Northern Roots: Traditional Music Festival

From Friday, July 09 2010 – 5:00pm
To Sunday, July 11 2010 – 2:00pm

NORTHERN ROOTS Traditional Music 3-Day Workshop
With Keith Murphy (guitar, mandolin), Becky Tracy (fiddle), Matt
Heaton (guitar, bouzouki) and Shannon Heaton (flute and whistles)

July 9-11, 2010
5 pm Friday through 2 pm Sunday
Green Mountain Camp, Dummerston, VT

The Northern Roots Weekend features a series of intensive teaching
workshops in traditional music with highly experienced and engaging
instructors. Some classes will focus on technique specific to fiddle,
flute, whistle, mandolin and guitar, but all instruments are welcome.
Some experience in traditional music required and a recording device
is recommended.

A dance band workshop will review the basics of playing for contra
dancing but will also be an opportunity to form mini ensembles and
experiment with arranging. Evening dancing will be a chance for
musicians to play for dancing and to enjoy a good romp on the floor.

The Northern Roots Weekend will also be a wonderful chance to enjoy
informal jam sessions and pub style singing in a lovely country
setting (with swimming) in Dummerston, Vermont at Green Mountain
Camp, located just 10 minutes from downtown Brattleboro.

Camp begins Friday at 5pm through Sunday at 1pm with wonderful meals
provided beginning with Friday supper through Sunday brunch. Rustic
cabin accommodation available and also good camping.

More info at

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

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

Monadnock Folklore Society Receives NH State Grant

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
More information about Ralph Page at
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.

Folknotes: October

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. Read more

☼ ☼ ☼ Nelson Solstice Party | Nelson Town Hall


On Saturday, December 19 we’ll hold our Annual Solstice Party starting at 7:00 PM. The Monadnock Folklore Society brings this community event to the Nelson Town Hall each year, admission is $5, and treats are appreciated for the dessert potluck. This year the evening will begin with a holiday concert featuring a selection of traditional and original seasonal music; as part of the concert 2009 Johnny Trombly Scholarship recipient  Perin Ellsworth-Heller will entertain us with his musicianship. The Folklore Society invites you to bring along your favorite holiday dessert and we’ll supply the beverages for the intermission. After the concert the chairs and benches are cleared to make way for a traditional New England Contradance. Unfortunately, or not, the dance is often interrupted by various groups of unsavory characters presenting their idea of seasonal entertainment. These diversions,  sometimes involving costumed individuals making complete fools of themselves or performing ancient ritual dances to help us through this dark time of the year, are generally tolerated as once they are applauded and fed we can return to dancing the night away.

☼ ☼ ☼ Nowell Sing We Clear | Dublin


One of our Annual Seasonal Extravaganzas!

Not to be missed!

Friday, December 11 at 8:00 PM at the Dublin Community Church. $15/$12(senior, youth)

Advance reservations closed. First come first served at the door. Come early as this may be a sell-out. Doors open @ 7:15 PM.

This will be the thirty-fifth touring season of Nowell Sing We Clear with its unusual songs, carols, stories, and customs. Drawn mostly from English-language folk traditions, the songs tell both a version of the events and characters involved in the Christmas story and detail the customs which make up the twelve magical days following the return of the light at the winter solstice. Many of these ancient customs are the basis of the today’s holiday traditions, such as visiting and feasting, gift-giving, carol singing from door-to-door and the adorning of houses and churches with garlands of evergreen.

Nowell Sing We Clear celebrates Christmas as it was known for centuries in Britain and North America and as it continues in many places to the present.  The songs come from an age when the midwinter season was a time for joyous celebration and vigorous expression of older, perhaps pagan, religious ideas. There is not always a clear line between these and the rejoicing at the birth of Jesus bringing a fresh light into the world at this dark midwinter time. A special and unusual treat is the enactment of a Mummers Play from Kentucky.  Performed in the traditional manner, the play is typical of folk dramas which survive to this day throughout Britain and North America symbolizing and portraying the death of the land at midwinter and its subsequent rebirth in the spring.

