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New Local Lore – and Old Local Lores!
May-June issue is out, and prior issues are now EASY to find

The May-June edition of the PFS newsletter, Local Lore, is just out. Members, if you have opted for the paper version, you should have received yours within the last week. 


This issue focuses on Maritime Music - not just the familiar Sea Shanties, but also surprises, like the important role of women in maritime music. And, lots of other stuff, including a report on our first really big online event, Singtime 2021 (Spoiler alert: it was pretty great!), a description of the PFS Endowment Fund, and an article about how online events have helped keep people connected during the COVID pandemic. Thanks to all the contributors: Kate Larsen, Brian Warner, Tom Lewis, Alison Lucas, Mike Matheson, Brian Vollar, Helen Gilbert, David Ingerson, Paul Rippey and Barry Gorden.


As always, thanks to the Local Lore team that skillfully and lovingly put it all together: Editor and Designer Kim McLaughlin, Proofreader Ruth Bolliger, and Logistician and Mail Wizard Jeanette Warner.

But that ain't all, folks!

We love Local Lore and the sad fact is, it's been hard to find, squirreled away in a remote corner of this website. We have made it easier to tap into all that folk music goodness by creating a new Local Lore page. You can check it out now: It's the first item in the Resources Menu. You'll find the last two and a half years of issues there, all easily downloadable. Enjoy reading them - hours of pleasure and edification are waiting for you!

Local Lore is one of the benefits of PFS membership. Members can have a paper copy if they want, and if they don't need paper they can download it as a PDF from this site under the Resources Menu. You can also pick up a copy at most PFS events, even if you aren't a member. But we're not having any in-person events for a while, so if you would like a paper copy of Local Lore, just look up in the menu bar for Join PFS. In addition to Local Lore, you get reduced prices on events, access to members-only parts of the website, and the pleasure of supporting the music you love! Now is a great time to join - we even have a special rate for people who are stressed during the COVID times. Check it out, and thanks!

Virtual Song Circle
For over a hundredth of a century, people have been coming together every Saturday night from across the US and around the world to share songs and enjoy each other's company. Just listening is fine, and any kind of music is fine. It's a big tent, and you are welcome. Room opens at 5:30 PM, first song at 6:00. All times Pacific Coast US. 

Experienced Song Circlers just click here to join.

Newbies: If you want to know what you're getting into before you go there, you can read all about Virtual Song Circles on the Song Circle Page

Singtime Frolics 2021 

Our first online Singtime just ended on Sunday, March 28. It was pretty great. 

382 people registered (and it looks like just about all came) from 9 countries and 26 US States. We had 49 scheduled events including four concerts and dozens of workshops and song circles. What was great was the way it was crowd-sourced: people came to share their music with other people. Three days of sharing music creates a strong sense of community, and it felt like a family by Sunday night. 

We'll write more about this on the site and in Local Lore, after we get a good month's sleep. The Singtime Page is still active - whether you were there or not, you might like to see the schedule. 

THANKS to all the volunteers and workshop leaders, and people who came to sing. You made Singtime a success. 


2021 - the Year of the Sea Shanty
You may know that Sea Shanties are on fire.

But wait. Before we talk sea shanties, we need to talk about TikTok. This hugely popular app came to the US in 2018, and has grown from nothing to ... well, when you see a lot of people staring at their phones, there's a good chance they are watching the endless stream of short videos that make up TikTok. The videos are all generated by users - and all races, languages and ages of people make TikToks. They can be about cooking lessons, jokes, cute cats, someone's vacation, or almost anything else. But many many TikToks are music or dance, and TikTok provides the tools for people to sing duets, so there are collaborations by people who are far apart and have never met.

In the last few months, there has been an explosion of Sea Shanties on TikTok, and they are really good! But don't trust me: watch this video in which musicologist Adam Neely talks about the Sea Shanty and why TikTok is a particularly good medium for them.

Racial Equity Statement from PFS

Portland FolkMusic Society celebrates all musical traditions whose foundations flow from communities and cultures of color.

