2019 Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest

May 19 Sunday 9am-6pm: Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest and Songmakers Stage – http://www.topangabanjofiddle.org– Despite losing the town to fire, the Board of Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest decided that the annual tradition will rise from the ashes, will continue for the 59th year and also stating that “Songmakers are not forgotten.” Bonnie Clarfield-Bylin, the Booths Coordinator, notified Steve Berman that we will have our “Corner” as usual but the location will be a 10×20 foot space in the “triangle” vendor area adjacent to the main stage area where a Contra Dancing Stage used to be many years ago. Simon Lucas writes: “I am looking for some volunteers to run our space. You will be ‘in charge’ for an hour, and it is up to you to fill that hour with good music to engage the crowd and invite new members. Please apply to: Simonjdlucas@yahoo.com

More volunteers are needed this year due to the fire

Quite a few of our songmaker mambers volunteer annually at the festival. Please consider volunteering this year if you haven’t done so already.

Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Volunteer Information


Feb 23 Saturday 1:30-9:30pm: SONGMAKERS ROUNDUP, POTLUCK & ELECTIONS at the Somis Community Church, 3300 West Street, Somis 93066 / 805-386-3175. Please, no alcohol permitted at this facility. From the 101, go north on Lewis Rd, turn left on Bell. From the 118 (Los Angeles Ave), turn south on Lewis Rd, turn right on Bell. This event will be a Board Member Election, Performance, Award Ceremony, Potluck Dinner and Song Circle festivity that cannot be missed! The board members will provide dessert so please make your potluck contribution a main or side dish.

Music in the Mountains – March 7 – 10, 2019

Camp De Benneville Pines Music in the Mountains (Lite) in the San Bernardino Mountains. Twenty Songmakers rented the two cabins with cooking facilities last March and we’re doing it again in 2019. Contact Steve Berman or Sandy Lessner for information about the weekend & / or see the Prez Sez in the January Bard Chord. Only a few spots open, especially if willing to sleep in a top bunk. Must have chains for your car in case of snow. For information about the camp facilities (not specifically this event), please visit: https://www.uucamp.org/ and catch the article in the upcoming Bard Chord.

Kenney Grove 2019 – Sally Charette

Here are the dates for our Kenney Grove campouts for 2019. We recommend that you go ahead and make reservations for all the dates you think you might attend.  You can cancel with a full refund up to 45 days in advance. If you make all your reservations for the year at the same time, you pay only one $3.00 reservation fee.

County of Ventura Camping & RV Reservations 


April 11-14, 2019 – Spring Break

May 23-27, 2019 – Memorial Day Weekend

July, the 25th-28th, 2019 – Summer Camp

August 29-Sept 2, 2019 – Labor Day Weekend

October 3-6, 2019 – Fall Out

When you make a reservation, if you have a Facebook account, please let us know via the Songmakers Camping News and Discussion group. This link should take you directly there. https://www.facebook.com/groups/707150739666114/  Please ask to join by clicking on the appropriate button there. There are Events set up for each KG camp out. Please let us know that you are coming and which site you’ll be in, if you’re comfortable with that. The contents of this Facebook group are not visible to the general public, only to those who are fellow members.

Those of us who continued to camp in 2018 after the County of Ventura took over management found it still a very worthwhile experience. We braved the temporary lack of showers and the changes to our schedule due to park quiet hours requirements. We spoke with rangers and the camp hosts and have been assured that the showers will be ready for use by the time we’re back in April.  They have not made us shut down the music at 9 p.m., and we have continued to play quietly even though others share the campground with us.  So far, so good!

We also learned that Ventura County parks budget is based only on the parks’ and campgrounds’ income. They do not receive county, state or federal funds. So let’s be as happy as possible about sharing our lovely spot with new people…they’ll be helping keep the lights on.  You know, when the lights actually work!

Thanks to everyone who camped in 2018 and to those of you who are making plans for 2019!  Onward!

Sally Charette

Kenny Grove Campground is in the middle of this photo to the right of the pine trees near the base of the mountains

Kenney Grove Update


Here are the reserved and available sites as of 10-8-18:

We hear that campers have signed up for the sites around the old campfire area for Labor Day Weekend  (August 30-Sept 3) and the Fall Out camp-out October 11-14, and there should be plenty more sites available. RV sites 17 to 26 are those on either side of the creek. Tent sites start with #34 and above. 

