A "My Guitars" banner A "And Some Santa Cruz Music Links" banner

I've been intending for a while to do some pages about my guitars and my experience of guitar as a female tradition -- you can read about the latter further down this page, and here are the other guitar pages I've gotten to so far:

And these are my other guitars, which will hopefully soon be getting their own pages:

  • Do you know about GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome, though in some forums it means Geek Answer Syndrome instead :-))? Here's an example: a while back I gave an old cheap guitar to a neighbor, and the resulting vacuum somehow sucked into my clutches the Liberty "shooting stars" resonator guitar I had been admiring ... well fancy that ...
  • My old Martin Sigma GCS-6 acoustic looks like the guitar at the top of this page (and you can see it hanging on the wall in the picture at the top of my Fender Venus page). It hasn't been getting a lot of attention since I got the Liberty, but when I was in the "Rosewood: Night of 100 Guitars" concert (fun!) a while back I took the Sigma, because, unlike some of my other guitars, it is (1) acoustic, (2) obviously a guitar, (3) obviously made of wood, and (4) has a rosewood fretboard.
  • What with Santa Cruz being a center of serious ukulele mania (to quote virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, "playing the ukulele is like an entire yoga session in one strum"), now I just (January 2011) got a Kala Archtop Jazz Tenor ukulele icon (though in mahogany rather than sunburst, and I bought it used on ).
  • I also got a Turkish Saz as a present a while back.

My experience of guitar as a female tradition

"My first guitar teacher was a woman. That just seemed the normal thing to do -- eat, sleep, and play music. I'd run home from school every day and play my guitar. That wasn't unusual in my mind." - Muriel Anderson

I was born in 1961, and by the late '60's was inhabiting two mutually-exclusive worlds of guitars and music.

One of these was the television world of Saturday-morning cartoons (and some live-action shows like the Monkees). Being as it was, yes, the late '60's, a large percentage of cartoon characters were in bands, and even the ones that weren't would sometimes find themselves performing some kind of pop/rock song to add youth appeal or fill time. In this world guitars might be played by (in addition to ordinary humans) cartoon animals, monsters, or people in fursuits, but the one thing that they did have in common was that the guitarists were always male. However, as television was just like that, full of shows where the main character was always male and women were only there to admire them or be rescued, this was not something to be taken seriously.

Then there was the real world, where in my single-digit-age experience guitars were played exclusively by women, for example grade-school teachers, girl-scout-camp counselors, and young girls -- I remember a sleepover at a friend's apartment (where have you gone, Julie Sackett?) where we all took turns strumming her guitar strings while she fingered the chords to songs like "Today" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane".

My first guitar was a garage-sale Yamaha acoustic I had received for either my tenth birthday or for Christmas a couple weeks earlier. (Unfortunately I no longer have it, many years back having loaned it to a coworker who I then lost touch with.) As I shall elaborate more upon here later, in my experience having and playing a guitar was one of those ordinary things girls did in that time and place, like being in Girl Scouts.

At the time PBS started rerunning episodes of a beginning-guitar program -- each week the female host demonstrated a new chord and one or more simple folk songs featuring it to play along with. I learned all the easy open major, minor, and seventh chords this way, and also from a Mel Bay book of chords which I still have, but was very resistant to playing any barre chords.

I noticed that my mother's books of popular songs for piano also had guitar chords, so I enjoyed playing and singing some of those songs as well. I had a feel for the way the circle of fifths worked without knowing what it was, so it was easy for me to transpose songs into ranges that worked better for my voice, and for that matter with so many folk and rock songs not using much more than the I-IV-V chord progression anyway, it was also easy to play an awful lot of songs by ear.

I was too bullied and too shy in junior high and high school to ever perform as yet another girl-with-guitar act at school talent shows, but would sometimes get together with friends to all strum and sing along together -- I remember one time at Anne's house where she and I and Karen and Marla were all playing and singing songs like "Lola" and "Killing Me Softly" together.

* * * to be continued * * *

Some links I've planned to include in one place or another

The She Zone Guitar Notes Discussion Forum -- the kind of wonderful women's guitar salon that I'd been looking for for years! Moderated by fabulous fingerstyle guitarist Cathy Horner.

Guts & Glitter - The Digital Magazine for Girl Rockers! is a collaboration between Daisy Rock Girl Guitars and Guitar Player Magazine -- "This first issue is a tribute to 20 extraordinary female guitarists, from veterans such as Lisa Loeb, Vicki Peterson, and Ani DiFranco to newly discovered talent such as Orianthi, Arielle, and Kaki King. You'll get a first-hand glimpse at how these incredible women are pioneers in the Girl Guitar Revolution and how they are making their voices heard in the music industry and all over the world."

ROCKRGRL, the magazine for women musicians, featuring "no beauty tips or guilt trips", is sadly no longer being published, but still worth reading about.

Indiegrrl started in May of 1998 as a mailing-list "forum for information, networking and conversation about independent music from a female perspective" and has grown to put on events, concerts, tours, contests, compilation CDs, and even start its own indie record label. The mailing list is amazing -- female indie musicians of all genres and levels of experience discussing every concern of working musicians in a very high-volume (no pun intended :-)) list.

