Pasadena Folk Music Society

Pasadena Folk Music Society Started in 1983, the PFMS brings well-known performers of acoustic music to perform at Caltech in Pasadena, California. The Caltech Folk Music Society—now the Pasadena Folk Music Society—was started in 1983 by graduate students Brian Toby and Simon Davies.

The intent was to bring well-known performers of acoustic music from around the country, and around the world, to play at Caltech for a reasonable price. Long before playing "unplugged" became fashionable, the PFMS began to seek out a wide range of singer-songwriters, bluegrass bands, British Isles music, blues, Nueva Cancion, guitarists, and a whole array of other musicians that did not fit well into mainstream musical categories. While some of these performers emphasize elements of "folk tradition," others are boldly innovative and truly unique. Social activism, humor, and compassion are commonly present as well. Most concerts are held in Beckman Institute Auditorium on the Caltech campus. We average one show each month. The PFMS is an informal group of students and volunteers from the local community who arrange and publicize these concerts. Money taken in for ticket sales goes toward booking future shows. Volunteers are most welcome, especially students. Email us to find out more. By the way, all of our concerts are held after Caltech business hours, so parking in the school lots is free!

Operating as usual

If you are celebrating Hanukkah, check out the virtual celebrations on Dec. 13 from the Skirball Center. And check out t...
Skirball Hanukkah Celebration

If you are celebrating Hanukkah, check out the virtual celebrations on Dec. 13 from the Skirball Center. And check out their YouTube page for their concert series.

Come one and all to celebrate the Festival of Lights online! Perfect for fans of our much-beloved annual Hanukkah Festival, this one-of-a-kind streaming event features everything you’ve come to expect from a Skirball holiday extravaganza. Enjoy a heartwarming community candle lighting and a lively...

Celebrate the holidays with Phil Cunningham and friends.

Celebrate the holidays with Phil Cunningham and friends.

Tickets for our online concerts are on sale now! Volume 1 & 2 will premiere on 19 & 23 December respectively and once they have aired; you can watch them as many times as you like right up until 27 December. £15 for one concert & £25 for both.

We’re so chuffed to be bringing some festive cheer to your 2020 & hope that you can join us for a Christmas singalong! 🎄🎊 Tickets can be purchased here:

Tonight, Wednesday, Terry Roland will be doing a benefit for The Coffee Gallery Backstage.It will be a performance of va...
Divine Rebel Music

Tonight, Wednesday, Terry Roland will be doing a benefit for The Coffee Gallery Backstage.
It will be a performance of various artists doing some of my favorite songs plus others we all like.
It will start a 7:00 P.M. It is a youtube virtual concert.
Hope you can tune in….
Thank you for all of your caring and assistance. You are appreciated. This is a Terry Paul Roland affair with Dolly Ramirez doing some of the heavy lifting.

Hey, this is Dolly, a musician and appreciator of music. I created Divine Rebel Music as an avenue to host Open Mics, Showcases and House Concerts featuring ...

Phil Cunningham

We’ve still not been able to entice Phil to play our series in the oast few years, but here’s a chance to virtually celebrate the holidays with a concert by him and a plethora of Scotland’s finest folk mysician

Hi everybody.. I’ve been feeling very passionate about bringing some festive cheer to you all after what has been a really tough year, so make sure you like Phil Cunningham's Christmas Songbook here on Facebook and keep your eyes peeled for more news in the coming days… Oooooh..Exciting!!!!🎄

John Whelan

John Whelan is thinking if putting together some remote master classes with various musicians. Please contact him directly if interested

I’ve decided to put together a master session series featuring some of the best players in traditional Irish music today. Wouldn’t you like to play live and chat with some of the best? Obviously it’s a lot of work bringing these artists together and with Covid destroying the ability to earn a living I feel some responsibility to help them but also for their fans to have the opportunity to see and hear them. For a small donation of $20 you could spend two hours playing and chatting with some iconic figures. I will present a four or five week series that can only happen if we get a minimum of 30 people. Email me if you are interested and I will post the names of the legends and dates of the Master Session. [email protected] Also if you can share this post to get the word out I would appreciate it. Let’s have fun while supporting the music.

