The Board

President  –  Steve Berman
Term expires 2019

I picked up the harmonica while hitching back to Detroit from Woodstock. After being ejected from many classy joints over the next 38 years, I met the wonderful Sandy Lessner, who actually liked it. We volunteered at the 2007 Solstice Festival, and were invited to join the Santa Monica Traditional Folk Music Club, and then Songmakers. I’m a retired UCLA neuroscientist with two grown daughters, and plan to spend the rest of the time I’m given making music whenever possible. I sing in synagogue choirs, and with the greater confidence derived from regular “Songmaking” have played harmonica at religious services for a few years. I never took a lesson and can’t read music, but I practice to the radio while commuting, and always find it magical when the right notes come out. Sandy and I began hosting the Agoura Hills song circle after our marriage in 2010. I’m honored to join the 2011 board because my grandfather taught me the value of giving back. As a Peace Corps volunteer in the 70s, I learned the African Thumb Piano. I sometimes teach for Hollywood Seido Karate, and am VP of our non-profit dojo. Besides Sandy, I also love dark chocolate, science-fiction, and camping at Rainbow Gatherings and Kenney Grove!

 


Vice President/Election Chair  –  Simon Lucas
Term expires 2019

I have enjoyed music all my life. My father played piano and organ, I learned guitar and flute! I left England in 1983 and arrived in California some 11 hours later. I have been here ever since! I was introduced to Songmakers in 1985 and have served on the Board almost constantly since. I had a Hoot at my house for some years. I also edited the Bard Chord for a while. I usually play guitar and sing English songs, but have been known to play dulcimer. I am an avid instrument collector, most of which I cannot play and some of which I do not recognize! I played bass for the Heart of England Folk Group, but that was in another life!

 

 

 

 


 

Second Vice President/Membership Chair  –  Ed Barnes
Term expires 2018

For many years the family and I were party crashers, enjoying many Songmaker campouts, hoots, etc. We have made so many wonderful friends and I thank all of you for that. I officially joined Songmakers only a few short years ago. My musical abilities are limited to that of professional audience and my shamans drum. I sing a little but always in the key of left-out.In late 2011 I was informed there was a need for new blood on the board as several members had decided it was time to move on. I decided after all I had received from this wonderful club, it was time to give something back. I had hoped to quietly serve in little background activities however that didn’t quite work out. I was “informed” of the need for a new membership chair person and that “I would” run for that position. Well, here I am, and I hope to serve you well.

Thank you,
Ed

 


 

Treasurer  –   “Weezie” Dobbs
Term expires 2019

Louise Dobbs was born in east L.A. (Boyle Heights) and has lived in Venice/Santa Monica for the last 30 years. Louise loves singing and many kinds of music including Folk, Old Country, Old-Timey, Cowboy, Bluegrass, Classic Rock and Roll, and last, but definitely not least, African pop. She loves a cappella singing too and is a member of The Harmonistas, a 4-woman a cappella group.

She loves Songmakers and has been a devoted member since 1992. Since 1996 she has served as Songmakers’ Treasurer and she regularly leads the West LA Hoot. Her hobbies include walking and fitness, spirituality, reading and movies.

 


 

Recording Secretary  – Janice Gelencser
Term expires 2018

I grew up singing alto in school and church choirs which I believe gave me the ability to hear and sing harmonies so easily. I loved the sounds of the 60’s folk groups and got my first guitar when I was 14. Using the Mel Bay instruction books, I taught myself chords and began singing and playing with friends who had the same musical interests. Playing music with others has been one of my greatest joys in life and led me to play in various acoustic bands.

In 2007, my husband, Andy and I began the Gelencser House Concert series,
gelencserhouseconcerts.com.
We host talented singer/songwriters and acoustic bands from near and far.

Andy and I joined Songmakers in 1986. We love the music activities and the lasting friendships we made through the years.

 


 

Corresponding Secretary  –  Sally Charette
Term expires 2018

Sally first sang harmony as a little kid while her dad drove the family through Indiana farmland in search of cool air and ice cream. Though she was in plays and musicals in high school and college, she switched from Theater major to English/Creative Writing when she moved to L.A. She’s been a member of one writing group or another for almost twenty years, and was a PEN Emerging Voices Fellow. She’s had stories, poetry, articles and photography published along the way and has kept a blog at www.anygivensundry.com since 2005. She also loves hiking, reading, gardening, cooking, yoga, Zumba, most of her job as a TV/film script researcher, and hanging out at coffee houses and all-night diners.

She and her favorite (and only) husband, Dana, joined the organization in 1998. They both know that the support and experience gained through Songmakers has helped them become more confident singers (and player in Dana’s case). Sally is also the campout coordinator for Kenney Grove.

After years of singing around Songmakers’ campfires and hoots, Sally became part of an impromptu wall of harmonic sound at Roundup 2011. Was it the first time she, Louise Dobbs, Janice Gelencser and Launice Walker had all been in the same room at the same time? Maybe, since none of them live closer than an hour to any of the rest. They decided they needed to explore their mutual affinity for harmony, and The Harmonistas were born. In just under two years, they gave their first concert, they continue to have a blast at their rehearsal/pajama parties and typically will perform at the drop of a hat.

