I'll be on Larry Kelp's show on KPFA (94.1 on your FM dial or http://www.kpfa.org/listen/ tomorrow night (Wedneday) at ten. Since tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, you'll hear my mother's two "Irish" songs, “Nancy Newman of Liberty Hall” and “The Little Land.” She died on St. Pat's day thirty-two years ago. I intend to learn those two songs before we go to Ireland this summer with Anne Feeney.
I asked Si Kahn if I could announce my show at his show a week ago Sunday night at the Freight and he graciously asked me to sing three or four songs. So at the beginning of the second set I first sang two a capella and then one with the uke. I had a terrible time tuning the uke, even though I have found a tuner small enough to stick on it. It’s hard to tune and talk at the same time, which I was trying to do, introducing the song (I Think of a Dragon) and even resorting to telling a knock-knock joke. My guitar stays in tune better and I’m used to tuning it so I don’t usually have to tell tuning jokes. So I sat down feeling like a miserable failure, nobody would want to come to my show from this crowd (which was a small one, it being Sunday night AND the Oscars). That lasted for about two songs and then I got into Si’s songs, and after the show a woman I’ve never met came up to say she LOVED my first song, (This Is Your Ground), where can she find it recorded? I promised to send her an mp3, a bit of modern technology I just love. So then I felt better. And it occurred to me that instruments may need a little entertainment to distract them while their strings are being stretched, and the jokes do that.
Si read a humdinger of a story out of his new book, Creative Community Organizing: A Guide for Rabble-Rousers, Activists, and Quiet Lovers of Justice (with forwards by Angela Davis and Jim Hightower). Like Mara Sapon-Shevin’s books, this is my favorite kind of non-fiction book, teaching by telling stories. He started out in the Civil Rights Movement and learned by doing, went on to the Harlan County coal miners’ strike, then founded Grassroots Organizing which helps small community groups become more effective. They are now focussing on the privatization of prisons.  Si’s editor called the book a political memoir, and I read my memoir group the story Si read us. It’s about an old woman, born into slavery, being taken by civil rights workers to register to vote for the first time. It seemed the right thing for International Women’s Day.
Meanwhile, I’m getting lots of exercise putting up flyers all over Berkeley. Also finding restaurants I didn’t know about. You see more on foot than driving by. A woman I’ve never met stopped me on the street to ask if I had my picture up in the Berkeley Bowl. I said, “Possibly...” (I didn’t put one up there, but I was thinking maybe Claudia did.)
She said “With an adorable dog.”
I said “YES!”
                                   Photo by Claudia Morrow
©2010 by Nancy Schimmel
This CD, Malvina Reynolds, has a bunch of bonus tracks, including “Nancy Newman of Liberty Hall” about my second cousin organizing her fellow workers in a Dublin, Ireland pizza parlor.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010