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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Shows-of-the-Week: May 13th & 15th -- Caroline Cotter plays L.A.


We've added two late items on "pi day" (3.14... get it?)


The Guide humbly supports the student-organized national observance today, which is taking a stand against gun violence in our gun-crazed, violence-saturated society. What the kids are doing isn't some nebulous feel-good exercise. They are demanding that legislators in all 50 states and in Congress stop taking campaign cash support from the NRA and the gun manufacturers, and instead fulfill the will of the majority of Americans. Specifically, the kids are calling for changes in the laws to ban guns that can be converted to automatic weapons -- i.e., machine guns, like those used at the Las Vegas concert massacre, at Newtown, at Columbine, and nearly once a week for the past 10 years in massacres. The kids are demanding that gun purchases be illegal for anyone under age 21. The kids are demanding thorough background checks and red flags if psychological or emotional factors are present that suggest violence-prone behavior. And that want these things put in place for all who want to possess a firearm, with no exceptions. Of course the impetus for all this, and the straw that broke the camel's back, was the massacre just one month ago today at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. "And a little child shall lead them" -- unless gun lobby money or fear-based thinking of cynical adults gets in the way.

Here are some old song lyrics we recommend for the occasion. Read both choruses all the way through, because they're brilliantly and meaningfully different:

"So you speak to me of sadness and the coming of the winter
The fear that is within you now, it seems to never end
And the dreams that have escaped you, and the hopes that you've forgotten
You tell me that you need me now, you want to be my friend
And you wonder where we're going
Where's the rhyme and where's the reason
And it's you who cannot accept
It is here we must begin
To seek the wisdom of the children
And the graceful way of flowers in the wind
- [Chorus - 1:]
For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Could clear a cloudy day
Like the music of the mountains
And the colors of the rainbow
They're a promise of the future
And a blessing for today.
Though the cities start to crumble
And the towers fall around us
The sun is slowly fading
And it's colder than the sea
It is written from the desert
To the mountains they shall lead us
By the hand and by the heart
They will comfort you and me
In their innocence and trusting
They will teach us to be free
- [Chorus - 2:]
For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Could clear a cloudy day
And the song that I am singing
Is a prayer to non believers
Come and stand beside us
We can find a better way."
-- John Denver, "Rhymes and Reasons."

* There's a nicely produced, non-official, 2009 slide-show video of the song, at:

* Or catch John Denver performing the song on a TV special long ago, at:

* TODAY BROUGHT 17 MINUTES OF SILENCE in schools across the land, and on-air on all the MTV- and Viacom-owned networks.

* But you've got to wonder: WHERE ARE THE VOICES IN SONG to accompany the students and express their passion for a better world? Do the events of our times portend a new folk revival?

* We'll get to that in our 2 PM panel discussion, "SOCIAL JUSTICE AND FOLK MUSIC," following a performance of "Protest Songs" new and old, at the annual "FOLKWORKS FOLK ROOTS FESTIVAL" on MARCH 24, 2018 - 10 am to 10 pm. The panel is moderated by the Guide's editor. The extensive festival takes-over the campus at St. John's Presbyterian Church, 11000 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Advance tix and full info at:



Stephen Hawking, Who Examined the Universe and Explained Black Holes, Dies at 76

He was born exactly 300 years after the day Galileo died. He was the most consequential scientist since Einstein. And he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS) just after his 21st birthday. Not only did that not stop his brilliant mind, but he visited every continent (including Antarctica) and appeared on TV shows that ranged from "The Simpsons" to "Star Trek" to "Star Talk," the latter airing just this month, where he was interviewed by Neil deGrasse Tyson. For anyone battling any debilitating disease, Stephen Hawking was an inspiration to make life matter. For all of humanity, he was astonishing, representing so much of what humanity, when we are at our best, can aspire to discover, to learn, to understand, to do, and to be.

