FAR-West – A History

FAR-West – A History
By Russ Paris 
(updated May 2019 by Mark Kaufman) 
(updated December 2021 by Jeanette Lundgren) 

Prior to the founding of Folk Alliance Region – West, the states that are now part of FAR-West (California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Hawaii, and Alaska) were part of the Southwest region of Folk Alliance. SWERFA always meets in Texas, so the annual meetings were very far away geographically from the Pacific Coast states. It made a great deal of sense to split off the far western states into a separate region.

FAR-West was founded by a group of people who primarily lived in the greater Los Angeles area. We met on a monthly basis for about a year to address the issues, set some basic goals, write and approve bylaws, and do all the ground work to get FARWest up and running.

The “idea” of FAR-West sprang into Bruce Kaplan’s head at the January 19, 2002 Living Tradition concert, when Bruce and Claudia Russell opened for Harvey Reid. Phyllis Barney, who was then executive director of Folk Alliance discussed the idea in an email to Bruce & Claudia, Howard & Roz Larman, Elaine Weissman and Steve Dulson, where she thanked Bruce for suggesting a meeting about this and mentioned that she and Elaine had also been discussing the idea.

The earliest actual meeting minutes in the FAR-West archives are from a Founding Committee meeting on May 18, 2002. 19 people attended that first meeting. Between May of 2002 and April of 2003, there were at least nine Founding Committee meetings, most of which were held at the California Traditional Music Society (CTMS) headquarters in Encino, CA. The July 27, 2002 meeting was held at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel, where we ended up hosting our first annual conference. We actually have some photos from that meeting in the FAR-West archives.

From going through the minutes of those meetings, the people who attended the Founding Committee meetings most regularly were:
Clark & Elaine Weissman (CTMS and FAI)
Bruce Kaplan & Claudia Russell (musicians)
Howard & Roz Larman (FolkScene)
Russ & Julie Paris (Russ & Julie’s House Concerts)
Steve & Michele Dulson (The Living Tradition)
Steve & Leda Shapiro (FolkWorks)
Nick Smith (Caltech Folk Music Society)
Mary Katherine Aldin (Alive & Picking)

There were also a couple of others including Amy Weyland (Santa Monica Folk Song Club) and Chris Warber (CTMS) who attended many of the early meetings. Phyllis Barney, executive director of FAI also attended at least a meeting or two, including the first one. Cathy Radcliffe drove up from San Diego at least a couple of times. Others who attended at least one meeting included Renee Bodie, Cree Clover, Caroline Aiken, Wendy Waldman, Mandi Martin, Connie Allen and Kathy Qualey. Clark Weissman and Russ Paris wrote the original bylaws, based on the bylaws of Folk Alliance International, which was then called the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance. (Clark & Elaine Weissman were the founders of both Folk Alliance International and the California Traditional Music Society.)

Because we needed officers approved before we could qualify for 501(c)(3) status, we elected a temporary Board: Bruce Kaplan was the “President” of the Founding Committee and ran our meetings. Steve Dulson was VP, Clark Weissman was Treasurer, and Amy Weyland was Secretary.

Steve Dulson came up with the FAR-West acronym. FAR-West stands for “Folk Alliance Region – West,” which is why the “FAR” is in all caps. Cathy Radcliffe designed our original logo.

After a good year of work, FAR-West had its official start with a meeting (and showcase concert) on April 5, 2003 at The Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena, CA. This was the date that our bylaws were ratified and our first official Board of Directors was elected. This was followed up by an Informational Meeting (and showcase concert) at The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, CA on October 4, 2003.

The April 5, 2003 meeting at the Coffee Gallery Backstage was attended by about 35 people, though I’ve been unable to track down the minutes from the meeting to get an exact figure. This meeting did add a number of new faces to the mix including Bob Stane, Paul Tumolo, Bruce Hayden, Susan Mumma, Eric Lowen, Susie Glaze, Kelly McCune, Kim Acuna, Doug Tucker, Juliet Wyers, and Susanne Millsaps. At this meeting Bruce Kaplan was elected President, Steve Dulson was elected Vice President, and Connie Allen became Treasurer, taking over from Clark Weissman. Juliet Wyers was our first secretary. According to Steve, it was at the February 2004 FAI conference that Bruce and Steve switched jobs, Steve Dulson becoming president — a job he would hold for seven years.

After the April 5, 2003 meeting at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, there was a concert with performances by: Caren Armstrong, Border Radio, Chuck McCabe, Christina Ortega, Claudia Russell, Rick Shea & Brantly Kearns, Ian Whitcomb and Joyce Woodson.

