News, Virtual & LIVE Songcircles

    Calendar – Updated
  15:20 PT on 7/05/2022
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Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest – May 15, 2022 by Louise Dobbs

The Contest has published the main stage entertainment videos and the contestant videos from the contest.  They can be viewed here:  
Songmakers had a very successful and fun day at Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest on Sunday, May 15.
First off, let’s congratulate our members who participated as contestants!
  • Bill Dempsey took 2nd place in Intermediate Finger Style Guitar!
  • Mary Zangerle took 3rd place in Intermediate Mandolin!
Please let me know if there is any other Songmaker that I am not aware of that was part of the contest!
And now, many, many thanks to our wonderful songleaders:  David Steinhart, started us off with very able singing and Ukelele playing!;  Robert Fisher, our hot new Board member and performer; Bill Dempsey, a seasoned performer included us all in his able song sharing and leading;   Janice Gelencser, the funnest girl-woman I know,  Jim Friery added on at the 11th hour–a very competent and talented performer;  Linnea Richards, a soulful and dedicated songleader and hoot host, and last but not least: our dedicated and tireless President Steve Berman and First Lady Sandy Lessner, our super leadership power couple on hand to lead and inspire!  Sam and Percy stopped by in their great old west costumes, so did singer extraordinaire Gigi Johnson, David Naditch, and my good friend Eric Leach.
Also joining our fun with great songs and comradery was Alan and Gail Stillson, Tom Graham, Ken Krupnick, Stan Weinstock (hot solos, Stan!), Andy Gelencser, Chuck Behrman, Eliza Hale and John.  One of our newest Songmakers, Nadean Dyer, was there adding great harmonies and her warm presence. Alan, thanks for that rousing version of  “Down by the Riverside” and all the other songs! Thanks, Abram Antler for helping setting up!
Cathy Parsa and Jim were also sharing our shade and club spirit.
We handed out an estimate of 60 flyers to people who stopped by to add a song or a harmony. 
We owe many thanks to our President Steve Berman who inspired our club to be there at all! He secured the booth location with the TBFC Coordinators and coordinated all those logistics. He and Sandy did long volunteer stints at the festival, so did Linnea, (and possibly others I don’t know about!). 
And thanks to Mary Zangerle for making it possible to include David Steinhart and Jim Friery as songleaders!
A HUGE shout out and thanks to Andy and Janice Gelencser. Andy purchased the pop-ups (shaded awnings) and set them up with Janice’s able assistance! Andy always goes the extra mile to make sure everything is as good as it can be, and everyone has what they need.  He just keeps working until everything is right !!  Janice and Andy are a power couple for sure!    
A big thank you to those who helped strike down our “stage:” It is really true that “many hands make light work:”  Andy and Janice, Allen and Gail Stillson, Steve Berman, Sandy Lessner, and Linnea Richards. It took us about 35 minutes.
I apologize, in advance, for anyone I missed! Let me know!
Thanks, and be well.

Songmakers and other Virtual & LIVE Song Circles Information! Keep alert to last minute changes.

Warning!!! Covid is not gone. 6/28 email reports the R-effective for Ventura County is 1.1, which means that the spread of COVID is likely increasing. The R-effective for California is .99. Please keep up to date with event status before attending any LIVE events.



Except for those in compliance, listed in-person gatherings are officially DARK. We will continue to list LIVE events with the caution to use your own judgement.

Please note that all indoor event hosts can only allow attendees with full Covid-19 vaccination + 14 days + booster(s). Also, at indoor events, hosts currently limit the total number of attendees and the method of reservation to maximize safety. Outdoor events currently follow county guidelines. Please read in-person Songmakers event announcements carefully and use good judgment regarding your own risks.

  1. Public events will remain officially DARK since there is no way to control who attends.
  2. Songmakers members should verify their vaccination status by self-reporting their status on our website. Hosts / leaders may also use alternate means of confirming Covid safe status. (Editors Note: There is no such thing as “Covid safe”!)

Songmakers in-person indoor event attendance requires:

  • Membership in Songmakers or invited guest status approved by the host.
  • Registration on the Songmakers list of fully vaccinated members or other confirmation of status accepted by the host.
  • Reservation via Meet-up or other RSVP acceptable to the host.


