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Friday, April 22, 2016

EARTH DAY EDITION (green, green... where the grass is greener still)...

√ Happy Earth Day! We proudly present our A-to-Z guide to what YOU can do — yes, actually, really DO. It's quite comprehensive with a lot of resources and has been published elsewhere, as well.

• We've been listening to an album titled "Green" (what could be more appropriate?) It's by the fine nu-folk duo, Sabrina and Craig. Google it to catch a selection or buy your own copy. We promise it's just as good after Earth Day.

√ Yesterday the music world lost yet another giant. We published a special edition that's received lots of acclaim — here and elsewhere where it was published.

√ As for THIS WEEKEND...

• Music news, FESTIVALS, and events are in a very much UPDATED edition originally published April 16 (but updated several times). It's readily available at a separate click.



by Larry Wines

With all the causes; campaigns; concerns; appeals; projects; initiatives; social media triple exclamation points; hyperventilated rhetoric from totally unauthentic wannabe leaders; cable news stampeding into oblivion; and trivialities competing for attention? There is still one thing that does not make us cynical. That is the wonderful array of dedicated, nonprofit, volunteer-driven organizations, large and small, who try so diligently to save the planet — in spite of the resolve of its occupants to thwart their efforts by destroying it, anyway.

Okay, we do get cynical about what they, on the environmental front lines, are up against. Which is to say, what we — meaning all of us who inhabit this overpopulated blue sphere — are up against.

Earth Day is both a day for celebrating nature's heroes spreading growing awareness, and all that enables, and a day for emphasizing every way we can to recruit more people and ring more alarm bells for all that is being irrevocably lost.

There is plenty that needs doing. We'll offer you some effective options and let you in on some things you should know about.

Let's start with the positive. There's breaking news that 150+ countries are signing-on to tackle the climate crisis. You can even take part in that.


"A generation from now, we will look back on this Earth Day as a turning point for humanity and our work to tackle the climate crisis," says Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. [ ]

If that sounds too rosy, he continues, "Today at the United Nations, a signing ceremony marks the first phase of implementing the Paris Climate Agreement. Representatives from the United States, China, India and more than 150 countries from around the world will officially sign on to the historic agreement."

You may recall the grief visited on President Obama by conservatives who said the Paris Climate Accords would destroy opportunities for American business (meaning multinational megagiant corporations with rich American stockholders who move operations to countries with no constraints on pollution and no worker safety laws).

Brune sees it differently. He asserts, "This is a turning point in our efforts to save the planet and move toward an economy powered by 100 percent clean energy. Citizen support for climate action made the Paris Agreement possible and will be critical to its success."

And by "citizen support," he means something quite specific, in which you can take part. That's the first of our three participatory exercises.


Brune says, "By delivering tens of thousands of signatures to the UN today, we can send a powerful message to world leaders that we’ve got their back. This Earth Day, add your name as a citizen signer of the Paris Climate Agreement."

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You can even add your personal message.

"We can be proud that the United States is among the first countries to sign the agreement. As countries sign on to the agreement and begin to implement their climate action plans, we must remain engaged. In the U.S., policies like the 'Clean Power Plan' and grassroots campaigns like the 'Beyond Coal Campaign' and 'Ready for 100' will be critical to reaching and exceeding our carbon reduction goals," Brune adds.

In fact, he'll tell you that we have much to celebrate this Earth Day. Across the world, the growing climate movement is organizing to keep dirty fuels in the ground, achieve 100 percent clean energy, and challenge the corrosive influence of the fossil fuel industry.

Speaking for the environmental community, not just his Sierra Club, Brune says, "Make no mistake, we are a powerful force for global climate action. Add your name as a citizen signer to the Paris Climate Agreement to celebrate this historic moment of action!"

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That's surely a "feel good" single action that can help support like-minded world leaders and awaken others. Maybe even some Republicans.

Other actions make unquestionably lasting little changes. And a sum total of little changes can have profound impact.