One of the initial concerns of the founders was that we wanted FAR-West to be truly a REGIONAL chapter of Folk Alliance… and we wanted to be sure that it wasn’t viewed strictly as a Los Angeles based organization. (This after our experience with SWRFA being centered in Kerrville, TX.) Thus, we looked for Board Members outside the Southern California region and found them in quality people like Susan Mumma in Alaska and Susanne Millsaps in Utah (among others). We also decided that our regional conference should move around the whole region, so that everyone would be included.

There was a timing issue in getting FAR-West up and running, because we wanted to take advantage of the fact that the Folk Alliance annual conference was in San Diego in February 2004. Initial hopes to host a conference prior to the San Diego event were cancelled because we felt that we couldn’t organize fast enough and that we would be  in competition with Folk Alliance. So the decision was made to use the San Diego Folk Alliance conference as a springboard to the first FAR-West conference.

After a couple of false starts and date changes, the first FAR-West conference was held October 29-31, 2004 at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, CA — in the Los Angeles area. The location was picked because the majority of the core group of people who started FAR-West were in the Southern California area, so it was easier for us to do our first conference in L.A. After the first conference, it was determined that we should further “consolidate and grow our base” by having the second conference in the same location. Our second conference was held October 28-30, 2005 again in Woodland Hills.

After the second conference, there was considerable debate among the FAR-West Board of Directors about where to have the third conference. Only 125-150 people attended our first conference. Less than 200 people attended our second conference. Some people suggested that we were not yet ready to start moving around the region yet — that we were still too new at this and that we were not yet ready to reach out more directly to other parts of our region. It was also felt that we had barely tapped L.A.’s large music scene. Other’s felt that it was important that FAR-West start moving around the region as soon as possible so that we didn’t develop a reputation of being strictly a Los Angeles based organization.

A rough plan was agreed to by the Board that we would move the conferences around the region starting with our 2006 conference, but that we would try to get back to the Southern California area about once every third or fourth year. The intended rotation was (1) Southern California, (2) Northern California, (3) Pacific Northwest (WA or OR), and (4) other, maybe half the time.

In addition to our annual conferences, we have also had smaller one-day events in various locations — particularly in areas where we hoped to host a future conference — as an effort to increase the visibility of FAR-West.

Our third annual conference was held November 17-19, 2006 at the Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova in Sacramento, CA. And our fourth annual conference was held November 2-4, 2007 at the Hilton Vancouver Washington near Portland, Oregon. Attendance at those conferences was roughly 400 in 2006 and 450 in 2007. Both were great successes.

The 2008 FAR-West conference was held at the Phoenix Marriott Mesa Hotel & Convention Center in Mesa, AZ. 311 people attended. The 2009 conference was at the Hyatt Regency Irvine in Irvine, CA – attendance: 406. The 2010 conference was at the Santa Clara Convention Center and Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, CA – attendance: 339. The 2011 conference was at the Hilton Eugene & Conference Center and the John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts in Eugene, OR – attendance: 319. The 2012 conference was at again at the Hyatt in Irvine, CA. Attendance in 2012 was 294.

Prior to the 2012 conference, it was decided that FAR-West could save money by negotiating 2-year contracts with our hosting hotels. In addition, we could further develop a base of volunteers and attendees by staying in one area for a second year. Therefore the 2012 and 2013 conferences were both at the Hyatt in Irvine, CA while the 2014 and 2015 conferences are at the Oakland Marriott City Center in Oakland, CA. The 2016 and 2017 conferences were held at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, WA. The 2018 and 2019 conferences will be held at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, CA, and the 2020 and 2021 conferences will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose, CA.

One other thing that was very important to the Founding Committee was that FAR-West be as all-inclusive, supportive, and accepting as possible. We agreed that the term “folk” should be as broad and diverse as possible.

The President’s position has been held by Steve Dulson, Steve Brogden, Mark Kaufman, Janet Dukes, and currently Carey Appel. The Treasurer’s position moved from Connie Allen to Susan Mumma to Julie Paris to Ronnie Weinberger and now to Marlynn Block. Steve Dulson was the conference coordinator for the First Annual FAR-West Conference and handled that position four different times (2004, 2005, 2006 & 2009). Others who have handled this important role have included Mary Katherine Aldin (2005), Renee Bodie (2007 & 2008), Bev Barnett (2010), Chico Schwall & Dick Weissman (2011), Steve Brogden (2012), Julie Paris (2012 & 2013), Jeanette Lundgren & John Croizat (2014 & 2015), Jeanette Lundgren & Mark Kaufman (2016) and Jeanette Lundgren & Janet Dukes (2017). Jeanette Lundgren was conference coordinator in 2018 and 2019. The 2021 virtual conference is coordinated by Julie Zipperer with Tribal Mischief as Producer.

