Press-Citizen article about FFM fall session

Press-CitizenThis article by Jean Littlejohn appeared in the Press Citizen on Monday, August 10, 2015.

The Family Folk Machine starts rehearsals on August 23 for our fall session, “The Traveling Kind.” One of the purposes of our intergenerational, non-auditioned choir is to explore American culture and history through song, and this fall we will reflect on the joys of rambling around and the important place of transportation in American life. We’ll have songs for the whole ensemble like “The City of New Orleans” and “The Erie Canal,” songs for just the adults like Joni Mitchell’s “Urge for Going,” and songs for the kids alone like Jonathan Richman’s “I’m a Little Airplane.” We’ll get to know this new batch of songs, add in our harmonies, and then start adding instruments, dancing, and who knows what other shenanigans. A fun time is guaranteed for all; send an e-mail to if you’d like to join us this fall.

Before our fall rehearsal schedule begins, the Folk Machine is delighted to be participating in the first-ever Seize the Carp river festival at the Iowa River Landing in Coralville. This daylong extravaganza has been organized by Take a Kid Outdoors, and the schedule for the day includes a boat parade on the river, a bike tour with information about the history of industry along the Iowa river in Coralville and Iowa City, and workshops on fishing with lines, bows, and spears. You can wade in the wetlands along the river with a guide, learn about keeping your dog safe outdoors, and taste carp burgers! (I’m not joking.) The Family Folk Machine will sing a program of river and water songs during the lunch break at the Iowa River Landing main stage. You can bring a picnic or purchase food from vendors. Also performing will be the Skipperlings, three girls singing in harmony who got their start in the Folk Machine. For the full schedule of Seize the Carp events, please visit

This September, the Family Folk Machine and the Senior Center (our parent organization) are hosting a party to celebrate the release of a music video we have been working on for several months. The video features a song, “Brown Gold,” that celebrates the wonders of composting. The FFM recorded the song last spring with Luke Tweedy of Flatblack Studios, and Brad Mowrey is doing the video editing. We have made the video with the support of a grant from the Johnson County Community Foundation. The party will take place starting at 1:00 on Saturday, September 26, when we will meet at the Senior Center to debut the video and release it onto YouTube. Then we’ll have a parade down to Chauncey Swan park for snacks, games (pin the banana peel on the compost pile, anyone?), singing, composting demonstrations, educational displays, and other fun. If you’re not able to join us that day, you can look up the FFM Brown Gold video after that date and share it with anyone who might enjoy a lighthearted look at composting.