Zorthian Ranch hosts gathering of LA's new folk artists Saturday
by Sean Fitz-Gerald
This Saturday, at 1 PM, the fabled Zorthian Ranch above Altadena will be transformed into an intimate, otherworldly, musical extravaganza, consisting of 30 live bands, a swimming pool, a water slide, and free coconut water.
It's all part of the New Los Angeles Folk Festival, started by Daiana Feuer and James Cartwright, an event that showcases new, folk-inspired music and culture. Now in its second year, Feuer is ecstatic to be bringing the folk festival to Altadena’s community.
“I felt like there were a lot of different music scenes in Los Angeles, but the [folk] one lacked unity and voice, so to speak," Feuer said. "I’m a music journalist, and I was telling people about all of these different folk-ish types of events, and they would tell me they didn’t really think there was much of an audience for those types of events.”
Taking matters into her own hands, Feuer sought to give the folk community a voice. The result of Feuer’s endeavors was the (first) New Los Angeles Folk Festival, which was held at the ultra-hip Historical Monument 157 last year.
“In part, I wanted to start promoting and creating events for folk music and folk-related scenes, but also to document events like these as they were going on,” said Feuer.
The festival’s ultimate vocation is to support the new folk scene in LA, to provide entertainment and communal bonding and work with charities that support just and ecologically friendly causes.
So, why Zorthian Ranch and Altadena?
“In our ongoing passage through different areas, we decided that the ranch was a great place to have it. We wanted a place that had a pool and a really rich history. We also wanted to introduce people to a place that they might not have known existed,” said Feuer.
Zorthian Ranch, established by Jirayr Zorthian in 1945, used to be a refuge for bohemian art and revelry. With the New Los Angeles Folk Festival, Zorthian Ranch will be revitalized as a place for artistic and musical appreciation.
“I’m excited for people to hear bands they don’t know. I think a lot of people are really excited about seeing Amanda Jo Williams—she’s played at a lot of our other shows,” said Feuer.
The new folk scene
With roughly 30 bands playing throughout the day, audience members will really have a smorgasbord of different musical tastes to experiment with and indulge in. A majority of the bands are from the LA area; however, Feuer is not adamant about the festival’s LA exclusivity—Cowboy and Indian, for example, will be visiting from Austin, TX, and are sure to be a hit.
“I’m also always really excited for the experimental, female songwriters, like Julia Holter, Emily Lacy, Anna Oxygen, Ana Caravelle and Ramona Gonzalez. They are inspirational and show what singer-songwriters really can be,” said Feuer.
For all those who didn’t make last year’s festival, or are not familiar with the folk hype, expect a truly unique musical experience; do not expect music that fits the standard definition of folk music—in other words, do not expect a bunch of Bob Dylan wannabes.
“We put a lot of effort into making the events we do unique, welcoming and relaxing—and maybe somewhat unusual or different, almost like you are going on a temporary vacation somewhere,” said Feuer.
With a jam-packed day of music, swimming and fun, it would behoove all concertgoers to bring practical items and leave extraneous ones at home. Feuer advised attendees to bring comfortable shoes, sun block and a bathing suit, and leave alcohol, outside food and high heels at home, as there will be a lot of uphill walking.
“There are some rules that have to be followed,” said Feuer, “because we are guests in [Zorthian’s] home. You will basically be walking on a museum, so you’re expected to be well behaved—no climbing on things or taking things apart. There is also a limited amount of tickets and parking.”
Feuer stressed the benefits of carpooling: carpools get a special gift, as long as there are three people or more in the car. There will be no parking in the residential area; at the base of the mountain there will be guides directing concertgoers to a designated lot.
Tickets are going fast, and can be purchased either online or at Poo-Bah Record Shop, 2636 East Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. Funds raised at the festival will go to I Love Mountains, a charity dedicated to the protection of mountains from destructive mining practices.
For more information on the festival’s specifics, check out their website at lafolkfest.com.
Sean Fitz-Gerald is the lifestyle editor of the Daily Trojan at the University of Southern California.