When our board member Susanne Millsaps passed away in October 2006, the Board created the Susanne Millsaps Memorial Coffee House room, which has been a fixture of our conferences ever since. This is an in-the-round showcase that has given our conference attendees a great networking and showcase opportunity.

After founding committee member Howard Larman passed away April 21, 2007, an anonymous sponsor started the Howard Larman Scholarship Fund to help financially challenged artists attend the FAR-West conferences. Since that time, several dozen musicians have been helped to attend a conference thanks to this fund. We have had a couple of benefit concert fundraisers for this scholarship fund over the years. On the passing of his wife, Roz, the fund was renamed the Roz & Howard Larman Scholarship Fund.

When Janet Dukes passed away in July of 2021, FAR-West established the Janet Dukes Memorial Fund. Donations made to this Fund, now and going forward, will be especially focused on programming and tools that enhance the year-round FAR-West mission. Specifically the part of our mission to assist our members with their careers and their collective cultural contributions to the communities where they live and serve.

The FAR-West Folk Musicians Relief Fund was established in 2017 with a generous donation from the Sylvia and David Weisz Foundation, at the request of Carey Appel and Tracy Albert. After attending their first Folk Alliance conference in 2011, Carey and Tracy began to witness the change in the music industry. Many artists who previously enjoyed full careers had found themselves struggling to make ends meet in a new music economy.

The “Best of the West” award was created shortly after our first conference when the Board decided to honor people who have made a significant contribution to the folk arts in the western states. Russ Paris was the one who framed and proposed the idea. The first annual “Best of the West” award was presented at the second annual FAR-West conference and has become a highlight of our conferences.

In 2014, FAR-West began hosting a Storytelling Expo stage.  The first two Storytelling events were coordinated by Cathryn Fairlee in Oakland, CA.  In 2016, Mary Anne Moorman “AuntMama” took over the Expo and renamed it “Open Words“.

FAR-West looks forward to our second decade of serving the folk and acoustic music community on the west coast of North America.

FAR-West is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation incorporated in the state of California.
The following pages have three (3) appendix lists
1. An alphabetical listing of all the people who have served on the FAR-West
Board of Directors along with the years in which they served.
2. A chronological listing of all of the FAR-West Annual Conference Coordinators
and the locations of each conference.
3. A chronological listing of all of the FAR-West “Best of the West” Award

​​Alphabetical list of past and present FAR-West Board of Directors members along with the years in which they served. Pres = President; VP = Vice President; Treas = Treasurer; Sec = Secretary
Kim Acuna ’04,
Connie Allen ’03 Treas, ’04 Treas
Carey Appel ’15, ’16, ’17, ’18 Sec, ’19 VP, ’20 Pres, ’21 Pres,
Bev Barnett ’07, ’08, ’09 VP, ’10
Tom Begich ’08
Bob Bennett ’05
Marlynn Block ’20 Co-Treas, ’21 Treasurer, ’22 Treasurer
Renee Bodie ’05, ’06 VP, ’07 VP, ’08 VP
Cindy Bottomley ’11, ’12 Sec, ’13 Sec
Steve Brogden ’09, ’10 VP, ’11 Pres, ’12 Pres, ’13 Pres, ’14 Pres, ’15, ’16, ‘17
Rhonda Cadle ’11
Gaby Castro ’20, ’21, ’22
Lisa Cowden ’08, ’09, ’10
Nancy K Dillon ‘19, ’20, ’21,
Steve Dulson ’03 VP, ’04 Pres, ’05 Pres, ’06 Pres, ’07 Pres, ’08 Pres, ’09 Pres, ’10 Pres, ’11 VP, ’12 VP, ’13 VP, ’14, ‘19, ’20, ’21,
Janet Dukes ’13, ’14 Sec, ’15 Sec, ’16 Sec, ’17 Sec, ’18 Pres, ’19 Pres, ’20, ’21,
Stephen Bond Garvan ’17, ’18, 19, ’20, ’21, ’22
Susie Glaze ’10, ’11, ’12, ’18, ’19 Sec, ’20 VP, ’21 VP, ’22 Pres
Vicki Green ’16, ’17, ’18, ‘19
Bruce Hayden ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13
Michael Howard ’17, ’18, ’19,
Bruce Kaplan ’03 Pres, ’04 VP, ’05 VP, ’06, ’07
Mark Kaufman ’12, ’13, ’14 VP, ’15 Pres, ’16 Pres, ’17 Pres
Peter Krantz ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17, ’18, 19, ’20, ’21,
Pamela Lindell ’13
Eric Lowen ’04, ’05, ’06, 07, ’08
Jeanette Lundgren ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15 VP, ’16 VP, ’17 VP, ’18 VP, ‘19, ’20 Sec, ’21 Sec (end 1/1/2022).
Steven McClintock ’09, ’10
Carolyn Mill ‘15
Susanne Millsaps ’04, ’05, ’06
Mary Anne Moorman ’17, ’18, ‘19, ’20, ’21, ’22
Susan Mumma ’05 Treas, ’06 Treas, ’07 Treas, ’08, ’09
Rick Nagle ’09
Julie Paris ’08 Treas, ’09 Treas, ’10 Treas, ’11 Treas, ’12 Treas, ’13 Treas, ’14 Treas
Russ Paris ’05 Sec, ’06 Sec, ’07 Sec
Marni Rachmiel ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17, ’18, ‘19, ’20
Cathy Radcliffe ’04
Arielle Silver ’21, 1/1/2022 InterimSec, ’22 Sec
Nick Smith ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08 Sec, ’09 Sec, ’10 Sec
James Lee Stanley ‘15
Karen Sullivan ’21, ‘ss
Reese Tanimura ’20, ’21, ’22
Joel Tepp ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17, ’18, ‘19, ’20, ’21, ’22
Doug Tucker ’04
Paul Tumolo ’04, ’05
Wendy Waldman ’06, ’07, ’08
Wes Weddell ’15, ’16, ’17
Bill Wence ’20, ’21,
Ronnie Weinberger ’15 Treas, ’16 Treas, ’17 Treas, ’18 Treas, ’19 Treas, ’20 Co-Treas, ’21 Treas Consultant (non-board)
Juliet Wyers ’03 Sec, ’04 Sec
John Roy Zat ’13, ’14, ‘15
Julie Zipperer Dec ’19, ’20, ’21,  