Weekly Repeating Event List

Times are Pacific Time Zone except LIVE times are local.


Every Sunday 1-3:30pm: LIVE Pitts Ranch Park Song Circle, SMPOC Steve Linsky invites Songmakers, Old Time Fiddlers & friends to come jam at Pitts Ranch Park, 1400 Flynn Rd., Camarillo, 93012 (Directions Here). Led by Steve Linsky or Jack Zigray. Free admission. Bathrooms, seating, and shade available. Come bring your instruments and your voices and let’s make some music!

Every Sunday 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. 

Every Monday 12-4pm: Mudcat Worldwide Zoom Singaround, Email Joe Offer <> to get the meeting number and password sent to you by email on Sundays (changes weekly). Joe is the Music Editor, The Mudcat Cafe Folk Music Discussion Forum.

Every Wednesday 1-2pm: Bill’s Uke Beginner Ukulele Class via Zoom, Email Bill Dempsey <> to get meeting number and password sent to you by email on Tuesday. For more info: New album, Oft I Sing, currently available only as a download. Here’s a link

Every Wednesday Virtual Open Mic. 6:30 sign-in for 7pm:  Guitar Merchant Open Mic. 2 songs or 8 minutes. If there are problems with Tinyurl so go to Zoom by clicking this link: any time after 6:30 PM to sign up to perform or to watch. If performing, please read “Zoom Setup for Music Performance” below. For more information, email <>.  SMPOC: Joel Amromin.

Every Thursday 7-10pm: Virtual Chuck Behrman’s Thursday Evening Zoom <>. Join Zoom Meeting:  –  Meeting ID: 835 4939 6377  Password: 262022

Every Friday morning from 9:30-11:30am: David Steinhart’s Virtual Song Circle. Start the Day With A Song! – Join Zoom Meeting: – Meeting ID: 891 6256 9327 – Passcode if needed: 839872

Every Saturday 9:30-10:30am: Bill’s Uke Beginner Ukulele Class via Zoom, Email Bill Dempsey <> to get meeting number and password sent to you by email. For more info: New album, Oft I Sing, currently available only as a download. Here’s a link


Not Weekly Chronological Event List

Times are Pacific Time Zone


Jul 05 – 1st Tuesday 6-9pm: LIVE Thousand Oaks IHOP Song Circle. Valerie Kotas is the host – telephone #(805) 558-4792 (text best). Details of the event, including location, can only be gotten through the host. Attendance is strictly up to the judgment of attendees.

Jul 08 & 22 2nd & 4th Fridays 7pm-after midnight: San Francisco Folk Music Club – For full details and to sign up, go to

Jul 12 & 26 – 2nd & 4th Tuesday 4-6:30pm: Virtual Port Hueneme Zoom Song Circle. Marty Capsuto <> invites you to a SCAN Health Plan sponsored Song Circle. Join via: Meeting ID: 634 543 8370 – Passcode: ac9gM3 / One tap mobile +16699006833,,6345438370#,,,,,,0#,,728002# US (San Jose) Dial by your location +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) Meeting ID: 634 543 8370 Passcode: 728002

Jul 15 – 3rd Fridays 7-9pm: LIVE Rise Up Singing Santa Paula Song Circle uses the books Rise Up Singing and Rise Again, or any song to share. Covid safety to be per Songmakers policy including fully vaccinated to participate. All instruments are welcome and a piano is available. Held in the Parish Hall of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Santa Paula, 740 E Main St, Santa Paula. For more information email SMPOC Maddie Sifantus via or leave a message at 805-525-4620.

Jul 16 – 3rd Saturday Noon ’til the traffic clears: The Songs We All Know By Heart LIVE JAM with Chuck Behrman. This in-person event will be Songmakers guidelines compliant. It is a “potluck” event, and the host will provide the main dish. An RSVP is required to for address and details. The jam will be limited to 12 participants. Additional RSVPs will be added to a waiting list. Please note that this event is a JAM for songs we know by heart. No solo performances and no music stands will be permitted. This jam is being created to satisfy the desire of many Songmakers to enjoy a jam environment in which everyone is encouraged to participate in every song. Please choose songs we all know or can easily join in playing and singing. This event is for vaccinated people only.

