Ralph Page calling in the Nelson Town Hall, summer 1941. Email email@example.com if you can help identify the folks in these pictures.
Check out what our friends in Vermont are doing for traditional music:
On Sunday, July 15, a Monadnock Lyceum was held at the Unitarian Church in Peterboro, NH. All the pews were full for the event, a presentation of Monadnock Region music, particularly square and contra dance music, and Bob McQuillen’s part in it, which has been and still is big. Gordon Peery of Nelson and the Monadnock Folk Lore Society put the show together. Gordon gave a good talk on the history of contra and social dancing . Then Old New England, Bob Mcquillen’s band, himself, Jane Orzechowski, and Deanna Stiles, on flute, fiddles and piano, played some selections of jigs, reels, hornpipes, marches and waltzes, some of them Bob’s own compositions. In the balcony, thirty musicians, all influenced by Bob, or, even influenced him, waited for the four potatoes, and, playing Jimmy Allen in unison on fiddles, accordions, concertinas, banjos and flutes, they processed, youngest first, oldest (me) last down the stairs and up the aisle to fan out across the alter. Then they played Amelia’s Waltz, on DDog.
This accordion player is a laughing fellow
with steel gray hair, bribing the bellows.
He coaxes and listens to the Irish in it,
falls of water, hills of granite,
weather brown barns, evergreen tree.
He roars with laughter & slaps his knee,
His music blends with the fiddle man,
the caller, the piano, the summer dancers
with taps on their shoes, fresh from the farms,
the woolen mills.
He tattooed his arms.
Looks like he’s taking a nap on his box,
but what he is doing is coaxing talk,
getting it going like a spinning top,
you can hear it out in the parking lot.
– Dudley Laufman
Welcome to a musical program honoring New England legend Bob McQuillen, patriarch of the longstanding tradition of New England Contra Dance music. After a short historical overview of the importance of this music to our region, we will be treated to a concert of contra dance music from past to present featuring Bob McQuillen and his band, Old New England, with Jane Orzechowski, Deanna Stiles and some fabulous surprise guests.
Bob McQuillen is a living local legend who has been instrumental in keeping contra dancers on their toes in the Monadnock area for a very long time, connecting back to the legendary caller Ralph Page in the 30s. In the 70s, he worked with Dudley Laufman and the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra. In 2003, he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. These days, at 88, he is still found at the piano Monday evenings in Nelson and at the first Saturdays Contra Dance here in Peterborough.
McQuillen is a prolific composer, with close to 1,500 tunes that often carry the name of the person who inspired them. McQuillen compositions are popular among musicians as well as dancers, available in Bob’s Notebooks. “Old New England,” Bob’s current group with Jane Orzechowski and Deanna Stiles, represented New Hampshire at the 1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and performed at the Celebrate New Hampshire festival in 2000. “Old New England” has released four CDs.
“Mr. Mac” is also remembered and well loved for the 30 years he spent teaching shop class at Peterborough High School (now Conval). Bob has always taught, mentored and inspired people, especially aspiring musicians. “He’s one of those angels that just floats around making a difference in everyone’s life,” said Leslie Jose, whose son Mike inspired “Mikey’s Reel.” “There’s no way you could even put into words the magic that Bob McQuillen has.”
Narrator Gordon Peery has been playing for contra dances since the late 1970s. He has toured throughout the US, as well as Canada and Europe. Gordon was a founding director of the Monadnock Folklore Society, and is currently President of the Peterborough Historical Society.
Greetings from the Traditional Arts Program!
In June and July of this year we are presenting a series of public programs to celebrate traditional arts in New Hampshire with a specific focus on our Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant program. This grant category funds a master artist of a craft, music or dance tradition to teach an experienced apprentice in one-to-one sessions. These grants help preserve traditions that are a part of our living cultural heritage.
The project kicks off with an exhibit entitled “Shaping Our Heritage” that will be held at the State Library in Concord from June 8 to July 20. We hope you’ll be able to join us for the opening reception June 8 from 4:30 to 6:30 and if so, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are unable to join us for the opening reception, we hope that you will have the opportunity to view the exhibit June 11 to July 20, anytime between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm.
We are also holding a Traditional Arts Conference tailored to the needs and interests of traditional artists on June 9, 2012 at the beautiful McLane Center on the grounds of the New Hampshire Audubon Society, 84 Silk Farm Rd, Concord, NH from 9 am to 4:30 pm. The conference promises to be a unique opportunity for traditional artists to meet, exchange ideas, and build a stronger community. We are working out the last of the arrangements for the workshops and we hope it is a memorable and enriching day for everyone. We’ve invited Barry Bergey, director of the Folk Arts Program at the National Endowment for the Arts, to open the conference. Here is a link to the portal on our website with more information on the project: http://www.nh.gov/nharts/artsandartists/exhibitgallery/tradapprenticeshipexhibit.htm
Conference registrations are coming in nicely and we are almost at capacity. As of today, we still have space for around 25 more traditional artists. If you know of a traditional crafts person, musician or dancer that could benefit from this opportunity, we invite you to pass along an invitation to register for the conference.
There is no charge to attend. However, because the Audubon Center has space limitations, we are providing lunch, and we have a fixed budget, we need to make sure everyone who plans on attending is registered. Our deadline is Friday, June 1, 2012 and “First-registered, first-accommodated!” To register for the conference, artists should contact our special project assistant Julianne Gadoury at email@example.com or by phone: 271-0791 8:30 am to 1:30 pm.
