Ross Altman, Singer-Sonfighter

Shamelessly copied from the liner notes
Call me a Singer-Songfighter. I sing "to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable." I sing old labor songs, antiwar songs, civil rights songs, topical/protest songs, traditional songs, love songs, Jewish songs in Yiddish and English, and original songs that carry on that tradition.

I grew up on the folk music of Woodie Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, Theodore Bikel, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy, Bill Holliday, and later on Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and Malvina Reynolds.

I have a Ph.D. in English and an M.A. in Speech. For the last twenty years I have made my living in the Los Angeles area singing for old folks homes, schools, labor unions, political gatherings, folk festivals, libraries, book stores, churches, synagogues, and peace demonstrations.

I have sung for the home bound and homeless, for disabled children and Fullbright scholars, for benefits and fundraisers funerals and memorial services, retirement parties and birthday celebrations. I have sung for countless political, social, and environmental groups, including left-wing causes of every kind. As Woody Guthrie said, "Left wing or chicken wing, if there are people there I'll sing."

Additionally, I've sung for a myriad of religious denominations: Methodists, Unitarians, Mormons, Baptists, Catholics, Holy Rollers, Jews, Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists, Comunists, and FBI agents (usually at the same event).

I do not sing at Bar Mitvahs, weddings, restaurants, or anywhere I'll be mere background music to heedless talking, drinking and socializing. Attention must be paid -- that's what I ask -- plus union scale. I am a member of Local 47 of the AFM. I write a regular column for Folk Works, Southern California's free folk music magazine, and I am president of The Santa Monica Traditional Folk Music Club.

I play both six and twelve-string acoustic guitars, a long-neck five-string banjo, and enough harmonicas to fill the tool box in my guitar case, which carries a 1965 Guild D-50.

My recording and music publishing compnay is called Grey Goose Music, after Leadbelly's children's song about an indestructible goose. That's also my email address: . My phone number is (323) 931-9321. During the 80's and 90's I produced nine tape cassettes -- eight of my own songs and one of classic labor songs, performed in concert at the University of California at Riverside, called Live at The Barn. This is my first CD. I hope you like it. Stay in Touch.

Ross Altman

The Songs

Punch it Twice

It was not Ralph Nader but segregationist George Wallace who first ran for President on the platform that "there is not a dime's woth of difference between the two parties." Like Will Rogers, I am a member of no organized political party -- I'm a Democrat.

The Love You Leave Behind

Credit Wavy Gravy for the oft-quoted but misattributed opening line of the song; credit Yippie co-founder Jerry Rubin for the penultimate line, "Don't trust anyone over thirty." He lived long enough to reverse it before he died.

Ballad of Paul Robeson

Just this year the US Postal Service at long last honored Robeson with a first class stamp in their Black Heritage series, helping to restore him to his rightful place in the American pantheon.

Bring Them Home

Written for the one-year anniversary of the War in Iraq. The human cost so far: Over 1,000 American and estimates of over 10,000 Iraqi casualties. Add to that the loss of priceless antiquities and 87 billion dollars in sweetheart deals for the vice president's former employer Haliburton to rebuild the country we destroyed. And still no weapons of mass destruction.

Bushwa Blues

Based on Leadbelly's masterpiece "Bourgeois Blues." My "State of the Union" song.

Person of the Century

Time magazine chose Einstein. Not a bad choice.

Jefferson's Cemetary

Author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of The University of Virgina, third president of The United States... and Sally Hemming's master.

Paul Wellstone's Shoes

A member of "The Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," as the late Minnesota senator defined himself. A week after his plane went down in the iron range of nothern Minnesota, the US Senate was taken over by a one-vote right wing Republican majority. But of course it was an accident. What else could it have been?

His first vote in the senate was to oppose the US war in Iraq by President Bush. So was his last. Lest we forget.

Connecting the Dots

Within three days after September 11, 2001 all of Osama Bin Laden's relatives living in the US wew placed on private charter jets and flown back to a safe haven in Saudi Arabia--with President Bush's knowledge and cooperation. Now his is appointing his own "indpendent commission" to investigate the "intelligence failures" fot eh war in Iraq.

Thank God You Don't Live in Israel

I don't duck the tough ones. "An eye for an eye," said Ghandi, "makes the whole world blind."

Like a Firestone

Reverse product placement. I'm paid not to write songs like this.

From Wounded Knee to Abu Ghraib

This song was provoked by comments from several members of the Bush administration--including the President--to the effect that what transpired in this Baghdad prison was "Un-American." To me that is a sacred word, used to refer to such American heroes as Arthut Miller, Lillian Hellman, and Pete Seeger, as well as my own father, all of whom were labled "Un-American" by the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the McCarthy era. To drag such a hallowed term through the mud of Abu Gharaib is a sacrilege. The perpetrators of these shameful acts of abuse, and those who ordered them to do it, do not belong in such whomany, whose only crime was to create great works of uniquely American art.

Many Thousands Gone

Based on the antislavery song of the same name-- also the tune from which "Blowing In the Wind" is derived.

My Bottom Line

I wish I could count the number of left wing bookings I have lost due to my simple two-word answer to the question, "What would you charge to entertain at our event?" My reply: "Union scale." Every string immigrant workier in front of a Los Angeles supermarket can count on the left's unconditional support, but they won't pay a white Jewish folk singer union scale to sing for their "progressive" oranizations. It's almost enough to make me become a Republican. But who would I sing for?

Grey Goose Music
134 S. La Brea Ave. #4 * Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-931-9321 * .

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