While much of the singing is done in unaccompanied style, the pageant is also stamped with the energetic dance band sound of fiddle, button accordion, electric piano, drums, and concertina.  The audience will be supplied with songsheets and encouraged to sing along, though after three decades of touring in New England, a whole generation of young people have grown up with these songs and carols and sing along with as much as they can. Some “new”, that is “different”, songs and carols are introduced every year.  Performers are John Roberts and Tony Barrand, widely known for their lively presentations of English folk songs, and Fred Breunig and Andy Davis, well known in New England as dance callers and musicians.

Nowell Sing We Clear has become a regular part of some communities on the Eastern seaboard.  The group has several recordings of songs from the show which have been popular items in many households at this time of year. Their CDs are drawn from songs learned for their concerts: The newest is Just Say Nowell, Hail Smiling Morn has a cover designed by famous Vermont artist, Mary Azarian, and Nowell SingWe Four.The first three LP recordings are all well represented on a compact disk, The Best of Nowell: 1976 – 1985 All recordings are available from Golden Hind Records.

☼ ☼ ☼ Contra Dance | Nelson | Adina Gordon ~ caller | Music by Celticladda

Nelson Town Hall

Workshop 7:30

Dancing 8 – 11:30

Admission $8 / $6 seniors, students

Download the poster

Adina Gordon
Adina Gordon

Adina Gordon is one of the most well traveled callers in the United States. She teaches with clarity and precision, and her style is so relaxed you almost don’t know she’s telling you what to do, until you realize you’ve done it.

Dance to the high energy infusions of Celticladda, featuring Randy Miller on fiddle, Gordon Peery on piano, and special guest David Cantieni (Wild Asparagus) on woodwinds.

Randy Miller & Gordon Peery
Randy Miller and Gordon Peery
David Cantieni
David Cantieni

☼ ☼ ☼ John McCutcheon | Nelson Town Hall


John McCutcheon appears in a solo concert at the Nelson Town Hall on Friday, July 10, 8:00 PM. Admission is $18/$15(senior, youth).

John McCutcheon wasn’t supposed to become a folksinger.  He was headed for a lucrative career as a social worker in migrant labor camps.  But Woody Guthrie got there first.  He heard the songs of the Dust Bowl refugees, the Grapes of Wrath stories that crackled on the airwaves of early 1960s radio and knew something else was going on.  While still a college student, the oldest of a large Irish Catholic family, John took up the banjo “to help keep myself sane” and went off the deep end.  He heard recordings of Roscoe Holcomb and Clarence Ashley, walked out to the end of the college road, stuck out his thumb and never looked back.

He ended up roaming the Appalachians, trading a university classroom for the front porches, picket lines, union halls, churches, and square dance barns of his adopted home.  Under the tutelage of some of the greats of traditional Southern music he quickly mastered seven different instruments, became an insightful and powerful singer of traditional songs, and honed an ear for a good story.  Songwriting, storytelling, social activism all met and finally made sense.

From this series of chance beginnings John McCutcheon has become what one Australian paper called “the most overwhelming folk performer in the English language.”  His mastery of American folk music and instruments, complemented by “storytelling that has the richness of fine literature” (Washington Post) weave intimate, insightful and often hilarious canvasses on which McCutcheon draws his vision of Americana.  His songwriting, rich in detail and broad in scope, have created a catalog of hundreds of songs covered by performers throughout the world.  His classic Christmas in the Trenches has been repeatedly cited as “the greatest anti-war song ever written” and is the subject of an annual, coast-to-coast special on CBC.