We are also beginning to reserve for Memorial Day Weekend (May 23-27, 2019) since more people may be aware of our hidden gem by next year.  The fee for cancelling 45 days or more in advance is minimal. 

There is a map and there are instructions for making reservation at the Ventura County Parks reservation site.  http://www.venturaparks.org/reservation/camping/

When you do reserve, please post on the Kenney Grove Campout Discussion page at http://songmakers.org/kenney-grove-campouts. Some people have emailed me, that they are coming, but I haven’t been able to keep good track. You may email this address campouts@songmakers.org for the discussion page password.

As we did last time, we plan to continue our ice cream social and potluck tradition, and share music in the evenings wherever we can best gather. The coffee pot will be there, too! 

Remember, if you want to arrive a day early or stay a day later to pack up, you can do that. It used to be that the camp was only open to groups and only on certain days of the month.  If you want to take more time to explore the area, you can do that!  The ranger I spoke with let me know that many people reserve the night of the day they want to leave, so they don’t have to pack up by 11 a.m.

Sally Charette

Songmakers Stage a Hit at the TBFC

First of all, congratulations to Mary Zangerle who took 2nd place in the contest in Intermediate Mandolin and to Tim Holtwick, who took 1st place in the Intermediate-Other category playing in the Hawaiian Slack Key guitar instrumental style!

Dana and Sally Charette opened the Songmaker stage with a blast of fun!  Dana is always amusing, talented and knows how to involve the crowd. Sally is a singer par excellence and got down with her cool repertoire on her rockin’ resonator Uke.

Jim Friery and friends, back on the SM stage (actually in front of the stage getting down!) for their second year representing our awesome club, are talented guys who brought fun and harmony and got the audience very involved and singing with gusto.

The ever-popular Gemini (Bruce Farewell and Renata Decher) took the 11:00 a.m. slot with wit, and talent. They love to involve the crowd, and young people get their taste for performing because Renata hands them her rhythm instrument!

Doug Kerr & Linda Szitkar, first timers to our stage, have an amazingly popular and sing-along-able repertoire!  Very well done you two!

TJ Zeiler and Steve Linsky and all of HorsePlay band is always a big hit at Topanga. They really draw a crowd with their prodigious talents.

Ever the walking juke box, Dean Donin wowed the crowd. Dean has an eclectic repertoire and has a very entertaining performance style!

Gary and Kathy Lynch, what can one say? They are excitement and fun personified!

Karen Hart and Jennifer Leitham presented a Joni Mitchell Sing-along with professional savvy and deep and wide talent. Thanks for bringing Joni to us with such beauty, skill and charisma!

Thank you Steve and Sandie, our President and First Lady who promoted Songmakers throughout the day, and made sure our Banner was mounted!  Thanks to all the other Songmakers, unnamed here, who participated, supported and showed the crowd how to have fun!

Louise Dobbs

Songmakers Stage at Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest

May 20, Sunday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Stop by the  Songmakers Stage at Topanga and spend some time playing with your fellow Songmakers! 

Here is the stage leadership line up:

Dana Charette and friends
Jim Friery and friends
Gemini (Bruce and Renata)
Doug Kerr & Linda Szitkar
TJ & Charletta Horse Playing w/friends
Dean Donin
Gary and Kathy Lynch
Karen Hart and Jennifer Leitham present a Joni Mitchell Sing-along

Additional information about the festival is available at  2018 Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Festival


Kenney Grove Memorial Day Campout 2018

Hi all! As most of you are probably aware, Rona LeDoux, who has managed Kenney Grove Park camp ground for 37 years, will retire at the end of June, 2018. She transformed the park into the garden spot it is today while maintaining all the campsites and amenities we so enjoy.

As a token of our appreciation, Sally and Dana Charette will provide a guest book you are encouraged to sign at the Memorial Day camp out. If you would like to donate a cash contribution to Rona’s “retirement fund,” Sally will collect funds in advance and we will present them to Rona on Memorial Day Weekend. Rona will be relocating from the park, so like a lot of us, she’s downsizing!

Lynn Furnis has written a song for Rona called Rona’s Paradise.  It will be sung at the Memorial Day Campout.  The chords and lyrics are available here: Rona’s Paradise – chords and lyrics Here is a recording of the song by Lynn and Bill Johnson:

Inevitably, Rona’s retirement will bring changes to the way the camp is run. Ventura County Parks is still in the process of re-mapping the campground. I am in touch with VCP regarding group reservations for future Songmakers camping weekends and will let you know how to make reservations as soon as I can.  If you’d like to pencil in dates, we are aiming for July 19-22, September 20-24 (Labor Day Weekend), and October 11-15, 2018. 

