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 the press always handwrites its thoughtful commentary

Critics' Comments

The Bay Area singer/songwriter/activist has a wonderfully expressive voice
and songs that enlighten, as well as entertain. She approaches political and
social issues with wit, as well as wisdom. Denney doesn't hesitate to tackle
weighty subjects. Immerse yourself in The Hungriest People and You Thought
The Books Would Burn.
The artist's humor shines forth on numbers like Dump Your
Boyfriend at Christmas
and I Hate Songwriters and I Wish They Were Dead. She
wields a sharp satiric touch on There's Serious Money in Doomsday. Among the many
other gems here are Courtrooms Are a Rich Man's Game, How Weary You Must Be,
the consumerism-jibing Unless of Course You Die, the jaunty Have Yourself a
Slice of Occupy
and the winsome The Mountain Song.
Denney is the essence of alt-folk.
- Paul Freeman of

"Now that's some mighty fine songwriting."
U. Utah Phillips

Ian Robb, of Finest Kind

"Berkeley's I. F. Stone."
Pat Delaney, former Editor, CNA

"I wish you would stop doing this. I just listened to The Riley Boys and just like every other time I have listened to a new CD of yours,
I once again feel absolute despair at my pathetic attempts at lyrical insight and ingenuity. If I have to go on Prozac it will be because of you.
Unfortunately, Eli Lilly got wind of my complaint and is now interested in sponsoring your work.

Rick Dougherty
c/o Kaiser Permanente
Department of Psychiatry
Out-Patient Division
(Rick Dougherty in real life is one of the Kingston Trio)

"She talks the talk and she walks the walk."
Kevin Vance, KPFA, 7/27/2008

"The nine-act evening concert began at 7 PM on the Main Stage and
ran past midnight. Particularly ear-catching were Finest Kind, an eclectic trio of singers
Ian Robb, Ann Downey, and Shelly Posen, who hang their hats on their three-part harmonies.
'The Riley Boys' was a moving tribute to the fallen Americans of the Iraq war.

Old Songs Festival, by Glenn Weiser on June 29, 2011

"The Real Thing: Perennial Stroll favorite Carol Denney returns with her tuneful repertoire of traditional folk songs and fiddle music.
She'll be accompanied by her band, Failure To Disperse. Hear folk music as it was before it went commercial at 1:00, 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. at 1500 Solano."

Solano Stroll Association, 9-10-06

"Musical poet laureate of Berkeley."
David Cronin, 12-25-09

Carol Denney's songs touch your heart and put your conscience on high alert.
Shelley Posen of the folk trio Finest Kind, author of "No More Fish, No Fishermen", 3-26-04

"There aren’t any good protest songs anymore. Oh, there’s the ubiquitous “Hey hey, ho, ho, [fill in the blank] has got to go,
” which is a big reason Bites avoids demonstrations of any sort.
So, Bites was happy to hear about an Ochsian little ditty called “The PG&E song,” or “Write the check and shut up.
” It was actually cooked up by Bay Area artist Carol Denney in 2001, around the time PG&E declared bankruptcy.
Check out the (very abridged) last verse, which Bites thinks sounds eerily familiar: 'Go on and buy up our wires
and our lines / We got you right where the sun never shines / You think you owe ’cause we’ve messed with your minds
/ ... and you’ll pay ’til you’re down to your last little dimes / Cause you’re used to it, aren’t you, shut up.'
You can hear the whole song at"

Sacramento News and Review, January 2006

"Folk hero."
The Daily Planet, January 2004

"Amazing on ice."
The Periodic Postal, January 2001

"...i also sent the union one especiallly to my comrade nelson peery----author of black fire, and black radical and one of the great revolutionaries in this country... he paid you what is to me just about the highest complement ie he spoke of it "along with The Song of the Open Road" by whitman you should know that i regard the songof the open road is the greatest poem ever written by an american..."
Jack Hirschman, former poet laureate of San Francisco, referring to A Toast to the Union

"I played the Finest Kind's rendition of The Riley Boys over and over. I couldn't believe myself.
What a jewell! I don't know if The Riley Boys will outlive us, but it deserves to and just might."

Bob Bossin, August 2010

"Best of the Bay."
San Francisco Bay Guardian, August 2001

"A political superhero to some. A nasty little mosquito slowly sucking blood on a summer day to others. Nosier than Larry King, quicker of wit than a speeding Robin Williams, she's ... the quasi-mild-mannered Carol Denney. "
Angela Hill for the Oakland Tribune, March 2001

"Local gold."
Strings, acoustic music showcase in Emeryville

"Damn, look at those knockers."
Barnaby Wild, critic for the Boise Bee

"What is that music? It is fantastic, gorgeous."
Dean of Boalt Law School Christopher Edley, Jr.

"What's this doing in my soup?"
Doris Ajar, Reality Monitor for the Harmonic Convergence

"Berkeley's funniest, most radical songwriter."
The Freight and Salvage, Berkeley

"There's no one I'd rather have on the frontlines."
Denney eats small children for lunch Bob Sparks, community activist, 1938-1995

"Defendants Denney...are among the 'key leaders' of the agitators.....rather than
protest peacefully and non-violently, the defendants ... have encouraged and instigated acts of vandalism and violence..."