U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D), Oregon [ ] is the only member of the senate to endorse Bernie Sanders. His progressive credentials are Stirling. He observes, "Today, world leaders are signing on the dotted line to move forward with the historic Paris climate agreement. It’s the largest one-day signing of an international agreement, and that’s something to celebrate!"

Then he sets-up his call for your action. "The only way the United States can keep up with our side of the deal is by moving forward with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The plan moves us away from carbon-based fuels and toward a green energy future," says Merkley.

And here it is: "On Earth Day, let’s keep up our end of the bargain. Sign the Petition: stand up for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan!" [ ]

It's more than your typical petition. It's a citizen's amicus brief, sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey, Sen. Chris Coons, Sen. Martin Heinrich, Sen. Angus King, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Ron Wyden, and Rep. Xavier Becerra, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Rep. Matt Cartwright, Rep. Peter DeFazio, Rep. Joe Kennedy III, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Kathleen Rice, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Sen. Merkley says, "This is a pivotal moment. At the same time that the world is moving toward a real solution to climate change, our climate progress is under attack here in the United States. Fossil fuel barons like the Koch brothers are doing everything they can to block the Clean Power Plan. Now is the time to stand up and be counted. Join me and sign on to defend the Clean Power Plan!" [ ]

Of course, you need to be careful. Things can be like those Big Oil funded tv ads trying to recruit you to be "an energy voter."

The same applies to what some legislators can misrepresent. Environmental Action's [ [ ] Drew Hudson says, "Even as hundreds of world leaders meet to ratify the Paris climate agreement this Earth Day, the United States Senate celebrated by passing a dirty energy bill that will subsidize fossil fuels — especially fracked gas — and expedite the construction of new pipelines from coast to coast. And that Paris agreement — as historic as it is, and despite the fact that it's being ratified faster than any similar international agreement in history — doesn't do enough to protect our climate."


Maggie Bruns of the League of Conservation Voters [ ] offers an opportunity "to support our clean energy future by choosing clean, renewable energy today."

No, we're not forwarding some appeal from her organization to send them a donation. This is really something you can DO.

Bruns explains, "We are working with Arcadia Power to provide you with the tools to go green this Earth Day. Arcadia Power has developed a platform that enables you to choose clean energy at your home or apartment. Hundreds of LCV members all over the country have joined, and this Earth Day we encourage you to join, too."

Wait. Don't you only have service from the company whose wires connect to your apartment, house, or other humble abode? Well, no. The laws have changed and you have options.

Bruns says, "Starting with your next electric bill, Arcadia Power covers every kWh you use with clean, renewable energy, and you keep your service with your local utility. You get a personalized energy dashboard, a great customer service experience (you get to talk to humans!), exclusive member rewards, and you can monitor your monthly positive environmental impact."

That's nice. But really, why do that? "Right now, the majority of American’s utility bills support more fossil fuel production and not every utility provides their customers with an affordable clean energy option," as Bruns asserts.


We are nearing the end of this year's annual National Parks Week. And 2016 marks the centennial of the National Park Service, the perpetually underfunded guardians of what the acclaimed Ken Burns' documentary calls "America's best idea."

Fortunately, there is a nonprofit support organization to make up some of the missing funding and support. That's the National Park Foundation [ ]. That organization's Senior Vice President,Susan Newton, wants you to know, "There’s still time to celebrate National Park Week by visiting any park free through Sunday, April 24th."

National and state park units preserve both natural and historical sites. Everything from Civil War battlefields to alpine wilderness to beaches and fragile reefs.

In Southern California, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is a mosaic protected by the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service, and state and county park rangers and trained volunteers. On May 15th, the annual Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival happens there, under the auspices of NPS. It's held at the only remaining rural movie ranch with an old Western town, Paramount Ranch, near Agoura. The site was nearly lost to private estates for the rich. Every park and monument needs advocates to get even rudimentary funding.

We'll add that any time you visit any park, monument, museum, or historic site, be sure you sign the register. When budgets are determined, proof of visitors is critical for funding. The simple power of the pen.


