Mar 102010
 

treeNovember in New England, dark gray trees silhouetted against stark gray skies – there’s something invigorating in the vision, as if we are storing up energy for the winter ahead. Come March and the image is wearying. We strain to see the tree tips showing a hint of red, and our own energy stores  are depleted. But, like the maple trees, there is within us some sweetness which, properly tapped, will nurture us into the spring.

There’s a bit of folklore that once upon a time maple trees provided thick maple syrup year round. The People became complacent, neglecting their crops and community, and indulged themselves by lying beneath dripping maples with opened mouths. Glooskap (variously the son of Mother earth, or the first man, or the man from nothing) came across this situation and decided to force a modification of behavior. He diluted the syrup with water from the river, and made it so the sap would flow only once a year, forcing the People resuming a more structured existence of hunting, fishing, and growing crops. Continue reading »

Mar 012010
 

Here’s another opportunity to hear and support young traditional musicians. The deadline for performers to apply is mid-April.

*Young Tradition Showcase Contest*

The annual Showcase Contest at Waterfront Park in Burlington, Vermont is a
primary focus of the annual Young Tradition Weekend. The program for the
contest starts in the mid/late morning on 5/15/10 and finishes by 3pm,
running simultaneously with Kids Day at Waterfront Park. It is designed so
that young singers, players and dancers (25 years old and younger) in
single, duo or group formats can perform 2 or 3 numbers. Participation is
not limited to Vermonters.

Prizes include showcase performances at a variety of concerts, festivals,
coffeehouses and tours, cash ($500 for 1st, $250 for 2nd and $125 for 3rd),
$1000 in scholarships, and more. There are no judges for the contest and
all styles and genres that fit under the ‘folk and traditional’ umbrella are
welcome. There is time for about 20 ‘acts’ and we strive to make sure that
what is presented at the contest is either directly related or inspired by
what is generally considered folk and traditional music or dance….. if you
think it fits, there is a good chance that it does.

Prospective performers who have not participated in the past are asked to
submit an audio and/or video sample. Samples will be returned if
self-addressed, postage-paid packaging is included with the
application. Samples should be e-mailed to
Vermont Traditions
mrksustc@together.net

or mailed to:
Young Tradition Vermont
PO Box 163
Fairfax, VT 05454.

We strive for balance in the genres
presented, the instruments used, and the traditions presented, etc. (e.g. we
try to not have just fiddlers, just dancers, just singers, etc.).

Contact Mark Sustic, PO Box 163, Fairfax, VT 05454
802-849-6968
mrksustc@together.net
www.youngtraditionvermont.org

 Posted by on March 1, 2010 at 9:25 am  Tagged with: ,
Feb 142010
 

Generations

It’s encouraging to see a new generation of musicians taking hold. I suppose the term “new” is only relevant to those of us who are coming to represent the “older” generation, but not much we can do about that.

annalivia3Annalivia did a fantastic performance in the Nelson Town Hall on February 5th.  Their eclectic mix of Scottish tunes and American ballads, technically brilliant musicianship, entertaining stage presence – all around good time. Looking up on the stage there’s Brendan Carey-Block, fiddler extraordinaire, who was a pre-school classmate of my daughter. The band’s singer, Liz Simmons, is the daughter of Leslie Vogel (an accomplished musician in her own right, who’s recent new recording was reviewed here). Leslie was a classmate of mine at High Mowing School back in the late 1960’s. Stuart Kenney, the bass and banjo player (it takes a lot of courage to play two such teased instruments), was just outgrowing teenager-hood when I first met him some decades ago, and now his son Matthew is getting his own reputation (at the age of 12) as an incredible percussionist.  Annalivia’s other fiddler, Emerald Rae (who is about the same age as Brendan) noted that she went to Berklee with all of the members of Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers, who are performing in Nelson on March 19th. Continue reading »

Jan 262010
 

Annalivia will be performing in Nelson on February 5th. Here is an interview with Flynn Cohen, guitarist and founding member.

Click here for more show info and tickets.

Annalivia

Annalivia is: Liz Simmons, Stuart Kenney, Brendan Carey-Block, Flynn Cohen, Emerald Rae.

