Nick Taylor’s Double Switch

Image of Nick Taylor, pen name T.T. Monday

If you like baseball, detective fiction, and John Steinbeck equally, the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University has a double treat for you. Nick Taylor, director of the university’s Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, will read from Double Switch, his new baseball whodunnit, at a free event sponsored by the Center for Literary Arts in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, starting at 7:00 p.m. on September 22. The hero of Double Switch and The Setup Man, both published under the pen name T.T. Monday, is one John Adcock, an aging pitcher for a fictional San Jose team who risks life and career to catch bad guys and solve murders. Father Junipero’s Confessor, Taylor’s last non-pen name novel, was also a California thriller, based on historical events familiar to John Steinbeck, a history-minded baseball buff who wrote about his fondness for the game in an essay for Sports Illustrated.

Center for Literary Arts Teams Up with Steinbeck Studies

Image of Cathleen MillerSteinbeck admired versatility and advocated collaboration, at least in theory, so it’s likely he’d approve of Taylor’s pen-name persona and protean protagonist. The alliance forged by the Center for Literary Arts and the Steinbeck studies center to further the cause of creative writing at San Jose State University would also please the music-loving author, who married a San Jose native and bought LPs at a downtown record store. Cathleen Miller (left), the nonfiction writer who directs the Center for Literary Arts, explains the fruitful collaboration: “San Jose State University is fortunate to have three established organizations promoting literature on our campus, and they work together to support each other. The Steinbeck Fellows give readings each year at the Center for Literary Arts to benefit the community at large. They also help with another Center for Literary Arts project, our outreach to Mt. Pleasant High School, where the Fellows give talks to students. The Fellows also work with Reed Magazine, the oldest literary journal in the West, founded at San Jose State University in 1867. One of the Fellows also serves as the judge for the magazine’s short story contest, the John Steinbeck Award in Fiction.”

Mexican Independence: A State of Mind for Steinbeck

Image of 2016 Mexican Independence Day in neon

Mexican independence was more than a political movement for John Steinbeck, who traveled frequently to Mexico, studied Mexican history, and once said he wanted to move there to satisfy his curiosity and relieve the monotony of life back in Salinas, California. His novella The Pearl is set in Mexico. So are two films for which he wrote screenplays: The Forgotten Village and Viva Zapata! Sea of Cortez, his and his biologist friend Ed Ricketts’s account of their expedition to Baja, California, is as much about Mexican culture as it is about marine ecology. Steinbeck’s 1935 novel Tortilla Flat, his first commercial success, weaves Mexican characters and cultural traits into the rich tapestry of Monterey, California, a town that in Steinbeck’s time was “Mexican” in the same sense that Salinas was “Anglo.” Writing home from Mexico City in 1935, Steinbeck explained Mexico’s attraction: “It is impossible for me to do much work here. An insatiable curiosity keeps me on the streets or at the windows. Sometime I’ll come back here to live I think.”

Celebrating Mexico in John Steinbeck’s Salinas, California

Mexican independence of spirit drew John Steinbeck and his first wife, Carol, and it called him back repeatedly, usually in times of personal crisis, after their divorce. The Steinbeck expert Susan Shillinglaw—author of Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage and editor of America and Americans, a Steinbeck anthology—detailed Steinbeck’s lifelong love affair with Mexico in a talk on Friday, September 16, at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, where she is the director. Timed to coincide with Mexican Independence Day, the event kicked off this year’s Big Read, a cultural-awareness-through-reading project of the National Endowment for the Arts. In the spirit of the day, it included an exhibit of items from the center’s Steinbeck-Mexico collection, Mexican-flavored music and food, and a tour of downtown Salinas, where Mexican-American citizens now comprise a majority of the population.

Image of Susan Shillinglaw and John Steinbeck anthology

Following Mexican Independence Day festivities in Salinas, Shillinglaw led a discussion of Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Storiesthis year’s Big Read selection—for a Saturday afternoon crowd at the Monterey Public Library. Local Steinbeck lovers have a long relationship with Big Read, a national program that in its second year featured The Grapes of Wrath, the subject of On Reading The Grapes of Wrath, a superb reader’s guide written by Shillinglaw at the request of Steinbeck’s paperback publisher to mark the novel’s 75th anniversary. Exhausted by the controversy over The Grapes of Wrath—and the decline of his marriage to Carol—Steinbeck organized the 1940 Sea of Cortez expedition that included Easter in the Mexican town of La Paz, whose name embodies the serenity he was seeking. To Steinbeck, Mexican independence was a state of mind—one that Salinas, California is celebrating in this year’s Big Read series. Check out the National Steinbeck Center website for a schedule of continuing events.