Every National Park, National Monument, state park, and other protected place has its own back story of how it was preserved.

We'll tell you a story you don't know. Once upon a time there was an organization called the Save the Redwoods League. We can't give you a cyber link for it because it's gone. Founded in the 1890s, it put itself out of business by succeeding. As late as the 1970s and '80s, there will still huge groves of ancient old-growth redwoods in California and Oregon that were not protected. They were slated for "harvesting" by timber companies. The League nearly all of them, and along the way, was largely responsible for Redwood National Park.
Yes, you CAN do things that make a difference.


Any journey begins with a single step. Just like doing your part with water conservation, there is always more each of us can do. Often, that begins with a simple commitment to awareness.

Though it's rather unbelievable how certain people choose to remain willfully unaware.

Most of us know that science is finding it necessary do something that people in white lab coats are not known for: screaming at us to look at the overwhelming concurrence of mountains of data. From public personas like Neil de Grasse Tyson to Bill Nye the Science Guy to people who generally surface once a year at academic conferences to present research findings, the message is clear. There is simply no question that human activity has produced a headlong rush into sudden and rapidly accelerating global climate change.

That should, in no way, be political. But it is. One party exploits it to galvanize support for its position and elect its candidates. The other party acknowledges the validity of science and calls for action — even if part of that is to galvanize support for its position and elect its candidates.

The Democratic National Committee didn't miss the opportunity to capitalize, sending an email blast that reads, "Today we celebrate Earth Day, but as Democrats, we know we have to fight every day to protect our planet because it's the only one we've got."

The email offers a chance to "Add your name if you're ready to make sure we elect leaders who understand the stakes couldn't be higher when it comes to acting on climate."

To make sure no one misses the point, they quote each of the GOP presidential candidates:

• "I don't believe in climate change." — Donald Trump.

• "Some theory that's not proven." — John Kasich.

• "Scientific evidence does not support global warming." — Ted Cruz.

"Adding your name" to the DNC's list to "make sure we elect leaders" attuned to scientific reality does, of course, bring-up a box to click in agreement. That, in turn, brings-up a fundraising page. But you can do the former without getting fleeced on the latter.
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A central tenet of understanding the environment is that everything is connected to everything else. Nothing is an isolated case. Preserving an economically convenient amount of wild lands while developing the rest is a Disneyland approach. In no way does that enable indigenous species to have the minimum range to sustain their habitat, or the range needed for the plants and animals on which that species is ultimately dependent.

In today's America, every day, more than 6,000 acres of open space are lost.

The San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land [ ] is a key organization focused on preventing that. Thanks to supportive partnerships, they are able to save $4 worth of wildlands, parks, and historic places for every $1 you donate. Currently, a generous matching gift opportunity can save $8 worth of land for every dollar of public support.

Will Rogers — not the early 20th century humorist, but the group's President and CEO — speaks of a "passion for stopping unchecked development from eating away at wild open places... building parks in communities where green space is seriously lacking... and protecting historic landmarks that define our national identity."

Currently, Rogers' organization is funding critical work in many special places, from the iconic "Sierra Checkerboard" of mixed public and private land in California, to a unique nature sanctuary on an old mill site in Montana, to a 3.5-mile park in New York City that was once a hotbed of drug use and pollution.

The Trust for Public Land must also fight for full reauthorization of the federal government's Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). That has long been the budgetary lifeblood for parks and open space in the United States. Now, like so much else, LWCF faces mindless demands for budgetary cutbacks or actual elimination in the name of "austerity," today's Republican mantra.


If success or failure of many environmental causes makes all the difference between asphalt or natural habitat, between life and death for wildlife and ancient plant communities, other times it can mean the difference of life or death for human advocates of wild lands.

Six weeks ago, environmental activist Berta Cáceres was murdered in Honduras. She was killed because of her opposition to an environmentally devastating dam project. In the weeks since, Berta’s fellow activists — including Friends of the Earth Mexico’s Gustavo Castro — have been threatened, attacked, and prevented from leaving the country. Despite the risks, they’re still fighting to stop the dam.