Jan 132010
 

The Monadnock Folklore Society has been approved for an FY2010 New Hampshire State Council on the Arts Mini Grant to support performances at the upcoming Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend. With its motto of “The Spirit of the Past, with a Vision for the Future,” the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend was founded 23 years ago by the New England Folk Festival Association in collaboration with the Center for the Humanities at the University of New Hampshire. This weekend is named in honor of Ralph Page, who was pivotal in sustaining and reviving traditional contra and square dancing in New England.

Ralph started calling more than 70 years ago in Nelson, NH, the Monadnock area town that has had contra and square dancing continuously in its town hall for two centuries. Ralph was a popular caller in New Hampshire and in the Boston area. During various periods in which contra and square dancing were at low points in popularity, he was nearly the only person to keep the tradition alive.

Ralph Page became not only a caller but also a scholar of contra dancing. He published The Northern Junket newsletter monthly for many years. He wrote many excellent dances, and he researched and reconstructed many old dances. In 1977, Ralph Page received the Granite State Award given to outstanding citizens of New Hampshire. This award acknowledged not only his talents as a dance teacher, caller, and musician, but also his contributions to community life as a selectman for Nelson, NH from 1932-1938 and as president of the Cheshire County Historical Society for 15 years. When Ralph Page died in the early 1980’s, a committee was set up to keep his legacy alive; that eventually led to the Ralph Page Dance Weekend which has occurred annually since 1988.

From the beginning the emphasis of the Weekend has been on preserving the smoother style of dancing that Ralph favored. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a style of dancing only old people or old-fashioned dancers would enjoy. Contra and square dancing involve teamwork, and it never shows up better than at the Ralph Page weekend. Interested dancers are welcome to attend the entire weekend or any part, including the Friday or Saturday night dances. The Dance Legacy Weekend takes place from Friday, January 15 through Sunday, January 17th at the Memorial Union Building at the University of New Hampshire, Durham.

The 2010 Weekend Staff:

* Callers: Lisa Greenleaf & Tony Parkes
* Latter Day Lizards: Dave Langford, Bill Tomczak & Peter Barnes
* Old New England: Jane Orzechowski, Deanna Stiles & Bob McQuillen
* White Cockade: Vince O’Donnell, Ralph Jones, Sylvia Miskoe, Cal Howard, RP Hale & Allan Chertok
* Retrospective dance session: Marcie Van Cleave & Sylvia Miskoe will lead a celebration of the truly inspirational and varied life of Marianne Taylor.

More information about the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend at http://www.nhcountrydance.com/music/rpdlw.html
More information about Ralph Page at

http://www.library.unh.edu/special/index.php/ralph-page

NH Council on the Arts Logo
The Weekend is honored to be supported in part by a grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Jan 062010
 

Looking Back

It is customary for the January column of any publication or blog to offer some retrospective on the year gone by. We will forego that exercise, but will point out that the structure of this web site allows you to scroll down to previous month’s articles, and when you get to the bottom of those displayed, there is a “previous entries” tab which will take you back to the beginning. Explore.

MFSNL1What we will do this month is go further back in time. The very first MFS “newsletter” was published in November/December of 1981. It included a calendar listing for those two months, and a couple of things are worth noting. One is that Nowell (spelled incorrectly in the calendar) Sing We Clear was produced in the Dublin Church, and this past December (this time with the correct spelling) this same event appeared on the MFS calendar (if memory serves, Nowell in 1981 was produced by Steve Avery, who was the proprietor of Deacon Brodie’s Tavern in Dublin). The other is that the same evening Stan Rogers was finishing a three-night stand at the Folkway in Peterborough, Gordon Bok was playing in Nelson. These two musicians had some things in common, including deep resonate voices, and many songs having to do with the sea. The two giants met for the first timeMFSNL2 at a house party in Nelson following their respective concerts, and we were fortunate to be there and witness a hearty embrace. Continue reading »

Dec 192009
 

papaIt’s not surprising that Leslie Vogel’s new CD, Papa’s On The Housetop, is a whole lot of fun. Leslie is a singer, accordion and keyboard player for the bands Tatoo and The Folksoul Band, both of whom know how to really find a groove and bask in it. Leslie is also the director of the Greenfield/Wilton (NH) based Youth and Community Fiddle Orchestra. Her daughter Liz sings with the hot Celtic band Annalivia. All of these troops are called into action for this recording, as well has her daughter Becky and sister Rosalinda, both great singers. So you can think this is something of a family affair, but don’t think for a minute that nepotism gets in the way here. On the contrary, Leslie couldn’t have done better in her choices for musicians on this recording (and she can certainly take some credit for where some of the musicians are today).

