and go on the 29th.

The big show will feature leading local groups the Buckhannon Brothers, the Gordons, the Grass Pack, Swing DeVille and the Yellow Dog String Band. Michael Ward and Rob White of the Grass Pack will move away from Saint Louis soon. This show will be their last with the band. Rob also plays in Yellow Dog. Many members of the other bands are Folk School instructors. I have learned fiddle from both Colleen Heine, Folk School director and Grass Pack fiddler, and Justin Branum of Swing DeVille. Dave Landreth, who has led me through my foray into clawhammer banjo as resident Folk School frailer, plays in Yellow Dog. I can testify personally to the great talent that will be on exhibit at the concert.

I spent a long time thinking about participatory culture. I still do, but now I also participate. The Folk School has been a big cog in the machinations of making it happen in my own life. However little music does to ease the great ills of the world, it is a great balm for soothing the small wounds of ones own life. This institution dedicated to bringing music to the people and people into the music continues growing. Come out to help it along while enjoying some fine sounds.

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Michael M. on May 16th 2007 in General, Live, Music

Folk School Showcase Thursday 7 PM

The Folk School Showcase will happen this Thursday, March 15 from 7 to 10 PM. Sauce Magazine has coverage, and friend and Folk School board member John Colbert wrote about it on his blog. The venue is the Club Room of the Schlafly Tap Room at 2100 Locust Saint, St Louis, MO 63103. We made the Schlafly news and March E-Growler along with the STLToday calendar and the Riverfront Times calendar. The suggested cover is $5.

Come out for a great night of amateur and professional old-time, bluegrass and roots music. I will fiddle and sing a little with my Ensemble I class at about 8 PM. I have several friends in the Grass Pack, a local band who met through the school. Other professionals include the Mound City Slickers, Ranger Dave Montgomery and an all-star band with excellent clawhammerer Dave Landreth, Andrew Gribble, Jim Nelson and Steve Hall.

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Michael M. on March 14th 2007 in Live, Music

Folk School Showcase Thursday

The Folk School will have a showcase concert at the Schlafly Tap Room this Thursday night from 7 to 10. The concert will feature students from music classes. I played at the one last spring. This time, I will play with the Ensemble I class. My parts include vocal harmony and a short fiddle solo on “The Old Home Place.” Local professionals the Grass Pack, Ranger Dave and Swing De Ville will play, too, interspersed among us amateurs. Justin Branum of Swing De Ville is my current teacher, and he is a great fiddler. The Grass Pack includes my former teacher and two school friends. It should be fun for both the audience and the performers, and it supports a local cultural institution that keeps the old music alive and provides an excellent hobby to all comers.

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Michael M. on October 16th 2006 in General, Live, Music

Folk School CWE jam Saturday

The Folk School of Saint Louis will jam this Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM at GreenMarket in the Central West End. I am not affiliated with the school, but a few friends are. I should be. Playing is fun. Classes are fairly inexpensive, and there are several on instruments I have wanted to learn for a while. I have contemplated taking lessons several times without following through. This Saturday should be a good opportunity to find out more about the school. I love those old-time sounds.

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Michael M. on July 7th 2005 in General, Live, Music

BBC Folk America

Last summer, I posted about my encounter with a BBC television crew at the Mississippi John Hurt Festival. They said that the series on American folk music would air the following February. I found Folk America. This review is very favorable. Much, maybe all, of the show is available as streaming video. The BBC, however, does not permit streaming to the United States. I recently found it on Google Video as episodes 1 Birth of a Nation, 2 This Land Is Your Land and 3 Blowin’ in the Wind.

The series features some familiar people. Twice blogged Tom Paley visited the beloved Folk School a few years ago, and I got to jam with him. Twice mentioned expert on American folk music Tony Russell shares some of his great knowledge. The BBC found great folks for this series.

The part on favorite Mississippi John Hurt starts at 34:14 in the first episode and runs to about 38:20. It features his granddaughter Mary Frances Hurt Wright prominently. Several shots show the Mississippi John Hurt Festival last summer. I was there. I appear 34:48-34:51 as the leftmost person wearing a light blue t-shirt and beige shorts. At 35:13-35:15, the shot looking from Hurt’s parlor out at the gathering shows “Lost Jim” Ohlschmidt and Andy Burke of Willie Mae. Other shots feature the Valley Store and more nearby buildings. Toward the end is the story of “Creole Belle” told by blogged Tom Paxton. This long discussion on the old Mississippi John Hurt Forum brought me to the same connection, and I found the old sheet music. The last part of the episode around 56:30 covers the end of Hurt’s first recording career among the many stalls and collapses in the early folk recording industry. It also has a little more footage of the festival.

Third episode Blowin’ in the Wind 30:40-32:58 is about Hurt’s revival career. He was reintroduced to the world at the Newport Folk Festival. The segment includes brief footage of “Candy Man” along with several touching reminiscences about his reemergence at the festival and subsequent gigging in Greenwich Village.

Twice blogged Henry “Ragtime Texas” Thomas follows Hurt in Birth of a Nation. Blogged Cecil Brown talks about how itinerant musicians lived, and three times mentioned John Sebastian is featured, too. Because Thomas was older than most recorded musicians of his day, his music presumably reaches further back. It is captivating.

Other segments in Birth of a Nation cover major figures in the early recording era. The two episodes cover later phases of the American folk music movement. I am on the last one, “Blowin’ in the Wind,” right now. The documentary provides an enjoyable overview with reasonble depth that starts at the beginning of the recording era. I am glad that I finally found a way to watch it.

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Michael M. on June 11th 2009 in General, Music

Folk dance

As part of the Folk School band, I played Sunday night at the Monday Club for the Childgrove Country Dancers. It was great. Many people turned out to play, and the floor was packed with dancers. The Folk School band only plays there once a year. I hope I find other opportunities to perform.

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Michael M. on May 9th 2006 in General, Live, Music

Singing together

The Atlantic has “How Communal Singing Disappeared From American Life” at the end of March. A friend pointed to it through the page on Facebook of the beloved Folk School. It makes the argument that public singing has declined and that it ought to return. The article refers to the Get America Singing… Again! songbooks. They appear to have a good collection of songs. Rise Up Singing is preferred one among friends. The article reminded me of “Shared Song, Communal Memory” from The New York Times a few years ago. They share many points. Sing more.

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Michael M. on April 19th 2012 in General, Music

Spring 2012 Showcase

The beloved Folk School held its student showcase just over a week ago at Off Broadway. Check out this slide show on YouTube. It looked like the biggest one yet.

I took Alternative Roots Ensemble with Jeff Burke of the Jeff and Vida Band. He is teaching while spending a few months here in Saint Louis. We played “Rox in the Box” by the Decemberists and then “Will You Return?” by the Avett Brothers. Looking on the SongMeanings page for “Rox in the Box,” I found that it incorporates “The Gypsy Laddie,” an old border ballad. It seemed appropriate as a song for an alternative roots class. One classmate, who sang “Rox in the Box,” posted both performances on YouTube. You can hear me plucking away on mandolin and adding harmony on “Will You Come Again.”


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Michael M. on March 17th 2012 in General, Live, Music

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