We had the privilege of sponsoring Los Cambalache a few years ago at the Pasadena Public Library. Give them a virtual li...
We Dare You Not to Dance to This Son Jarocho!

We had the privilege of sponsoring Los Cambalache a few years ago at the Pasadena Public Library. Give them a virtual listen in your living room, backyard, patio, or any place you can get on your dancing moves.

Aditya Prakash Ensemble – “Naiharwa”

Our friends at the Skirball Center have brought their famed world music series online. Here’s a taste of the current offering. Visit their website for more

Watch “Naiharwa” by Aditya Prakash Ensemble, a bonus song from the group’s specially filmed set for Skirball Stages: Aditya Prakash Ensemble and Rini, featur...

While PFMS is able to wait out current events until we can safely gather again, some of our friends need to pay rent and...

While PFMS is able to wait out current events until we can safely gather again, some of our friends need to pay rent and other bills.

Bob Stane writes:

I just sent you (plural) a message concerning when The Coffee Gallery Backstage will reopen. I have received numerous replies of encouragement and thanks for The Coffee Gallery Backstage. Your appreciation means more than words can relay.

I am sure you know that I, and the entertainers, do this for the love of the game. Our time, hearts and lives are invested in delivering the best of the best in intimate and meaningful musical entertainment. We do it for you and we do it for us.

What could be better than making tuneful magic to entertain you?

I will try to respond to each one individually as your comments were engaging, encouraging and humbling. I am scuffing my bare toes in the dust, averting my eyes, hooking my thumbs into the suspenders of my worn coveralls, my straw hat stuffed over my eyes and mumbling, "Awe, gee.” I would like to frame them all. They made me feel like I have accomplished something over the last 50 years. Yes, a half century. I have acquired no other skills.

And why would I? It has been a magnificent journey. I am still in motion, still traveling.

Scores of the responses encouraged me to have shows on Zoom, Facebook or YouTube so money can be invested in helping The Coffee Gallery Backstage and the entertainers ride the evil storm. Working on that.

Many more insisted I establish a PayPal Fund for timely, direct contributions to The Coffee Gallery Backstage. I do not know when we will reopen. No guarantees. However, I honor all your suggestions. Only if you can afford it, you may chip into the fund by scanning the code below to keep the rent, licenses, insurance and utilities current. I hesitate to be bold but I am obediently responding to your collective directions.

It will give The Coffee Gallery Backstage a better chance to live.

One of the most renowned Celtic music festival happens evry October in Nova Scotia. Here’s a chance to experience some o...
Celtic Colours International Festival

One of the most renowned Celtic music festival happens evry October in Nova Scotia. Here’s a chance to experience some of it from home this year

For nine days in October, Cape Breton Island is alive with music, energy and excitement as people come from far and wide to celebrate our rich culture. From concerts to dances and workshops to community suppers, we offer a full range of events against a gorgeous backdrop of autumn colours.


From our friend (and sometimes competitor) Bob Stane Coffee Gallery Backstage Bob Stane writes: The Coffee Gallery Backstage has been closed so long due to the Pandemic that I, and the club, may have become mythic. Were we all there together or was it a dream?
About once per week I go to the building, walk down the hall, open the door and check on the stage. just to make sure the adventure was not a gossamer mirage. No teasing visuals but I can imagine the music.
You are still there in my mind and memory.
So what are the plans? Answer: We are in a holding pattern until the Corona Virus ebbs. It must be rare enough that we can put 40+ patrons in the room, a cozy shoulder-to-shoulder number necessary for allowing our best acts to
travel to Southern California, gather as one and be financially rewarded. Or at least break even. This means there has to be a vaccination, the disease may go “puff” and disappear or we all get it and live or die. I will not endanger you, my acts or myself by opening too soon.
None of us can be replaced. I miss you and our gatherings.
I, on the other side of The Biz, have to keep paying rent, and hope for a defeat of the Pandemic before I run out of cash. The talent must sit in musty attics and basements and eat whatever gruel they can afford to keep bodies connected to souls. They are keeping the music alive long enough to welcome you back to my exotic, coffee fueled bistro. How will sing and dance.
I think re-opening will be in the Spring. Just a guess. It all boils down to money. Why must we be bothered with that side of the ledger? If the stars align we should all be able to ply our art without cares about monetary income and bill paying. I must learn to spin straw into gold. I am trying to do just that but reality foils my plans. Even straw is back ordered.
Remember what The Coffee Gallery Backstage means to us all and what, we all hope, will mean in the future.
For your part, please be careful. Don’t drink from the horse trough, gather sparsely, wear a mask and disinfect everything.
Thank you. You are appreciated.

