Archive for July 17th, 2019

A Heyday Hootenanny in Berkeley July 28

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Sunday, July 28, 6pm
Heyday Books, 1808-A San Pablo Ave, Berkeley

It was Steve Wasserman who introduced me to Jim Page‘s music back in the 1970s. I was a young singer-songwriter out to change the world by persuasion, and there was Steve, out to change the world by more direct means. And here’s Jim Page, who embodies both our approaches. He’s been persuading and inspiring for decades, and also putting his ass on the line in the streets.

Jim and I met at the High Sierra Music festival around 20 years ago, in a late-night songwriters circle. We’ve played gigs together occasionally in the intervening years. I adapted his wonderful lyric to “Down to Eugene” to fit a fingerpicking tune of mine (which earned me a compliment from Jorma Kaukonen that I will treasure to my dying day); it’s on my album The Ones That Look the Weirdest Taste the Best and it’s one of the most popular numbers in my solo repertoire.

When Heyday Books moved into its current location in January of 2019, Steve posted a photo of his new conference room and made a crack about having me christen it with a song. That planted a seed in my mind that took a few months to bear fruit: why not do a ‘house concert’ in that room, for the benefit of Heyday as well as for the musicians?

Songwriters are always looking for venues that are interested in original music and/or ‘listening rooms’ as opposed to dance halls. I thought, a book publisher would be a great setting for an evening of conversation and original song. And given Heyday’s focus on California, I thought a series featuring California-based songwriters would make sense.

I sent a note to Steve outlining the idea, and he responded enthusiastically; we made a date to meet.

The night before our meeting I got an email from Jim Page, asking about the possibility of playing a show together the last week of July. ‘Your timing is perfect,’ I replied. ‘I am going to see Steve Wasserman tomorrow to talk about doing a ‘house concert’ at Heyday. How about you and I do that?

California-born, Seattle-based Jim Page has recorded 22 albums and toured in 14 countries. His songs have been covered by Christy Moore, Dick Gaughan, Roy Bailey, The Doobie Brothers, The Moving Hearts, Michael Hedges, Leftover Salmon, and many others. “The political and social awareness of those times was a part of all artistic expression,” he says, and it has stayed that way in Jim’s music ever since.

Page moved to Seattle in 1971 and performed in the streets an in the folk clubs. According to his web site, “In 1974, after being threatened with arrest for singing on the street without a permit, Jim took on the Seattle city government to… legalize street performing. He sang his testimony to a packed council hearing, and the streets were opened by unanimous decision. It was a landmark case and Seattle is now an internationally famous city for buskers of all styles.”

Utah Phillips, quoted in Page’s bio: “Jim Page’s songs get right to the point. He looks at the world clearly and reports what he sees with compassion, humor and a biting sense of irony. And boy! can he sing and play.”

Although I am best known for my work as a historian and curator of Grateful Dead music (four books, two national radio shows, and producer of several boxed sets and compilation albums), I have been writing and performing my own songs for fifty years. The first thing I ever played on the guitar was a song I wrote with my brother, who taught me the chords and set me on the path I’ve been on ever since.

I came up in that time when music was the primary cultural currency of the youth movement, and I have never stopped believing that music can and does change the world. I prefer inspiration and information over coercion.

Opening the show will be a performance by folk legend Barbara Dane and her son, Pablo Menendez. Oakland-based Dane, 92, has been a musician and activist for more than 60 years. Her son Pablo, born in 1952 and a resident of Cuba since 1966, has been an indelible part of many Cuban music scenes for more than fifty years. He is the subject of the 2017 documentary So Near…So Far.”

The evening will be hosted by Steve Wasserman.

All of the participants in this evening are committed humanitarians who have organized our lives around a desire to preserve, protect, and improve this planet and its population for the good of all.


Here’s a link to the Facebook event

My complete performance schedule is here.