His concerts are international sold-out hits from Russia … where Pravda noted “McCutcheon … is the most versatile and compelling performer this reviewer has ever seen”… to Dallas …“calling John McCutcheon a ‘folksinger’ is like saying Deion Sanders is just a football player …” Dallas Morning News.  Critics reserve their most lavish praise for his mastery of the rare and beautiful hammer dulcimer, an instrument on which he is an undisputed world master.

Equally at home in the recording studio, John has produced over twenty-five albums in as many years.  He has garnered an amazing five consecutive Grammy nominations, been awarded every imaginable award in the independent record industry, been featured on public radio throughout the world, and brought joy to millions of listeners from Seattle to Sydney.  Additionally he has produced documentary and educational recordings, written for numerous publications, authored children’s books, chaired literacy campaigns, championed grassroots organizations throughout the world, promoted international musicians, and is even currently the president of the most innovative and fastest growing local in the musicians union.

☼ ☼ ☼ Kimberley Fraser | Mark Simos | Nelson Town Hall

MFS presents Kimberley Fraser with special guest Mark Simos at the Nelson Town Hall on Saturday, May 16th, 2009, at 8:00 PM

$10/$8 (Sr/Jr)


Kimberley Fraser will present an evening of Cape Breton music at the Nelson Town Hall On May 16, 2009 at 8:00 PM.

Kimberley Fraser was born on Cape Breton Island, and nurtured within its rich musical heritage. She first began to impress audiences at the age of three with her step-dancing talents. Soon after that she took up both the fiddle and the piano. Like many in Cape Breton, music is not new to Kimberley’s family. She proudly owns the fiddle of her great great grandfather, spanning the musical tradition within her family over a hundred years.

Though still in her early 20s, Kimberley’s career is already a distinguished one. She has traveled the world, from Victoria to Afghanistan, bringing Cape Breton music with her wherever she goes. Dan MacDonald of the Cape Breton Post says this about Fraser’s versatility, “She has matured to become one of the stellar players of the Cape Breton fiddle tradition, equally at home at a house party, playing for a square dance or on stage for a concert in Bras d’Or or Boston, Scotsville or Scotland.” She has played with Cape Breton’s finest, including Ashley MacIsaac, Natalie MacMaster, Gordie Sampson and the late John Allan Cameron. Internationally, Kimberley has shared the stage with such notables as Alasdair Fraser, Lunasa and Martin Hayes. Kimberley is also in demand for her piano skills, accompanying various Cape Breton fiddlers at home and abroad. She had the honour of being the pianist for the acclaimed Irish musical group, Cherish the Ladies, during their tour of Sweden in May of 2004. Her impact upon the music of Cape Breton has not gone unrecognized. In 2000, Kimberley received the Tic Butler award for significant contribution to Cape Breton culture.

Kimberley’s latest accomplishment includes the release of her second studio album, Falling on New Ground, that won the 2008 East Coast Music Award for best Roots/Tradtional Album of the Year. This self-produced album reflects on her experiences and growth as a musician since the release of her first studio album Heart Behind the Bow in 2000. She is backed by the highest caliber of musicians such as Cape Bretoners Tracey Dares MacNeil, Sheumas MacNeil, Troy MacGillivray, Stephanie Wills, Brian Doyle, and Gordie Sampson as well as Halifax guitarist, Dave MacIsaac and the acclaimed Montreal Jazz drummer, Richard Irwin. Kimberley also recruited much sought after international musicians such as Irish flutist Nuala Kennedy and banjo player Damian Helliwell of Scotland, as well as the duo of Harald Haugaard and Morten Alfred Hoiup of Denmark. These musicians represent just a small portion of the many musical friends Kimberley has made during her travels. Falling on New Ground demonstrates Kimberley’s many talents and versatility. Each track of the album brings something new to the listener, from the exciting variations on “Mason’s Apron” to the soulful jazz influenced piano solo, “The Braes of Auchtertyre”. Kimberley’s ability to combine traditional music with a fresh approach has “Falling on New Ground” truly fall onto new ground.