We lost the late musician Eric Lowen to ALS in 2012. We lost Leslie Perry, known in folk circles as "The Story Man," to ALS in 2014. Both those artists were determined to leave a legacy in their art and to show all of us that life should be pursued to the final fall of the curtain. Yet how many, who are not facing an imminent demise, fail to find time to savor and to value our time here -- and to recognize that each of us has a unique gift to share for the benefit of those who will come after us. And so, now, we are offered the opportunity to be reminded of that once again, as we consider the remarkable life of Stephen Hawking.

-- These few words from the Guide's editor are hardly enough. We highly recommend the abundant coverage of his life that you can read in the New York Times morning edition.

(Link includes NYT story, a video from NBC News, and a 24-slide slideshow)


Now to the MUSIC NEWS that provided the ORIGINAL REASON for this edition, as first published.

_ _ _ _

We prepared this album review for the upcoming (and huge) music news edition. But it can't wait. We want you to know, so you can go. As in, GO SEE CAROLINE COTTER while she's in town! Venue info follows the review.


by Larry Wines,
Acoustic Americana Music Guide

The fresh new album releases for 2018 have begun to arrive. If Caroline Cotter's "Home on the River" is an indication of what's ahead, her current tour -- and what's in store for us this year -- will make 2018 sweetly tuneful. Often what's released early in the year is forgotten by the time awards season arrives. That won't be the case with this album.

"Home On The River" is CAROLINE COTTER's second full-length major release. The opening tracks can't help but make you smile. There's mighty fine acoustic instrumentation, bringing alive her first-rate songwriting. While thoughtful, her music has that elusive universality that defies simple classification. It fits-in to whatever season -- sunshine or rain or softly falling snow -- and wherever you are geographically, and whatever place you envision to find your heart. And her voice is a marvel that should pack the place even if she sings a night of covers. Having won acclaim as a rising Americana artist, Caroline is, at once, perfect for folk music, her songs sweetly and melodiously flowing with just enough inflections. Her honeyed soprano voice is one to make you fall in love at first listen.

The album is nine of her original songs, plus a bonus track -- Cotter's hauntingly lovely a cappella version of Woody Guthrie's "My Peace." Lyrics for her originals are there in a nice booklet -- one of the reasons you want a CD instead of a download.

Every artist or band who faces making a record as a wholly indie project should give this a careful listen. Caroline, and her co-producer Jeff Oehler of Beehive Productions, let you hear what you're trying to achieve. They're certain to get requests for collaboration and use of their recording spaces. The tracks were made in sessions in Saranac Lake, New York, and Kansas City, Missouri -- so you can envision whether that "Home on the River" is one viewed from the Winter Carnival's Ice Palace in upper New York State, or somewhere on the banks of the Missouri.

Of the recording sessions, Caroline says, "There are a few songs that are one take, live with the band. No separations in the studio, just live in one room with bass, drums, electric guitar and me."

That just should not yield things as wonderful as what we hear. But if you believe her, it did. And credibility, so important in Folk-Americana music, is here, vulnerably, confidently, celebratory, and with honest, soul-searching expression.

Of that, she says simply, "My music is my honest expression of myself, reaching out to a world who I hope to connect with."

Opening the album is Caroline's original, "Peace of Mind." She'll tell you it's a declaration of her aspirations, both personally and professionally.

“I’ve talked with many people who see the goal of a music career to be wealth and fame," she says, “But when I thought about it and really dug deep, I realized that everything I'm doing is to move forward with peace of mind. I’m taking the focus off of material wealth and recognizing that none of it matters if you don't have peace of mind."

Simple wisdom, profound in its implications, and revelatory for an age where would-be leaders are obsessed with material wealth.

So, where does Caroline get her inspirations? In the album's lyric booklet, you find a dedication to her parents and her grandmother, which of itself, isn't so unusual in the folk world. Here, it illustrates poignant reflections about those three people. The thoughts for her parents are evident in the songs "When I Think of You" and "Hey Mama."

