☼ ☼ ☼ 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.

Jerry Holland Has Passed

Cape Breton fiddler and composer Jerry Holland has died after a two-year battlejerryholland180 with cancer. He was 54.  Holland died Thursday night.

Holland was originally from Boston. As a boy, he travelled to Cape Breton in the summer with his family. He moved to the island permanently in 1975.  He performed publicly for the first time at age six — a year after he started to learn the fiddle. He performed on the John Allan Cameron Show from 1974-1977, and played stages around the world.  Over the years, Holland earned a reputation as one of the finest composers and players of Cape Breton-style music.

Jerry was a great friend to the Monadnock Folklore Society, and performed in the Nelson Town Hall on several occassions, most recently in April of 2008. His presence reinforced the Nelson – Cape Breton connection that has been nourished by Harvey Tolman and Roger Treat, both regular fiddler’s at the Nelson Monday Night contra dance.

Farewell Jerry – thanks for the tunes, and for your great spirit – may it soar freely now.


visit Jerry’s Web Site

Lissa Schneckenburger | Brattleboro




Hooker Dunham Theater
139 Main St, Brattleboro, VT

“…exhilarating young traditional performer…” – Dirty Linen

“Schneckenburger’s playing is… quietly virtuosic… (her) voice is pure and clear, full of simple emotion…” – All Music Guide

Vermont based fiddler and folk singer Lissa Schneckenburger announces spring tour dates with her acoustic trio.  As an active member of the folk music community, Lissa continues to explore musical traditions, embracing a diverse palette of influences while staying true to her New England roots.

Schneckenburger’s most recent release, Song is the first in a pair of CDs dedicated to reintroducing some wonderful but largely forgotten repertoire from New England’s rich musical heritage.  Her fiddling is uplifting and lively and her singing gentle and evocative.  Both in concert and in the studio she is regularly accompanied by some of the countries best musicians.  Recently she has been closely studying the roots of the Downeast traditional music that she first heard as a young girl.

Song contains ten timeless ballads that trace as far back as the eighteenth century that Schneckenburger carefully set to modern arrangements.  “There is currently a lot of focus on traditional American music from the South” she explains “and many bands are exploring that repertoire, but no one is getting to hear the amazing wealth of traditional music from the North.  This is my first attempt at getting some of that music out there for people to enjoy.  It is really important that we represent these two essential aspects of New England’s traditional music heritage equally.  The songs and dance tunes combine to create an overview of the culture and the sound of traditional music from the Northeast.  The CDs Song and Dance are two halves of a whole that describes a musical heritage I am very proud of.”  The second recording, Dance, is scheduled for release in 2010.

Schneckenburger will be touring throughout the north east in April, along with guitar player Bethany Waickman and accordionist Chris Stevens.  Their vibrant acoustic renditions of traditional ballads and fiddle tunes are not to be missed!

For more information, please visit Lissa’s website at www.lissafiddle.com

Folknotes: February

The Monadnock area is well-known as being the home to many celebrated professional musicians in the New England Fiddle and dance music genre.  But what really makes our region rich are the numbers of folk who play, largely for their own pleasure, out of sheer love for the tunes.  In any given week there are numerous gatherings, often in private homes, with fiddles, guitars, mandolins, flutes, banjos, and – well just about anything goes. Many of these gatherings are semi private – that is to say, if you know someone who goes regularly, you might get invited, but the event is not highly publicized, largely because of space considerations.

Among the more public sessions: on Monday night there is the “Baby Band”, where a dozen or so musicians of varying skill gather for an hour before the contra dance in the Nelson Town Hall. The repertoire is based on an ever-expanding photo-copied hand out, the Portland Collection, The New England Fiddler’s Repertoire, and the Waltz books. It’s a round robin affair, with each player requesting a specific tune (and sometimes introducing “new” ones). Hilliare Wilder is fixed at the piano (to provide consistent accompaniment). Lisa Sieverts “moderates” the session, making sure newcomers feel welcome, and generally keeping things on track. Read more

What’s In a Name?: Tune Titles (Part II)

[Note: clicking on hyperlinked tune titles will activate pdf download of the music]

You Married My Daughter But Yet You Didn’t.” The title of this old New England reel is an enigma. Is it a mis-print? Or is it a deliberate play on words, meant to be instructive or simply playfully puzzling? Andrew Kuntz, in his The Fiddler’s Companion website, includes the rather ominous interpretation that “you had relations with my daughter, but never married her.” On a lighter note, if the “you” is either a minister or priest then the riddle is solved.

