Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Turning leaves -- and John Lilly in Eugene!

Dear Friends,

Well, the worm has turned. Leaves are falling and all that outdoor work I should do has acquired a deadline. 

Something special is coming up in September. West Virginia singer, guitarist, Honky Tonk scholar and ace songwriter John Lilly will be in Eugene on a very busy tour through Idaho, Washington and Oregon. 

One reason this is special is because he has seldom made it out this way before. The other reason is because he's just awesome. He writes new songs that already have dust on them. He seamlessly strings together divers strands of Americana music that have been described as "all the things that are missing from contemporary country music." The authenticity and focus in his shows are wonderful and his low-key delivery is like gravy on biscuits. 

Check out his music, and, even better, come see him sing. His only Eugene appearance will be a house concert on Thursday, September 10. Gather at 7:00, downbeat at 7:30. Suggested donation is $10-15. Call 541 684-8216 for reservations and directions. You won't regret it.

Also coming up:
September 5 the Low Tide Drifters play the Tumbleweed Festival in Richland, WA

September 11, 7:00 pm Kells Bells music with Chico Schwall and Friends at the Foundry (Sam Bond's Brewing Company)

October 9, 7:00 pm CS & F at the Foundry

AND… Wednesday, October 28 at the Shedd, the first concert in this year's Chico Schwall's American Roots series. This one is called The Legacy of Lead Belly and Odetta.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Current Events!

Dear Friends,

The warm spring breeze is intoxicating. Here's what's in the air:

Thursday, April 23 at 7:00 pm THE CHICO SCHWALL GANG at Territorial Vineyards, 3rd and Adams Street in Eugene's favorite historical neighborhood. We will dish up our usual merengue of jazz & swing, cafe waltzes, schottisches, bluegrass & klezmer while you imbibe and socialize. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, April 25 at 7:30 A HOUSE CONCERT featuring DICK WEISSMAN in a rare Oregon appearance. Dick Weissman enjoys a varied and colorful career that has involved almost every aspect of music. He traveled and performed widely with the Journeymen (with Scott McKenzie and John Phillips), has composed music for plays and films,  done studio work, taught music at colleges and written a ton of songs. is most recent albums are "Near and Far" and "The Four Directions," all newly composed original music. Since he moved back to Denver his NW appearances are rare. Don't miss this one. Call 541 684-8216 for reservations and directions.

Dick will also present a WORKSHOP on the Business of Music the same day at 1:00 pm at Tsunami Books 2585 Willamette Street. Cost is $10; FREE to Musicians' Union members. For more info, scroll to the bottom.

Thursday, April 30 at 7:30 pm at The Shedd (Broadway and High Streets, www.theshedd.org) "WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED: SONGS OF WORK, LABOR AND PROTESTThis is the next project in the Chico Schwall's American Roots series and a topic near to my heart. On the 100th birthday of the song "Solidarity Forever" and the centenary of the death of Joe Hill let's celebrate songs of solidarity and social change. Be ready to sing with us!

Friday, May 8, 7:00 pm CHICO SCHWALL & FRIENDS at THE FOUNDRY (Sam Bond's Brewing Company at 540 E. 8th Ave.)  Irish Music without a net. 

In other news, The Community Center for the Performing Arts (the W.O.W. Hall) will hold its annual meeting on April 28 at 6:30. New Board of Directors members will be elected and a budget presented for approval. The Hall is at a crossroads. This year an independent group at the U of O did a "SWOT" study (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), interviewing 30 people and collating the results. The lack of administration (no review for enforcement of Hall policy), the work environment, the lack of community involvement and other issues suggest that the Hall is in trouble and may even be in danger of losing its non-profit status unless some changes are made. Will the same forty people, mostly staff and their families and friends show up and elect a compliant Board that will not take responsibility? Or will folks show up and call for change?  Consider this.

And finally, my friend Milton Takei asked that I share a link with you. Milton knows a good deal about the current climate change crisis and about grass roots organizations, so it may be worth checking out. He says:

The Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) has recently released a two-minute video.  Please send the video to family and friends.  People who register with CCL after seeing the video can expect maybe one e-mail per month from CCL headquarters, and two letters per year via postal mail.

You can view the video on CCL's Web site here.

The following information is from CCL headquarters:
We didn't have $16 million to show the video during the Super Bowl, so we're asking for your help to get it seen by as many people as possible.

E-MAIL: Share the link above with people you know and ask them to
watch the video and share on their social networks. See below for
more on social network sharing.

FACEBOOK: Go to our Facebook post about the video at this link. When you get to the post, click "like" and also share on your timeline by clicking "share."

TWITTER: If you're on Twitter, you can retweet the tweet we sent which you can find on our feed at @citizensclimate.

You can also send out your own tweet. Suggestion:
#Climate solution: Watch the new @citizensclimate video and learn how
you can #SpeakUp4Climate

You can also just retweet the tweet we sent out, which you can
get to at this link.

As you can see, we're using the hashtag #SpeakUp4Climate. If you have room for a second hashtag, use #LivableWorld.