East of St. Louis: John Steinbeck, Eugene V. Debs, And Celebrating the Labor Movement in Terre Haute

Image of Eugene V. Debs
Though Eugene V. Debs is no longer a household name, John Steinbeck’s labor movement novels of the 1930s—In Dubious Battle and  The Grapes of Wrath—were influenced by the words and witness of the progressive politician from Terre Haute, Indiana who ran for President in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. Debs devoted his career to organizing the fight for better wages and working conditions; Steinbeck appropriated his statement of support for the mistreated, malnourished, and marginalized in society—“While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free”—in the promise Tom Joad makes to his mother in The Grapes of Wrath. Debs uttered his statement in 1918, to the Cleveland, Ohio court that had convicted him of sedition for a speech he gave in Canton, Ohio protesting America’s entry into World War I—a war about which Steinbeck expressed misgivings 25 years later, in East of Eden. Despite repeated defeats during their lifetimes, Debs and Steinbeck remained optimistic about the future of humankind. In his 1962 Nobel acceptance speech, Steinbeck captured Debs’s faith in the possibility—and necessity—of human progress: “I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man, has no dedication nor any membership in literature.”

Image of Pete Seeger

Eugene V. Debs died in Illinois in 1926, but his memory lives on in the work of the Eugene V. Debs Foundation, located in Terre Haute, Indiana, the city where Debs was born. The not-for-profit organization operates the Eugene V. Debs museum and gives an award each year in Debs’s name to recognize the contributions of outstanding individuals to the cause, much like the John Steinbeck humanitarian award given by the Steinbeck Studies Center in San Jose, California. The 2015 Debs award was made to James Boland, president of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, at a banquet in Terre Haute on October 14. Pete Seeger, the labor movement troubadour honored by the John Steinbeck center in 2009, received the Eugene V. Debs award in 1979.

Image of Mother Jones

My family and I have been attending Debs award dinners almost that long, and I was pleased to see the Mother Jones Museum represented at this year’s banquet. Mary Harris Jones—a labor movement activist and community organizer in the same era as Eugene V. Debs—was an Irish immigrant, like James Boland and John Steinbeck’s grandparents, Samuel and Eliza Hamilton. Jones was called “the most dangerous woman in America” by critics; like Debs and Steinbeck, she had many, and she was an avid defender of immigrant and worker rights, like Debs and Steinbeck. There is probably no better parallel in modern American literature to the contemporary situation of undocumented workers in the U.S. than Steinbeck’s “Okie” migrants in The Grapes of Wrath. Mother Jones Magazine, a progressive publication, is headquartered in San Francisco, the center of the California labor movement in Steinbeck’s time and the backdrop for Steinbeck’s strike novel, In Dubious Battle.

Image of Dana Lyons's "Great Coal Train Tour"

Since the year the Debs award was given to Pete Seeger, almost every Debs dinner has featured a musician of note on the program. This year’s singer was Dana Lyons, a folk and alternative rock musician from Bellingham, Washington. Many of Dana’s songs concern the environment, but he is most famous for “Cows with Guns,” a hilarious song about another serious subject. John Steinbeck would have appreciated Dana’s sense of humor, as well as the environmental message delivered in the beautiful new music video, “The Great Salish Sea,” which can be viewed at Dana’s website. It sounds the alarm about the effects ship noise and fossil fuels have on the whales of the Salish Sea region in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia—a region John Steinbeck and his friend Ed Ricketts, early ecologists, knew well.

Image of Keith Mestrich, CEO of Amalgamated Bank
Another Debs dinner tradition is to have the annual award presented by a prominent proponent of progressive politics. This year’s presentation speaker was Keith Mestrich, president and CEO of Amalgamated Bank, the union-owned bank where Occupy Wall Street kept its funds. Founded in 1923 by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, the bank practices what Eugene V. Debs preached. Recently it raised the minimum wage it pays its employees to $15 an hour, and it is currently funding an ad campaign on New York subways supporting “ The Fight for $15.” When metro officials pulled the bank’s posters from subway cars because the message was too political, Amalgamated ran an ad on the front cover of the free subway paper, and Amalgamated volunteers began collecting signatures for the #RaiseTheWage petition the bank plans to send Congress.

