May 042009
 
Jack in the Green at Neffa

Jack in the Green at Neffa

Morris Dancers with sticks

The question arises: why do people Morris Dance? The reasons for the tradition are well documented – welcome in the spring and facilitate fertility of the earth and the creatures living here. The history of Morris dancing becomes somewhat obscure prior to the time of Shakespeare, though there are certainly indications of much earlier activity. In more agrarian times, fertility rites might have had greater urgency and relevance to survival, but one can speculate that Morris dancers of old were also inspired by those things which move the modern Morris men and women to engage in activity that seems at once ridiculous and exhausting.

I ask several Morris dancers this question – why do they Morris dance – what’s in it for them? Curiously, the word “tradition” didn’t even factor into an answer until my sixth or seventh victim (though I happen to know that all Morris dancers are knowledgeable and respectful of the tradition).  Camaraderie was a frequent word – describing not only the relationships of the team, but of fellow Morris dancers around the country, and indeed around the world. “I love to dance” was a common answer, and appreciation of the music ranked high as well.  Several  referenced the importance of the figures – the patterns and repetition . And of course, it’s just plain fun to dress up and be silly, then go to pubs for a few rounds of brew and song.

I’m not sure if anyone has ever measured the caloric expenditure of Morris Dancers, but I doubt there’s any machine at a fitness center that is more effective. Then there is the precision of the figures – the sound from those sticks hitting each other tells you that they are not kidding around. You need to have a lot of confidence not only in your own movement, but that of your teammates as well. This is a lot of work, and of course it takes a lot of practice, which in turn represents considerable dedication.

The Harrisville Morris Women

The Harrisville Morris Women

I believe that’s where the magic comes in. Hard work, focus, and perseverance – the good earth can appreciate that – add a shot of pure joy (music) and you indeed have the ingredients for fertile ground.

Locally, our Morris folk (some of whom have been dancing for 30 years) have dared to deviate somewhat from the exact traditional practices that were handed down to them as being correct, and I found no dancer who was particularly doctrinaire in their thinking about it. This is a good thing.  There is a delicate balance between preserving the technical details of a tradition and preserving the spirit.  Of course, a little spirited debate on this subject is welcome, and you can make your comments here!
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Kimberley Fraser

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The Town of Nelson has a strong connection with Cape Breton music, largely due to the influence of Nelson fiddler Harvey
Tolman. On Monday nights at the contra dance Harvey’s repertoire is rich with Cape Breton tunes rendered in the traditional style. Roger Treat, another Monday night regular, also focuses on Cape Breton music; both fiddlers have spent quite a bit of time in Cape Breton, drinking straight from the well.  Over the years the legendary fiddler Jerry Holland has become a good friend of Nelson audiences, and it might be safe to say that Nelson enjoys something of a reputation among Cape Breton players, who recognize and appreciate an educated audience.

We are very excited to be presenting Kimberley Fraser,  one of the foremost of the new generation of Cape Breton fiddlers. Like the Morris Dancers, Kimberley is solid in her traditional roots, but she is not afraid to take it to new places.  News Flash: Kimberly will be joined by the fabulous Mark Simos! You can hear some of Kimberley’s playing from her website, and you can order tickets to her May 16th concert in the Nelson Town Hall right here.

May 042009
 

The Nields

Presented by Orange Earth Productions

At Armadillo’s Burritos
82 Main Street, Keene NH
Limited menu available until 5:45
Beer, Wine, Coffee, tea and other beverages all evening

Tickets available at:
Armadillos – Keene (603) 358-3700
Turn It Up – Keene (603) 358-6833
Toadstool Bookshop, Keene (603) 352-8815
Village Square Booksellers, Bellows Falls, VT (802) 463-9404

Advanced Tickets $15
Doors Open 5pm
Show Begins 6pm
All Ages

To the songwriter/musician who has neither burned, bailed nor sold out, there comes a time when he or she turns from writing about who they are in the current moment to writing about who they have always been, addressing head-on their roots, sources and influences. SISTER HOLLER, the newest and 14th career release from Nerissa and Katryna Nields, is a “roots album,” but with a difference. Rather than simply reinterpret or re-record the music what brung ’em, the sisters from Western Massachusetts, have decided in Sister Holler to retool, assimilate and flat out burgle the music they grew up with to create something new. They tell the listener right up front that they’re even going to lift entire lines from some of the best songs ever written, and then they do it, right before your very ears. The result is a delightful oxymoron of songs simultaneously familiar and surprising.