That story was related to us by Jeff Conant, Senior international forests campaigner for Friends of the Earth. [ ]

Conant also turned his attention to the U.S., as he continued, "Today is Earth Day — a day to call on our government to protect the planet. There are thousands of demonstrations happening across the U.S."

And no wonder. In writing this, I want to emphasize that we're not talking about "environmental wackos" conducting and participating in those demonstrations. My own experience over the past fifteen months, working to save an entire mountain complex from complete destruction by surface mining, demonstrates that our environmental laws are absolutely inadequate.

Despite proving the existence of a critically endangered species — and that it lives only in the mountain complex currently being destroyed — there is no clear way to save it in its habitat. Let's be clear: that's the only place on the entire planet where that species lives.

Yet our government, at all levels, has no interest in stopping the total destruction of a unique habitat where unique things live. The only place they live. And frankly, I have reason to be concerned for my well-being because I'm trying to stop this destruction.

Friends of the Earth's Jeff Conant, who has a long list of concerns, says, "...throughout Central America, activists are being murdered for defending the environment. The violence may seem far away, but our actions here in the U.S. can help put a stop to it. Pressure from people like you helped get Gustavo safely home to Mexico. And your calls to Congress have helped drum up support for an independent investigation into Berta’s murder."

That may sound encouraging, but it's not just the editor who has found a deaf government in our own country.

We do provide contact information for your federal and California state elected representatives in a section that follows, and additional reasons why you'll want that.

Conant, addressing murder, threats, and travel bans imposed against activists in Latin America, cites the need for ordinary Americans to exert pressure at the intersection. He says, " the situation continues to deteriorate, we need to keep the pressure on the U.S. government to intervene."


It can all seem overwhelming. But ordinary Americans putting pressure on government — national, state, regional (like AQMD and MTA), county, and local, can make a difference.

Even down to your own city, where decisions are made that allow rapid, ill-advised development because they want to collect fees from issuing permits and property taxes on new structures. That, despite the fact those developments will force water rationing and strains on electrical and transportation grids, wastewater disposal, and by driving-up property values, further diminish affordable housing in the near-term future. All politics are local, and they bring environmental impacts.

It's not just about banning a pesticide because it kills bees, or campaigning for labels that reveal what GMO "Frankenfoods" are in your local grocery store, or buying dolphin-safe tuna. It's about being informed enough to be a responsible citizen, even as we drown in information that is mostly pablum amidst contrived noise intended to distract us.

It's about attaining an awareness that we are but one species in a complex, interwoven, interdependent web of life that changes in response to environmental stresses — whether or not those changes make a fortune for "the right people." And it seems that each day — sometimes with great drama and tv reporters hamming it up leaning into the blast — those stresses include weather, climate, drought, flood, apocalyptic wildfires, glacial melt, loss of farmland, lack of pollination, overpopulation, famine, and the ultimate threat to our very survival: human activities that exceed natural assimilative and regenerative capacities.


Earth is abundant with life because we are a water planet. And the health of our fresh water sources eventually devolves to our oceans. Sometimes that's pollution. Sometimes it's the impacts of overfishing because we fail to manage our land-based food production.

Lauren Parks of the nonprofit Oceana is dealing with a "right now" crisis that's getting visibly worse, daily.

She says, "It started four years ago and is happening again: a surge of baby sea lions stranding on California’s coast, starving and dehydrated. We’re in the peak of the crisis right now. More and more arrive each day. Emaciated and weak, most of them will die. Overfishing sardines during a natural population decline has severely reduced the number of these forage fish that sea lions rely on."

So, Oceana — an organization that knows how to do it — has a campaign, raising money to provide nutrition for all these starving baby sea lions.

Of course, Oceana wants "Your support right now," but not just to feed these starving sea mammals.  The organization wants you "to help us ensure the fishery stays closed until the sardine population recovers."

That requires pressure on U.S. regulatory authorities to, as Parks says, "make meaningful changes to how the fishery is managed to prevent future collapse, and implement other science-based strategies that will allow these fish — and the sea lions who depend on them — to recover and thrive."