Image of James Boland, president of International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers

In his remarks, Jim Boland (shown here speaking on TV) cited the influence of progressive writers on his political education, recalling how he felt as a young Irish immigrant to the United States to learn about Eugene V. Debs, the man he called “the ultimate American socialist.” Boland’s father and grandfather were union railroad workers, like Debs and my Irish grandfather, a political activist and socialist. During his speech, Jim cited two writers—John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck’s American contemporary, and James Connolly, the Irish socialist and patriot who was wounded in the 1916 Easter Uprising, then executed for his role in the Irish revolt against British rule. Before returning to Ireland from the United States in 1910 to fight for Irish independence, Connolly was a member of the International Workers of the World (IWW), the union that Debs helped found and that Steinbeck wrote about in the 1930s.

Image of the Eugene V. Debs home in Terre Haute, Indiana
Unlike James Connolly and Eugene V. Debs, John Steinbeck was never jailed because of his politics. But people do die for their convictions in his novels—Casy in The Grapes of Wrath; the young strike organizer, also named Jim, in Steinbeck’s labor movement novel In Dubious Battle. Unlike Steinbeck, Debs is rarely mentioned in American classrooms today. In fact, the contribution of the entire labor movement to the making of American society is barely touched on in most high school history classes. The corporate media treat labor unions and leaders with suspicion, and politicians love to campaign against both, even in states like Indiana with strong labor movement roots. In Terre Haute, the Eugene V. Debs Foundation is working to counter this negative trend. Visitors are welcome at the Eugene V. Debs Museum, which is located on the campus of Indiana State University in Terre Haute. Tips on traveling to Terre Haute and visiting the museum are available on my travel blog.

Pictures at an Exhibition: Event in Steinbeck Country Marries Nature Photography And Music by Mussorgsky

Image of High Sierra photograph by Charles Cramer

If you love Ansel Adams, John Steinbeck, and majestic music, mark your calendar for August 16, when Charles Cramer will perform and exhibit at a free event in Steinbeck Country. Like Adams, the visual poet of Yosemite’s High Sierra who was born in California in 1902 one week before Steinbeck, Cramer is a classically trained pianist who is equally masterful at music and nature photography. Each art form also attracted Steinbeck, a childhood piano student and Episcopal church choirboy who wrote the text for two books of photography, A Russian Journal and America and Americans. The marriage of sound and image being presented by Cramer on August 16 would hold particular appeal for Steinbeck, a lover of Russian music, California landscape, and the art of photography. A piano performance graduate of San Jose State University and the Eastman School of Music, Cramer played for Ansel Adams as a young photography student 30 years ago. Today he teaches photography, publishes his work in books and magazines, and exhibits at multiple venues, including the Ansel Adams Gallery.

Image of Charles Cramer, musician and master of nature photography

The August 16 event will begin at 3:00 p.m. with Cramer performing music including Modest Mussorgsky’s piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition on the concert grand at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Santa Clara, a San Jose-area city located midway between Ansel Adams’s hometown of San Francisco and John Steinbeck’s Salinas. The musical program will be followed by a reception and exhibition of Cramer’s distinctive nature photography, including dramatic images (like the one above) of Yosemite’s High Sierra. The title of Mussorgsky’s 1874 masterpiece—and Cramer’s August 16 performance and photography show—couldn’t be more appropriate. Mussorgsky composed Pictures at an Exhibition for piano in memory of the painter Viktor Hartmann. Maurice Ravel’s colorful orchestration, completed in 1922, magnified the visual power of Mussorgsky’s music and would have been familiar to Steinbeck, who collected records and listened to Symphony of Psalms, by Mussorgsky’s fellow-Russian Igor Stravinsky, while writing The Grapes of Wrath. “The Great Gate at Kiev,” the theme music for videos, can be heard in this audio sample of Charles Cramer’s recording of the complete Pictures at an Exhibition. (Pictures at an Exhibition is also the title of an award-winning novel by Sara Houghteling, a former Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University.) Attend the August 16 event at St. Mark’s if you can. John Steinbeck, who grew up singing in an Episcopal church, will be with you in spirit. Click to play:

Photo of Charles  Cramer by G. Dan Mitchell.