FAR-West Conference Coordinators and Locations:
2004 – Steve Dulson (Woodland Hills, CA)
2005 – Steve Dulson & Mary Katherine Aldin (Woodland Hills, CA)
2006 – Steve Dulson (Sacramento, CA)
2007 – Renee Bodie (Portland, OR / Vancouver, WA)
2008 – Renee Bodie (Phoenix, AZ)
2009 – Steve Dulson (Irvine, CA)
2010 – Bev Barnett (Santa Clara, CA)
2011 – Chico Schwall & Dick Weissman (Eugene, OR)
2012 – Julie Paris & Steve Brogden (Irvine, CA)
2013 – Julie Paris (Irvine, CA)
2014 – Jeanette Lundgren & John Croizat (Oakland, CA)
2015 – Jeanette Lundgren & John Croizat (Oakland, CA)
2016 – Jeanette Lundgren & Mark Kaufman (Bellevue, WA)
2017 – Jeanette Lundgren & Janet Dukes (Bellevue, WA)
2018 – Jeanette Lundgren (Woodland Hills, CA)
2019 – Jeanette Lundgren (Woodland Hills, CA)
2020 – Virtual AGM
2021 – Julie Zipperer with Tribal Mischief, Virtual Conference

FAR-West “Best of the West” Award Winners:
Lowen & Navarro
Howard & Roz Larman – Folkscene

U. Utah Phillips
Steve Baker – Freight & Salvage

Rosalie Sorrels
Clark & Elaine Weissman – California Traditional Music Society and Folk Alliance International Founders

The Kingston Trio
Mike McCormick – Whistling Swan Productions

Joe Craven
Bob Stane – Ice House / Coffee Gallery Backstage
Faith Petric (Lifetime Achievement Award)

John McEuen
Cloud Moss – Kate Wolf Memorial Festival

Laurie Lewis
Phil and Vivian Williams

Barry McGuire
Chris Strachwitz – Arhoolie Records

Chris Hillman
Ed Pearl – The Ash Grove Foundation

Barbara Dane
Cassandra Flipper – Bread & Roses

Cris Williamson
Russ & Julie Paris
Penny Nichols (Lifetime Achievement Award)

Danny O’Keefe
Peter McCracken & the Centrum Foundation
Seattle Folklore Society (Organizational Achievement Award)

Alice Stuart
Peter Langston & Janet Peterson (Puget Sound Guitar Workshop)
Sisters Folk Festival (Organizational Achievement Award)

Wendy Waldman
Bob & Espie Riskin (McCabes)
The Guacamole Fund (Lifetime Achievement in Community Service Award)

Kate MacLeod
Art Podell

Nina Gerber
Mickie Zekley/The Lark Camp
Dan Navarro (Humanitarian Award)

Here is a complete list of Official Showcase , Venues Choice, and Open Words performers from 2003 till the present:

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