Another important organization looking to the health of what makes our blue planet blue is the D.C. based Ocean Conservancy. [ ]

Nicholas Mallos is the director of "Trash Free Seas" for the Ocean Conservancy.

He says, "We talk trash a lot, because there’s a lot of it in the ocean — and it’s getting worse. Much worse. Today is Earth Day and we need your help to create solutions that will cut the amount of trash entering the ocean in half by 2025."

Simple and direct. They want to "STOP trash from entering the ocean, and like numerous organizations, they have a matching-gift sponsor who signed-on for Earth Day.

Mallos tells us, "Unfortunately, one of the most visible, most vivid reminders of just how much trash is in our ocean is a trip to the beach where you can find bottle caps, straws, plastic bags and more. This definitely alters your beach day. Trash is an unpleasant experience for beachgoers — but much more so for wildlife."

He continues, "In recent months, some 30 sperm whales have beached off the North Sea. While not determined as the cause of death, their bellies were full of ocean trash. Forty-three-foot long fishing nets, car engine covers, buckets and more — in their stomachs!"

His goal: "If we prevent trash from entering the ocean, we can make a difference on a global scale."

Mallos expects "Millions of people will take action today to show their support for the environment — and our ocean."

We hope he's right.


In honor of Earth Day, the Guide asks YOU to do something simple: put pressure on the U.S. government to protect our national, local, and global environment, and environmental defenders.

Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing we can do to protect anyone or anything. To save endangered critical habitat. To stop violence.

"But in fact, the opposite is true," says Friends of the Earth's Jeff Conant. 

Speaking specifically of murders and intimidation of environmental activists in Central America, he says, "The U.S. government has the power to put a stop to these human rights violations." "We need to demand that it uses that power!" says Conant.

He continues, "That’s why we’re demanding that Congress and the State Department cut off funds and military assistance to these governments. Thousands of people like you have called your Representatives and have written to the State Department demanding just that — and we’re starting to gain some traction. But now, we need to make it stick. So we’ve been organizing Congressional briefings and meetings with local activists — so our decision-makers can hear directly from local communities about how the U.S.’s actions are impacting them. We need your help to keep this work going... [to] stop the U.S. government from condoning violence against activists."

Reporting on the work of his organization, Conant says, "Local communities throughout the tropics are fighting back against deforestation from palm oil development and other destructive projects. Last year, a first-of-its-kind environmental court in Guatemala charged a palm oil company with ecocide. The ruling was a huge step forward for people and the planet! But nearly every community victory over the abuses of the palm oil industry is met with threats and violence. Immediately after the ruling in the ecocide case, the leading plaintiff, Rigoberto Lima Choc, was killed."

If that makes you think that it's just the way things are in corrupt little countries, think about the guy who wrote this, and the threat he faces for trying to save a unique place right here in America.

Earth Day isn't just about planting geraniums. It's serious — sometimes deadly serious — for those on the front lines. Even here.

Murders of environmental activists overseas are facts. "And the U.S. has an important role to play in these tragedies," adds Conant. He explains, "Our government helps fund the governments that drive the destructive projects — and condone the violence against activists."

The people on those front lines aren't naive about things. "It’s going to take all of us working together to convince our government to stand up for activists overseas," says Conant, continuing, "But I know that if you and I do our part, we can push the U.S. to do the right thing."

Hence, the section, just ahead, with links to contact your representatives.


For Conant, that drives his Friends of the Earth campaign to push the U.S. government into standing up for Guatemalans facing murderous opposition to defending the environment in their country.

For me, it means going to the next level in trying to save an entire mountain complex — and its unique life that lives no where else on Earth — from being destroyed by surface mining. You'll see more about that soon, when it's safe to go public.

In the meantime, check in with your elected officials. Tell them that clean air and water matter to you. Tell them that the most credible science agrees overwhelmingly that rising sea levels, due to proliferating greenhouse gases causing global warming, are a threat to human civilization. You might want to add that clean, renewable energy and clean "green" transportation matter to you.

