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The Everett house concert was a great success.  Our thanks go out to the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society, and the gracious hosts  who brought our music into their Everett home.   We are now looking forward to the Couth Buzzard concert this Friday in the Greenwood area of Seattle.  

The Couth Buzzard combines a coffee house with a used book store… two favorite places to hang out.  This will be an all acoustic concert.  That means we’re leaving the ten piece horn section, the drum kit, and our back up singers behind.  We will however, be joined by Jim Portillo playing bass and singing a few songs, and one of our favorite female vocalists adding harmony on a song or two. 

We will also be playing at the Cafe Noir in Silverdale, WA from 1 PM to 3 PM on December 18.  This should be good new for those of you who would rather fight the traffic through Gorst instead of Seattle. 

The big news for us is that we received our completed CD, “Heart of the Matter”.  It was delivered yesterday in seven boxes.  Neither Claire nor I have room to store these boxes, so our goal is to sell them off as quickly as possible.  The CD can be a Christmas present or a rememberance, as well as enjoyable listening.  We hope you will find a use for one – I know this is “shameless commerce,” but what can you expect from a fan of Car Talk? 

We look forward to seeing each of you in the near future, and wish you all a safe and Merry Holiday season. 

Love, Hank & Claire

NOTE:  Our new web site <WWW.HANKNCLAIRE.COM>, is up and running.  It will eventually replace or absorb this blog.  We hope you will take time to check it out for the latest Hank and Claire news.

Hey everybody! Wanted to let you know Claire and I will be performing two concerts in the next few weeks. The first is a House Concert in Everett this coming Saturday. House concerts are up close and personal, and a wonderful way to enjoy the music. The second is a coffee house concert at the Couth Buzzard in the Seattle, Greenwood area on Dec 10. Details appear in the attached flyer… hope to see you there! 

The CD project is moving forward.  Neville is doing the final QC of the audio this week, and Claire is working with Jenny and Angie on the art and layout.  It has all been an adventure, and we’ve learned lots.   We are very close and look forward to having CD’s available before Christmas.


From Hank:  We did it!  Had a great weekend in Richland, WA.  It was our first visit and performance at the Tumbleweed Folk Festival; great music on four stages, and great weather!  We also had fun jamming with friends from Portland, Seattle, and Eastern Washington.  Keep the festival in mind next Labor Day, and take in some wineries while you’re at it.

singing duo with their guitars on stage at festival

Tumbleweed fun in the sun

Singing duo with guitars on stage at festival

Windy and sunny all weekend in Richland, WA

We took I90 on the way there, and made some time for the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park by the Columbia River. It’s been at least 10 years since I stopped there last, and it only takes an hour or so to take in the displays at the visitor’s center, and walk the trails around the petrified logs.  And don’t forget to walk around the back of the visitor’s center to see the petroglyphs that were relocated there before they raised the Wanapum Reservior.  Not only was it a reminder of how quickly the landscape can change, uncovering features buried under lava for millions of years; but it was a healthy reminder that power and bridges in that area were non-existent in our parents’ lifetime; some of our parents were truly pioneers.

For the return trip we stayed on the “Blue Highways” through Yakima – picked up some crates of tomatoes and peaches – and across White Pass on the south side of Mt Ranier.  It’s a drive I always enjoy.  The mountain was weathered in this time, but I’m sure it was standing proud behind those clouds.


We had about two weeks to listen to the rough mixes of the studio recordings, and returned last week to do some final editing and adding a few tracks.  We got some great results and will probably be in the studio for one more day to complete the editing and mastering.  Yee-Haa!  If the stars are in proper alignment we could see a completed project as early as Thanksgiving.


This weekend was spent at the “Villa” in Ocean Shores, where we went to the jetty to get some photos.  We had nail-biting fun scrambling on the jetty rocks with our guitars and subjected them to more salt spray than they should ever sea, but we did get some interesting shots.  After it was over, I wiped down the Larrivee guitar and applied a good coat of polish.  But I was not apologetic – this is the beach guitar after all.

singing duo at the jetty

in search of the perfect CD cover. This was close, but not the winner.

