The Sixties In Folk Music: Santa Barbara / Introduction

Introduction – Table of Contents

Several years ago, I received a letter from Marilyn Berner, living in Colorado. She reminded me that she, along with her husband Bill, ran a folk music coffee house, The Iopan, in Santa Barbara California in the early 1960s. She explained that she was contacting all the old folk musicians of that era and asking them to contribute chapters on their reminiscences of those days for a book she intended to publish. Marilyn asked me to contribute my thoughts, and I was glad to do so.

Marilyn Berner

Marilyn Berner

More than a dozen years have gone by since that request. I hadn’t heard back from her since I contributed my piece, and I presumed that the book deal had fallen through.

I’ve recently been contacted by Marilyn’s son David, who explained that shortly after she had contacted me, her writing partner John Thomas had passed away and that she had become unable to continue the project.  Her health is not good these days, but David has decided to make these writings available in digital format. I think it’s a great idea, and have agreed to make space here on my sporadic blog, Pete’s Place  togive these chapters a (hopefully) permanent and accessible home.

Click on the titles below to find the chapters:

1 Tony Townsend (Part 1) — Planting the Seeds 1
2 Marilyn Berner (the Iopan) — A House Filled with Music
3 Bill Berner — Notes by Marilyn Berner
4 Dan Barrows — Musings of the Iopan and Other Things
5 Phil Earl — Math Major Plays in Folk Group, Parents Not Amused
6 John Thomas — Music—A Lifelong Love Affair
7 Howard Pelky — Times Were Good
8 Ernie Brooks — My Brush with a Career in Folk Music
9 Peter Feldmann — Folk Music in Santa Barbara
10 Kajsa Ohman — A Life in Music
11 Gene McGeorge — Fiddler
12 Maria Cordero — On That Note . . .
13 Todd Grant — Remembering Folk Music in SB in the ‘60s
14 Phil Pritchard — Bass Man
15 René Leyva — Playing Around
16 Don Robertson — Folk Scene: The 1960s in Santa Barbara
17 Jim Greenwell — The Nexus
18 Sheri Geiger-Odenwald — From Blue Onion Carhop to Folksinger
19 Russ Johnson — The Big Debut
20 Tony Townsend (2) — The Harvest

These chapters are published here essentially as their authors supplied them about 15 years ago. We have chapters from many people, mostly musicians, who were a part of Santa Barbara’s folk music scene. Some of them – and the venues they played in, sadly, are now gone. Let’s make this a collective effort to describe what it was like, back in those wild and wooly folkie days. If you were there, if you have something to contribute, a comment, a photograph, a memory, or even a bit of cash to keep this website going, please contact us!

BlueGrass West provides this educational service on American Traditional Music at no charge. If you would like to support our outreach for folk, old-time, bluegrass and related musical styles, consider making a small donation. Every little bit helps!

About Peter Feldmann

Peter Feldmann has long been a musical mainstay in Santa Barbara and Southern California. Besides actively performing bluegrass and old time music with a variety of groups, Peter is also known as a bluegrass historian, collector, music consultant, teacher, and producer, both of live concerts and radio/tv programs throughout the area. His music has been heard in clubs, concerts, saloons, universities, pre-schools, at weddings, wakes, parties, barn-raisings, calf-ropings, rodeos, auctions, fund raisers, wine tastings and chili cook offs. Peter founded Santa Barbara's Old Time Fiddler's Convention (1972), UCSB's Old Time Music Front (1964), and The Bluebird Cafe (1971). Through these and other outlets, he was the first to bring many prominent folk, blues, and bluegrass artists, including Bill Monroe, Mance Lipscomb, The Stanley Brothers, The New Lost City Ramblers, Fred McDowell, Furry Lewis, Rose Maddox, the Balfa Brothers, and many others to the Santa Barbara area. Peter also helped others access the music by teaching privately, and in group classes for Santa Barbara Continuing Education, UCSB Extension, and McCabes Guitars. He was the first on the West Coast to produce and market instruction Lps - three on How To Play Country Fiddle, and one each on Clawhammer Banjo, and Maybelle Carter Style Guitar. He still presents lectures on country music history at UCSB, Santa Barbara area libraries, and for various interest groups, festival workshops, etc. In 2006, he presented his monograph titled "The Big bang Of Bluegrass Music" (describing the origins of bluegrass 1938 - 1946) to the worlds first International Music Symposium at the University of Kentucky at Bowling Green. He has also been very active in radio, television, and film work, producing weekly shows on country and bluegrass music over a 21 year period on various commercial and public stations. Peter currently maintains three music-related websites, a music blog, and an entertainment service company, "BlueGrass West!", based in the Santa Ynez Valley in Southern California. Peter performs tunes and songs from the heart of America's musical treasure chest. His shows can include fiddle, guitar, banjo, and mandolin. Well-known as a historian and teacher, Peter is first and foremost an entertainer, sharing his respect, energy and love for the music with his fellow musicians, friends, and audiences.
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