Peggy Seeger's writeup about her A Feminist View Of Anglo-American Traditional Songs workshop

Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls and its wonderful companion book Rock 'n Roll Camp for Girls: How to Start a Band, Write Songs, Record an Album, and Rock Out!.

Del Rey's Women with Guitar photographic, text, and video exhibit of some popular and influential women guitarists from 1900-1950.

Patty Larkin's La Guitara project is a tour, CD, and writings showcasing "the contribution of women to the history of modern guitar". You can also see Acoustic Guitar Magazine's interview with La Guitara participants Larkin, Kaki King, Muriel Anderson, and Mimi Fox.

Wikipedia's Female guitarists category (you need to click the subcategories to see most of the links).

Daisy Rock Guitars, "the Girl Guitar Company - Doing whatever it takes to help girls play guitar and enjoy music!".

More coming soon ...


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Last updated January 4, 2015
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As a resident of Santa Cruz, California, what I'm interested in here are links that can help as­piring (or perspiring :-)) guitarists find ways to participate in our local music scenes/communities. If you know of any other links that you think would be useful for in that vein, please email me.


Here's a calendar of some local jam sessions and open mics that welcome guitarists. You can also read about them in the sections (Celtic, jazz, etc.) below.


Celtic Slow Sessions
If you have any interest in learning/playing Celtic music you should definitely check out the Santa Cruz Celtic Slow Sessions on the first and third Sundays of each month -- see the mailing list page, the Facebook group, or the Google+ page for complete information.

Poet and Patriot Irish jam
The Poet and Patriot pub has a jam session every Sunday from 3-6. When I went there it was really amazing -- many professional-quality musicians and singers but totally friendly and open to newcomers as well. (As it's in a pub, it's for ages 21 and up only).

Celtic Music Nights
David Brewer hosts free and fantastic Celtic Music Nights concerts/jam sessions at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church of Aptos when he's in the area -- see David's Celtic Music Night blog to keep posted.

2nd-Friday Aptos sessions
Deby Benton Grosjean hosts a two-hour session on the second Friday of every month, 7-9pm at Calvary Chapel of Aptos. For details send email to Deby.fiddler@gmail.com and ask to be added to her email roster.

Want faster Celtic sessions?
For the people who find the slow sessions too slow, sessions for "experienced Irish style musicians" are now being held at multiple locations in Santa Cruz, including a private home, the Parish Publick House, and Rosie McCann's -- for details, check the Santa Cruz Area Traditional Irish Seisiun Facebook page.

English Country Dances band
The Santa Cruz English Country Dance group features an open band -- all musicians welcome -- playing Celtic and other tunes for the dancers every 2nd Thursday of the month (their 4th-Thursday dances use recorded music).

Community Music School
Check out Community Music School of Santa Cruz's (mostly folk/Celtic-oriented) Concerts & Events and Classes & Activities pages.

King Street Sessions Tunebook
The King Street Sessions Tunebook isn't a session, but rather a free downloadable book of 1006 tunes (including guitar chords) commonly played at Celtic sessions, and invaluable to anyone wanting to learn to play Celtic music -- many thanks to Michael Long for putting the book together and now putting it online as well!

Bluegrass and old-time music

Ocean View Park jam
On the fourth Sunday of each month at Ocean View Park there's a huge bluegrass and old-time music jam session with multiple circles all over the park. Potluck at noon, and then playing from 1-5. Check out this great article on what this jam session is like.

Mountain Music JamShops
The Abbott Family hosts multiple bluegrass/old-time/ roots music "JamShops" in their home every week, some for more advanced levels than others. There are even free "Get Started" workshop videos you can watch for instruction and to see what the JamShops are like.

Fairy-Tale Farm events
Fairy-Tale Farm near downtown Santa Cruz hosts occasional salons featuring old-time jam sessions in addition to artistic and culinary pursuits -- check out the Fairy-Tale Farm web site for more info.


There's a fair amount of overlap between folk and the bluegrass/old-time section above, but I thought I'd add a folk-specific section anyway, and hope to find more jams and other events to include in it!

Rise Up Singing
As you can imagine the Santa Cruz Rise Up Singing singings/ potlucks are seriously about singing, particularly from the popular and highly-acclaimed Rise Up Singing songbooks, but people often bring guitars and other instruments as well. Locations and dates vary depending on who's hosting -- send email to LarryJoba@aol.com and ask to be added to the Santa Cruz Rise Up Singing mailing list for details of upcoming events.

Circle of Life events
The "Circle of Life Rotating Party Network" hosts open- to-all potluck get-togethers at local beaches and parks, where people are encouraged to bring musical instruments and copies of Rise Up Singing.


Jazz Society jam session
Tuesday nights from 7:30-9:30 the Jazz Society of Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz Parks & Rec sponsor a jazz jam session for musicians and singers of all levels.

Bocci's Cellar jazz jam
For more experienced jazz players, there's a jam session at Bocci's Cellar every Sunday from 3:30-7:30.

Jazz Jam Santa Cruz
Jazz Jam Santa Cruz hosts frequent events at a variety of local venues.