 


 

Publicity Chair  –  Annie Reeves
Term expires 2018

Grew up in West LA. Parents both enjoyed music, including folk (Weavers, Marais & Miranda, Odetta), which I took to early. We also had a piano, where our weekly cleaner (pianist & choir leader at her Baptist church) pounded out rocking gospel numbers – music I still find irresistible. Started to learn guitar at age 19 with lessons from my first honey, who also instilled a lifelong love of authentic old blues. Hung around at the original McCabe’s Guitar Shop, Ash Grove, Troubadour, Lighthouse, etc. Music continued as a major passion thru many relocations & years; wrote a couple dozen songs; several friends became regular music partners. Finally settled down & took job as corporate communicator; there followed a period of hardly playing/singing at all – always longed to get back to it.

Since moving to Ojai 20 years ago, I have. Early on met another Ojai musician and we’ve been playing & singing weekly ever since, most genres except rap & jazz. Now semiretired; no kids. Significant other, Ed, lives in Lompoc, not musical but enjoys it. Found Songmakers via Meetup in fall 2015 & felt right at home. DeBeneville was a dream vacation & Bell Arts Hoots have been outstanding. So I’m in to stay.

 


 

Bard Chord Editor  –  Dave Gordon
Term expires 2019

As long as I can remember I have loved music. Early on I listened to radio, and eventually TV, to the music of the 40’s and early 50’s.I wanted to learn to play an instrument, but could not afford one until later in life. So, I became involved in the music that was available to me, school choir, barbershop quartet, and singing along with records and radio.

In my first year of college, I was fortunate to live across the hall from a couple of folk singers, who taught me some basic guitar chords and let me learn on their guitars. I sang in some dorm gatherings and eventually led my fraternity in songs. I even wrote a few songs along the way. I continued this a few years into my working career as an engineer in an electronics company.

Three or so years into my working career, my instrumental music went dark for the most part, largely due to available time and energy. When I retired from this in 2012, I dove back into singing and playing. Last year, I mostly worked on voice technique, while now I am working on my guitar playing.

Songmakers provides additional motivation to work on all facets of my music as well as to listen to others with very diverse talents and styles. I hope soon to return to song writing and will continue improving and expanding my heart for music. I am honored to lend my experience and energy to promoting this fine organization.

 


 

Hoot Liason  –  Sandy Lessner
Term expires 2018

Sandy Lessner is a newly semi-retired social worker and special education teacher who loves music and has played violin since the 4th grade. She played in the Beverly Hills HS orchestra and later at UCLA, where she studied with Mehli Mehta and Andre Oskay (one time first chair of the London Philharmonic). Sandy has played in the Palisades Symphony and other community orchestras.

Since joining Songmakers, her challenge has been learning to play by ear, an enjoyable work-in-progress. Sandy also sings in her synagogue choir, and has been honored to play Kol Nidre on the violin for several years at High Holiday services. She loves Songmakers campouts, and is glad to join the 2014 board to give something back to this enriching organization (and to keep a retirement promise to her husband : ).

 

 

 

 


 

Archivist/Historian  –  Barbara Greenspan
Term expires 2019

I have been a member of Songmakers for over 30 years. I have spent most of them serving on the Board in various capacities. I am currently the Historian and host of the Board meetings. Professionally, I have been a music teacher for 35 years and am currently teaching music full time at The Help Group, a non-public school for children with autism spectrum disorders. I also give private guitar and recorder lessons in my home. Since 1975 I have produced Noble House Concerts, a concert venue featuring acoustic music. I also play in a Klezmer Band called Shir Madness.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Director  –  Dana Charette
Term expires 2018

Born and raised in the Detroit area, my first involvement in the performing arts was as a competitive figure skater during the years of 1960-1966. After four years at Wayne State University I spent two years in the U.S. Army which included an all-expense-paid trip to scenic South Vietnam in 1968.
In Vietnam I flew missions as a scout observer in helicopters, where we flew ‘low and slow’ and earned the nick name “Magnet Ass.” I later transferred as a liaison sergeant into our flight operations office (actually a tent in the field).Upon returning to the States, I attended Michigan State University in the Theater Department. I helped form a political theater company called
“The Streetcorner Society.” During the summers of 1970-75 we performed in the parks of Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, and Baltimore, passing the hat to pay the rent. It is with this group that I began learning a few chords on the guitar in order to sing some of the folk songs of the era, such as “The Great Mandala,” “Blowing in the Wind,” etc.After acting in regional theater and teaching theater at Lansing Community College I moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana to be the Assistant Manager of the Fort Wayne Performing Arts Center. It was here that I met my wife Sally.In the summer of 1985 I moved to California where I began work in the Aerospace industry. From 1996-1998 I provided computer support to the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Later, I worked at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, & Television to recruit graduate and undergraduate students for the Theater Department.In 2003 I returned to work in the Aerospace Industry as a contracts administrator for a company manufacturing titanium and aluminum aircraft parts for various military and civilian aircraft.Sally and I fell into the Songmakers sphere after meeting the group at the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle contest in 1998. After our first campout with them, we were hooked and became members.I retired from the aerospace industry in 2010 and spend my time hiking, camping and playing music.I’m a member of Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

 


 

Director  –  Andy Gelecser
Term expires 2018

When I was growing up, my parents were members of a Hungarian folkloric choir and dance group. As a result, my weekends were filled with Hungarian music and people accompanied by cimbaloms, violins, accordions and lots of wine.