Camping at Kenney Grove has brought Songmakers together for nearly 20 years. It helped us form friendships from all reaches of Southern California, strengthening our club. We’ve learned about music and public performance through workshops and concerts held at KG. I hope you all will join me in honoring this long and rich tradition.

The Memorial Day Campout at Kenney Grove will be held May 24 – 28, 2018. Reservations must be received by Saturday, May 19, so mail them by Wed. May 16. You will receive confirmation by return email by Monday, May 21.
2018 Memorial Day Registration Form

The schedule is:

Thursday-Friday May 24-25- Informal jamming and evening campfire song circles

Saturday, May 26 – Informal jamming throughout the day

10 a.m. – Songwriting Workshop with Don Truby
11:30 a.m. – Performance Workshop with John McFadgen
1:30 p.m. – Ice Cream Social & Concert Sign-Ups – bring a bowl and spoon
5:30 p.m. – Potluck – Bring a dish to share, a plate, flatware and napkin
7:00 p.m. – Evening concert
Post concert campfire song circle and informal jamming

Sunday, May 27
10-12 noon – Songs of Meaning & Band Scramble assignments
1 p.m.-4 p.m. – Ukulele Jam with Alan Ferentz – drop in and play!
4:00 p.m. – Meet with your Band Scramble group to create magic!
7:00 p.m. – Band Scramble performance followed by campfire song circle and informal jamming

Monday, May 28

12:00 Noon – Check out time

Sally Charette

2018 Round-up Review

New Venue
The location for Roundup on February 24th was held at Somis Community Church, a new location for us. The facilities were perfect with the sanctuary used for the concert, a green room, a kitchen/eating area and plenty of room for jamming.

Roundup Concert
The event started at 2:00 with an afternoon concert in the church’s sanctuary by the wonderful talent represented by the various song circles and hoots in Songmakers. The church even provided their own sound man leaving some of our key members free to enjoy the concert. Dana Charette did an awesome job of emceeing the concert with his impersonation of Groucho Marx.

The following are the members who performed for us at the concert:
Ken Krupnik, Sympatico Music (Bob Bueling & Pat Cronin), Eva Schwerb, Mission Oaks Song Circle, Dale Carter & Linda Moore, Rufus T. Firfly, Simon Lucas, Bryan Chow, Mike & Mary Zangerle, Doug Kerr & Linda Szitkar, Joe Conversino, Sam Gross, Bill Johnson, Jack Zigray, Agoura Hills Song Circle, Bell Arts Song Circle, Arnie Gordon, Steve Linsky, Lien Borg, Camarillo Song Circle, Jerome Rubin, Steve Berman & Sandy Lessner, Dave Gilman, East Valley Hoot, Thousand Oaks Hoot, Linnae Richards and Camarillo Hoot.

New Board Members
Voting for the new board members took place throughout the afternoon. The new board members who were voted in were Bill Johnson, Sam Gross and Linnea Richards.

Following the concert, our president Steve Berman awarded the following members for their behind the scene contributions to our club.
1. Don Truby – For many years of presenting the well-attended Songwriting Workshops at our musical camping weekends at Kenney Grove Park in Fillmore.
2. Mary Zangerle – or continuing service as a Board Member, Bard Chord Assistant Editor, and keeping us connected as our new innovative Webmistress
3. Janice Gelencser – For years of service to Songmakers as Music in the Mountains Committee Leader, hoot and musical campout leader, Concert Mistress of Ceremonies, Recording Secretary, Board Member and to the folk music community as the cofounder of the Gelencser House Concerts
4. Patty Quintana – For 13 more years (since her last certificate), as a Hoot Hostess, Board Member, Roundup Chairperson and the Musical Mistress of the Kitchen
5. Simon Lucas – For several decades as a Hoot Host and Leader, concert Master of Ceremonies, Board Member, Elections Chair, Music Campout Coordinator and our current Vice-President

No one goes hungry at our Songmaker potlucks.

Finally, it was time for jamming with two great song circles that took us all the way till about 10:00. Thank you to everyone who attended and helped to make this year’s Round-Up a big success.

What’s Next
Do you have any suggestions for next year? Do you want to be part of next year’s plans as part of the newly formed Roundup Committee? You can email at gelencser.andy @gmail.com.

Andy Gelencser