Helen Foley, songwriter and bassist, was my neighbor for the first ten years of her life, a very quiet girl, with big, beautiful eyes


The great and growed Helen Foley

I’m a newbie to the whole Molly Tuttle / Gryphon / Redwood Bluegrass vortex but in it with a passion, so I totally tripped out when I recognized the former little girl from next door, all growed up and plugging a bass and singing an original old timey song, jamming with the very close to stardom A.J. Lee and Blue Summit featuring Sullivan Tuttle.

I kind of geeked out and sent AJ a long text explaining my glee and surprise.

If Mom mentioned this to me, last I saw her, it was just before it clicked who Molly was — I saw her picture on the wall at Gryphon where her dad works while shopping with Jimmy Vivino who played July 6 in my concert series. I saw to Jeannette that I had seen a picture of her son in the student newspaper — the Gunn Oracle — about a band or recording project and if she mentioned to me all this it didn’t register so much.

Now I’m forgetting if CJ or Helen was a water polo goalie.

I had seen the mom jamming before a show at Redwood Bluegrass at a church on Cowper in Palo Alto, a couple years back.

Interestingly, at least to me – enough to stick it up here on this welltraveled blog — I also found out recently that Rupa Marya of Rupa and The April Fishes was also our — Helen and my — neighbor for many years growing up. More true for Helen, in that I think i moved to SF for four years when Rupa was in high school — at Castilleja — then Rupa would have been off to college when I came back.

We all lived near where Wallace Stegner lived for many years, when he taught at Stanford and wrote about the west and the land. and some stretchers.

I wonder if anyone else has ever mentioned “Helen Foley” and “Wallace Stegner” in the same breathe. I’m a gonna invite Helen into my songwriting project, Women On the Walls, based on the short stories of WS.

Wallace Stegner, Rupa Marya, Helen Foley — suss them out.


I’m likely the only person on the planet who knew all three of these creative people: Rupa Marya, Wallace Stegner and Helen Foley; the three of us grew up near Stegner’s longtime abode.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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