As a young adult I found the Claremont Folk Music Society, a group of people that got together once a month to sing and play. The people were warm and
friendly, and encouraged me to play the guitar and learn new songs. I began listening to the John Davis Saturday morning radio show, “Heartfelt Music” which helped me to appreciate folk musicians. In the mid ’80’s two friends and I started the Folk Music Coffeehouse, a concert series in a Unitarian church in Montclair, which ran for 5 years. The most significant outcome of this concert series was the wooing of a certain woman whom I had booked to open for Steve Gillette. She became my bride and is now my best friend. For many years, I volunteered for the Claremont Folk Festival serving on the board and acting as stage manager for the annual event.

Janice and I found Songmakers in 1986. The people and the music activities have enriched our lives in many ways. Today it seems as nothing has changed
from my early days of music exposure. Janice and I continue to host music parties and house concerts just as my parents hosted music events when I was growing up.

It is an honor to serve on the board of Songmakers Inc.

 


 

Director  –  Dorna Shapiro
Term expires 2018

The idea of playing a guitar and singing was the last thing on my mind until Steve Berman and Sandy Lessner moved next door to me in 2012. My degree is in painting and I specialize in portrait painting but the music became contagious and with the help of Steve Linsky I started guitar lessons in 2014.

I am very grateful to Songmakers and its nurturing people. I hope I will be able to give back a little by being on the Board.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Director  –  Doug Kerr
Term expires 2018

 

Doug Kerr would like to write about himself in the third person, but he thinks it just feels too darn weird. I think first person feels a little egocentric. And you just can’t make second person work any-which-way. What’s left? List format!

 

 

 

  • Childhood piano lessons
  • Elementary school orchestra – bass viol
  • First guitar at 15, garage band with a repertoire of 5 songs and no gigs
  • Marching band – sousaphone, bass viol in the UCLA third string student orchestra
  • Beginning guitar teacher for L.A. Recreation and Parks at Silverlake Park
  • MARRIED LINDA!!!
  • Used guitar off and on throughout teaching career
  • At age 19 promised Linda to write her a song, at age 61 actually wrote it
  • First encountered Songmakers in approximately 2001 at Leo Carrillo
  • Built our house
  • Joined Songmakers upon retirement 3 years ago
  • Hosts a monthly jam through Meetup.com
  • Accepted Songmakers Board’s invitation to join the Board before they had a chance to re-consider

 


 

Director  –  Linda Szitkar
Term expires 2018

My name is Linda Szitkar and I am not a musician. But I have always loved music. I grew up with Gregorian chants, show tunes, christmas carols, American classics, crooners, and cowboy tunes. As a teenager I loved the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and Gene Pitney. Later I became enamored of folk music and the bands of the British Invasion. My husband, Doug Kerr, introduced me to Classical music, jigs and reels, and Mexican canciones. I sang with records or with my preschool students, but not with adults. After many years of saying no, I finally started singing with my husband a few years back. We now host a monthly meetup for accoustic music at our house. After retirement, we joined Songmakers and started camping at Kenney Grove. When Doug volunteered to join the Music in the Mountains committee, I joined as well. With us, you generally get two for the price of one. I am proud to have been asked to join the board of Songmakers and to be able to give back to a group that has welcomed us with open arms.

 


 

Webmaster  –  Mary Zangerle
Term expires 2018

I am a retired computer programmer and am taking over the board position of Carl Gage, webmaster, who passed away in March. I am looking forward to being able to contribute my time to Songmakers, which I have enjoyed being a part of these last few years.

I was born in South Bend, Indiana. I studied piano throughout childhood and started playing guitar when I was 13. I met my husband Mike when we were teenagers and we both began playing guitar in the local church guitar mass. After college, we were both busy with careers and the activities of our two children so playing went on the back burner. When we moved from Ohio to Moorpark, CA in 2008 and sent our youngest off to college, we began getting interested in playing our guitars again. We began attending bluegrass jams and along the way found Songmakers. We truly enjoy being members of this group and the numerous opportunities it offers to meet fellow musicians, make many new friends and play with others who also share the love of acoustic music. We are both now retired and always have a running list of Songmaker or other music events to attend in the LA area.

Mike loves the blues and I am passionate about bluegrass. I began playing the mandolin 3 years ago and I now play regularly with the Old Country Grass Band. Mike and I also play together as a duo at open mics and songmaker events as well as the numerous hoot and songcircle opportunities that Songmakers offers each month. We are so fortunate to live not only in an area with great weather, but also an area with such a rich and supportive musical community.