The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

When I first moved to Los Angeles in the late ’80’s I saw a sign in Malibu with an intriguing, odd name.  “Will Geer’s Theatricium Botanicum”. What could this place be, I wondered?  On August 2, 10:30 am I get to find out first hand- and I hope you will join me there, because I have been doing some research on Mr. Geer and this fantastical place…INCREDIBLE!

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Like many (of my generation) I remembered Will Geer as the actor who lived and died as Grandfather on The Waltons, a TV show my family watched together regularly. He passed away while shooting the series, and his death was incorporated into the plot. It was a profound moment in our household.

He had a master’s in botany; sang with Seeger, Ives and Guthrie; acted on Broadway; organized in San Francisco; blacklisted in Hollywood.  He was a family man and a friend of Dorothy. He had a life! He spoke his mind, lived his conscience, paid the price and ultimately reaped the reward. He moved his family to Topanga Canyon, selling vegetables to make ends meet and founding a theatre where blacklisted actors and musicians could perform. That theatre has continued to grow and thrive.

Now that I have learned a little about Will, I can’t help but put together a set list for next Sunday that he might like- folk songs and stories, plenty of Woody, some Robert Frost and songs which foster a our connection to and understanding of others. Songs that, when we sing them together make the world a better place.

If you are interested in the man, the history, the lush garden, planted with every plant mentioned by Shakespeare, if you love to join in song- please join us! Sunday morning, August 2nd at 10:30 am. We will raise our spirits and our voices together in this beautiful place for one hour.

Move over, Ginger

This time around, Fred is gonna dance with me!

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Photo by Bob Koherr

Fred Sokolow, that is.  (His regular dance partner Lynn Sokolow will be chaperoning.)

Lynn, Fred and I will be doing an impromptu show this Sunday night, 7 pm at the Coffee Gallery in Alta Dena, and we will do lots of vintage songs separately as well as together, including tunes that date back to the teens, written between 1912 and 2012.

Lynn is a fantastic bass player whom I have had the pleasure of playing with a few lucky times, and Fred is the multi-instrumental genius who wrote the book on ukulele. Literally. His Fretboard Roadmaps book for uke is Daniel’s favorite bedtime reading.

I am excited to go back to the Coffee Gallery and am looking forward to a evening of ukulele good times. If your dance card isn’t full this Sunday come out! Bring your uke and you can join me on a tune or two.