And she writes and sings one that, while its character is as universal as everything else she chose for the album, is her parting words for her grandmother. It's titled, "1 4 3," based not so cryptically on the numbers of letters in the phrase, "I love you." If you read the lyrics, it'll seriously grab you, and take you with immediacy to memories and thoughts of everyone influential in your life when they reach they end of theirs. But give it a listen before you do that. It isn't a "downer" at all.

Her freshman effort reached No. 5 on the "Folk DJ" chart. It was Caroline's critically-acclaimed 2015 debut, "Dreaming as I Do."

Since that release, she has played over 200 shows per year in such far-flung prestigious venues as Boston's Club Passim and the Alberta Rose Theater in Portland, Oregon. She's played Florida's "30A Songwriters Festival" and New York's legendary "Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival." Along the way, she has shared stages with musicians LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III, DAVID WILCOX, and DAN BERN. And Caroline was selected for the "Emerging Artist Showcase" at the "Falcon Ridge Folk Festival" in New York.

The part about parents and grandparents and influences? Caroline says, "American folk music filled our house, and was sung as lullabies to me."

She says those, her earliest musical inspirations, inform her own body of work. Caroline continues, "I remember as young as [age] three sitting in the living room by myself, working the record player while sitting on the piano stool plunking out notes from the GEORGE WINSTON, BEACH BOYS, or BEATLES record I was listening to. My favorite was 'Magical Mystery Tour.'"

That album title would become prescient.

After growing up in Providence, Rhode Island, and attending college in Maine, Caroline Cotter set off on what has become a global quest for adventure and education set to music. Over the past 15 years, Cotter's magical, musical tour has included living in and traveling to 31 countries on five continents.

While writing and recording her first album, she spent time working for the "Council on International Educational Exchange" (CIEE) in Portland, Maine, along with teaching yoga throughout the city and at camps, conferences and retreats.

It all makes you pause in wonder that she ever had time to write songs. Prior to living in Maine for college, she had already spent time working in France, Portugal, Spain and Thailand, studying yoga in India, and traveling in South America.

Which doesn't lessen the astonishment when you learn that, in addition to writing songs in English, Caroline sings in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and Sanskrit.

You need all that to provide enough context when she tells you, "The real thread [of 'Home On The River'] is the peace with being on a journey and carrying my home with me, rather than finding comfort from home in the traditional sense."

Share some time with Caroline Cotter. Listen to the record, which is habit-forming. And catch her when she hits Southern Cal for the only local stops on her national tour.

*** Tue, MARCH 13, at Bar Lubitsch, 7702 Santa Monica Bl, West Hollywood, CA 90046; 323-654-1234;; check out the pics of this venue on their website -- the decor is right out of "Doctor Zhivago"-!

*** Wed, MARCH 14, at the "Wine & Song Concert Series," 1055 Lohman Ln, South Pasadena, CA 91030; the adjacent Arroyo Seco Grill has food and full bar.

And if you're up north:

*** Thu, MARCH 15, at 7 Sisters Brewing / "Songwriters At Play" series in San Luis Obispo, CA

*** Sat, MARCH 17, at Lille Aeske, Boulder Creek, CA

Check your local record store or buy the album at one of her shows. Or get one from her website, where you can learn more about this delightful and talented artist:


See you soon with a brand-new mega mondo MUSIC NEWS EDITION!



Boilerplate? Where's the main pressure gauge? And the firebox?

What "boilerplate"? Who came up with that goofy term for the basic essential informational stuff...

Pssst – Hey, kid. Yeah, YOU: It won't be so "basic" when we add all the links for the global network of music news / music education sites that we're joining; THAT'LL be here very soon, as an ESSENTIAL COMPONENT of the Guide returning to being a MUSIC NEWS journal!

Direct to the Guide's current editions /


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Entire contents copyright © 2017,
Lawrence Wines & Tied to the Tracks.
All rights reserved.
♪ 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. That includes 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 (now undergoing a major update), and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues from the monumentally large to the intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops, conferences, 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 swamp water roots of the blues and the bright lights of where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell. The porch'll be here anytime you come back from the road.


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