Folknotes: July

Perin Ellsworth-Heller

[notes from ValVanMeier]

Thunderous applause hoots and hollers of contra dancers echoed in the vaulted ceiling of this gracious space, known as the Stone Church at the Brattleboro, Vermont contra dance on Sunday June 14th

Dancers were showing their appreciation for fiddler Perin Ellsworth-Heller and pianist Arthur Davis, two extraordinary young musicians (ages 14 and 16 respectively), and their mentor, Mary Lea.

Adding to the excitement of the evening was the fact that Perin had just been selected as the recipient of the 2009 Johnny Trombly Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship, sponsored  by the Monadnock Folklore Society, provides funding for an individual under the age of 18 to study traditional music.

Perin is a student of Mary Lea, one of New England’s most renown fiddlers and teachers. Mary says “Perin has already played some dances for [dance caller] Nils Fredland, who was Perin’s music teacher and mentor at the Waldorf School. Nils and I have constantly marveled at Perin’s sophisticated musicality, which seems to have arrived full-blown like Athena out of Zeus’s head.”

The scholarship will allow Perin to go to Ashokan Northern Week this summer. In addition to his teacher Mary, other fiddle luminaries on the staff include Laurie Hart, Peter Puma Hedlund, David Kaynor, Lissa SchneckenburgerAndrew and Noah VanNorstrand, and Jay Ungar (not to mention a plethora of instructors other instruments, and his fellow campers). Perin is looking forward to expanding his repertoire, and at the same time learning new fiddle styles. He notes, for example, that in the course of learning some Swedish tunes (which are prominent in the week’s offerings), he will need to learn some new techniques.

Perin has already attended workshops with Jerry Holland and the Ceilidh Trail School of Music in Cape Breton.  He has traveled to Newfoundland to attend the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in St. Johns. His other interests include reading, mushrooming, and figuring out how computers work. According to his mother, Sarah, “he is also an excellent and inventive cook. His spaghetti sauce with cranberries is excellent! Believe it or not, Perin doesn’t like to dance–but he loves getting people dancing. He plays frequently in the late afternoon and I often end up dancing while making dinner.”

As has been the tradition with past recipients of the Trombly Scholarship, Perin will be performing at the Monadnock Folklore Society Winter Solstice celebration in December (date TBD), but we also expect to hear him occasionally at the Monday night dance during the summer.
John McCutcheonIt is fitting that the website for John McCutcheon is simply “” (he’s even managed to eliminate the “www”). Few musicians embody the breadth of traditional American music (and by extension, its global roots) more than McCutcheon. He brings a scholarly level of information to his work, but is able to present it with consummate showmanship. In fact, you could know nothing about folk music and have only marginal interest, and yet totally enjoy his performance.

The opportunity is here on Friday, July 10th, at the Nelson Town Hall, where John McCutcheon returns (he was last here in November of 2007) to entertain, enthrall, and enrich. Tickets have been selling briskly, so we encourage you get your tickets in advance (order online), or if you are unable to make a commitment until close to show time, please call 603-352-8616 to find out if seats will still be available at the door.

Gluttons for folk culture will want to reserve the next night as well for a contra dance with Chris Weiler calling to the fine music of Nor’easter.

See you around the folk fire!

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