Other tune titles evoke the actual sound of the tune. There is “The Growling Old Man and Grumbling Old Woman” with the first half of this French-Canadian tune (played on the fiddle in the low register) sounding the man’s part and the second half (high register) bidding the part of the lady. A haunting Irish jig goes by the curious name, “I Buried My Wife and Danced on Her Grave.” Whether this is a caustic comment related to a doomed marriage or a way for the fellow to fondly recall his departed dancing partner will be left to the reader to decide. The title, when spoken in the cadence of a jig, does perfectly fit the opening two bars of the tune. Read more

Harvey’s Heritage Award

Harvey Tolman’s influence on local musicians, his recordings and compositions, and his regular appearances at the Monday night Nelson contra dance have all magically combined to help spread the compelling dance music of Cape Breton throughout the region and well beyond, across the country. It was indeed an occasion for great rejoicing when Harvey was honored by being selected to receive the Governors Arts Awards “New Hampshire Folk Heritage Award” in 2007. The Folk Heritage Award was presented to Harvey by the N.H. State Council on the Arts on April 24, 2008, before an enthusiastic audience at the Colonial Theater in Keene.

The Council on the Arts had contacted me in the fall of 2007, asking if I’d be interested in creating a work of art that could be presented to Harvey at the awards ceremony in the spring of 2008. I was deeply honored and thrilled to be given this opportunity to help honor Harvey, who I’ve known for many years. I’ve enjoyed dancing to Harvey’s music, and visiting him to listen to and play tunes. (click on the image to see a larger rendering) Read more

NEW RECORDING: The Montville Project

The Montville Project is a new recording of quintessential New England tunes, performed by four quintessential New England musicians: Art Bryan, George Fowler, Surya Mitchell, and Fred White. The project grew out of a workshop which the musicians presented at the 2007 Maine Fiddle Camp inMontville, Maine, called The Essential Dance Tune Repertoire. As explained in the liner notes, “Any musical tradition has a core repertoire which experienced players are expected to know.” Attendees of the aforementioned workshop encouraged the recording of the tunes – most of them have been recorded previously and in some cases frequently, but until now there has not been a definitive collection exclusively representing the classics. “Definitive” must be qualified: originally 200 tunes were identified as candidates, but practical considerations required editing the list down to 53. Most of the tunes are presented in sets of three or four, for a total of 22 tracks, making over an hour and seven minutes of music! Read more

Bob McQuillen Turns Over His Works to Great Meadow Music

Bob McQuillen, grandmaster of New England contra dance piano, and certainly the most prolific living (or otherwise) composer of contra dance tunes, has arranged with Great Meadow Music to have them become the official publisher of his work. They will handle wholesale distribution of his 13 tune books, and six CD’s, as well as any subsequent books or recordings, or licensing of his music.

Conversing with Bob in his Peterborough, New Hampshire home, he expresses great pleasure in being relieved of managing the business details of his significant legacy, and he looks forward to concentrating on the creative side of future projects: a new recording project is underway, and the tunes have not stopped flowing. His most recent book brings his total published compositions to 1,300. Read more

The Johnny Trombly Scholarship

The Monadnock Folklore Society is pleased to announce the opening of the application period for the Johnny Trombly Scholarship. This is the 7th year of the program, which provides funding of up to $500 for a student 18 or younger to study traditional New England dance music. The scholarship may be used for standard music lessons, special study opportunities, music or dance camps, etc. For more information please visit the Johnny Trombly section of this Web site. You can help MFS promote the program by passing along this information to any young person you know who may be interested, and also to instructors in the field of traditional New England music so that they inform their students.