Folknotes: May

There are undoubtedly more foolish things one could do than to rise before dawn, ascend Pack Monadnock wearing knickers, strap bells to your shins, and prance around waving, alternately, hankies and sticks at each other, with the temperature below freezing on the first May morning.

Perhaps it was the gorgeous sunrise, the briskness of the air, or maybe just the idea that anyone nutty enough to be up there was probably a good candidate for fun. In any case, the mountain was abundant with good cheer as the Harrisville Morris Women and The Jack-in-the-Green Morris danced, sang and joked (yes we must not forget the fool) in the spring. Camera’s were abundant as well. Go to MFS TV to see some video, or to this year’s May Day Morris Dance photo page. 

Given the length and tedium of the winter, April required immersion into some good folk community activities to make the journey to May 1. On Sunday, April 20, MFS presented the second Nelson Coffeehouse, which was successful enough to allow this to become a regular event – at least bi-monthly for now. This particular coffee house included a tremendous variety of performances. Dave Eisenstader opened with a reading from a longer piece he is working on about contra dancing, and the audience got warmed up instantly with several occasions for laughter. David Blake performed some great low-down blues, and then Stacia Tolman read from her new novel, American Civ.


The featured performer of the evening was Hunt Smith who recently moved up here from Brasstown, North Carolina, where he was involved with the John Campbell
Folk School.
Hunt plays several stringed instruments and has a rustic delivery of songs and stories. He’s also an author of tunes, and in fact the Nelson Slow Jam Band (which meets Monday nights at 7:00 before the Monday night dance) has been learning an elegant lovely march-type tune that he wrote, Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball, which he has kindly agreed to share in pdf format. Feel free to download, and spread the music!




The most energetic and unexpected performance of the evening came from Lizzie Brood, a hula hoop artist whose moves we were fortunate to capture in a short video which can be seen on MFS TV. Go Lizzie!  After a short break Dublin poet Peter Tuttle read from some of his published work, which is based on his travels and encounters. Nelson thespians Pamela White and Warren Hammack read four short poems about spring (Yes!), followed by some very unique original music from Harry Lowenthal who enchanted with Tibetan finger cymbals, flute, and guitar. The evening wrapped up with a New England folk tale – a personal experience narrated by Chris Salmon called “Allen Ginsberg Meets the Perfect Master”. This also was recorded on video and can be seen on MFS TV.


Two nights later many members of the greater Nelson folk community helped to pack the house at the Colonial Theatre in Keene, where fiddler Harvey Tolman was among the recipients of the Governor’s Arts Awards. Harvey was presented with the New Hampshire Folk Heritage Award. The actual “award” was created by another fiddler and artist, Randy Miller, and it includes a tune which Randy composed for the occasion. 

 The award was created using the salvaged maple violin back, into which were burnt line etchings of the door of the Nelson Town Hall, the eagle which sits atop the State House dome, and the tune. Randy writes regularly for this Web site, and will be presenting a detailed article about the project in the next couple of weeks.  



On April 30th the Nelson Town Hall was filled with a large and appreciative audience who came to hear our long time friend from Cape Breton, the incredible fiddler Jerry Holland. Dave Eisenstader will be writing separately about this concert in the next couple of days.

As always, we welcome your ideas and comments. Drop us a line and tell us how we’re doing.

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