Virtual Songcircles

Now that our in person Songcircles are dark until further notice, we have had several Songmakers organize virtual Zoom songcircles.  Unfortunately, only the person who is taking a turn can have their mic live due to the time lag. However, anyone can mute their mic and sing and play along!  Thanks go to all of our organizers.  For tips on using Zoom during a Songcircle, see Prez Sez below at the end of the songcircle list.

Songmakers and other virtual Song Circles Information you are welcome to share with non-members too!

(updated as needed – last update – 7/04/2020)

Until further notice, Songmakers neither endorses nor recommends in-person events. All previously scheduled in-person events through September are officially canceled and any beyond are considered tentative.

Quick Notes:

  1. Face Masks are now required throughout the state.

Full details of this are at:

  1. Although Ventura Co. has opened campgrounds including Kenney Grove, it is with restrictions that preclude song circle gatherings or even visiting people in other campsites. There will be no Songmakers camping this summer nor any in-person events!

Jul 05 Sundays 7-10:15pm Virtual Agoura Hills Song CircleSteven Mark Berman is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom Song Circle: Join via: Meeting ID: 637 717 652 Password: 008615 

Jul 07 (link updtd 4/30) 1st Tuesday 6-9pm: Virtual THOUSAND OAKS HOOT Steven Mark Berman and Valerie Kotas,, are inviting you to a Zoom Song Circle so ensure you have the most recent Zoom update and keep your mic muted unless you are speaking or it’s your turn to lead. Singing together with your mic unmuted is not possible due to lag times. Join via: – Meeting ID: 394 180 7512 Password: song4fun

Jul 08 & Every Wednesday Virtual Open Mic. 6:30 sign-ups for 7pm: Guitar Merchant Open Mic. 2 songs or 8 minutes. NOTE: Due to the unstable health situation, please contact to confirm. You will receive login and setup info. SMPOC: Joel Amromin. 

Jul 09 Thursdays 7-9pm Virtual Chuck Behrman’s Thursday Evening Zoom. Every Thursday throughout the Covid-19 lockdown – Join Zoom Meeting:  –  Meeting ID: 835 4939 6377  Password: 262022

Jul 10 & 24 (added 6/11) 2nd & 4th Fridays 8-11:59pm: San Francisco Folk Music Club – For full details, and to RSVP see: – SFFMC has many events. Check out the website/newsletter at

Jul 12 Sundays 7-10:15pm Virtual Agoura Hills Song CircleSteven Mark Berman is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom Song Circle: Join via: Meeting ID: 637 717 652 Password: 008615 

Jul 13 – 2nd Monday 7pm: Virtual E. P. Foster Library Song Circle – play / sing-a-long. All instruments are welcome to come virtually enjoy. Join via: – Meeting ID: 426 255 353.  Password: uku1313SMPOC: Alan Ferentz

Jul 14 & 28 (link updtd 6/11) 2nd & 4th Tuesday 4-6:30pm Virtual Port Hueneme Zoom Song Circle Steven Mark Berman & Marty Capsuto are inviting you to a Zoom Song Circle so ensure you have the most recent Zoom update and keep your mic muted unless you are speaking or it’s your turn to lead. Singing together with your mic unmuted is not possible due to lag times. Join via: – Meeting ID: 394 180 7512 – Password: song4fun

Jul 15 & Every Wednesday Virtual Open Mic. 6:30 sign-ups for 7pm: Guitar Merchant Open Mic. 2 songs or 8 minutes. NOTE: Due to the unstable health situation, please contact to confirm. You will receive login and setup info. SMPOC: Joel Amromin.

Jul 16 – 3rd Thursday 5pm: Official deadline for Calendar & Bard Chord Article / Info Sharing submissions via Website (actually you can submit non-calendar info anytime you wish). Calendar/Southland inputs must be sent by the deadline to TJ Zeiler via Email: or 

Jul 16 Thursdays 7-9pm Virtual Chuck Behrman’s Thursday Evening Zoom. Every Thursday throughout the Covid-19 lockdown – Join Zoom Meeting:  –  Meeting ID: 835 4939 6377  Password: 262022

Jul 19 Sundays 7-10:15pm Virtual Agoura Hills Song CircleSteven Mark Berman is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom Song Circle: Join via: Meeting ID: 637 717 652 Password: 008615 

For planning purposes, we now have a tentative schedule for Kenney Grove campouts through 2021. All are considered tentative:

Oct 08-11 TENTATIVE: KENNEY GROVE Fall Out Weekend 823 Oak Ave., Fillmore, 93015, (805) 524-0750.

Make reservations early for Kenney Grove camp outs you want to attend.

Note: The 2021 Kenney Grove tentative schedule is:

     April 15-18, 2021 – Spring Break

     May 27-31, 2021 – Memorial Day Weekend

     July 29-August 1, 2021 – Summer Camp

     Sept 03-06, 2021 – Labor Day Weekend

     October 14-18, 2021 – Fall Out


  • Non-members should email to to request inclusion for weekly email updates.
  • If you are aware of a public virtual song circle or want to host one, please provide the info to for inclusion to our members.