University of California Regents, 1992, in "The UC Regents versus Nadel, Denney, Sparks, Lee, and Does 1 through 50," their unsuccessful SLAPP-suit against free speech

"...I'm just sending you this note to tell you how much your song "The Rich Will Never Be Poor" has taken over my synapses. It's become a musical catch in my brain: I find myself mentally humming it a hundred times a day. It's a terrific song, in the tradition of the 18th and 19th century English Working class anti-establishment songs that Roy Palmer and Ewan MacColl have put before us. It's also wonderfully performed on your CD, with a beguiling harmony line I'm still trying to fathom. Best of luck with the CD...."
Shelley Posen of The Finest Kind, author of "No More Fish, No Fishermen."

"Better than morphine."
Pam Derks, webwizard for the University of California Extension.

Former Berkeley City Manager Michael Brown, under oath at Carol Denney's criminal trial for alleged assault on the Chief of Police, in response to a question as to whether or not he thought it was possible that Carol Denney deliberately set the 1991 Oakland fire*

"If government is compelled to guarantee the truth of its factual assertions on matters of public interest, its speech would be substantially inhibited, and the citizenry would be less informed."
San Francisco Appellate Court Judge Donald King, rejecting the appeal of the summary dismissal of the SLAPP-suit defendants' cross-complaint for defamation. If King's comment makes sense to you, see a doctor immediately.

"Art. Art. Art. If you say it enough you sound like a barking dog."
Carol Denney

* Carol Denney was aquitted of all charges.

 the press manages to be complimentary from time to time. Carol Denney with Country Joe MacDonald at the Freight and Salvage. THE SCENE: Meeting of the Berkeley Mock City Council Maybe politics is funnier when it takes itself seriously
Steven Winn, Friday, August 16, 2002

At the risk of major satirical redundancy, a Berkeley Mock City Council convened in the Old City Hall chambers this week.

The scripted show, presented by the Berkeley Arts Festival and simulcast on Cable BTV (Channel 25), bore a faithful resemblance to the genuine civic article. Procedural maneuvers, self-serving speeches, public backstabbing, liberal grandstanding and mind-numbing minutiae laid waste to three innocent hours Tuesday. It felt like an authentic council meeting, right down to the voice-distorting microphones and uncomfortable wooden seats for the audience, which is to say it felt like being slowly buried alive.

Writer-director George Coates deployed a cast of eight mock council members,

Mister Madam Mayor (Jo Mohrbach) and assorted bureaucratic drones in the cause of poking fun at a Berkeley body politic that's routinely riddled with scorn in the real world. "As far as a laughingstock," observed the show's woolly city manager (Lance Brady), "the city is already heavily invested in that."


The fiscal conservative Mozzarella (a part read by Doctor Mozzarella in the hall-of-mirrors casting) argued that "under God" could be a lifestyle choice, a brand like Nike or the Gap. The cheesehead then free-associated to kids miffed at having to check their guns at school entrances.

Elaborate inaction was the dominant order of business. "We have much to do and too much time to do it," aphorized Mohrbach, whose stature and facial features lightly echo the real Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean's. Substitute motions for the substitute motion failed. A dauntingly affectless city attorney (Carol Denney) stunned the entire council to sleep with one of several torturous legal explications.

Coates, best known for sense-massaging shows with his eponymous George Coates Performance Works, scattered assorted stunts and plotlines through the evening. The cast sang the "Popeye" theme. Councilman Stoney (Stoney Burke) took off his shirt and played an irascible nudist. Tie-dyed, headbanded Councilman Gruve (Mark McDonald) wandered off in search of his meds.

Lorrain Taylor peeled off one of the best lines of the night when responding to some absurd policy that might close Berkeley's stores and shut down the university: "Is there a downside?" she asked.

San Francisco Mime Troupe veteran Ed Holmes put in a late appearance as Igor Cheney, the vice president's half brother and commissioner for inner peace and security. "Yeah, I've got 'em shaking in their Birkenstocks," he muttered into his cell phone.

(Freight and Salvage review) The fun starts in the lobby before the show, with an old time music [] jam, and just gets better when Carol Denney hits the stage. She plays guitar, fiddle, and English concertina, and she sings traditional songs as well as witty, incisive originals, usually with an edge ­ well, just about always with an edge. She's personal, she's political, she cares about music and people, and she puts it all out there whenever she performs. Readers of the East Bay Express voted her Best Solo Performer back in 2002, and the Augusta Music Heritage Festival presented her with the Oldtime Spirit award in 2009. U. Utah Phillips praised her "mighty fine songwriting," the Daily Planet called her a "folk hero," and here’s what the Oakland Tribune had to say: "A political superhero to some. A nasty little mosquito slowly sucking blood on a summer day to others. Nosier than Larry King, quicker of wit than a speeding Robin Williams, she's . . . the quasi-mild-mannered Carol Denney."
 the press always handwrites its thoughtful commentary Carol is a Berkeley institution. The city's Commission on the Status of Women honored her for civil liberties activism in 2003, and the city honored her again in 2004 for homeless advocacy. She founded “Fiddlers for Peace” and serves as curator of the "Deep Poetry Project" and editor of the Pepper Spray Times. Jack Hirschman, former poet laureate of San Francisco, nominated her to the Revolutionary Poets' Brigade in 2010. Her song-writing is stellar. Her singing is strong. She'll be joined on stage by Steven Strauss on stand-up bass, as well as special guests. Plus, the evening will include a "crankie" ­ a paper movie that cranks from one roll to another, an old puppetry effect set to live music. Don’t miss Carol Denney playing songs of joy, love, and political struggle.

Visit Carol's website carol-denney-20Freight.jpeg

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