Dovetail Ensemble had a wonderful time performing for a packed house at Carroll Café, a delightful concert series in Takoma Park, MD, on February 13th. For this concert we were joined by guitarist Mark Puryear, who expanded our repertoire to include “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” and percussive dancer Agi Kovacs, who brought us a song from her native Hungary accompanied by a milk jug (a Dovetail Ensemble first but, we hope, not the last!) Even the weather cooperated, and the audience included many people who were hearing and seeing Dovetail Ensemble for the first time. Soon after the show we had a photo session with the marvelous Michael G. Stewart, a sample of which is here. More coming to dovetailensemble.com, and freydashands.org, soon!
We’ll be performing at Fólkatónleikastevnan 2012, the big folk festival of the summer, between July 13 and 20. We’ll be in the capital,Tórshavn, and in Gota on the big island, and also on Mykines, the westernmost island, and Fugloy, the northernmost island. We’re excited about meeting new friends and seeing this beautiful place!
The artist Cory Arcangel had a blog for a little while called “Sorry I Haven’t Posted” — a collection of people’s blog apologies. My favorite was “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while but I was busy! So, I will post this afternoon, so look forward to that.” Well, “this afternoon” has finally come.
It has, in fact, been a busy year for the Old Doors/New Worlds project. In May I went to Louisiana to rehearse for recording sessions, and in June Daron Douglas, David Greely, and Linda Handelsman came to Maryland for a full and productive week of recording with Charlie Pilzer at Airshow. We persuaded Leigh Pilzer to join us on bass clarinet for a few tunes, adding the perfect touch. In July David was back in Maryland and we gave a couple of concerts, including a full-to-the-rafters house concert on one of the hottest days of the year.
Now the full crew is coming to town for an intense week of collaboration, filming, recording, and our debut concert on Friday, Sept. 16th, 8 pm, at Takoma Park Community Center Auditorium, 7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park, MD 20912 . You can buy advance tickets ($15; $20 at the door) at www.OldDoors.org, where you’ll also find samples of the music we’re working on.
The Old Doors/New Worlds CD/DVD will be out by February, and you can reserve a copy now when you make a $50 donation to our sponsoring non-profit organization, Freyda’s Hands (scroll to the bottom of the Old Doors/New Worlds webpage, or go directly to www.FreydasHands.org).
Just came from the American String Teachers’ Association national conference in Kansas City. I’m fired up by new information and new connections, and warmed by deepened friendships. A highlight for me was Rachel Barton Pine’s master class. She is an extraordinary teacher as well as musician, eloquently conveying a wealth of information to the student in a style that’s direct but non-threatening—because she’s so clearly about the music and not anyone’s ego, and anyone would be happy to go with her on that! I also enjoyed Julie Lyonn Lieberman’s session on ergonomics and Martha Walvoord’s idea-rich presentation “Listen for Success: How to Develop Artist’s Ears.” I presented The Exquisite World of Swedish Fiddling to about 40 people. The best part of all, for me, was meeting Melinda Crawford, a Scottish fiddler who has just completed a PhD in music education (she had to leave the conference early to go to graduation!), creating a manual for Scottish fiddle instruction so that classical teachers can introduce students to the broad wealth of the tradition, rather than just a tune or two. We had a great time talking about traditional music, our mutual love of teaching musicianship and building skill, and the growing respect for fiddle traditions in the classical world. A kindred spirit indeed! www.melindacrawford.com
As lagniappe: I love stairs (when they’re not on a machine) and I walked down the 15 flights from our hotel room at least 15 times (but only 5 times going up). Not the slightest sore muscle: crazy. Even my body was inspired by the energy of ASTA!
I’m happy to say that the D.C. area has continued in a “snow hole,” avoiding the East Coast blizzards—we certainly paid our snow dues last year! Even without snow days, I’m enjoying January as a time to regroup, rest, and reflect.
The Christmas season was very busy with concerts and holiday dances. The annual Hoag/Kelley/Pilzer Scandinavian Christmas at the Institute of Musical Traditions featured Andrea Larson, a wonderful singer and fiddler from New Hampshire and a long-time friend. It was great fun to reunite, learn some “new” old Swedish carols from Andrea, and meet her family who had come all the way from the Midwest to join in the festivities. Christmas Country Dance School in Berea was another highlight. I’ve played there many times over the years, and I lived in Berea in the late 70s, so it’s like a huge family reunion full of music, dance, stories, and many friends. This year there were 50 teens among the participants—it’s great to see the new generation dancing and playing music!
- The Berntsons album is being mixed and mastered, and sounding mighty fine.
- Fiddling Gals, my group of musical teens, is going strong.
- The Old Doors/New Worlds Project pilot pod met for a productive session in November, and this winter we’re busy editing film and audio and planning for the future. Some fascinating new pods in the works too!
October will be busy with rehearsals and recording for the new Berntsons album. Eleanore and Karl have been teaching us more good tunes from the unique old family repertoire. We’ll mix it up with some Wisconsin standards. And it turns out that some of the records Karl remembers listening to as a boy were Bingsjö tunes from Sweden, which happen to be Andrea’s specialty! Loretta is heading home from Norway, Karl flies in from L.A., and it all gets started with a Berntsons dance party on Oct. 2.
Teen and tween girls who play fiddle and/or other instruments/vocals: come join a new band! We’ll compose tunes, arrange traditional music, and perform. We’ll meet twice a month on Sundays, 5-6:30, starting in October. Contact me for more information.
1, 2, 3, ROSIN!