All posts by Susan Jelus

New Book About Folk Music in New York Published

A new book dealing with New York City’s folk music revival in the 1950’s and 60’s has been published by Oxford University Press. The illustrated book, titled “Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival,” written by Stephen Petrus and Ronald D. Cohen, is a comprehensive (320 pages) history of the the musicians and songwriters of who gathered in Greenwich Village and Washington Square and shaped the American folk music revival, including Bob Dylan, Dave Von Ronk, Happy Traum, The Weavers, John Sebastian, and the Mama and Papas.

Joni Mitchell Recovering from Aneurysm

Although there are conflicting reports about Joni Mitchell’s recovery from an illness that started when she was found unconscious in her home on March 31st, Leslie Morris, Joni’s conservator, issued the following statement on June 28th: “Joni did in fact suffer an aneurysm. However, details that have emerged in the past few days are mostly speculative. The truth is that Joni is speaking, and she’s speaking well. She is not walking yet, but she will be in the near future as she is undergoing daily therapies. She is resting comfortably in her own home and she’s getting better each day. A full recovery is expected.”

David Crosby, Joni’s long-time friend, reports: “She took a terrible hit. She had an aneurysm, and nobody found her for a while. And she’s going to have to struggle back from it the way you struggle back from a traumatic brain injury. She’s a tough girl and very smart. So, how much she’s going to come back and when, I don’t know and I’m not going to guess. I love her. She’s probably the best of us – probably the greatest living singer-songwriter.”

You can leave well wishes for Joni at

Singer and Dulcimist Jean Ritchie Dies

Jean Ritchie, a folk singer and mountain dulcimer players who revived American folk music in the 1960’s and brought hundreds of traditional songs from Appalachia to a wide audience , died on June 1st at her home in Berea, Ky, at the age of 92.

Ms. Ritchie performed with some of the best-known names in folk music, including Pete Seeger and Doc Watson. She was part of the Newport Folk Festival, and performed at there in 1959 and many times thereafter. She was a fixture on the Greenwich Village coffeehouse scene, and became known as the “Mother of Folk.”

Ms. Ritchie’s work was recorded by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress’ Archive of Folk Song.  Her first solo album, “Jean Ritchie Singing the Traditional Songs of Her Kentucky Mountain Family,” was released in 1952.

She was the subject of a documentary film, “Mountain Born: The Jean Ritchie Story,” which was made in 1996 for Kentucky Educational Television.

She published “The Swapping Song Book” (1952), “The Dulcimer Book” (1963) and “Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians.”

Wanderers Heading West

The Way Down Wanderers, a hot young 5-piece modern Americana group out of Chicago, will be appearing at the Mendon Mountain Music Festival and the Stokes Nature Center in the Logan, Utah area on June 20th and June 21st.

The Way Down Wanderers
The Way Down Wanderers

The Way-Down Wanderers are known for audience-engaging sing-alongs, lively stage shows, and the free unplugged concerts they call “restSTOMPS” they often play randomly at rest stops along their travel routes. They are professionally-trained musicians (and you can hear it!) and were named Chicago’s “Emerging artists of the year, 2014” in a people’s choice poll.

Here’s an audio sample of their music, a lively little song called Dead Birds:

The group has an extensive tour planned this summer. According to Staley Krause, the band’s manager, “We still can’t really believe that we’re playing The Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado. But we love the little small town shows. They’re very authentic and you get to know the people you’re playing for. We’re excited about Mendon Mountain in northern Utah. Jason Christensen, Mendon Mountain Music Festival organizer, contacted us about playing the festival, and honestly, he is the whole reason we are touring out West. He’s such a great guy and has helped us set up so many of the stops along the way.”

You can preview their “Wandering West” tour by watching a performance of Path to Follow:

Annual KSM Songwriters Competition in Logan Utah

KSM Music in Logan Utah sponsored their 4th annual Songwriters Competition Unplugged in May.  There were 2 categories:

  • 14 years old and under
  • 15 years old and up

The winners of the contest were:

1st place – Emily Pack and Emily Ashcroft
• Won a new Teton acoustic guitar
2nd place – Kili Gardner
• Won a $100 gift card to the KSM Music store
3rd place – Tracen Bradshaw
• Won a $50 gift card to the KSM Music store

Songs were written for unplugged instruments only.  Thirty-one local songwriters participated in the competition.

Dulcimerist Bing Futch Schedules Workshop in Logan, Utah


Bing Futch, one of the world’s finest and most innovative mountain dulcimer players, has scheduled a workshop in Logan, Utah on September 28th. The content and format are still negotiable. For more information, go to Bing’s website  to review his workshop offerings and then call Sue at 435-535-1408. Pre-registration is required. This is a unique opportunity and will be a great experience. Bing also plays the Native American flute and ukulele and has promised to offer an evening concert after the workshop.

Joni Mitchell Hospitalized

Joni Mitchell, the legendary singer, songwriter, guitarist, and artist who rose to stardom in the 1960’s, was taken to the hospital on March 31, 2015. Rumor has it that she is alert, but is in intensive care. Joni, now 71, started as a folk musician, experimented with many styles including jazz, pop, and rock, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

John Renborn Passes Away

John Renborn, a legendary guitarist and founder of the band Pentangle, died of an apparent heart attack at his home in Scotland on March 26, at the age of 70. His brilliant solo guitar playing breathed new life into early English songs and traditional folk music and inspired guitar players from Peter Townsend to Bert Jansch to Stefan Grossman. He leaves behind a rich musical legacy for the enjoyment of those of us still here.

Millsaps Songwriter Showcase Open

Entries are being accepted in the 2015 Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter contest. Submit 2 songs in MP3 format with a $40 entry fee by May 3rd. Finalists will compete with performances at the Utah Arts Festival in Salt Lake City from noon-3pm on Saturday, June 27th. Winner will receive a Rainsong guitar and also open for John Gorka. For more information go to