In 1983 two Caltech students, Brian Toby and Simon Davies, started the Caltech Folk Music Society to bring unplugged folk music to their fellow students at a budget-friendly price. They invited a singer from Illinois to perform on the first night in January. It was cold, but not enough to deter a modest group of music enthusiasts from turning up.
In 2013, 30 years after its founding, the organization changed its name to the Pasadena Folk Music Society, registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and opened up its monthly shows to a wider public, though still holding them on campus, primarily in the Beckman Institute Auditorium.
Besides plenty of Americana-style folk, the organization regularly books award-winning musicians from a wide range of cultures. Irish acoustic, nueva canción, and Latin folk have all had their time in the spotlight.
On Dec. 20, the Society presents a featuring “California Celtic” band Molly’s Revenge. Carols, both old and new, will be played with plenty of bagpipes and fiddles thrown into the mix; traditional Celtic dancers will join the band onstage at Caltech’s Ramo Auditorium.
In keeping with the founders’ original egalitarian spirit, tickets can usually be purchased for less than $30. And if you’re new to the scene, don’t worry: Newcomers are eagerly welcomed by longtime regulars.
Images: Courtesy Pasadena Folk Music Society