FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: May 23, 2018
Janet Dukes - FAR-West President - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanette Lundgren - FAR-West Vice-President & 2018 Conference Chair - email@example.com
Stephen Bond Garvan - Best of the West Coordinator - firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie vanWinkle - Publicist FAR-West 2018 - email@example.com,
Lellie Capwell - Publicist FAR-West 2018 - firstname.lastname@example.org
FAR-West Conference Honors “2018 Best of the West”
Performer Wendy Waldman and
Ambassador McCabe’s Guitar Shop owned by Bob Riskin
Folk Alliance Region-West (FAR-West) is proud to announce the recipients of its Best of the West Awards for 2018. This year’s honorees are trend-setting producer and singer-songwriter Wendy Waldman, and Bob Riskin, owner and chief maverick at the West Coast musical landmark McCabe’s Guitar Shop of Santa Monica, California.
FAR-West established the Best of the West (BOTW) awards in 2005 to honor individuals who have maintained an enduring presence in the folk and acoustic music scene in the West, and who continue to inspire others by embodying folk values and traditions. This year’s awards will be presented at the Best of the West luncheon on Saturday, October 13th at FAR-West’s annual conference in Woodland Hills, CA.
To receive Best of the West awards, an individual or organization must demonstrate excellence in one’s craft; an enduring presence in the geographic FAR-West folk community for at least a decade; embody or build upon folk values and traditions; and promote, nurture, foster and expand the audience and opportunities for folk music and musicians in the FAR-West geographic region.
FAR-West congratulates this year’s honorees Wendy Waldman and Bob Riskin of McCabe’s Guitar Shop.
Best of the West Performer Award:
Wendy Waldman https://wendywaldman.com/
Vocalist. Songwriter. Composer. Producer.
Wendy Waldman is being honored in 2018 in almost every aspect of Artistry possible, and deservedly so. To the above title, please add Mentor as well.
Wendy Waldman comes by her musical talent through the blood - following in the footsteps of her composer father and grandfather, and her mother, a professional violinist. To that, she has added a great deal of the proverbial sweat and tears to craft a very meaningful life of music, undoubtedly with more still to follow. Born in 1950, she was raised in the Los Angeles area and joined its trend-setting music scene in the early seventies – a time of innovative and creative folk rock that created the sound of popular music heard the next decade.
Waldman’s first recordings came out of her 1970 collaboration with the band Bryndle. Formed with fellow artists Karla Bonoff, Andrew Gold, and Kenny Edwards, Bryndle was the seed that launched successful musical careers for all four artists. As each member eventually took a solo path, Wendy signed on as the youngest member of Warner Brothers’ “Brain Trust.”
Composing on piano and acoustic guitar, she was particularly skillful at writing blues-based tunes with unexpected Gershwin-like orchestral twists. Creating songs for some of the industry’s favorite sons and daughters, she helped shape the soundtrack for a generation.
Maria Muldaur was the first notable artist to introduce Waldman’s songs to a broad national audience with Mad Mad Me and Vaudeville Man. Over the next decade Wendy also wrote or collaborated to write for Judy Collins, Kim Carnes, Randy Meisner and others.
As a recording artist herself, Waldman’s early albums, Love Has Got Me in 1973 and Gypsy Symphony in 1974, were critically favored and influenced many fellow artists. Her self-titled LP followed in 1975, and then Strange Company 1978. In 1982, Waldman released Which Way to Main Street, which featured Peter Frampton on guitar. She also found herself in the recording studio backing up Linda Ronstadt, Al Kooper, and old friends Karla and Maria.
Waldman then moved to Nashville in 1982 to extend the reach of her songwriting and quickly found further success. As part of several songwriting teams she helped pen songs for Crystal Gayle, Johnny Van Zant, Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire, Jesse Colin Young, Alison Krause, Bette Midler, and Cher, Madonna, Celine Dion, and Earth, Wind & Fire. 1991 marked a special milestone when the team-written song “Save the Best for Last” – recorded by Vanessa Williams, and considered her signature song - was nominated for Grammys as both Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
In a lighter vein, Fishing in the Dark (co-written with fellow FAR-West artist Jim Photoglo), was a #1 Country Hit for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1987, ultimately achieved Platinum Record status and has subsequently been recorded by Garth Brooks, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Emerson Drive and featured by the two different artists in different seasons of The Voice.
In 1988, Waldman opened an additional successful path as a Producer – working with the Forester Sisters, Suzy Bogguss, New Grass Revival, Artie Traum –breaking trail for other female producers.
After returning to Los Angeles, Waldman was one of a select few cornerstone artists who donated their time and talent towards the founding of FAR-West itself. She was (and still is) an enthusiastic recruiter and advocate, encouraging new artists & presenters to join their more established predecessors in helping to make Folk Alliance, both nationally and regionally here in the West, a meaningful advocate for the music. Her workshops and simply her presence at the annual conferences have always represented a generous donation of time, talent and enthusiasm for sharing the joys of a life in music.