From Claire:  Our first music festival together was a surprise in one special way – many of our now-dearly appreciated music buddies were there from Seattle, Portland, and places beyond. Ellen van der Hoeven came down from Canada to perform with her sweetie Tom Rawson, who snapped the two photos of us – thanks, Tom.  We got all fouled up on directions Saturday night to a jam at a nearby home, but tried again Sunday and had a delightful musical time from 7pm to 2am or so Monday morning.

As for the petrified ginkgo trees, well they were sooooo memorable that I totally forgot I’d walked the trail to see them with Mimi, my amazing daughter, about 10 years ago or more. Unfortunately, because of looters, the individual logs in situ are encased in metal cages that could hold King Kong at bay. Very off-putting. And the trail was up a hill in the blazing heat of an Southeastern Washington late summer roast. But I don’t think Mimi and I stopped at the visitor’s center and that’s where the really interesting specimens and information was on display. Well worth the detour even though the gift shop was all out of T-shirts my size.

And kudos to our wonderful friend and photographer Angela Wilson, for chasing us around at the jetty and on the beach, snapping everything that happened, including my taking a tumble in the soft sand as we escaped the raging surf. Notice my guitar held higher than my head, which meant digging sand out of my ear but not out of my sound-box!

singing duo running from an incoming tide.

an elemental moment

Woman tumbling onto soft sand with guitar held high.

proper protocol for falling with guitar

From Hank:

The postings have slowed down, but the music hasn’t stopped.  I closed down my Seattle digs, and moved to the peaceful city of Ocean Shores – I enjoy the quiet, but time will tell how much of it I can take.  Here are some musical moments we experienced in the past months while I’ve been setting up house here.

There was the KPLU Jazz Cruise:  That was brunch on Elliot Bay with live entertainment by Pearl Django, a 4-man group that plays Gypsy Jazz with some Texas Swing and Latin flavoring.  That’s my uneducated description.  This nationally recognized Northwest group is worth going out of the way to see – we went all the way around Elliot Bay to do so.  They’ve been interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered, which gives them all the credibility they need in my book – that and a listen to their music.

Hankster and the Lovely Claire performed at Ocean City State Park, just up the road from my home there.  The park is sponsoring a series of Saturday night concerts this summer – a plus for performers and campers alike.  This was basically busking with a PA system.  A healthy number of kids and adults were drawn in by the music from their tents and motor homes for our 90-minute show.

Yesterday we finished recording our first CD.

Photo of Claire Favro with headphones and guitar

Claire looks on patiently.

Photo of Hank Payne and microphones

Hank struggles with technology in the studio.

The recording was done at Synergy Sound in Port Townsend. Neville Pearsal was the recording engineer and was very helpful demystifying the digital recording process (www.synergysoundpt.com).  We were assisted in production by the harpist Laurie Riley, an accomplished  musician and teacher. She proved invaluable keeping us on track and providing artistic guidance.

Photo of sound engineer at recording console.

Neville Pearsall hard at work.

We pampered ourselves by staying in the downtown Bishop Victorian Hotel (constructed 1892) and enjoying the downtown eateries.  There is still quite a bit of work editing and mastering the CD, and then all the packaging preparation; we’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Now we’re getting ready for the trip to the Tumbleweed Music Festival in the tri-cities area over the Labor Day weekend, and finding other new venues to play.

From Claire:

We’re just beginning the process of creating a CD and it’s already clear why nearly every CD has a “thanks to…” section somewhere in the packaging. Ours certainly will. A big “Thank you” goes to Laurie Riley, who added her “tasty” banjo playing to a couple of Hank’s originals.

We are going to migrate this blog-style site to a more conventional website with the name hanknclaire.com. We hope to have everything you are looking for (events, mp3s, videos, etc.) a single click away at the most. More about that soon.


