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