Being the first Tuesday of the month, February 7, 2023, The Yodeler in Wrightwood hosted “Folk Music Night,” featuring Gayle Dowling, Rob Hazard, and Tyrone Merriner. Folding back the pages of time to the Beat Era, the trio took the audience to where poets could be found chanting their rhymes on any street corner, and guitar-playing hobos would sing and dance to any willing audience. Love and Peace were in the air, as were rebellion and the “Establishment.” Out of this turmoil evolved a new type of sing-along music that has been referred to as “Folk Music.”
The Wrightwood Blues Society enjoys bringing a variety of music to the mountain, making Wrightwood, if you will, a musical “Mecca.” Painting this musical picture, Wrightwood Folk hero Gayle Dowling singing and strum-picking her guitar, Tyrone Merriner sounding like an orchestra with his accordion, and Rob Hazard (with an added member, his stand-up bass) presented hit songs from a spot in time somewhere between Big Band, and The Beatles. The chilled night air kept the crowd inside the Alpine-themed Yodeler Bar and Grill, which filled up quickly for the 6 pm showtime. A few special guests were standing by in the wings, waiting for a surprise performance introduction.
One of the welcome features of the concerts in Wrightwood is the abundance of talent in the neighborhood. A special guest might just pop up on stage at any given show. The tune most made famous by Linda Ronstadt, “Willin,” and “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young, started the show nicely. The trio began exploring some true Folk music with a few Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dylan arrangements, followed by a song Gayle wrote about her beloved Wrightwood. Stepping up on stage for a Dylan song was Shane Gray, artist, and singer just back from charity work in Kenya, to perform “Wagon Wheel” for now settled-in crowd.
After “Both Sides Now” by Judy Collins and Bob Dylan’s anti-war protest, 1962 hit “Blowing in the Wind,” the coats were coming off, and the crowd was getting warmed up trying to remember lyrics. “It’s going to get folkier around here soon!” Tyrone announced as the band dismissed for a short break.
Tyrone Merriner (with his piano) and ensemble perform at The Yodeler Bar and Grill on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Bonnie Bishop, a local singer who performs on occasion with Tyrone, also has performed quite a few times with backup vocals on this Tuesday night show. Lending her voice to some harmonies added color to the “gig.” Singer Gayle Dowling keeps the song lists varied for every second Tuesday “Folk Music Night” here at the Yodeler Bar and Grill. When asked about preparing a song (set) list for the show, Gayle pondered and said, “There are so many good Folk songs! I like to change it up and add new things!” Judging by the reception of the room that night, Tuesday Folk Music Night definitely has a place in Wrightwood.
We will be humming folk tunes for the next few weeks, thanks to Gayle Dowling, Tyrone Merriner, Rob Hazzard, and musical guests. One of the joys of singing folk music is that the chorus tends to repeat, thus making the tunes catchy and easier to sing. “All Over This Land” and “100 Miles” had the whole room singing, with or without a few missing words. Thanks must be given to Dr. Greg Jones, The Wrightwood Blues Society, and The Yodeler Bar and Grill, which features fine food, craft beer, and top entertainment.