WHEN:  Saturday, April 25, 2015, 1:00-3:00 pm
WHERE:  Tsunami Books 2585 Willamette Street, Eugene, OR 97405
WHO IT'S FOR: Musicians, composers, songwriters and anyone involved in or interested in a career in music
WHO'S PRESENTING: Dick Weissman has worked in almost every area of music. He has performed, in the Journeymen, as a solo artist and in various collaborations, done recording session work, composed film scores and music for plays, produced album projects, taught music and the Business of Music at the college level and has published over twenty books. He composes, performs and serves on the board of the Musicians' Union in Denver.
COST:  $10 for the general public, FREE to Musicians' Union members!
Topics will include:
. Music publishing and copyright, performing rights- if you are playing your own music in public, you should be getting paid by BMI or ASCAP,
. Placing songs in Tv and film, and how these deals work
. The role of the unions in today’s music business
. Various revenue sources for musicians, including grants and Musicians' Union and other bonus funds
. Music publishing, self-publishing, and co-publishing
. Free internet resources for staying current in today’s confusing music business
. The value and problems of the internet: Spotify, Pandora, social media, etc.
. The role of record companies in today’s business
. Invisible work and developing multi-dimensional careers
. Personal managers 
For more info, call Local 689 at 541 484-0951
or Chico Schwall at 541 337-8614

Thursday, February 26, 2015

yes, it's tonight!

Dear Friends,

A special evening of music tonight, a program never heard before by anyone anywhere. It's been a journey for me getting here, months of research, tons of reading and help from some wonderful people. It's called "Thunder and Lies: The Ballads of Francis James Child," and it's an evening of narrative ballads, old stories full of Big Themes, passion, love and death. Each song is a unique amalgam of texts and melodies from every source I could find, and the settings feature an amazing group of onstage collaborators. 

It's at the Shedd, and tickets are available through the Shedd box office or on line at www.theshedd.org 

If you'd like a little taste of the music, there's a radio interview with a couple of songs at www.klcc.org 

What's a "Child Ballad" anyway?

Francis james Child was the first professor of English at Harvard College. Having done groundbreaking research into Chaucer and the Elizabethan playwrights, he turned his attention to folk song. He was looking for the epic poetry of the English language and what he found was ballads, the stories and poetry that have stayed with us from the distant past, surviving waves of social and cultural change. He published five volumes of "English and Scottish Popular Song" between 1882 and 1898 (over three hundred songs). He sorted them by theme, wrote rich annotations and compared them with versions in other languages. His numbering system was used by almost everyone that followed, (Cecil Sharp, B.H. Bronson, Vance Randolph, etc.) and we see them on CD's today. 

And they are with us today. We have heard and sung "Scarborough Fair" and "Barbara Allen," "House Carpenter" and "The Golden Vanity." We know the recordings by Paul Simon, Joan Baez, Fairport Convention and a whole new generation of singers: Sam Amidon (2014), Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer (2013).  The stories are timeless, as Shakespeare and Homer are, tales of passion and darkness, of sorcery and clever escapes and true love.

What we have here is everything I have been able to learn about them, from multiple texts in Child, from the collections of Randolph, Bronson and Sharp, from commentaries by A.L. Lloyd and Albert Friedman and others, from interviews with academic folklorists Linda Danielson and Diane Dugaw and tune settings from recordings by Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, June Tabor and others.  As singers have for hundreds of years, I worked up the stories, swapped out verses, fitted melodies to texts and invited some able collaborators to join me. And now we're ready to share them.

This is not the music of antiquity, not "Early Music" or Merrie Olde England, and we will, as others have, share our own unique and contemporary take on each song. I will be joined by Alli Bach, (voice, whistle and percussion), Ryan Chaney (trombone), Ben Young (banjo and whistle) and Rachael Young (accordion, piano, bass and voice). 

Albert Friedman wrote "A mounted butterfly is a poor thing  beside a hovering one, and a ballad in a book is a poor substitute for one sung…" I think we owe it to the material to let them fly now and again.

Chico Schwall

P.S. About the title: in one of those "Riddles Wisely Expounded" stories, the king asks the clever young woman, "What can be heard the farthest?"  She answers, "Thunder and Lies."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Happy New Year!

Dear Friends,

I hope your winter lights and festivities were warm and meaningful, and that maybe you got a little break in there. 2014 is past ( and if I could I'd rake it into a pile and burn it) and a new year is upon us, full of music and possibility. Starting tonight!

Friday, January 9th at 7pm at the Foundary, the Sam Bond's Brewing Company tap room (540 East 8th Ave, down by the new Federal Building) it's Irish music as it should be, played and sung by Chico Schwall and Friends: Ben Young playing whistle, banjo and guitar, Rachael Young playing piano and whatever else she picks up and m'self playing fiddle. A great space, with a Eugene-historical vibe and a great rack of Sam Bond's beers. It's a new space to Eugene and a fun place to gather. No door charge. Stop and say hi.

Tonight (Saturday, January 10th) the same group will rock the Eugene Folklore Society contra dance at the old Dunn School.  Teaching at 7:00, dance at 7:30.

February's big fun: On February 12 the eclectic Chico Schwall Gang (with Rachael Young and David Andersen) will bring our Twenty-first Century Globicana to Territorial Vineyards at 7 p.m. and the Irish music trio will be back at the Foundary on … Friday the Thirteenth. On the 14th I'll join Linda Danielson (fiddle) and Janet Naylor (harp) for an hour of acoustic music in the Saturday Atrium series at 2:00 p.m. (Tenth and Olive downtown). All these events are free.

But the big one is on February 26 at 7:30. The Shedd Institute for the Arts presents "Thunder and Lies: the Legacy of James Francis Child."  It'll be twenty debut performances of the classic "Child Ballads," gleaned from the five volume "English and Scottish Popular Ballads" that Child published in the 1880's and '90's. This is the epic poetry of the English language, an old heritage that remains contemporary, as Joan Baez, Paul Simon, Fairport Convention, Sam Amidon and many others have shown. I'll be joined by some great singers and players, a just-for-the-occasion ensemble, and a unique musical evening.

Hope your 2015 is off to a great start.


Chico Schwall