On Sister Holler, the Nields’ “Moonlighter” revisits the old folk song, “Moonshiner” (about an alcoholic in love with the bottle) with songwriter Nerissa incorporating the actual lines, “I’ll eat when I’m hungry, I’ll drink when I’m dry.” But in Nerissa’s version the new narrator is in love with an unattainable lover. “Abington Sea Fair” is “Scarborough Fair” from a woman’s point of view, with genders swapped. “This Train” is a populist anthem for today and kind of a commentary on the state of the nation, particularly the polarization between Republicans and Democrats. “We’ll Plant an Oak” is a post-modern response to “The Water is Wide”. On the song “Endless Day”, Nerissa made the decision to use the progression from Johann Pachabel’s “Canon in D”, commenting, “but Blues Traveler used it. Sophie B. Hawkins used it. You can find it all over the place.” Indeed, part of the fun of Sister Holler is listening for the references.

Nerissa and Katryna Nields have been the darlings of the coffeehouse/festival scene since 1991, with tunes ranging from off-the-hook idiosyncratic to kicking to heartbreaking. “Our parents were total folkies,” says Nerissa. “Their first date was a Pete Seeger concert and their second was a Harry Bellefonte concert. We used to go to a family camp in the Adirondacks every summer where people sat around a fire. That’s where I learned how to finger pick. The music teacher at our school, Jack Langstaff, was more of the English tradition of folk music than the American, and his legacy was really strong. We grew up on simple folk songs.”

 Posted by on May 4, 2009 at 6:09 am  Tagged with:
May 042009
 

Ashleigh Flynn

Presented by Orange Earth Productions

At Armadillo’s Burritos
82 Main Street, Keene NH

Limited menu available until 5:45
Beer, Wine, Coffee, tea and other beverages all evening
Advanced Tickets $15
Doors Open 5pm
Show Begins 6pm
All Ages

Tickets available at:
Armadillos – Keene (603) 358-3700
Turn It Up – Keene (603) 358-6833
Toadstool Bookshop, Keene (603) 352-8815
Village Square Booksellers, Bellows Falls, VT (802) 463-9404

Ashleigh Flynn is “more Americana than she is country, but everyone needs to become familiar with her amazing voice,” said Scott Sexton at countrymusic.com. “Her latest album American Dream is a journey through life that can only be told by someone who’s experienced the ups and downs that are thrown in our paths.”

Her voice has been described as beautiful, raw and down to earth. On songs such as “Dressed and Ready,” her voice expresses such heartbreak over a failed love our own hearts can’t help but break as well. Then Flynn throws a song such as “Mystery” at you, with her voice ringing out about the sublime beauty of the world that can be found in the ordinary.

Flynn hails from Kentucky where she grew up along the Ohio River as the steamboats and barges made their way to the muddy Mississippi. A songwriter of exceptional depth and poetry, Flynn is also an electrifying performer blessed with unbridled charisma and the voice of an angel.

Flynn has released 3 full-length albums under her belt: Ashleigh Flynn, Chokecherry, Live at Mississippi Studios and American Dream. About Chokecherry The Village Voice said, “…Flynn adds a smoky soulful voice … marrying styles from bluegrass to pop and dobro to drum beats”

Currently based in Portland, Oregon, Flynn spends much of her year touring around the country and has opened for artists such as Todd Snider. “Edgy female songwriter, said the Williamette Week. “Flynn’s roots run deep.”

Opening Act -Special Guest Casey Neill

 Posted by on May 4, 2009 at 6:04 am  Tagged with: