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Ryan & Brennish Thomson

Updated Feb 2, 2024

California Traditional Music Society

By Ryan Thomson

This society, organized primarily by Elaine and Clark Weissman, along with a board of directors and many volunteers, puts on a number of traditional music oriented festivals, concerts, and workshops. They are organized as a non-profit group, promoting traditional folk arts. I've twice attended their music and dance camp which takes place in a canyon, just a quarter mile from Malibu Beach, California. The camp runs for 4 days after Christmas and over New Year's Eve.The site is wooded, with a large dining hall/dance space, and cabins for participants. 


I enjoyed myself because of the slightly informal organization of the event. Besides the high quality of staff musicians and dance callers which were brought in from around the USA, all other participants were encouraged to lead their own workshops also. I ended up leading a group in some of the latest jitterbug dance steps which had struck my fancy at a previous camp I had attended. Other dance styles included: contras, squares, Balkan, and couple dancing, Music workshops included: fiddle, banjo, song, and accordion.


There was much informal music making and socializing. I learned a number of new tunes, danced a lot, and made new friends. New Year's Eve featured a gala party, with costumes, fancy dinner, and other merriment. Some attendees took day hikes through the surrounding hills, or to the beach. 


For more information visit the CTMS web site.

This article written by Ryan Thomson, 1996

postscript - Elaine and Clark Weissman have since passed away 

and are sorely missed!

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