OP-ED: Steve Goodman: Facing the Music

  • By Clay Eals, author of the definitive book about singer-songwriter Steve Goodman, “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music”
OP-ED: Steve Goodman: Facing the Music

Before we get to updates, please take a moment to revel in gratitude for the birth of Steve Goodman, 64 years ago on Wed. July 25. Would that he had had the opportunity to enjoy this occasion. That we are talking about his life and music nearly 28 years after his untimely death is a tribute to his broad and deep effect on the world. How to sum it up? “Volcanic,” “unbearably cute,” “the big bang in the little shape,” “a shaman, a mystic” — these are just a few of the phrases others have used to characterize his impact. How would you describe it?

Magic at the 52nd Mariposa Folk Festival

How fortunate my wife, Meg, and I were to experience the July 6-8, 2012, installment of the venerable Mariposa Folk Festival. Held in Orillia, Ontario, 90 minutes north of Toronto, this gathering at enchanting Tudhope Park, a peninsula nestled in Lake Couchaching, was an ocean of warmth. An amazingly eclectic and talented lineup of musicians made for an entertaining and compelling weekend.

Orillia was the original home of the festival upon its founding in 1961, but by 1973, 1974 and 1978, when Steve Goodman played the festival, it was taking place on Olympic Island in the Toronto Islands, a quick ferry ride from the Toronto waterfront. The eventual return of the festival to Orillia was a brilliant turn of events, for the intimacy and ownership to be discovered in such a community undertaking is truly inspiring. Not that the festival lacked for big moments, including the surprise appearance on Saturday evening of Gordon Lightfoot to sing two songs on the main stage. In an event such as Mariposa, however, the juice and sustenance lie in a myriad of small moments — real-time, in-person connections that generate laughter, warmth and bonding. It is that element that I will forever carry in my heart.

OP-ED: Steve Goodman: Facing the Music

Mariposa kindly gave me two showcases for my updated third printing of “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music”: a literary interview and a “Songs of Steve Goodman” workshop. The latter drew an audience of 120 and is depicted in the following photo. Big thanks to Paul Court, Steph Dunn, Mike Hill, James Keelaghan and Rob Lutes for providing stellar music for the workshop. Click here to see five more workshop images on the schedule page of my website.

Big thanks to Mike Hill and the many other organizers and volunteers who made it possible for Meg and I to be a part of 2012 Mariposa. I highly recommend the festival to all of you.
Last notes from our Canadian trip: In Toronto, we were grateful to finally visit and meet in person the great staff at ECW Press, my publisher for the Goodman biography. Please visit the ECW Press website to see its imaginative and invigorating catalog that presents a wide array of books tailored to the acronym of its name: Entertainment Culture Writing. And as a bonus during our trip, WGN-AM radio of Chicago had me on for a 40-minute interview that you can hear by visiting the reviews page of my website.

Next Goodman-bio event: Sunday, Aug. 5, in the beautiful outdoors of North Bend, Washington
Two Sundays from now is my next reading/music event, at The Nursery at Mount Si in North Bend, just 31 miles east of Seattle. The date is Aug. 5, 2012. (In my previous message, I made an unfortunate typo, indicating the incorrect date of Aug. 15.) This is a genuinely spectacular setting for a concert. Nothing can compare to enjoying music on a warm summer evening while watching the sun set on the backdrop of Mount Si. Nels Melgaard, who owns The Nursery at Mount Si, has hosted concerts there for years and has finely honed the experience to perfection. And if inclement weather shows up, Nels has an indoor stage with room for 50 onlookers as an excellent Plan B.

So here are the details: The show starts at 7 p.m., preceded by a hot-dog dinner, if you like, provided by the Valley Grange starting at 6 p.m. The event is, as Nels likes to call it, BYOBBC — in other words, bring your own beverages, blankets and chairs. The music will be provided by the trio that has anchored my Seattle events for the past five years: Tom Colwell, Bruce Hanson and Mark Myers. We will be doing some old favorites, but we are adding a few Goodman songs that are new to the repertoire, and we have at least one surprise musical guest in store, so it should be a great evening. The event is free, but donations for the nursery will be accepted. Of course, I will have books on hand for purchase and will be happy to personally inscribe them.

This event is particularly meaningful for me because North Bend is the home of Encompass, the children’s services nonprofit for which I have worked as communication officer for the past four years. It will be a great chance for my co-workers and their family and friends to see what all the fuss has been about without having to travel to “da big city.” And, of course, it’s an opportunity for Seattleites to sample the sublime natural beauty of rural North Bend. For more information, click here.

Mark your calendar for “Tribute Times Two / Anthems of Activism: Pete Seeger and Steve Goodman”

This is a double-bill that you won’t want to miss if you are anywhere near Seattle on Sunday evening, Oct. 14, 2012. Only a little more than two weeks before the November general election, this double tribute at the Admiral Theater in West Seattle will feature the songs of Pete Seeger and Steve Goodman, with an emphasis on those that address social issues that are vital to all of us.

At 4 in the afternoon, Seattle banjoist (and leader of the folk group Clallam County) Peter McKee will present a one-man multimedia show “PETE! The Songs and Times of Pete Seeger.” And at 7 p.m., I will lead a Goodman event that will feature Tom Colwell, Bruce Hanson, Mark Myers and special musical guests to be announced. Admission to either event is $12, and a combo ticket for both events is just $20.

I’m thrilled to be part of “Tribute Times Two,” in part because it will take place at the 1942 Historic Admiral Theater, a city landmark that is four blocks from my home. Also making these two shows special is that they will constitute the fall kickoff of “Nights for Folklife,” a series of concerts that will raise funds for Northwest Folklife, which puts on the largest free folk festival on the continent. A portion of the Oct. 14 proceeds will go to Folklife, whose annual festival is held on the four days of Memorial Day weekend. Tickets will be available at Brown Paper Tickets. For more information on the event, click here.

And for something completely bizarre

… and for whatever reason, it’s based in my home region. You may be aware that the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie would have been earlier this month, on July 14, 2012. Visit this link to find out about how someone apparently has been masquerading as Woody’s son, Arlo, who, of course, memorably popularized Steve Goodman’s classic “City of New Orleans.” The link is well worth a visit to see Arlo’s classically self-deprecating humor. As Arlo would say, you can’t make this stuff up!

Thanks again to all of you!
Click here to go to my website to order the updated third printing of “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music” (including a discounted price and signed postcard) and for other details, including updated lists of changes, acknowledgments and reviews, along with new bonus photos.
As always, please contact me if you have any questions or information to share. Big thanks to everyone — including my wife, Meg, and ECW Press — for making it possible for “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music” to have new life.

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