Jul 16 – 3rd Saturday 7-10pm: Teton Tea led by Kevin Langdon <>. Join via – Meeting ID: 691 293 7135 – Passcode: berkeley – One tap mobile – +16699006833,,6912937135#,,,, *47855766# US (San Jose)



  • If you are aware of any LIVE or virtual song circle or performance that will welcome Songmaker participation (or want to host one), please provide the info to EChord <> for inclusion to our members.
  • Inputs for “Southland” also come from our members. Do you know of an upcoming musical event that may be of interest to our readers? Please provide a write-up with dates & website &/or other pertinent information, send to: <> (no photos).

Down the Road

Too many events to track individually so all should be considered unverified.  Please do not attend any other than Songmakers approved face to face events.

Aug 03-07 Lark Camp Online: A great lineup of instructors and workshops, with five full days and two sessions per evening! Register on or after Jul 01 via – more info via

Oct 13-16 Thursday-Sunday: LIVE Kenny Grove Fall Out. To make reservations up to 1 year in advance, go to, click on Camping & RV at the top, Select Kenney Grove Park and find your site. Let us know you’re coming via the Events pages on the Songmakers Camping News & Discussion Group on Facebook and/or by emailing Sally Charette at

Nov 17-20 Thursday-Sunday: LIVE Gelencsers Camping weekend at their cabin in Landers near Yucca Valley. All Songmakers are invited and reservations are required. Fully Covid vaccinated is also required. There is no water or electricity but there is a flushable toilet. Bring water for cooking, cleaning and flushing the toilet. There is a solar panel to run lights and charge phones. November temps high 70s & low 50s. There are motels about a half hour away in Yucca Valley. More information? Reserve a spot? Email: Janice Gelencser via or call 909-374-2630. Plenty of room for RVs, trailers, tents and camping vehicles on a five-acre parcel. See,+Landers,+CA+92285/@34.2765296,-116.4135435,505m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x80dad5669d5d91a5:0xf669611a2e7afa1e!8m2!3d34.2765296!4d-116.4113548

Additional event links are listed by Folknik at

A list of virtual Song Sessions:

Open mics

Ventura Freeway Corridor Acoustic House Concert Locations: http//

Paul Blakelock provides a list of upcoming music events for the Conejo Valley and surrounding areas. This one site shows the events ordered by date, with the closest ones at the top. It focuses on free events, and a few of the major paid events and festivals.

Old Time & Celtic Music Calendars. David Brown updated 01 Jun 2022 22:08:32 PDT: Posted are the latest revisions on the oldtimeSF & celticSF groups. To join these groups go to &
Also available here: – select “Monthly Calendar of Old Time Music” under the About menu AND here

Camarillo Cafe Concerts DARK until further notice.

Fireside Concerts DARK until further notice.


Songmakers 2023 Kenney Grove Camp Out Dates
Mark your calendars for the 2023 camping season!  The Songmakers Board took a long look at holidays and other major events and hope that these dates work for most of you.  Looking forward to continuing our camping tradition!  
  • Thu March 23 – Sun March 26 (Spring Break)
  • Thu April 20 – Sun April 23 (Spring Fling)
  • Thu June 1 – Sun June 4 (Summer Camp)
  • Thu October 6 – Sun October 8 (Fall Fest)
To make reservations up to 1 year in advance, go to , click on Camping & RV at the top, Select Kenney Grove Park and find your site. 
Let us know you’re coming via the Events pages on the Songmakers Camping News & Discussion  Group on Facebook and/or by emailing Sally Charette at



Songmakers President, Steve Berman, shares that there is a Paramount Ranch rebuilding fund and donations can be made via


EChord Notes:

    • No longer sending the EChord to non-members except for new prospective members. After a short courtesy send of the EChord and as we continue to open up more face-to-face events, it will be necessary to be a Songmakers member (only $10 per year per family / household) – join via Joining Songmakers is not accomplished via Meetup. The list here will remain albeit may not list all Songmakers Calendar events.
    • SPAM blockers often create a problem in that they reject / move to SPAM folders EChord emails. Currently it appears that @me @mac have decided to block EChords to their customers. The only fix suggestions are to select a new provider and possibly to add to your email address book all of these:  <>, <> (not used currently), <> (not used currently). If your membership has expired, you may no longer be on distribution.