This recording is big fun to listen to – the kind of CD that would have been in demand for road trips when my kids were kids. That said, it plays just wonderfully for adult ears too – the arrangements are tight and lively, the songs are pretty and energetic, and when the album is over you just might feel that the world is a little bit better off. It’s a real spirit-booster.

Folks in the Monadnock area might think they are enjoying the CD because they know some of the players, or have heard them perform. But send this to your friends and relatives in LA or Atlanta and they’re just as likely to appreciate it.

Papa’s On The Housetop can be bought at the Toadstool Bookstores in Milford or Peterborough,  from CD Baby, or  send an email to Leslie directly to order.

Listen to a sampler:

Dec 042009
 

The Ghost of Music Past

Dudley Laufman at Newport (photo by Murry Lerner, courtesy of David Millstone)

Dudley at Newport (from footage by Murray Lerner, courtesy of David Millstone)

People have fond memories of their cultural past. Those of us who are old enough to remember the 1960’s and 70’s can recall a musical era that was very rich and formative. And there’s a fair amount of good documentation so that the spirit of those times can be appreciated: my children (at 25 and 22) have a working knowledge of musicians and songs from then: indeed my son was just effusing about the song-writing genius of Bob Dylan (we’re both particular fans of Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, considering it to be among the top ten songs ever written).

As folk music threatened to become mainstream (which didn’t quite happen, see Folknotes  September 2009 ), the Newport Folk Festival became an important event in the northeast. The festival was started in 1959 by George Wein, Pete Seeger, Theodore Bikel, and Oscar Brand. Wein had already established the Newport Jazz Festival, and and both soon become an annual barometer of the state of their respective arts. In this pre-Internet area the festivals provided a networking environment for musicians, and a forum for presenting new material and the thrill for audiences of hearing live performances from a wide range of musicians all in one place.

It is practically superfluous to mention the Newport Folk Festival of 1965, when Bob Dylan introduced the electrified sound that ushered in the Folk-Rock era, but it is worth noting that was also the year that  Dudley Laufman brought a group of  contra dancers and musicians (including our own Harvey Tolman) to the festival. This event is nicely documented in David Millstone’s excellent film, The Other Way Back. It is not known (and not noticeable in the footage) whether Dylan might have been one of the dancers, but if he was paying attention he would certainly have appreciated the charismatic Tamborine Man of the contra dance scene. Continue reading »

Nov 042009
 

terry landisBarefoot Through The Music is a new recording from Terry Landis, who has been gracing the Monadnock Region with her singing for many years. Terry’s voice is at once urgent and soothing, providing a sort of audio massage.  I’ve been listening to her perform live for many years, almost always in various configurations with other musicians, and indeed one of her gifts is her ability to engage with both vocal and instrumental collaborators, bringing out their best, and setting a strong foundation for the song she is singing. This is really fun to watch in a live performance, but it’s also well-conveyed in this recording. This album features vocal support from Carol Raynsford and Nadine Laughlin, keyboard, bass and  production from Danny Solomon, and Terry’s sons Ezra Landis on guitar and Owen Landis on percussion. Continue reading »

Oct 062009
 

itunesIn the last Folknotes we talked about the popularity of folk music in the early 1960’s. We noted the fact that the British invasion of rock and roll marked the beginning of a decline in this popularity, and cited a recent Pew Research Center survey that didn’t even include folk as a category.

Shortly after we wrote this article Mary Traverse died, and even mainstream media published stories about how Peter, Paul and Mary had been instrumental (as well as vocal) in making folk music more popular, and most articles also referenced the subsequent decline.

Also, at just about this time, I downloaded the most recent version of iTunes, and was surprised to see that on iTunes radio, “Folk” was no longer offered as a category. I was eventually able to find my favorite station, WUMB, listed under college radio, but I got the message: Apple (a very innovative trend-setter) no longer considered folk music to be significant enough to have a place of its own. Continue reading »

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