For quick, accurate ZOOM SETUP FOR MUSIC PERFORMANCE, see the updtd 5/31/2020 step by step procedures below provided by Joel Amromin. Also below is the edited Steve Berman Zoom notice.



(updtd 5/31/2020 provided by Joel Amromin)

Because Zoom is “tuned” for spoken word, it is less than perfect for music without some configurations. Here are procedures for configuring Zoom for music. These procedures depend on using “original sound,” which bypasses the Zoom processing for spoken word, such as noise suppression. You want it pure. Note: Specific functions, labels, and locations will vary depending on what operating system and hardware you use. The procedures get shorter for simpler devices because they have less capability. Zoom is not particularly good when it comes to consistent interfaces across platforms, so there are separate procedures below for various devices. For performing music, Zoom works best on a workstation or laptop with a hardwired (Ethernet) connection to a network. Wireless local connections, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are less effective and may have audio dropouts and/or video freezes depending on signal quality. Cellular connection is the poorest.

  1. If you do not already have it, download and register the Zoom client for meetings at You must be on version 5.0.0 or later.
  2. Start the Zoom client. (Not necessary for a Smartphone.)
  3. Follow one of these three procedures.

For a workstation or laptop (should be about the same for Mac or Windows):

  1. Join the meeting. If asked, log on with video. Click the up arrow next to the picture of a microphone, usually at the bottom left side of the screen.
  2. Click “Audio Settings.” The Audio Setting window appears.
  3. Turn off (uncheck) “Automatically adjust microphone volume” and set the Input Volume slider at around 90%. If people complain about your volume, you may have to adjust it up or down, which you can do during the meeting.
  4. Also on the Audio Settings window, click Advanced; then make sure “Show in meeting option to ‘Enable Original Sound’ from microphone” is on (checked); then close the Settings window.
  5. Click “Turn on Original Sound,” which is usually at the top of the meeting window. When set correctly, it will say “Turn off Original Sound.” The button shows the action it will take, not the current state – which is confusing.

Zoom instructions updated 05/31/2020 For a tablet, such as iPad (should be the about same on other tablets):

  1. Click the Settings icon, which looks like a little gear; then click Meetings. The Meeting Settings window appears.
  2. Scroll the window down until you see “Use Original Sound.” Turn that on (checked); then exit the Meeting Settings.
  3. Join the meeting. If asked, log on with video. Click the three dots labeled “More.” Click “Enable Original Sound.”
  4. When performing, you should be close to the microphone to avoid dropouts.

For a smartphone, such as iPhone (should be the about same on other smartphones):

  1. No need to start the client; simply join the Open Mic meeting. If asked, log on with video.
  2. Click the three dots labeled “More.” Then click “Enable Original Sound.”
  3. When performing, you should be close to the microphone to avoid dropouts.


Pres Sez… (edited)


Zoom free accounts have a 40 minute duration. Contact Steve to coordinate longer sessions. First download and register the free Zoom Client for Meetings at:

You can find many sources of instruction about hosting Zoom music sessions. The u-tube videos I found helpful can be found at:



Have as little as possible running on your system while hosting, maybe just Zoom, your email and whatever text files you might want to screen-share with lyrics and chords of songs you plan to play. Use a hardwired (Ethernet) connection to your router. You can put in a browser and check your download and upload speed through Ethernet vs WiFi, and with different applications running. My download speed more than doubled with Ethernet and little else running.

Use an external microphone and speakers if available. Built in computer audio input/output should work (that is all I have), but not as well.

Before anyone enters the meeting, use the following steps to optimize your Zoom for Music:

Editors Note: Original Instructions, slightly edited, from Steve are:

  1. When you see your face upon starting the meeting, click up arrow to the right of the microphone (audio) icon in the lower left of your screen, and go down to Audio Setting
  2. Test sound to be sure it passes. I was advised that you should then turn off both “automatically adjust volume”, and use the sliders to set them high, which you can continue to adjust throughout the meeting. However, I have not experimented with this yet in a meeting so you may want to do so.
  3. Click advanced at the bottom right and check the REALLY important parameters for music: Check “Show in-meeting option to Enable Original Sound” at top. Make sure original sound is enabled during the meeting. DISABLE suppression of the 2 forms of background noise. Leave echo suppression on auto. Your music quality will thank you 🙂

I think these are good tips even when you are not hosting, if they can be applied, to make your individual audio optimal.

After starting a session, you can assign anyone who joins to be the host instead of you. This can help if they have a better system than you do, especially audio input/output devices, speed/bandwidth. However, experiment, and pass on your own wisdom to your fellow Songmakers via me, TJ at the weekly EChord, and/or website posts that comprise the new Bard Chord.