Kuumbwa classes
Kuumbwa Jazz Center offers free "master class" educational demonstrations and workshops by top musicians about every other month. As you can imagine most of them are not directly guitar-related, but they're all amazing, and everyone is free to participate or just watch/listen as they please.


Fog Bank Blues Pro Jam
The Fog Bank hosts a "blues pro jam" every Sunday from 7-11pm.

Jerry's Front Pocket
Jerry's Front Pocket also has regular blues jams.

Beatles/'60's/ pop/etc.

Sons of the Beach
The Sons of the Beach Ukulele Band meets at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor beach every Saturday from 10-noon, and every Wednesday from 4:30-6pm, to play "music from the 60's, 70's - lots of Beatles, folk, rock and an occasional Hawaiian song". As you can imagine the main focus is ukuleles, but guitars and other instruments are welcome as well.

First Tuesday Ukulele and Other Instrument Club
The First Tuesday Ukulele and Other Instrument Club meets on the first Tuesday of the month at The Ugly Mug Cafe. "Bring your good humor, your ukes, jugs, kazoos, washboards, guitars, fiddles, etc. and come ready to sing! This is a play-along event. Chord and Lyric charts will be passed out at the meeting."

All in Good Time Orchestra
Rhan Wilson's All in Good Time Orchestra welcomes players of any level on any instrument (including voice), and meets Wednesdays from 6-8pm.


Gospel Uke/Matthew, Mark, Uke, and John has a 10am Sunday gospel strum/ singalong once a month or so at Frederick Street Park -- check the Ukelist Calendar for updates.

Rock, Classical, Mariachi, etc.

I wish I knew about any local jam sessions in these and other musical genres/styles! If there are any that you know of, please send me email about it.

Cabrillo College

Cabrillo College offers extremely- low-cost group learning classes in many styles and levels of both solo and ensemble guitar playing -- jazz, pop, rock, classical, Latin American music, plus music theory of course.


The Coursera learning site offers free online classes in guitar, songwriting, music history, recording, production, and so on, taught by instructors from the Berklee School of Music and other top institutions.

Community Music School

Community Music School among other things maintains detailed pages on local music teachers and group classes and activities.

Just for teens and other youth

While people of all ages are definitely welcome and appreciated at the sessions and classes above, there are some fabulous youth-specific learning and playing opportunities in Santa Cruz as well:

Free music lessons
The Santa Cruz Boys & Girls Club, in partnership with the Santa Cruz chapter of Guitars Not Guns, offers free music lessons and use of their recording studio.

Be In Your Own Band classes
Santa Cruz Parks & Rec runs regular "Be In Your Own Band" classes at the Teen Center.

Celtic Teen Camp
I know so many people who have attended and loved the summer Celtic Teen Camp and/or Celtic Kids Camp over the years.

Summer Jazz Camp
Play music! Meet friends! Start a band! Perform in concert on the Kuumbwa stage! Kuumbwa Summer Jazz Camp for teens!

Music Together's 4th Friday Family Music Jam
This jam event page says: "Bring your favorite CDs to share, an instrument to play, a song to sing - music making fun for the whole family! Come in pajamas if you like!" Cost: $10-$25 per family for their scholarship fund.

Open Mic events

Poet and Patriot open mic
The Poet and Patriot pub hosts an open mic every Saturday from 3-6pm with half-hour time slots -- sign up by calling (831)426-8620 at 1pm. (As it's in a pub, it's for ages 21 and up only.)

SubRosa open mic
The SubRosa café hosts a weekly open mic on first and third Thursdays -- signup is at 7:30pm and then performances begin at 8. Third Thursdays are Women, Trans, and Queer Open Mics.

Rosie McCann's open mic
Rosie McCann's hosts an open mic most Tuesday nights, with signup at 7pm and "Super Diverse/Quality Performances" at 8pm.

Ugly Mug open mic
The Ugly Mug Café in Soquel hosts an Open Mic every Monday at 6pm.

The Abbey open mic
The Abbey coffeehouse hosts occasional open mic nights -- see their calendar for details. Personally I do not patronize The Abbey because Vintage Faith Church that runs it is anti-gay -- I hope they will change their position.

UCSC open mics
If you're a UCSC student, many of the colleges (and Terry Freitas Cafe) host open mic events now and then as well -- check your campus calendars.

And the other UCSC's open mics
The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz has huge open mic events twice a year -- yes, they do have a ukulele focus, but feature some "oversized ukuleles" (guitars) as well. Check their calendar for updates.

Misc. links

The Santa Cruz Underground Music collective has long lists of local bands, venues and upcoming shows, and is "... in the process of establishing easy access to local resources. Our goal is provide YOU the tools and the means to organize and publicize your OWN shows. We are currently collecting the necessary information to make future shows a snap to organize." Right now all the action is on their Wiki site rather than their original site.

Not in Santa Cruz?

Alas, do you live too far away to come jam with us? Check out these two great sites for finding all kinds of jam sessions and musicians local to you (or in places you'll be visiting or travel­ing through), or organizing and publicizing your own sessions: "folkjam" and "The Session".