Film about the great and much beloved Utah Philips to steam this Labor Day weekend
Film About U. Utah Phillips Premieres Online Labor Day Weekend

Film about the great and much beloved Utah Philips to steam this Labor Day weekend

September 2, 2020 – As a folk singer Utah Phillips enchanted his audience with humor and insight and taught them the lessons he had learned while tramping about an America rarely seen. Later …

We Become Birds

The touching "We Become Birds" from the late Michael Smith. Thank you for the music. And see you in the sky.

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group We Become Birds · Michael Smith Time ℗ 1994 Rounder Records Manufactured and distributed by Concord Music Group ...

Passing of another folk legend. Goodbye Michael P. smith. Long may we sing your songs.
Michael P. Smith, much-recorded star of Chicago’s folk and club scene, dead at 78

Passing of another folk legend. Goodbye Michael P. smith. Long may we sing your songs.

Beside writing songs including ‘The Dutchman,’ the Chicago folk music pillar wrote stage scores including Steppenwolf’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and Victory Gardens’ ‘The Snow Queen.’

I know most of us are missing festivals and other gatherings of music. Check out the Philadelphia Folk Festival’s option...

I know most of us are missing festivals and other gatherings of music. Check out the Philadelphia Folk Festival’s option.

🌙📣 SHARING ALL 168 Performers - this is the FULL LIST of acts to perform at the 59th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Aug 13-16, 2020!
With your ticket or pass, purchase at, you get:
➡️ 168 performers
➡️ 4 nights
➡️ 3 Stages
➡️ Over 100 hours of music
ALL of this plus Archival footage, interactive chats, zoom campsites and #PFF59, and all from the comfort of your home or bubble. No shoes or hard pants required.
What are you waiting for? Get your merch, campsite and tickets today and #festinplace with us.

I know our beloved audience knows this. But in such uncertain times the Arts need your voice  and support more than ever...

I know our beloved audience knows this. But in such uncertain times the Arts need your voice and support more than ever.

Why are why having to explain how important the arts are? We’ve just spent months in isolation where our only outlets were listening to music and watching TV/ films. These ARE THE ARTS PEOPLE! #WakeUp #SaveTheArts

Thank you J. P. Cormier for sharing this. The PFMS does not know when we’ll all be back together again, in the meantime ...

Thank you J. P. Cormier for sharing this. The PFMS does not know when we’ll all be back together again, in the meantime if you can, support artists directly and venues as well.

To my fellow touring musicians:

Here’s the deal guys and gals.

The music industry as we knew it is dead. It’s dead and won’t be returning for a considerable number of YEARS, if it ever does at all.

The article below only proves what pro musicians already knew. We have been fighting a rigged system of devaluation for decades. Our product is constantly devalued in varying degrees by venues, radio, promoters, and anyone else who uses live entertainment in their business.

The bottom 90% of us are out playing up to 200 shows a year, scraping as much income out as we can. The top 10% can make the same money with just 10 shows. It is incredibly unfair and has little to do with talent or the relevance of someone’s art. This is all made worse by the fact that 75% of our income goes to expenses, consistently. It’s not a cheap career choice at all. It’s often not even a choice. It’s how we’re born and it’s who we are. Some people are just artists and it’s what they’re meant to be. These people would have zero success on any other path.