(provided by Joel Amromin – 04/20/2021)


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.

Notes: Specific functions, labels, and locations will vary depending on what operating system and hardware you use. These instructions are based on Apple devices but should be the same or similar on other devices. The procedures get shorter for simpler devices because they have less capability. Zoom is not very good when it comes to consistent interfaces across platforms, so there are separate procedures below for various devices. Fortunately, you can now use the same procedure for smartphones and tablets. 

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 WiFi are less effective and may have audio dropouts and/or video freezes depending on signal quality. Cellular connection is the poorest. Close any other applications you don’t need during the meeting.

If Zoom asks for a password when entering a meeting, it wants your personal account password. If it asks for a passcode, it wants the passcode for the meeting.

If you don’t already have it, download and register the Zoom client for meetings from your app provider (e.g., Apple Store) or You must be on version 5.0.0 or later. You should frequently check for updates in the main Zoom menu. These instructions are based on the software as of April 20, 2021. They assume you have downloaded the Zoom client, kept it up to date, and registered for a free basic Zoom account. The client version at the time of this writing is 5.6.3 on workstations and 5.6.1 on mobile devices.

  1. Start the Zoom client. (Not necessary, but recommended, for tablets and smartphones.)
  2. Follow one of these two procedures. 
  3. For a workstation or laptop (should be about the same for Mac or Windows):
  4. Join the meeting. If asked, log on with video. Click the up arrow next to the picture of a microphone, usually at the bottom of the screen. If you’ve previously set up steps b. through h and haven’t changed your audio equipment setup, skip ahead to step i.
  5. Click Audio Settings. The Audio Setting window appears. 
  6. Turn off (uncheck) Automatically adjust microphone volume and set the Input Volume slider at around 90%. If people complain about your volume or based on a sound check conducted by the host, you may have to adjust it up or down, which you can do during the meeting.
  7. Under “Music and Professional Audio,” make sure Show in-meeting option to Turn on Original Sound from microphone and Echo cancellation are on (checked). 
  8. High-fidelity music mode uses extra bandwidth. For most of us, it should be off. 
  9. At the bottom of the window, click Advanced.
  10. Set Echo Cancellation to Auto; then click Back.
  11. Close the Settings window. The settings you have made are retained after you leave Zoom, so you only need to do it once.
  12. Back in the meeting, on versions prior to 5.6.3, 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. On 5.6.3 (Released 4/19/21) and above, the button will show the current state by saying “Original sound: off” or “Original sound: on.” Click the button to switch it.
    Note: You can turn Original Sound on permanently by clicking the little down arrow next to the Original Sound and selecting your microphone or other sound source. This device will then always be set for original sound when you enter a meeting.

For a tablet or smartphone, such as iPad or iPhone (should be the about same on other tablets or smartphones). The locations of the described items will vary between devices.

  1. If you’ve previously done steps b and c or are not using the Zoom client app, skip to step d.
  2. Click the Settings icon, which looks like a little gear; then click Meetings. The Meeting Settings window appears. 
  3. Scroll the window down until you see Use Original Sound. Turn that on (checked); then exit the Meeting Settings. This setting will remain after you leave Zoom, so you only need to do it once.
  4. Join the meeting. If asked, log on with video. Click the three dots labeled “More.” Click Enable Original Sound. You’ll need to do this for each meeting.
  5. If the host conducts a sound check, you may be asked to adjust your microphone volume or other audio settings.
  6. When performing, you should be close to the microphone to avoid dropouts and background noise.


On Zoom – Pres Sez… (updated 06/16/2022)

(Editors Note: If there is conflict in the info between this and the 4/20/2021 instructions above, Do start with the 4/20 instructions.)


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: and

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. You can put in a browser and check your download and upload speed through Ethernet vs Wi-Fi, and with different applications running. My download speed more than doubled with Ethernet and little else running.