We recognize that we are an overwhelmingly white organization. We hope to become a more inclusive and diverse organization by taking the following steps: 

  1. We ask that if any member or volunteer detects racism or biases in our structures, processes, publicity or activities, they will speak up and bring this to the attention of PFS. 
  2. We will include more artists of color in our performances. 
  3. We will reach out to our local communities of color for inclusion. 
  4. We will report annually to our membership how we are doing on these goals. 

We invite comments and engagement from PFS members. We look forward to the essential, ongoing work of listening, learning, and changing that is ahead of us.

The Virtues of Virtual
PFS Song Circles in the age of COVID

You must know by now that PFS is holding Saturday Evening Virtual Song Circles every Saturday Evening. We held the first - with little preparation - on March 14, when we were all waking up to the reality of COVID19, and we realized we couldn't responsibly go ahead and hold the scheduled in-person song circle. So, with 24 hours warning, we met on line. The technology was new to a lot of people, we didn't know much about how to host the event, and it was rough - but people had a good time, and someone asked, "Can we do this again next week?" We thought, "Why not?" And we haven't stopped. We marked our 25th VSC on August 29, and they are still going strong. 

Please consider coming; you will be welcomed and feel welcome, no matter your skills or equipment or whatever. A few of the regular participants have good set-ups, with separate cameras and mics. Most use laptops. A few just come in by phone. It doesn't matter.

Check out highlights of a recent song circle here.

We have forty to fifty people every week. Many are regulars, but we're also delighted when someone new pops in. And they do: not just from the PNW, but from the East Coast, other countries, other continents. And in this way, at least, the virtual song circles are much better than in person song circles. In fact, a lot of people prefer the virtual song circles: they don't need to drive anywhere, people mute themselves when they tune their instruments, and you can see everyone's faces. There are drawbacks too: you can only sing harmony with people in your pod; no potluck super; no hugs and handshakes. Our world's not perfect, but the VSCs are pretty good.

Every Saturday, we open the room at 5:30 PM and start singing at six. (Please note that this is thirty minutes earlier than we used to start, in deference to some folks from the East Coast and Europe, and others who like to sleep). Come when you can, stay as long as you like. All kinds of music and all kinds of people are welcome. We follow the song circle practice of letting each person sing a song in turn and it is perfectly fine just to listen. Get a computer with a camera and mic, light up your face, and point your browser to Always the same link, always posted here.

Please click here for logistics information, and for information about how to connect by phone.

But that ain't all...

There is a LOT of other online folk music now, with opportunities to listen, take classes, and sing.

PFS volunteer Barry Gorden has been doing a super job posting the events he hears about, and if you have others, let him know at

Look at the Upcoming Events calendar to find out how you can stay connected, during these disconnected times!

Upcoming Events
Upcoming Events


Joe Hickerson's
Joe's Jottings
Back again! 

PFS Members who have been around for a while will remember the thirteen articles that Joe Hickerson wrote for Local Lore, back in 2014-16. These were wonderful! Unique! Delightful! They covered: 

Joe's experiences with a traveling folk group, The Folksmiths.
His memories of folksingers from Pete Seeger and Jean Ritchie to the Kingston Trio.
The evolution of the song Where Have All The Flowers Gone, which Joe co-wrote. 
Joe's thoughts about saying "close enough for folk music" (warning: tune your instrument and don't go there). 
Marlene Dietrich even makes an appearance.

These short articles are informative and fun to read. And, unfortunately, they have been hard to find since we migrated to this website. But no longer: now you can find them on Joe Hickerson's page. Enjoy!

The Original Folksmiths

Pictured are (back row) Ruth Bolliger, Jim, Joani, Bo; (middle row) Joe Hickerson, David, Ricky; (front) Sarah.

You'll find Ruth and Joe at most PFS events, including the Virtual Song Circles

Not a member?

It's easy to 
Join PFS
Since 1976, Portland FolkMusic Society has been active preserving, presenting and promoting folk music and arts in the greater Portland Oregon area. PFS sponsors song circles, concerts, workshops and retreats, and helps its members and the whole community pass the word around about folk music events, from old time ballads to sea shanties, from 60’s protest folk to contemporary singer-songwriters.

PFS is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. 

Portland Folkmusic Society
P.O. Box 1448
Portland, OR 97207-1448

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