Soon venues will try to reopen at severely reduced capacities. Mathematically, they will say they are unable to pay entertainers more than 25% of what they earned at the same venue pre-pandemic. Then we will watch the lineup of desperate touring musicians fighting to go in to these places for $200, $300, union scale basically. Sometimes less. We’ll pretty it up and justify it by saying “oh well we have to support these venues so they remain solvent long enough for things to get back to normal.” Unfortunately, there will be times when it’s clearly not necessary to work for next to nothing because of public health constraints, but it will be asked of us anyway.

It’s already happening now. I was called recently by a venue that will remain unnamed. Let me tell you, these people are GOOD people. It’s a good artist minded venue that’s involved with the local community and only has the BEST of intentions. I love them, and they’re friends of mine. Now, with that said, they still came up with this lopsided plan that doesn’t seem to make sense.

They have the capacity of 16 six-person tables outside with all restrictions being observed. They intend to sell the tables, not the seats. That table price is $40. So that means a table of six people would see a live concert for roughly $6.70 a head. The artist gets all the money. The venue sells drinks and restaurant food to 96 people at full price.

My normal ticket price that I’ve fought and worked and sacrificed to raise over the last 38 years is $25-35.00. So... the audience sees a full concert, after not being able to see me or anybody else live for nearly four months, at a discount of 80%. They pay 100% of normal for their food and drink.

The only person in this equation who is losing is the guy on stage. How do the pandemic and social restrictions equate to the entertainment taking an 80% pay cut???? It makes not one bit of sense, and if I don’t take offers like this (this is not the only one that has come across our desk) I don’t get gigs. I turned it down. There’s a good reason.

Let’s flash forward a couple years.

Herd immunity is on. Vaccines are distributed. Venues are back to fairly normal capacity. A venue calls a musician for a booking. The guy says “sure! My fee is $1000.” The venue owner says “well you played for $300 last year, why the increase?” In the venue owners mind, he’s saying “this guy clearly survived for two years on 30% of his pre-pandemic income, why is he asking for all this money? He clearly didn’t need it before. Looks like he was over charging us for years.”

Devaluation. That’s how it works, and we are currently pushing ourselves in that very direction. A dangerous precedent is being set right now and proves what I already knew. In the survey below, after 40 years of work, practice and sacrifice, I am less important than a f**king telemarketer.

The federal government has even leaned in that direction. Trudeau, whilst doing a bang up job on most things right now has offered not one provision for career musicians or anyone who is a contractor in the industry. No assistance. No backup plan.

It’s ironic that some of these venues are large businesses. They are eligible for grants, loans, all sorts of things to keep their employees on tap and their monthlies paid, while the musicians who normally keep their doors open have been left now to their own devices, without even a mention from anyone really.

Not all venues will behave this way, but mindsets are contagious. Buyers who would never treat an artist this way may be pushed in the wrong direction by industry pressure, and looking around at what everyone else is doing.

It is a fact (sadly) that seeing a musician perform live in person is the rarest form of entertainment on earth right now. When anything else becomes this scarce, its value skyrockets. It’s the basis of our whole economy. Supply and demand. Yet, musicians instead are being told they’re worth even less now that only 200 people at a time can come see them. Most venues only hold 50-100. That’s a pretty rare ticket. Why is it worth nothing?

Another darkness has arisen through this as well. Some venues that “present” online concerts FOR an artist ultimately end up in possession and control of the footage. It can then be edited, altered, repackaged and then monetized again by the entity, all without paying a dime to the artist. I’ve had buyers actually admit that they were going to do this with my performance if I accepted their initial gig. It’s almost as if we have to re-educate venues as to the contents of the Canadian Copywrite Act. What they are proposing is actually illegal, but because the platform is the internet where there are no laws and intellectual property rights are virtually disregarded, they don’t see a problem with it. It’s like “we can, so we do”. Meanwhile, the artist slowly becomes insolvent trying to service debt load he/she brought into the pandemic, on wages they couldn’t live on supposing they had no debt at all.