John Steinbeck Inspires “An American Experience,” Music By Lothar Bandermann

Image from "An American Experience" by Lothar Bandermann

John Steinbeck continues to inspire exciting music by living composers. The latest example is Lothar Bandermann’s “An American Experience: Reflections on a Theme,” an 11-minute set of variations depicting American characteristics and dedicated to John Steinbeck. The orchestral version of the composition—premiered by California’s Silicon Valley Symphony in 2013—will be performed by the Saratoga Symphony at Union Church of Cupertino, California, on May 3. Organ and orchestral versions of “An American Experience” can be heard on the composer’s website. The work is also arranged for symphonic band.

John Steinbeck continues to inspire exciting music by living composers. The latest example is Lothar Bandermann’s ‘An American Experience: Reflections on a Theme.’

Image of Lothar Bandermann, composer of "An American Experience"Lothar Bandermann shares traits with John Steinbeck beyond the German heritage evident in both names: working-class roots and a love of organ music. Born into a coal miner’s family near Dortmund, Germany, the Cupertino, California-based composer came to the U.S. in 1958 at the age of 24, graduating from the University of California with a major in physics and receiving a doctorate in space physics from the University of Maryland. After conducting astronomy research and teaching at the University of Hawaii—where he met and married Billie Lanier Reeves, a singer and choir director—he worked as an aerospace scientist in Palo Alto, California, before retiring in 1998 to devote his time to writing and performing sacred music.

Bandermann shares traits with Steinbeck beyond the German heritage evident in both names: working-class roots and a love of organ music.

Like John Steinbeck, he took piano lessons as a boy, playing the organ at his Catholic church when he was 15, a lifelong practice he continues as organist for St. Joseph of Cupertino Catholic Church near his California home. Although he has composed numerous sacred works for piano, voice, and choir—including a Latin Requiem for solo, chorus, organ, and orchestra—he concentrates on writing and arranging organ music, 400 examples of which he can be heard performing on his website. The organ original of “An American Experience” will be published by Zimbel Press in 2015, and new projects are in the works. Piano, organ, orchestra, choir, symphonic band: John Steinbeck would admire the versatility of this industrious German-born scientist-musician in tune with the American experience celebrated (and criticized) by John Steinbeck, a sophisticated music lover who liked new music.

John Steinbeck would admire the versatility of this industrious German-born scientist-musician in tune with the American experience.

Union Church is located at 20900 Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino, California. The May 3 concert, a Sunday event, begins at 3:00 p.m.

Tales of Genius from Pacific Grove: John Steinbeck and Gary Kildall’s Tragic Story

Image of Gary Kildall, hero of computer historyJohn Steinbeck changed the world through his writings in Pacific Grove, California, in the 1930s. In the 1970s, also in Pacific Grove, Gary Kildall (shown here) changed computer history–and eventually human history–through his creation of a groundbreaking software program called CP/M.

As the crow flies, there’s probably no more than a mile’s distance between the little red cottage on 11th Street in Pacific Grove where Steinbeck wrote such enduring works as Of Mice and Men and the tiny tool shed on Bayview Avenue where Kildall composed Control Program for Microcomputers (CP/M).

As the crow flies, there’s probably no more than a mile’s distance between the little red cottage on 11th Street in Pacific Grove where Steinbeck wrote such enduring works as Of Mice and Men and the tiny tool shed on Bayview Avenue where Kildall composed Control Program for Microcomputers (CP/M). CP/M took the world of the personal computer–and thus interpersonal communication and all that can stand for in education, medicine, and the general betterment of mankind, when used wisely of course–to a level unimaginable in John Steinbeck’s time.

Image of the IEEE Milestone plaque installed in Pacific Grove

Celebrating a Computer History Hero in Pacific Grove

It’s ironic that one of Kildall’s strongest supporters, David A. Laws—a curator at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California—is also a Steinbeck enthusiast, essayist, and photographer. Today in Pacific Grove, Laws will take part in events involving the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) in honor of Kildall’s accomplishments, including the 40th anniversary of the unveiling of CP/M in 1974. The IEEE—an international organization that honors major moments in technological advancement—will place a Milestone plaque at 801 Lighthouse Avenue, which was the headquarters for Kildall’s Pacific Grove computer company, Digital Research.

