I went to see Alix Dobkin Saturday night at the Montclair Women’s Cultural Club, reading from her newly issued memoir, My Red Blood, telling stories from her life and singing songs to illustrate them. I bought the book, of course. Could I resist a book subtitled A memoir of growing up Communist, coming onto the Greenwich Village folk scene, and coming out in the feminist movement even if I didn’t know the author? But I do, and we’re looking forward to comparing notes.
                        Order the book here.
For instance we each shook hands with Paul Robeson in our respective homes in probably the same year. She was younger but seems to remember better. We both listened to and memorized songs from Talking Union and the Red Army Chorus. She reads my blog (hi, Alix) so she already knows about the parallels but I’m just finding them as I begin to read the book. Personal, like laughing hysterically at the Heffalump chapter in Winnie-the-Pooh (my mother had to take the book away from me because I was reading it while I had whooping cough and the laughing triggered the coughing). Political, like the Red Scare of the forties and fifties—she was five years younger so the same things hit her at a different age. And she grew up on the East Coast and I on the West, so we experienced different parts of the folk revival. So reading her book gives me a sort of binocular vision of our times. (Ellen Stekert and I have the same east-west difference but we’re the same age. Ooh, I should have gotten a copy for Ellen. We did get a copy for Kathie Flood.)
Also in the audience was Margie Adam, who knew my mother and had shared a concert or two with her. She had forgotten that Ellen had interviewed her for the bio. I assured her that the interview was valuable because she talked about my mother’s composing ability, while most people talked about lyrics or performance.
It’s hard to focus today (Sunday); I did too many social-musical events yesterday. Farmers’ market in the morning, a party at my friends the Kellys in the afternoon where I sang about earthworms, nitrogen-fixing bacteria and the Mission Blue butterfly to their botanizing and scientist friends. Nice to have a crowd who knows exactly what I’m singing about. And the home-made cherry trifle was to die for! The Kellys started Kyoto USA which helped Washington School go solar. I found an old song of mine I’d forgotten about that mentioned the Kyoto accords and gave them a copy at the party.
Then all the chatting with old friends at Alix’ concert, talking about who died, showing grandchild photos...back in the seventies, who would ever have thought! So today I walked the dog before it got too hot, hung out the laundry and now I’m wandering around the internet and see, on a Malvina page on a music site, a Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD alongside a couple of her own CDs. Huh? Turns out they recorded “Turn Around.” Well, whatever.
Also on the interwebs: a different (older?) version of “The Battle of Maxton Field,” sung by Pete Seeger, on the Lumbee Tribe site. They are the guys who raided the Klan rally. And you can see the photograph which accompanied the newspaper article that inspired Malvina to write the song.
Live and in person: Some folks at the People’s Music Network gathering had a Malvina songswap, and here’s the report from Sarah Underhill via Mara Sapon-Shevin:
Had a great workshop of Malvina songs, with pals such as Charlie King, Ben Tousley, Bernice Silver, Sandy Pliskin, Ben Silver, Maggie Greene, Mary Regan & Peg Rapp plus many more.
The following songs were sung: [plus we had a request for "Rosy Jane' which no one had the words for]
God Bless the Grass/ Bankers & the Diplomats/ No Hole in My Head/Somewhere Between/You Can't Make a Turtle Come Out/Magic Penny/ This World/ Bring Flowers/ What Have They Done to the Rain/ We Don't Need the Men/ Little Boxes/ There'll Come a Time/ It Isn't Nice/ I Wish You Were Here/ Turn Around/ Sing Along/ I Live in A City/ If You Love Me
And then there were all the other M. songs we didn't have time to sing...
*The force that through the green fuse drives the flower. . .Drives my red blood...
                                                                                —Dylan Thomas
 ©2010 by Nancy Schimmel
Nancy - What a terrific blog - I loved it, of course, & can't wait to hear about the other parallels in our lives when you read more.  It was so wonderful to see you, & thanks for the lyrics & music to your new tune - & of course for writing about my book.. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, eh?  Jeez!  You just have too live long enough, I guess.   I knew Ellen Stekert in Phila & visited her in Mpls in 1986.  It's that small world again, huh?
Much love,
Friday, June 25, 2010 - 12:53 PM
A Mission Blue butterfly, courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010