Mama Sunday's Blaine Street Records BSR 105
Albert and I toured extensively nationally in the late 70's and throughout the 80's. But our hometown crowd was always at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. More specifically, it was at Mama Sunday's Hamburger and Hotrod Haven. (Most people no longer remember the rest of the name. I credit Ron Burke for it, coined during one of his babbling, take-no-prisoners, stoner raves.)
In 1968 I had taken up the dulcimer but there were very few places to play. At the time I was the student special activities director for Western WA State College. Why not create a place at the college? Ron Burke and I began throwing ideas around. We could use one of the small rooms off of the Viking Union addition. It would be an open mike with folks signing up to play. We would hold it weekly-- no charge. Young players (like me!) could get a chance to play in front of folks and try out new tunes.
In those days this type of venue was called a coffeehouse. More often than not, coffee was actually served-- not the espresso varieties you find these days-- just coffee. All had cool names. One of the “left-over” chess-playing, poetry-reading, beatnik coffeehouses in town was named The East Orange Cafe'. The only other place was in the basement of the Campus Christian Ministry-- CCM for short.
When I finally pulled the plug on college to go on the road and follow my bliss with the dulcimer, Mama Sunday's was handed off to Flip Breskin. The 70's had just started. Folk music was a cash crop for the music industry. Kingston Trio type acts were still big, folk rock was on the upswing. All this meant that the originators and progenitors of American Folk music were being sought by informed and curious students as they began to dig down to the roots. Flip excelled at shepherding this.
She turned Mama Sunday's from a college player's house into a nationally-known cultural venue. This was at a time when there were no concert hall circuits for “first-tier” originators of American Music-- the living legends themselves. She brought in these people-- and paid them!-- folks like Elizabeth Cotton, Kilby Snow, Mance Lipsconb and Mississippi Fred McDowell. She added to her mix of old-time and American Traditional by reaching out to Child Ballad folk revivalists such as Bert Jansch, Jacqueline McShee and John Renbourn from the British group, Pentangle.
She brought in the rolling, psychedelic school bus, “hippie heavy” Hog Farm music group. She hosted the now iconic Kate Wolfe. She brought back, time and again, Force and d'Ossche'-- the hometown act that made good. Over the almost 20 years that Flip oversaw Mama Sunday's most of the major emerging folk musicians as well as many of the old guard, folk roots musicians, crossed her stage. The venue had moved across the quad into the old Viking Union student center. Upwards of a thousand people lounged around on the couches and rugs to hear, up close and personal, great roots music.
Swinging through the NW to play at Mama Sunday's in 1981, Albert and I were greeted by seeing our names on the hotel's downtown marquis. The night before we had played to two sold-out shows at the Seattle Concert Theater. We were raring to play for the hometown folks-- a beautiful set all across the dulcimer and F/d'O universe. Madness and music. Humor and good chops. Not a note out of place.
We had just released our third album, Art of Dulcimer, that day! Shipped to a local music store, we got to see it for the first time-- that night playing some of those tunes and debuting others destined to be on the Moon Fell two years later. The set was recorded by the local radio station. The next day they gave me a copy taken from off the air. I put it in a box and forgot it. Years later, after Albert passed, it turned up. One track fluttered but the other 1/16” was good. Chris Martin resurrected it. Nothing was cut out or added. It is an unadulterated Force & d'Ossche' stage show-- in our prime and at our best.