“As semiconductor curator at the Computer History Museum,’’ Laws says, “I understand the extraordinary impact that the personal computer revolution had both on the fortunes of Silicon Valley and on the lives of billions of people throughout the developed world. Uniquely among operating systems, Kildall’s CP/M was configured to allow any computer built with the Intel processor to work with hardware and software from any vendor, rather than a single manufacturer such as IBM . . . .

“That system became widely successful among computer hobbyists and start-up PC companies. It also kick-started the independent software publishing industry,’’ he adds.

`He saw the future and made it work. He was the true founder of the personal computer revolution and the father of PC software.’

But clones of CP/M followed, and others profited from Kildall’s creation.

“Questions surrounding IBM’s selection of a Microsoft clone of CP/M for the next-generation Intel processor used in the IBM PC and the resulting demise of Digital Research and the tragic death of Gary Kildall continue to fuel myths and conspiracy theories today,’’ Laws notes. “However, there is little controversy over Harold Evans’ characterization: `He saw the future and made it work. He was the true founder of the personal computer revolution and the father of PC software.’”

Image of author and editor Sir Harold Evans

Correcting the Computer History Record on TV and in Print

The indomitable Sir Harold Evans made that powerful statement in his popular PBS television program and book, They Made America, writing about such giants of invention as Thomas Edison, Samuel Morse, and the Wright Brothers. Evans includes Kildall in that distinguished group. The former editor of London’s Sunday Times, Evans has made it a crusade to return credit to those, like Kildall, who have forged the way in invention, engineering, and computer history. As noted on the book and series website, “We see Gary Kildall develop the operating system that will underpin Bill Gates’s empire.’’

Kildall’s story is one of brilliance and tragedy, of great achievement and great loss. Gary Kildall was much in the news after his death from a cerebral hemorrhage following a fall in a Monterey bar in 1994—which may or may not have been an accident—then slipped from public memory, becoming a footnote to a lost chapter in computer history.

Kildall’s story is one of brilliance and tragedy, of great achievement and great loss.

My wife Nancy and I knew Gary and his wife Dorothy and before a falling out were for a time friends, playing tennis, going to dinner together, enjoying each other’s company. On several occasions Gary took me flying over Monterey Bay.

I was shocked when I heard of his death. We hadn’t been in contact for several years, though I had followed him in the news, some of it in the newspaper I worked for at the time, the Monterey County Herald. There I wrote a column remembering him. As I look back at the piece, I note that it focused on his sense of fun, his love of life, and his joy in research and discovery.

Some time later a gentleman gave me a copy of They Made America that he had found at a book sale at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey–another irony, since Gary taught at the school for years. I had been thinking of writing something suggested by Gary’s personal story, and the chapter about him in Evans’ book convinced me to get to it. So I wrote the play A Mild Concussion – the Rapid Rise and Long Fall of an Idealistic Computer Genius, which has been published on this website.

To learn more about Gary Kildall and the recognition of his accomplishments and his place in computer history by the IEEE, go to the Facebook page composed by David Laws.

Mission Santa Clara Premiere of Steinbeck Suite for Organ Kicks Off 75th Anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath

Image of James Welch, pipe organ virtuosoSanta Clara University, located in the heart of California Steinbeck Country, kick starts the 75th birthday of The Grapes of Wrath on February 16 with the premiere of Steinbeck Suite, a dramatic piece of pipe organ music by the American composer Franklin D. Ashdown. Like James Welch, the pipe organ virtuoso (shown here) who will perform the premiere, Frank is a sensitive Steinbeck lover as well as a leading light in the world of organ music.

Mission Santa Clara: Perfect for Artful Organ Music

The February 16 concert will start at 2:00 p.m. in Mission Santa Clara on the Santa Clara University campus near downtown San Jose. Mission Santa Clara is one of 21 ecclesiastical outposts established by early Spanish missionaries between San Diego and Sonoma and noted by Steinbeck in his travels throughout his native state. Like Monterey’s historic Carmel Mission, a place Steinbeck knew well, Mission Santa Clara is famous for its architecture, art, and acoustics. The February 16 Mission Santa Clara concert is part of Santa Clara University’s 2014 Festival of American Music, the kind of academic activity that appealed to the author.