I hope to see you soon on my Zoom channel, 637717652. I’ll host the Virtual Agoura Hills Song Circle from 7-10 pm each Sunday until we can play in the same room again. May that day come soon. You may be required to provide the password, 008615, because hackers disrupting Zoom meetings have recently mandated increased security. The invitation is above in the listings.

The famous Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” seems particularly appropriate now. Stay home, stay safe, keep playing music, and we’ll get through these “interesting times” together. Remember to give thanks for all our blessings every single day! They didn’t have the internet in the 1918 pandemic! Songmakers will always be high on my gratitude list!



2020 Viral Lockdown

All Official Songmakers Gatherings Dark Until Further Notice

In compliance with current federal, state and county mandates, all official Songmakers events will go dark until restrictions are lifted. This difficult decision is made easier only by our love and concern for all of our members and your families.

Music brought us together, and music will help sustain us during this difficult time.  The board and members at large are exploring ways for us to share music and companionship going forward.  For starters maybe pick up your instrument, or sing in the shower, or dust off your Songmakers directory and give someone a call. 



Prez Says

A visionary year is here (20/20, get it!), so here’s to a grateful New Year for we Songmakers, and may our sight be clear!

Looking ahead to Camp De Benneville Pines, I’m always thankful for any time we get to spend in Angelus Oaks. Starting on Thursday March 5 through – Sunday March 8 we will enjoy an intimate free-form Music In the Mountains (Lite) for the 3rd year since we started that tradition in 2018. It’s too expensive to heat the lodge, but we rent Craigs Cabin and Cabin 6, which have full kitchens, and share food expenses and preparation.  Our bargain price will be around $100/person (plus the cost of whatever food you sign up to bring) for Thursday-Sunday. You can’t pay less if you want to come Friday because we pay by the cabin, not by the bed, but $100 is a good price even if you only stay 2 nights. Those who want to play after 10 use the coffee house, which has no coffee, but year-round heat and a piano. We have a few spots still open in Cabin 6, and if there is enough demand, it may be possible to open a 3rd cabin, so call or email me ASAP if you are interested.  You do need chains, since there could be snow. The rangers will not let you drive up without them if it’s snowing.

Our club is high on the list of things I give thanks for, and at our December board meeting, your Songmakers board voted to express our communal gratitude and fulfil our nonprofit goal of donating to other worthy music nonprofits by contributing $500 to the Playing for Change  (PFC) Foundation.

PFC started when founder Mark Johnson heard Santa Monica street musician Roger Ridley powerfully singing “Stand By Me” and was inspired to film more than 1,000 musicians from over 50 countries as part of a multimedia project to connect the world through music. Just as our club both believes and practices, Mark felt music had the power to create joy and break down boundaries between people.

Sadly, Roger Ridley passed away in 2005, but his performance inspired PFC to create the award-winning documentary, “A Cinematic Discovery of Street Musicians”, and later to unite many of those musicians in the PFC Band, now touring the world to spread love and hope through music. A few years ago, they established the Playing For Change Foundation, a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit that builds music and art schools around the world.

This is the foundation Songmakers is donating to. Every week more than 2,000 young people attend free PFC classes in dance, instruments, languages and musical theory, taught by qualified local teachers in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana, Mali, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa, Morocco, Mexico, Argentina and Thailand. Projects also help meet community needs including provision of food, clean water, medicine, clothes, books, school supplies, computers, and other modern technology. Over 15,000 people have been helped by PFC Foundation’s community development efforts.

If you want to personally support PFC, you can become an individual member for as little as $5/month. Members get unlimited downloads and streaming of their award-winning videos, access to unreleased materials, backstage footage and documentaries, and 25% OFF everything in the entire PFC online merchandise store. Check them out at:

Playing for Change now joins the list of local musical charities your Songmakers club has supported over the last 8 years including: Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest (one of the best annual folk music institutions in our state), Folkworks (support for music, dance and related folk arts in SoCal), Mr. Hollands Opus (instruments for low income school music programs), Help Group (instruments for special needs children in SF Valley, formerly taught by our own Barbara Greenspan of blessed memory), Boys & Girls Club of Ventura (Alan Ferentz founded a ukulele club), Music Mends Minds Foundation (musical/educational support groups for patients with neurological disorders and PTSD), and Urban Voices Choir (bringing the healing power of music to individuals marginalized by homelessness, mental health issues, and unemployment in the Greater LA area). So, thanks Songmakers for making the world a better place through music!

Grateful for your music and friendship,

Steve Berman Ph.D,   Songmakers President


Feb 22 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 5 – 8, 2020

Camp De Benneville Pines Music in the Mountains (Lite) in the San Bernardino Mountains. Twenty Songmakers rented the two cabins with cooking facilities in March of the last two years and we’re doing it again in 2020. Contact Steve Berman or Sandy Lessner for information about the weekend. 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: .

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.  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.

When you do reserve, please post on the Kenney Grove Campout Discussion page at Some people have emailed me, that they are coming, but I haven’t been able to keep good track. You may email this address 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