Sep 222014
November 21, 2014
8:00 pmto10:30 pm

SkipGorman-connie_dspThe Monadnock Folklore Society presents “Celtic Roots of the Music of the American West” a concert program performed by Skip Gorman with Connie Dover at the Nelson Town Hall on Friday, November 21 at 8 pm. Admission is $15/$12(Sr/Jr/Advance)

Through his music, Skip Gorman brings back to life the workaday world of the cowboys of the American West. His music is not the music of the Hollywood cowboy, but rather the simple, yet beautifully poignant music that was performed around campfires by cowboys and westward settlers in the 19th century. Gorman brings to the music a scholar’s knowledge of the cowboy’s Celtic, Spanish and Afro-American roots as well as the personal experience gained by working as a cowboy on a ranch in Wyoming, along with an exquisite touch as a singer, guitarist, fiddler and mandolinist.

Acclaimed by the Boston Globe as “the finest folk ballad singer America has produced since Joan Baez,” Connie Dover is a singer, poet and Emmy Award-winning producer and composer. Her soaring, crystal-clear voice and inspired arrangements of the music of Scotland, Ireland and early America display a depth and breadth of range that have established her as one of the world’s pre-eminent traditional singers.

“The lonesome ache that is in the core of Skip Gorman’s voice and fiddling fits close to the bones of the slope country, the rough breaks, the bunchgrass high plains. These traditional cowboy songs, unadorned, openly sad, sometimes lively or gritty, carry the distance and solitude of the West in them.”
E. Annie Proulx,
Centennial, Wyoming

“Connie Dover has become an American treasure who has rediscovered the musical synergy that existed between the British Isles and the American West.”
- Cowboys and Indians Magazine

 Posted by on September 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm
Nov 022014

The Monday Contra Dance returns to Nelson WEST for one night only, Monday, November 3rd, due to the election being held in the Nelson Town Hall.

8-10:30 PM
Heberton Hall, 76 Winter Street, next to the Keene Library.

 Posted by on November 2, 2014 at 11:34 am
Sep 162014

On Monday, September 29th, the world-famous Monday Night Dance returns to the newly renovated Nelson Town Hall.

Here’s a picture of one of our stalwart volunteers working on the repair of the floor.

Max Fixing the Floor, with Don as crew chief and Chris as fixer #2

Max Fixing the Floor, with Don as crew chief and Chris as fixer #2

See this post for more information about the project.

 Posted by on September 16, 2014 at 5:23 pm
Jul 202014

Virginia Lupi has been confirmed as the director of the N.H. Department of Cultural Resources’ Division of the Arts. Lupi was nominated by Gov. Maggie Hassan and received unanimous support of the Executive Council.

Lupi’s extensive work experience includes not-for-profit management, public policy consulting, grant writing and public relations work. Most recently, she served as executive director of the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes in Corning, N.Y.

“New Hampshire’s arts community is critical to our high quality of life, strengthening our cultural identity and our economy,” Gov. Maggie Hassan said. “Ginnie Lupi has a wide range of experience in the arts and management, and her passion for and understanding of the arts’ importance to our communities and economy will be an asset to the Division of the Arts, the Department of Cultural Resources and the Granite State.”

“New Hampshire’s dedication to art of all kinds – physical and performed, traditional and cutting edge and everything in between – garners worldwide respect,” said Lupi. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Lupi was selected after an extensive national search by a committee assembled by Department of Cultural Resources Commissioner Van McLeod. He then brought forth her name to Gov. Hassan.

She will join the Division of the Arts full time this summer.

The Division of the Arts is a publicly funded agency within the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources. It began in 1965 with legislation designed “to insure that the role of the arts in the life of our communities will continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the education and welfare of our citizens.” Funding comes from state appropriations, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Conservation License Plate fund. Learn more at

The NH Council on the Arts is an important supporter of the Monadnock Folklore Society.

NH Council on the Arts Logo

NH Council on the Arts Logo

 Posted by on July 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm
Jul 132014

RennAndHarvey2010It is with great sadness that we share the news that Renn Tolman passed away on July 5th in Homer, Alaska.

Renn was born in Nelson, the son of Newt and Beth Tolman. Newt played flute for the Nelson dances and with Kay Gilbert, compiled “The Nelson Collection” of fiddle tunes. The book was used by many musicians in later years to fuel the revival of traditional dance and music. Beth collaborated with Ralph Page to write The Country Dance Book, a collection of dances from the Monadnock Region.

Renn learned to play the flute from his father. He brought traditional New England style dance to Homer, Alaska. In addition, he returned to Nelson regularly where his turn on the stage was always eagerly awaited.

Renn and Harvey at Tolman Pond 2010 Photo Credit: Nate Anable

 Posted by on July 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm
May 242014
Photo of Existing Light Bar in Nelson Town Hall

Photo of Existing Light Bar in Nelson Town Hall

Nelson, NH. April 28, 2014.
After the Monday night dance in Nelson, dancers, musicians and Monadnock Folklore board members carried equipment, fans and even the old violin case that is used to collect the three-dollar dance admission to a neighboring barn in preparation for the renovation of the Nelson Town Hall.

The joke every Monday night is that the musicians & callers get paid in cookies. Don Primrose’s commanding voice will boom this announcement across the hall every week. But the dance does have a cost. The piano was purchased several years ago when the old one just couldn’t stand up to the vibration of feet balancing and fingers on its keys any longer. The hall rent increases every few years and the lighting for the stage is ancient and was rigged “temporarily” twenty years ago using plumbing piping, and if you listen carefully there is a hum from the stage lighting due to the electrical circuit.