On the banks of the Columbia River at Howard Amon Park in Richland, WA, the Tumblweed Music Festival will hold its 13th annual event over the Labor Day weekend. Hank and I were accepted and will be performing Saturday, September 4 from 5:45-6:30pm on River Stage. This is our first folk festival gig together, and we know we’ll be in good company as lots of our Seattle folksinging pals, who count this one of the most pleasing for both audience and performers, enjoy appearing there, even with the occasional downpour. Stages are well situated for maximum acoustic effect and everyone can dip there toes in the river if it’s hot. For more about the festival, visit their website: http://www.3rfs.org.

They’re cheering or crying in living rooms and sports bars across the country; leaning forward on easy chair or bar stool, praising or cursing the flat screen icon.  That’s how March Madness is experienced by millions who may or may not have game tickets.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and some of my best friends don’t, let me clue you in…it’s the national college basketball tournament.

The anticipation and excitement of March Madness give rise to an emotional intensity we don’t usually access in our normal daily lives.  In that way, it’s a lot like LIVE MUSIC!

Claire and I experienced our own March madness in a whirlwind of  emotionally exhilirating music-making events.   In addition to performing three times as Hankster and the Lovely Claire this month, we attended five concerts and a music jam.  But it’s not over yet; this weekend we are headed to Portland for three days of music camp.  We didn’t set out to break a record for the most music crammed into a 31-day period, but we wound up setting the bar quite high for a future attempt.

Here are the highlights of our MARCH MUSIC MADNESS!

March 5th – Joe Hickerson in a house concert.  Joe was singing for audiences in the 1950’s as a member of the singing group The Folksmiths. He shared lots of personal stories weaving in well-known names from the folk revival.  From 1963 to1998, Joe was Librarian and Director of the Archive of Folk Song at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.  Now he’s back on the road keeping the songs and history of roots music alive.

March 8 – Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Many friends and co-workers don’t recognize Ladysmith, even though they do remember their singing on the 1986 Graceland album.  This a capella group from South Africa was started by Joseph Shabalala in 1960.  They came to international attention in the mid 1980’s when Paul Simon incorporated their traditional African sound in the Graceland album.  Claire said she can’t help smile and weep when she hears the richly resonant singing of these men.  Twenty-minute-long songs are accompanied by high-stepping athletic dance moves.  The founder of the group, Joseph Shabalala, is now turning leadership over to his sons but still sings, jumps, and kicks his foot over his head.  His distinctive tremolo will be much missed.

March 10 – HATLC in Bellingham.  This Roeder Home concert was more like a house concert with lots of group singing, participation, and interaction with friends old and new.  It was fun to learn that many of the songwriters whose songs we performed, had sung at the Roeder Home in past months or years.  We did bring a few original songs which added to the Roeder Home collection.

March 11 – HATLC at Hearthstone.  Singing and connecting with this retirement community on Green Lake was a blessing.  Seeing the heart-to-heart connection reflected in someone’s face as we sing to them is what this is all about.   And a retired music teacher came from the audience to say how much he liked “that a capella song with the open fourths and fifths.” We knew we had connected.

March 12th – Unpaid Bills & Cruzers at the Wayward.  Bill Murlin, Bill Rose and Jim Portillo.  When Jim plays bass they are the Unpaid Bills.  When Bill Rose plays bass they are the Cruzers… aptly named due to their preference for Santa Cruz guitars.  Great harmonies, guitar playing, and just enough banjo flavor to make it tasty. We had a very enjoyable evening in the audience, feeling the heart-to-heart connection their music inspired.  This Greenwood concert at the Wayward Coffee House is a regular third Saturday event sponsored by the Pacific NW Folklore Society.  Keep tabs on upcoming events at their website http://pnwfolklore.org/.

March 13th – Music Jam at the Couth Buzzard.  This bookstore in the Greenwood District hosts a music jam on Saturday mornings at 11 AM.  Playing is almost as much fun as seeing the smiles on shoppers’ faces when they come through the door and discover live music-making in the middle of the day.  You can support the Pacific NW Folklore Society and the Couth Buzzard by dropping in to sing, play, or listen.

