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A Harvest of Fun : Palmdale festival emphasizes folk themes with its music, dance and theater offerings.


An 86-year-old man who plays the saw, a band that specializes in Gold Rush-era folk music and home-grown actors who confront the headless horseman will take the stage this weekend at the Harvest Moon Festival in Palmdale.

Kicking off the festival tonight will be the San Diego Ballet performing to Latin American music. Choreographer Javier Velasco has chosen traditional Mexican music for his ballet "Que Benito Amor," and the music of Perez Prado will drive the company's high-energy dance suite "Mambomania."

Founded in 1997 by Palmdale Playhouse manager Dea McAllister, the festival devotes one evening to dance performances, one to music and one to theater.

"It's not a Halloween thing," McAllister said. "It's to celebrate fall, which is my favorite season, when it gets cooler."

The Black Irish Band from Northern California will bring its traditional Irish, Italian and American music to the festival Saturday night with tunes from the Gold Rush era performed on authentic instruments from the 1800s.

Band member Patrick Michael Karnahan has written some original songs in a folk idiom about California people and places, including "John Muir," "Sonora Farewell" and "Above the [Yosemite] Valley Floor."

On Sunday, the Palmdale City Players will perform "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," brandishing their play texts in a "reader's theater" presentation of Washington Irving's classic story about an awkward schoolmaster's encounter with a legendary headless horseman.

The Players will use the same format later for "The Devil and Tom Walker" about a fellow whose "ill-gotten wealth" leads to dire consequences.

Also performing Sunday afternoon will be octogenarian soloist Delmar Johnson on the saw, and other local folk music performers, including the Antelope Valley Folk Music Club.

"I started playing the saw when I was 8, and when I retired from Caterpillar and moved here to Lancaster, I got invited to play all over Antelope Valley," Johnson said.


Harvest Moon Festival at the Palmdale Playhouse, 38334 10th St. E., Palmdale. Friday 8-10 p.m., Saturday 8-10 p.m., Sunday 2-4 p.m. Three-day tickets: $18 for children 12 and under, $24 for seniors and $30 for adults. Individual event tickets: $8, $10 and $12. Box office: (661) 267-5685; 24-hour recorded information: (661) 267-2787.

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