Make sure to tell them you're watching them in this election year, that they're hearing from you because Earth Day inspired you, but you'll still be watching them even when April is long past.

Tell them instead of contributing to their campaign SuperPACs, you're sending a few bucks to your favorite environmental education or wildland advocacy orgsnization, or a park support organization — or to somebody doing hard science, measuring melt rates of glaciers or documenting changing atmospheric or oceanic chemistry — or to somebody working to save the lives of those who speak-up for the natural world against the greed and destruction of money-grubbing exploiters.

Here's how to find and contact your elected federal and state representatives:

Your U.S. government representatives.

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Your California State representatives.

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Make those four calls or send them each an email. Be general or be specific. Plenty of basic, general, points and some specific ones are above.

Any environmental organization will happily bring you up to speed on specifics of their current efforts, if you want to address something specific. The important thing is that you call or email your elected officials and tell them maintaining a healthy and habitable environment for you and your family really matters to you, and you're watching them. It's a fine way to spend a few minutes helping the planet to celebrate Earth Day. Or any day. It's doing something simple that really matters.


For some, getting a politician's office staffer for three minutes on the phone won't feel effective, even when it is. Let's face it: we all know people for whom direct action seems the most effective course. Perhaps that's you.

We've already cited Drew Hudson, who represents the group, Environmental Action [ ]. They were founded in 1970 with the first Earth Day. Hudson makes the point that this is "Not a day, but a movement."

He says, "Our movement is in the street, alive with the possibility of this moment. Because our movement is not made up of days — it's made of people."

He recounts what got his organization, and the rest of us, here: "Forty six years ago, millions of Americans took to the streets at the first Earth Day and affirmed our unalienable right to clean water, clean air and a sustainable planet to live on. That simple idea is alive today in our movement to save the planet and all of us who just live on it."

If you're looking for a place to physically impose yourself between the exploiters and protecting nature, Hudson's organization may be one to check out.

He says, "I've seen it in the wave of protests we're planning next month to break free from fossil fuels and #KeepItIntheGround. I've met this movement in the streets of New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, Miami, and dozens of other cities. Our movement is powerful, and that power threatens politicians and polluters. That's why I've seen members of it get arrested on the Steps of the U.S. Capitol, in the streets of the our financial districts and in a dozen cities and towns where people refuse to be silent in the face of injustice, oppression and pollution."

Hudson will tell you the movement is "also hopeful," saying, "I've literally danced with it in the streets of Paris, and the Earth Day events and parties happening in hundreds of cities and towns today are a testament to our achievements. I've also prayed for our movement along with leaders of dozens of faiths, many of whom have opened their doors to us so we could meet in their pews, sleep in their basements and share their peace regardless of what gods we do or do not believe in."

He takes the front-line approach, saying, "Our small but mighty staff are spread all over the country today at events in DC, Texas and beyond. It's not always easy. There is no permanent progress for our planet."

Hudson cites "the nearly one million people who've taken action with us online," as he seeks to "build a bigger, better, more inclusive movement with the guts and honesty to do what it takes to protect our planet."


For most of us, getting involved in, or supporting, the many other organizations and their leaders and spokespeople named herein will be better, certainly safer, options.

Plus, there are a great many more organizations we didn't get to, including the Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, and others that all deserve acclaim and support. Many have one or more specializations as their focus. Mostly staffed by enthusiastic volunteers who arrived with specialized knowledge or who received training to acquire new knowledge, they take their missions seriously. All would welcome your support.

Because everything is connected to everything else. And every day is Earth Day.


Music news, FESTIVALS, and events are in the UPDATED edition originally published April 16 and available at a separate click.

Much more, soon, on other topics.


The Guide brings you frequent editions covering MUSIC NEWS, arts and industry events, and ticket alerts, available right here on the Guide's Blogspot site.


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♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS and views of interest to artists everywhere, more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music, both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues, and schedules and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues monumentally large and intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the roots of the blues and where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell.

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