March 13th – Jake Shimabukuro.  Just go to YouTube and see what Jake is up to!  From Flamenco to the Beatles you wouldn’t believe what a lone ukulele can do.  There is no describing Jake or his music that is comprehensible for those who haven’t seen and heard him.  He toured with Bela Fleck, and Jimmy Buffett.  He went to England with Bette Midler and played for the Queen!  And he’s such a nice kid…

March 20th – HATLC at Family Promise.  It was an honor to entertain at this fundraising dinner for Family Promise.  Family Promise is a relatively young organization which is addressing the needs of the homeless in West Seattle.  Learn more at www.FamilyPromiseofSeattle.org.

March 20th – Si Kahn at Phinney Ridge.  Songwriter and activist.  Wonderful songs that can change a person’s life.  And if you think struggles for social reform are finished, check out this Founder and Director of Grassroots Leadership, a non-profit organization that advocates for several causes, including prison reform, improved immigration detention policies, and violence prevention.

March 26th to 28th – Singtime Frolics.  This is a great annual event sponsored by the Portland FolkMusic Society.  Three days of food, lodging, and all the music you can stay awake for.  Song circles, jamming, and workshops.  Guest artists this year are Steve Einhorn and Kate Power, a duo I’ve only heard on YouTube, but look forward to hearing from in person.

I could go on writing about all the music missed in the month of March… that would be “MARCH MISSED MUSIC MADNESS”… but even if you read this far down the column you would probably not have the time or inclination to continue.

Just remember there are a multitude of music experiences every month in the NW.  I hope you all take the opportunity to share some of them.

PS: We’re back from Singtime in Portland, OR.  Humming snatches of songs we just HAVE to add to our own repertoire.  But more importantly, we’re filled to overflowing with gratitude and humility in the face of so many (90+) creative, funny, joyful people making music and connecting in friendship together.  Everyone from rank beginner (not a value judgment!) to high-caliber professionals sharing gems we’ve discovered and learning from each other. Guest musicians were Kate Power and Steve Einhorn (www.qaulityfolk.com) — who proved yet again that the core of folk music is as much about being lovingly and fully engaged with our own lives and with each other as it is about excellence in our craft.

The Roeder Home is a beautifully appointed old mansion in Bellingham, WA, the site of many a marvelous live acoustic concert in its present incarnation as a public space for rent. The dedication of local musicians and music-lovers are keeping the live concert tradition alive.

We especially enjoyed the “Green Room” –one of the cozy bedrooms upstairs complete with private bath. Very elegant to drift down the wide staircase and appear at the appointed hour to sing and play in front of the massive fireplace in the main drawing room. We debuted a couple of new pieces, or new to us anyway — Libby Roderick’s “Dig Down Deep” and Si Kahn’s “Gone, Gonna Rise Again” — both performed a cappella.  A modest-sized, but enthusiastic audience graced us with their presence and their pleasure.  Several were regular attenders and a few were there for the first time. We hope they enjoyed it enough to continue supporting live acoustic music in Bellingham.

Bellingham Concert

Hank and I will be at the Roeder Home in Bellingham Wednesday, March 10 at 7:30 for a 2-hour gig.  Hosted by the Whatcom County Homemade Music Society. Address: 2600 Sunset Drive, Bellingham, WA and phone number for information: 360-734-7872. It will be great fun to see our northern-ish music buddies again — Bellingham has a thriving folk music community and many Bellingham musicians attended the New Year’s Retreat we’re still savoring. 

Hosting House Concerts

Think of a house concert as a rare gift for everyone involved.  The musicians have an audience without booking venues or dealing with agents, the host enjoys their choice of performers right in their own home, and invited guests experience a musical treat.  This is all in the tradition of live music for small groups of appreciative listeners, a type of community music making that stretches back to the beginnings of human culture.  Your house may glow with delight for days afterward.