Steinbeck and Pipe Organs: Music for Life and for Death

Steinbeck heard organ music growing up in Salinas, a town 60 miles south of Santa Clara, where he studied piano, sang in the church choir, and became a lifelong fan of opera, jazz, and the organ music of Bach. His first novel, Cup of Gold, ends with the sound of an organ chord reverberating in the mind of its dying protagonist, the pirate Henry Morgan. Organ music was played at John and Elaine Steinbeck’s 1950 wedding and at the writer’s funeral in 1968. With Steinbeck’s love of organ music, musicians, and theatrical effect in mind,  Steinbeck Suite was commissioned by the former organist of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Salinas church depicted operatically in East of Eden, The Winter of Our Discontent, and Steinbeck’s “Letters to Alicia.”

Familiar Organ Music Inspired by Nights in Monterey

Frank Ashdown will be present for the February 16 world premiere of his new work by Santa Clara University Organist Jim Welch, California’s most celebrated concert organist and an alumnus of Stanford, the school Steinbeck attended sporadically before devoting himself to his writing. The February 16 program played on Mission Santa Clara’s classic pipe organ will also feature organ music by Richard Purvis, the subject of a recent biography by Jim Welch and the organist at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral following World War II. Purvis’s “Nights in Monterey,” a favorite piece of organ music for lovers of colorful sound, was inspired by camping trips made by the composer to the Monterey Peninsula at the time Steinbeck was writing East of Eden. It is possible that Steinbeck heard Purvis play the pipe organ at Grace.

Organ Music Written to be Heard, Like Steinbeck’s Fiction

A widely published composer of choral and organ music, Frank Ashdown has had his works performed at Grace, Salt Lake City’s Mormon Tabernacle, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and churches and concert halls throughout the world. A perceptive student of Steinbeck’s fiction, he writes as Steinbeck did: to be heard and appreciated by average people, not specialists. Jim Welch, who recommended Frank for the commission celebrating Steinbeck’s anniversary, comments: “From the opening movement, an homage to the humanity of The Grapes of Wrath, to the fiery closing toccata depicting the conflagration of Danny’s house in Tortilla Flat, Frank’s Steinbeck-inspired organ music will keep listeners on the edge of their seats. Mission Santa Clara’s reverberant sound, reverent atmosphere, and visual splendor are perfect for Frank’s Steinbeckian sense of acoustical theater and spiritual transcendence.”

Image of sign to Mission Santa Clara and Santa Clara UniversityThe February 16 concert of organ music at Mission Santa Clara is open to the public. For tickets, see the Santa Clara University performing arts series website. Santa Clara University is located at 500 El Camino Real in Santa Clara, California, 10 minutes from San Jose International Airport and five minutes from Interstate 880. Take the Alameda Exit north and follow the curve in the road right as The Alameda becomes El Camino Real. The Santa Clara University campus entrance is on the left. Free parking is available in the new Santa Clara University garage near the campus entrance, and Mission Santa Clara is a two-minute walk from the garage. February 16 is a Sunday, but Californians dress casually. If this is your first visit, come early and drink in the beauty. Like The Grapes of Wrath, Mission Santa Clara is breathtaking. So are the organ music of Frank Ashdown and the organ virtuosity of Jim Welch, artists who love Steinbeck the way Steinbeck loved Bach.

Free Friday Concerts: Chamber Music at Steinbeck’s Church

John Steinbeck and St. Paul's, the Writer's Salinas, California ChurchFrom J.S. Bach to New Chamber Music: Free Friday Concerts at Steinbeck’s Church in Salinas, California

St. Paul’s, John Steinbeck’s Episcopal church in Salinas, California, sponsors free Friday chamber music concerts at noon throughout the year. Selections ranging from J.S. Bach to new works are performed by Central California musicians such as violinists Tyler and Nicola Reilly, pianist Karen Denmark, and organists Steven Denmark, Rani Fischer, and William Ray. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is located at 1071 Pajaro Street in Salinas, California.