Monadnock Folklore Society would like to make an investment in the future by upgrading the lighting to LED fixtures and a more conventional method of hanging the lights. LED fixtures have the added benefit of cutting electricity cost and hopefully helping to keep our rent increases to a minimum, with no hum!

Sound equipment is costly and heavy. Volunteers arrive every week to set up the equipment and speakers, soundboard, cables and microphones. Our goal is to make this easier and improve the quality of sound by installing a lockable soundboard and permanently mounted speakers.

The dance has come full circle and we need your help, please support this campaign to improve the lighting and sound system with a donation to Monadnock Folklore Society. The much needed improvements will cost $12,000.

Please go to our Donations page, or click the Donate button below.

Thank you for supporting the future of dance in Nelson.

 Posted by on May 24, 2014 at 11:23 pm
May 042014

Town Hall LiftedThe Nelson Town Hall Renovation has begun! See for background information.

While the hall is being renovated, the Monday dance will continue to be held.

From Monday May 5 through Monday June 2:
The Nelson Dance will be at the Peterborough Community Center (old Armory) at 25 Elm Street. The Community Center has a strict “soft-soled shoes” policy, so please, no dancing in outdoor shoes.

From Monday June 9th through Monday August 25th, the Dance will be at Heberton Hall, next to the Keene Library at 76 Winter Street in Keene.

On Monday September 1, the dance will return to the Peterborough Community Center (old Armory) at 25 Elm Street.

On Monday September 8, 15 and 22, the Dance will be at Heberton Hall, next to the Keene Library at 76 Winter Street in Keene.

Planning to be back in Nelson on Monday September 29th!

 Posted by on May 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm
Mar 162014

There will be a series of events on Saturday, May 3rd in Peterborough NH to celebrate the life of Bob McQuillen.

  • 2-4 PM Memorial at ConVal High School (184 Hancock Rd, Peterborough, NH 03458)
  • 4-8 PM Reception at the Monadnock Country Club (49 High Street 03458)
  • 7-11ish Dance at the Peterborough Town House (1 Grove Street 03458). Musicians and callers welcome to perform, send email to if interested so we can keep track.

More details will be posted as they become available.

 Posted by on March 16, 2014 at 7:50 am
Mar 162014

With a 79% majority vote, the Town Hall Renovation Budget ($305,900) was approved at the Nelson Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 11th. While the majority of the renovation is funded from Town reserves, a local fund-raising effort raised $80,000 towards the Town Hall work. These donations were essential to the passage of this budget at Town Meeting and the Monadnock Folklore Society is grateful to all who contributed.

During the renovation, the Monday Night Dance will move to the Peterborough Community Center at 25 Elm Street on Monday, May 5th, and then will move to Heberton Hall in Keene on Monday, June 9th. We expect to return to the Nelson Hall by mid-August.

The work to be done on the Town Hall includes the following scope:

  1. Separate the structure from the Connector Building.
  2. Elevate the structure above its foundation.
  3. Remove the rubble foundation.
  4. Pour new concrete foundation.
  5. Reinstall granite capstones.
  6. Install drainage systems both inside and outside of new concrete walls.
  7. Pour concrete footings for posts and pour new concrete floor.
  8. Remove exterior siding from East wall.
  9. Straighten walls and level floor to best achievable plumb and level.
  10. Re-sheath East wall with OSB and reinstall siding.
  11. Reinforce roof bearing posts with steel channel iron or wood.
  12. Reinforce floor with additional wood timbers and floor joists.
  13. Reinforce roof trusses with additional framing members.
  14. Renovate window sash and front door using funds from a Moose Plate Grant.
  15. Remove furnace from Storage Room in Town Hall.
  16. Relocate furnace from Storage Room to Library Furnace Room.
  17. Install duct work for heating or introduction of ambient air for ventilation.
  18. Install fan and floor registers to bring heated or ambient air into the Town Hall.


 Posted by on March 16, 2014 at 7:39 am
Feb 052014
Bob McQuillen at the Nelson Town Hall

Bob McQuillen at the Nelson Town Hall

Our Bob died on Tuesday, February 4th, 2014, surrounded by friends, at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH.

McQuillen, 90, had been hospitalized after suffering a stroke on Sunday.

Bob played the Nelson Monday Night dance weekly for over thirty years, as well as the Peterborough First Saturday dance. He was nationally and internationally revered for his boom-chuck piano playing and his terrible jokes.

In 2001, he founded the Johnny Trombly Memorial Scholarship fund, so that young musicians could receive lessons in traditional New England dance music. Several of the recipients chose to take lessons with Bob and so his style, learned from Johnny Trombly, will live on.

In his will, Bob designated Monadnock Folklore Society as the recipient for donations in his memory. Your Donations to the Monadnock Folklore Society in memory of Bob can be made here.

Statement from the National Endowment for the Arts on the Death of 2002 NEA National Heritage Fellow Bob McQuillen

Link to Peterborough Ledger-Transcript

News story and feature in the Keene Sentinel (two separate stories)

The Boston Globe

The article the David Millstone wrote about Bob when he received the Lifetime Contribution Award from Country Dance and Song Society in 2009.

Interview with Bob from 2004 for NH Heritage and Traditional Arts

Source for Bob’s CDs: Great Meadow Music

 Posted by on February 5, 2014 at 8:04 am