Ryan Chartrand

Bringing an array of culturally diverse, live music to the Central Coast for the past 30 years, the San Luis Obispo Folk Music Society, commonly known as SLOfolks, doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon.

Elisabeth Demongeot and her husband Ted Shearer act as joint leaders of the nonprofit organization, booking bands and producing concerts. The job is completely volunteer, and there is a lot of work, but Demongeot loves it.

“I’m very serious about it because I feel it’s very important,” she said.

Having an organization like SLOfolks in the area is an opportunity for students and residents to hear artists from the United States and from other parts of the world that are not commonly heard, Demongeot said.

Demongeot wants people to open their ears to new and different styles of music, and she chooses which bands to bring to the area with that goal in mind.

“It’s sad if people think there’s only one type of music they like,” she said. When people have that attitude, she described, they close themselves off to a whole world of music.

Demongeot enjoys every type of music, including a lot of rock. She especially loves West African.

She tries to book artists that are not well-known in the San Luis Obispo area, so as to give new artists a chance to spread their fan base and also to provide new music for the local folk society.

Demongeot was born in Nice, and brought up in Paris. Her passion for music stems from both her Parisian roots and her parents.

Demongeot’s father, a “frustrated conductor,” conducted concerts in the family living room every Sunday. Her mother was a “frustrated jazz dancer” who danced the Charleston until the day she died.

“The strongest memories of my parents (involve) music,” Demongeot said.

Music has stayed with Demongeot all of her life.

While living in Seattle, music kept Demongeot from letting the rain make her depressed. Instead, she and Shearer became involved in producing concerts for the Seattle Folklore Society. Demongeot also spent years as a disc jockey for Washington public radio.

For Demongeot, music is “a connection to the soul.” She described listening to music as “like having a person speak the feelings you have.”

She hopes to stir that same sentiment into the hearts of San Luis Obispo-area residents with six summer concerts and other shows scheduled to take place throughout the year at venues Demongeot said she “couldn’t do it without.”

SLOfolks recently brought Over the Edge, a band that described its sound as a combination of The Marshall Tucker Band and Santana, to the San Luis Obispo area.

Dave Holob and Adam Gottstein make up Over the Edge, a name Gottstein attributed to one of Holob’s electric violin solos during their

June 1 concert at Coalesce Bookstore’s Garden Chapel in Morro Bay.

Holob described the feeling he experiences while performing onstage as “a nirvana you could plug into and be able to channel that energy from mind, body and soul.”

Onstage and in the studio, Gottstein crafts melodies on an acoustic/electric ovation guitar that range in style from blues, folk, jazz, salsa, and samba. Holob accompanies him on an electric violin, handmade in Nova Scotia, which he plays and plucks with a bow and his fingers to create original, audience-grabbing solos.

The pair brings an intense chemistry to the stage. Both Gottstein and Holob work off of each other’s music and enthusiasm to produce a powerful onstage energy that transfers to the audience.

They serenaded audiences at both the Garden Chapel and at Green Acres Lavender Farm in Atascadero the following night, performing both original compositions as well as toe-tapping cover songs, including “Hit the Road Jack” and “Summertime.”

Over the Edge opened its Friday show with one of its signature originals, “Shenandoah Valley,” an instrumental ballad Holob described as “dream-like.” It was written to evoke the tranquil feeling of an early-morning drive down a country road, he said.

Holob is often inspired by nature. Many of his songs stem from beats discovered while hiking, from the pulse of a stream to the pattern of Holob’s own breath. “The rhythms would just fall into place,” he said.

But don’t expect Over the Edge to be back in the San Luis Obispo area any time soon.

Demongeot rarely books artists that have already played in the Central Coast. Her goal is to maintain a flow of different and unique performers so that Central Coast audiences can always discover and experience something new.

“The hardest thing is not having (artists) back,” she said. “They think that if they do well, they will get to come back.” But that’s not the case.

SLOfolks’ next installment in its summer concert series will feature Sligo Rags, a versatile band which plays Irish and Celtic-inspired songs, while also dabbling in country, jazz and swing. The group was awarded the title of “Best Folk Band in Orange County” at both the 2004 and 2005 Orange County Music Awards. The ensemble will appear July 6 at the Coalesce Bookstore and July 7 at Green Acres Lavender Farm.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *