T’was late one night in January of 2005. I lay wide awake, tired but unable to sleep. My condition worsened dramatically when suddenly the idea came upon me to round up a large group of folkies from my Bay Area song community, herd them into a recording studio, and document what we have been doing year in year out for decades, singing our hearts out in harmony with each other.

What a wonderful thought! This project just needed to be done. After all, so rich a cast of characters, each so musically and personally unique, had to be preserved for posterity’s sake. Whether or not anyone would ever listen to a CD of our music I did not know. But that was secondary. This was to be folklore for folklore’s sake, and music for community’s sake. If we could only commit a small glimpse of our community songsters to formaldehyde for those who might care, we’d have mission accomplished. I knew, of course, that the music would resonate, invite, energize and soothe. Great singers with great passion would take care of that. All I had to do was organize.

The next day I sent out emails to a few folks who I thought might be interested. The response was one of overwhelming enthusiasm. Before I knew it we had 18 eager participants, ranging from established recording artists to people who had never been in a recording studio before. That was all we could handle for one CD and I had to close the group to more participants. Regrettably, but unavoidably, there are many fine members of our song scene whose voices did not make it onto this album. Perhaps this is just Volume 1 and these folks will be able to climb on board for future volumes.

We, the 18, then held two get-togethers in which each of us presented two songs to the group. Then we were off to the studio for three gloriously fun evenings in April. During the recording sessions, we sang each song twice and moved on to the next, ever mindful that we were a song session in action, not a polished choir in concert.

The result is In Harmony’s Way, an album that approximates what you might hear if you stop by Summer Lodge some evening during Camp Harmony in Santa Cruz, or if you visit a Little Pink gathering some weekend in the East Bay, or if you happen upon Shay Black’s now legendary Sunday night session at the Starry Plough in Berkeley. This is what we do when we’re doing what we want to do. And these are the folks we want to be doing it with. Plus you.

So I hope this album jump starts anyone who feels like they want more singing in their life but who may feel shy about taking the plunge. Here are 22 songs to get you started. Come on by and sing some of them for us. We’ll join in on the chorus.

Steve Baughman
San Francisco
June 15, 2005

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