This is the “reopening” of the economy for us, the working artists.

So what is the bright spot in all this?

The audience.

The people.

The folks who have given their hard earned money to keep our mortgages, car payments, and grocery bills paid for decades. The ones who speak of you as a cherished family member even though they’ve never met you. The ones that credit you and your art for saving their lives during their own personal trials.

They’re still out there.

They still want to support you and BE supported by your music and your person.

As career musicians we MUST reach out to these people and connect. They need us, and we need them. It’s always been that way.

The only way to do it is online. And thank God, they are more than willing to meet us there.

I have made a comfortable living for the past three months almost solely through YouTube. My fans have come there to watch what I am doing and help me craft future broadcasts, and have donated very generously to all my work. They’ve never let me down, and I can repay that by creating as much content as I possibly can to keep them happy, occupied, and take their minds off the sh*tty condition of the world right now. I love them, and I’m realizing now how much they love me. If I hadn’t started this process on day one of the pandemic, and put work into it prior, I would already be bankrupt. They have saved my life and career.

The take away from this is that each artist has these people. Hundreds of thousands of them. If you don’t reach out and play for them and accept their help, you will fade away, or worse, be eaten alive by the “reopening” of the industry whenever that happens.

If you don’t know how to do this, I will help you. I’ll show you the model that’s worked for us. Message me, call me, whatever. We’re here to assist any artist who needs it. The truth of the matter is, the very medium (the internet) that completely decimated the record companies by making music basically free, is now a major lifeline for us AND our fans and supporters. I do all my concerts for free will donations. I never ask a hard ticket price. If people can’t afford to give, then they don’t and they are just as welcome as those who do. I believe at this point in time, the audience should decide your worth. It is them that you’ve been trying to impress your whole career. They should ultimately decide how to help you if they want to. Give everything you can to them and they will do the same for you. It’s a fair commerce and it works.

Lastly we need to feel obligated to our audience. They need the healing and happiness of music in their lives and a safe way to access it. We owe them that. Our relationship with them is sacred. Music is not a luxury or some accidental byproduct. It is woven into the very fabric of our existence. There is nowhere in daily life where music doesn’t exist in some form. It is definitely NOT non-essential. Imagine what life would be like without music and the arts. It would be a dark place indeed.

The people who were polled in this article and put us as the most expendable and useless career choice, obviously don’t understand that.

Love and safety to all of you.



Pasadena, CA


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TODAY! We return to Hangar 24 Orange County at noon for our 2nd OUTDOORS, socially-distanced #Bluegrass-ish Brunch afternoon party! Expect new songs, incredible food, great craft beer and a wonderful place to dance and hang out. Hope to see you there! Learn more:
Next weekend I'll be teaching Zoom classes in Celtic guitar and bouzouki! We’ve once again gathered our world-class teachers to offer up some great lessons for those interested in Celtic, Americana, or Scandinavian music. Between nine instrument-specific workshops, two workshops for all musicians, and a virtual happy hour and pub quiz, we’ve got something for just about everyone! Each Zoom-based workshop is only $10, and you only need to pay for what interests you.
Hello all! It's almost here! The Berea College 47 annual Celebration of Traditional Music will take place online October 15-18 at this link: Times: Thursday, October 15, 7:00 P:M: Jake Blount Friday, October 16, 8:00 P.M.: Alice Gerrard and Kay Justice, Guy Davis, Sheila Arnold, Bob Lucas Saturday, October 17, 8:00 P.M.: Kevin Howard, Guy Davis, Big Possum String Band, Alice Gerrard and Kay Justice Sunday, October 18, 3:00 P.M.: Berea College Traditional Music Ensemble Showcase - Bluegrass Ensemble, Black Music Ensemble, Mariachi Berea, Folk-Roots Ensemble, Country Dancers, African-Latin Percussion Ensemble For more information, see or write [email protected] PLEASE SHARE!!! See you then!
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A folkadelic version of the Grateful Dead's song "The Wheel" by Folkgrass specialists The Storytellers.
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LA Folk ... cool as hell ...
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