Thursday, August 18, 2016


Ken and Ellen Bloom, Beverly Hills

Later today I'm trekking to the Los Angeles International Airport to pick up my brother, Ken, flying in from North Carolina. He's on a whirlwind visit for only three days! We have to pack in quite a bit of activity in those three days. Most of the time, Ken wants to spend with our Mom. Roz is 94. Ken and his wife, Ginny visited for Mom's 90th birthday, but four years seems like a long time between visits when you're in your 90s. We speak on the phone and e-mail back and forth all the time, but it's not the same as being here in person! Ginny can't make it to L.A. this time. We'll miss her.
Ellen and Ken Bloom, Hollywood

Ken is seven years older than me. Since we're not that close in age, we never really had any sibling rivalry. Most of the time, Ken looked out for me when I was a kid. If he wanted to use Mom's car, she'd always say, "You can use the car, but you have to take your sister with you." Luckily, Ken was alright with that. Most of the time, he took me to the record shop, the annex at The Ashgrove or to McCabe's Guitar shop. I loved sitting around, watching and listening to Ken and his friends play folk music. When I think about it now, I realize I was a fairly lucky 10-14-year-old to be experiencing musical greats like Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Pete Seeger, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, The New Lost City Ramblers, Reverend Gary Davis and many many more legendary performers in their prime. The Ashgrove was a legendary folk club in West Hollywood between 1958 and 1973. 
Palm Springs, 1964.  Thank you, George Bloom, for being such a shutter-bug during our formative years!

Ken got his start performing professionally during those years. He's played with many musicians along the way in L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, New York, North Carolina and beyond. Ken and Ginny have lived in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina for over 25 years. He builds bowed dulcimers, gives lessons and still performs in the region. Every April he holds the Bowed Dulcimer Festival in Pilot Mountain. I'm so glad to see that he's as active as ever in the music community.
Ken (center) with Lewis and Clarke Expedition, 1967
Ken on banjo, The late 1980s

Ken taught me how to play the guitar and banjo. I must say, that I don't practice as much as Ken does. I have too many other hobby distractions. Ken actually built me a ukulele a few years ago. It's a beautiful instrument and now I'm obsessed with playing the uke!
Pilot Mountain, 1991
Los Angeles, 2004
Can't wait to see Kenny later today!

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