When I first heard Flynn Cohen (several years ago) he was playing backup guitar behind three stellar fiddlers who were wowing the audience with an array of fancy stuff. It wasn’t until late in the concert when Flynn did a solo set that his ability to similarly dazzle was displayed. Since that time I’ve come to admire his playing for his willingness to understate. Or perhaps another way of saying that is that Flynn doesn’t play a note unless it needs to be played.
His latest solo album, Fierce Modal, is a daring effort consisting of entirely original instrumentals. It opens with a gentle meditation he calls “End of an Era”, which gave me an image of a pool of water, glimmering in sunlight, but seemingly standing still. Then you realize that the water is moving – not very fast, and not very far, but in a very logical way.
The Monadnock Folklore Society maintains a Group membership with the Country Dance and Song Society. One of the benefits of Group membership is that we can recommend people for the following items:
1. Groups can nominate 1 or 2 people for priority admission to CDSS summer camp programs
2. CDSS matches some scholarships that Groups offer to their members.
Please go to http://www.cdss.org/priority-matching-scholarships.html for more details on each of these programs.
Did you make a New Year’s Resolution to have fun and learn more on your fiddle?
If you did, I’d like to invite you to attend Fiddle Camp North, April 13-15, Charleton, MA. Even if you didn’t, join us anyway! We’ll have an enjoyable variety of workshops and jams at multiple levels and in different styles to keep you happy for the weekend.
Fiddle Camp North is a weekend-long celebration of the Fiddle in Bluegrass, Old Time, Irish, Cape Breton, and New England styles! Our goal is learning — and having a great time doing so!
I’m the Fiddle Coordinator and will be teaching quite a few workshops. Our staff will include Alan Kaufman, Skip Gorman, Martin Grosswendt, and possibly more instructors. All are traditional players with excellent teaching and performing experience. We generally teach by ear, but many classes will have handouts also.
Fiddle Camp North is held in conjunction with Mandolin Camp North. The two Camps will be held at Prindle Pond Conference Center, a beautiful wooded setting in Charlton, Massachusetts. Buildings are heated, and meals (including vegetarian option) are provided as part of the tuition package. Thursday night lodging is available for those traveling a long way, whether driving or flying to FCN.
The Camps will open Friday at 12:30 PM for registration, jamming, and instruction. We’ll have hands-on workshops, round robin demonstrations and guided jam sessions (at multiple levels) for three days, a Friday night “meet the faculty concert,” a formal concert Saturday night, and lots of time for jamming and getting to know each other. If you’re there for Fiddle Camp, it’s fine to attend any of the Mandolin Camp sessions as well that pique your interest. Fiddle and mandolin are tuned the same.
Most of the classes are hands on, practical learning situations, covering different styles and repertoire, bowing techniques, improvising, chords, and many more topics. A few are demonstrations or mini-concerts, but even in these classes the intention is for you to take something away that you may want to learn or speak with the instructors about later. You are encouraged to bring a recording device (such as an MP3 recorder).
Details and registration are at http://www.FiddleCampNorth.com . Please register through that website, although we’ll have a Facebook event up soon for Fiddle Camp North.
If this is your first time at Fiddle Camp North or Mandolin Camp North, Mike Holmes (our esteemed Camp Director) has generously offered a $100 discount if you register by February 19th.
By AIMEE LOCKHARDT
Special to the Democrat
Monday, January 16, 2012
DURHAM — From hemlines to dance moves, the University of New Hampshire looked like a town dance from the old west Saturday—that is if they wore sneakers and watches or used a microphone to call out steps.
At the 25th annual Ralph Page Memorial Dance Legacy, sponsored by UNH and the Center for Humanities, those who participated in the three day weekend, which ran Friday to Sunday, not only celebrated the Granite State caller’s life, but also took part in a tradition he helped keep alive—contra and square dancing.
How To Write A Mummers Play
By Allison Aldrich
‘Twas a month before Solstice, and all through my head
Ran a host of ideas and thoughts, so instead
Of paying my bills or attending to mail,
I spent every day on the Web, without fail
Trolling for news items, searching for memes-
Soon it was haunting my thoughts and my dreams.
Oh, no! it’s December! And I haven’t written
A line or a phrase- I must have been smitten
With rushes of blood to my head to agree
To write this ridiculous annual spree.
But now they are asking, “So, how is it going?”
“Just great!” I assure them, sincerity flowing.
In fact, I’ve a plot in my head that might work,
And yes! Just in time, there’s an obvious jerk
In the news, who is perfect for playing the Fool,
And the maiden is there, but the hero’s in school
And can’t be consulted. The Dragon could be
Any number of nasties that daily we see
On the news, on the streets, but whichever I choose,
You can bet that the week of the show there’ll be news
Of an impending threat or a star on a bend,
Who should be included, but now to attend
To rehearsals, and costumes, and last-minute changes-
The rhymes don’t quite scan, Father Christmas arranges
A family party the day of the show!
The Fair Maiden’s costume’s revealing to show
What must not be shown- can we get underway
And perform a complete and acceptable play
That has humor and context and couplets that rhyme,
And scan the right rhythm, for most of the time?
Will the audience laugh? Will the swords ever lock?
Will the hero lie there with a hole in his sock?
Yes , they will, yes we can, yes we did, it was fun!
And now I can file this son-of-a-gun!
Will I do it again? Oh, I will if they ask,
Despite all the worries that come with the task.
And now to relax, celebrate with good cheer!
I wish you good Solstice, and happy New Year!