In 2007, Waldman formed The Refugees with Cidny Bullens and Deborah Holland. The trio have released three albums featuring their rich musical chemistry and catchy harmonies and enjoyed a stint on NPR’s Mountain Stage.
For the last 15 years, Waldman’s studio has been the home of the venerated KFPK folk music show, “Folk Scene,” which was started in 1972 by Roz and Howard Larman and continues at the studio, now hosted by their son, Allen Larman. Waldman clearly believes in giving back to the source of her inspiration – in this case, the musical community which has been so generous to her.
Waldman continues to release solo albums and compilations. Her latest album is scheduled for release in late 2018.
Best of the West Ambassador Award:
Bob Riskin / McCabe’s Guitar Shop https://www1.mccabes.com/
McCabe’s is among LA’s most treasured music venues—and one of the best spots on the West Coast to catch acoustic music. It is also a music school and unofficial community center. There’s no place quite like it. If fact, it is so unique and multi-dimensionally influential that the LA Weekly established their annual awards category: “Best Guitar Shop (That’s Not McCabe’s).”
McCabe’s namesake and original owner was Gerald McCabe, a furniture designer by trade, who in the mid-1950s, hooked up with the burgeoning folk and roots music community. Because of his woodworking skills, he occasionally got drafted to repair instruments and in 1958, he opened a small repair shop near the store’s current location. He quickly branched out into retail, hiring his ethnomusicologist friend, Ed Kahn, to sell books and records, and brought in another friend, Walter Camp, to help with guitar repair.
Bob Riskin, the current owner and chief maverick at McCabe’s came on board in 1959, at the age of 16. He adopted McCabe’s as his destiny after bringing his bashed-up 1912 Martin guitar in for repair. Pretty soon, Bob was on the payroll sweeping up wood shavings and learning the art of instrument repair from Old Man McCabe himself.
Along the way, the repair staff began developing innovative tools and techniques for instrument repair. Some tools players now take for granted – like string winders – came out of McCabe’s workshop. And in 1963 when the Rooftop Singers’ hit “Walk Right In” led to a demand for 12-string guitars, Bob met the demand by converting six-string Martins with their wide nuts into pretty sounding little 12-strings.
McCabe’s flourished in the early and mid-’60s, as US sales of guitars soared. In 1964, the shop moved to 3103 Pico, having outgrown its previous quarters. That same year, Bob met Esperanza (Espie), who would become his wife and co-owner of McCabe’s Guitar Shop.
Bob became a part-owner of McCabe’s in 1969, the year of the first concert. In 1972, Bob moved McCabe’s to its current location, expanding by a factor of four to 6,000 square feet.
But McCabe’s is much, much more than a fabulous a guitar shop. McCabe’s is a mecca, a holy ground for generations of musicians. It is a favorite destination for local musicians as well as legends passing through the area. Sometimes they come to get their instruments repaired, other times to share tunes in the back room – an intimate showcase space that makes a living room gig look like a concert hall.
McCabe’s as a successful venue and school is also a place where people come to learn about the music – as audience or as students – and the community that has grown up around it now has ties all across the USA and beyond.
In 1969, McCabe hosted its first back-room concert featuring Elizabeth Cotton, who was temporarily stranded in LA and needed to raise money to get back home. The first official concert at the store was the local group Bryndle (featuring Wendy Waldman), with a young Jackson Browne as the opening act.
In the five decades that followed, thousands of artists have played at McCabe’s. Singer-songwriters Richard Thompson and Joni Mitchell have used the venue as a musical laboratory. Performers include legends Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Eric Clapton, Chet Atkins, Norman Blake, John Hammond Jr., David Lindley, and John Fahey. The stage has also hosted jazz visionaries as Sun Ra, Don Cherry, and Charlie Haden. R.E.M. performed there in 1987 at the height of its fame, and Beck and Liz Phair played there in the 1990s.
Typical of Bob Riskin’s generosity and love for the music, thousands of recordings from McCabe’s concert series have been donated to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as part of the Southern Folklife Collection for archiving, preservation and sharing with future fans and pickers.
McCabe’s status as a legendary musical destination is well deserved. Since its inception, McCabe’s has been midwife, wet-nurse, and caretaker to multiple generations of musicians. From the purchase and care of that first guitar – through learning the craft (with many players returning to teach) - to being inspired to perform – McCabe’s has played a supporting role. Along the way the friendly guitar shop on Pico Street has attracted and built a broad and loyal audience, who come to appreciate and support the music and musicians. And this is how McCabe’s created a solid community that thousands of musicians and fans call their own.
The 2018 FAR-West Music Conference will take place in Woodland Hills, CA at the Warner Center Marriott, October 11-14. For registration and more information please visit https://www.far-west.org/registration-2018.html.
Best of the West criteria and past honorees can be found at https://www.far-west.org/botw.html
Please see our Sept. 7th Press Release: The Guacamole Fund to receive well deserved recognition from FAR-West!