“I’m exhausted.” “I can’t stay focused.” “It feels like a sledgehammer’s pounding me in the ground every day.”

I’ve heard and seen such comments in so many places, I’ve lost track of their frequency — every day, it feels like. No doubt you have heard and seen them too. New variations on those themes circulate with each fresh round of norm-rocking headlines, and the cumulative effect of constant chaos will not be ignored. This is not normal; this is not in the same area code as normalcy. This is not on the grid. This is not even sane.

As a child in my grandparents’ home, I’d listen to my granddad play piano and sing in his hearty, ringing bass tones, and that would dispel whatever was disquieting my little girl mind. As I grew older, I found solace in singing and jamming with friends. Music remains a steadying compass point in life, as it does for many of us. In times of trouble, there’s cathartic healing to be found in gathering with the clan to raise voices together, or just share songs and stories that re-establish our communal horizon line and understanding. Fearsome warlords throughout the centuries have recognized this, engaging troubadours, dancers, poets and playwrights to bond their community and keep their torments at bay.

So a ticket to respite is promised by a night of old friends sharing songs and stories. This Saturday, that is precisely what Katy Moffatt, Mike Fleming, and Tom Corbett will be doing at Coffee Gallery Backstage. Granted, hearing Corbett cheerfully promise, “I’m gonna take you fishing, honey/ You’re gonna love it” over a chunky bluegrass mandolin riff is lightyears from medieval troubadours fawning over royals with ballads of courtly love, but times change, right? Hear, hear, and hallelujah for silly stuff too.

All three artists are familiar to local audiences, having performed numerous acoustic concerts in Pasadena-area venues over the years. Moffatt achieved renown in folk and country circles beginning in the 1970s, garnering acclaim for her full-throated, emotional vocal style and tasteful albums such as 1993’s Tom Russell-produced “The Greatest Show on Earth” (aka “The Evangeline Hotel”) and 1999’s Dave Alvin-produced “Loose Diamond.” Fleming is perhaps best known as one-third of entertaining bluegrass-cowboy-gypsy jazz trio New West, winning awards for his songwriting and high regard for his onstage warmth and smooth harmonies. Corbett’s a remarkable musician and generous spirit onstage and off, as comfortable accompanying guitar and mandolin students at the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Festival as he is fronting his own shows or backing the likes of John McEuen.

Circle it on your calendar. I’ll see ya there. 


Katy Moffatt, Tom Corbett and Mike Fleming at Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, 7 p.m. Saturday, June 29; $18. Reservations/info: (626) 798-6236. Coffeegallery.com, katymoffatt.com