Hosting a house concert can be as simple or complex as you wish. Performers like Hank and me–and of course we’re up for doing house concerts pretty much any time–don’t need much space in your living room (or on your deck or back yard if it’s nice weather).  A space of about 5 feet deep by about 8 feet wide would suffice. Figure a little more if it’s outside and we need to set up our sound system but that doesn’t add much to what we need. If you are intending to host only one or two of these and you have people in mind for your invitation list, here are the basics:

  1. Schedule date/time with performers and estimate number of audience members you can accommodate.
  2. Include a “space limited” note in your invitation…get reservations by email or phone if you like.
  3. Arrange decent lighting for the performers, whether it creates a spotlight effect or not.
  4. Put signage on bathroom door open to your guests.
  5. Have beverages for the break–water at least. Snacks or finger foods are optional – maybe ask friends to bring some.
  6. Set up table for taking donations and selling performers’ CDs, etc. Position this close to the entry to encourage financial support for the performers. They’ve worked hard to learn all those words!
  7. Have a great time!
  8. PS…hosts usually get a free CD for their efforts. What a great way to build a music collection!


  • Suggested donations are usually $10-15 for the performers. This is a private party so there is no admission fee, but folksingers have to eat, too!
  • To be fair to the performers, it’s a good idea to be able to comfortably seat at least 15 people . The upper limit would depend on your space and whether a sound system is involved.
  • Parking needs to be considered – keep your neighbors happy.
  • Schedule the performance so that all is quiet again by 10-ish. Although the actual music will most likely not be heard beyond your house, the coming and going of  appreciative listeners can be joyfully noisy.

If you are in the mood to hold multiple house concerts as a dedicated patron of live music, here are a couple of things to consider:

  • You will run out of your personal friend list eventually and need to do some publicity.  Friends we know in Seattle who host many house concerts post their concert information (minus their actual address) at Dusty Strings, Seattle’s premier folk music shop.  If you’re not in Seattle, then find a similarly likely location for potential audience members.   Include the performers’ contact information as well as your own and indicate the general location of your home.
  • Ensure that people coming late do not need to tromp through the performance area.
  • If possible, prepare the beverages and snacks someplace where the noise will not “leak” into the concert area.
  • Develop great rapport with your neighbors.

Our concert January 17 was very well attended – standing room only in a space intended for about 80 people. We had to pare our playlist down to fit the hour slot but made sure to include a few pretty duets, some a cappella mountain-style songs, a couple of cowboy tunes, and Hank’s song about healthcare reform, which we had deeply hoped would be irrelevant by now, but apparently we all need to sing LOUDER!

guitar singing duo

Claire and Hank in Everett January 17, 2010

 Hank gave me a wonderful CD for Valentine’s Day of a new project that singer/songwriter Linda Allen has just produced, called “Here’s to the Women.” It’s a tribute to the courage and persistence of the women involved in the suffrage movement with a focus on the people and events here in Washington State. You can get more information about this fascinating project and the songs themselves on Linda’s website, www.Lindasongs.com.

From Hank:  I had the opportunity to see Linda Allen at a house concert on February 7 in Everett.  Bob Nelson opened the concert with some commentary and ballads.  Bob has a wonderful bag of songs from years of collecting and it’s always interesting to see what he will pull out.  I particularly liked the the Mary Garvey song Steamboat Slough (“…build a boat, find a crew, and bring those salmon home…”), which is representative of her songwriting about charming, yet determined folks, whose livelihoods depend on fisheries, the economy, or other less than predictable factors.   

Linda Allen presented her songs in an oral history format. Did you know women’s voting rights in Washington State preceded the 19th ammendment by a decade?  You can learn about this and more by attending one of Linda’s upcoming “Here’s to the Women” programs, which occur throughout the State between now and April.  You will also have the priviledge of hearing Linda’s heartfelt singing up close and personal in intimate venues including public libraries and colleges auditoriums.  Check Linda’s web site for details on dates and locations. 

Our next post will be a how-to on hosting house concerts and a reminder of our own upcoming musical events.