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Family Harmony

Singer Maria Muldaur will give separate concerts for children and adults.


The Ojai Birth Resource Family Center is inviting everyone to its festival and fund-raiser Saturday at Libbey Park in Ojai. The main attraction will be a performance by Maria Muldaur, a blues singer deluxe--and a purveyor of children's music.

Gates will open at 1 p.m. with the activities beginning an hour later at the spacious park donated years ago by Edward Drummond Libbey. As with most festivals, expect the usual arts and crafts booths and tons of food, not to mention information booths with pertinent facts dealing with those matters that matter most to the Ojai Birth Resource Family Center.

The six-hour event will benefit the center, which provides support and information on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and family issues.

There will be all sorts of fun activities for children, including face-painting, storytelling, raffles, group games and instruction on how to torture parents through self-made karaoke videos. Seabury Gould, "The Pied Piper of Ojai," will make children's music, and Malcolm Watson will play his fiddle throughout the day. At 4 p.m., Elizabeth Ridenour of the Illusions Theatre will introduce theater games.

But the highlight of the day will be the performances by Muldaur. She will do a children's music set at 5 p.m., followed by a bluesy set for the adults at 6:30. Nan Tolbert, co-director of the family center, couldn't be happier with the headliner.

"Having Maria Muldaur's enthusiastic backing is like icing on the cake," Tolbert said. "Maria's name came up on a very short list of great performers who kids love as well as adults. . . . When she heard about our starting a family center, she gave us her support and advocacy with the same passion I hear in her music."

Muldaur is perhaps best-known for her Grammy-nominated song from 1974, "Midnight at the Oasis," from her self-titled platinum album. A student of American roots music, Muldaur has assembled an impressively eclectic career that includes jug band music, blues, gospel, country, folk and bluegrass. Her resume features collaborations with such diverse artists as Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, the Chambers Brothers, Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, David Lindley and countless others.

Several of the singer's recent albums were on Black Top Records, and she remains the blues label's biggest all-time seller. Her self-produced 1999 release, "Meet Me Where They Play the Blues," was a collaboration with blues legend Charles Brown. Their duet on "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You," recorded in a rest home, was Brown's final recording. New Yorker Muldaur's latest project is "Richland Woman Blues."

She's still releasing albums and continuing to pile up those road trip miles with a schedule any blues man could understand--more than 200 gigs a year.

In addition to all those blues, Muldaur is a well-known creator of children's music. The Music for Little People label, founded by Leib Ostrow of Ojai, released "On the Sunny Side" a decade ago, which won Muldaur an Indie Award. Since then, she has released more children's albums that appeal not just to the young, but perhaps to their grandparents as well.

Obviously meeting a demand, Music for Little People has sold more than 300,000 albums a year, mostly to baby boomers who buy it for their kids. Along the way, Muldaur has gained the gratitude of parents. She said in her bio, "After the first album, parents would come up to me and say, 'Maria, we can't tell you how grateful we are to you for saving us from Barney and Raffi.' "

Muldaur should have no trouble finding Libbey Park. She played seven years ago at the Ojai Bowlful of Blues, relocated this year to Lake Casitas.

Said Suzanne Kaufer of the Foundation of American Roots Music, "We are very excited about having Maria Muldaur perform in Ojai again. The last time she played here in 1993 at the Bowlful of Blues Festival, she brought down the house with an unforgettably supercharged performance."



Ojai Family Festival at Libbey Park, Signal Street and Ojai Avenue, Ojai, Saturday, 2 to 8 p.m.; adults $15 advance or $17 at the gate; teens and seniors over 64, $12 advance or $15 at the gate; children free with an adult; 646-7559.


Bill Locey can be reached by e-mail at

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