Thursday, September 14, 2017

Family Fun at September 16 Square Dance in Walton

This Saturday, September 16 from 7-10 pm, Catskills Folk Connection is sponsoring an old-time traditional square dance at the Walton Grange, 135 Stockton Avenue, Walton, NY  13856.

Continuing in the tradition of Hilt Kelly and the Sidekicks, music will be provided by the Tremperskill Boys with John Jacobson fiddling and calling.  John spent many afternoons with Hilt Kelly, playing and transcribing his fiddle tunes and learning the square dance calls. The result is a continuation of the traditional "Eastern" square dance that for decades was the entertainment at house dances and community halls in the Catskills.  Based in community and family life, it developed as an accessible form of self-entertainment to which all were, and are, welcome.

If you have square danced before, this dance will take you back to its roots in 19th and 20th century fiddle tunes and to old-time dance figures that Thomas Jefferson would recognize.  If you have not square danced before, this dance with the Tremperskill Boys will be a gentle introduction to a democratic and cooperative dance form danceable by all ages.

At the September 16 dance, all dances will be taught.  You need not bring a partner.  Come enjoy an evening of lilting square dance tunes, songs for dancing, and fiddle tunes for listening.  Admission is $5, age 12 and under free.  Refreshments will be provided by the Walton Grange.

Also available for sale at the dance on Saturday will be Hilt Kelly's 2016 CD "Tunes I Learned From My Dad."  It consists of 10 tunes, many of which have not been previously published.  They are unnamed tunes identified by ethnomusicologist Jim Kimball as tunes from quadrilles that may never have had names.  Income from CD sales goes into a revolving fund for future digital publication of Hilt Kelly recordings and future written publications about Catskills traditional music and dance.

For more information about the September 16 dance and about the CD featuring Hilt and Stella Kelly, contact Ginny Scheer, Catskills Folk Connection folklorist, at 607-746-3521 or

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July 28 Folk Art at Catskill Art Society, Livingston Manor, NY

Tonight on WIOX 91.3 FM or I will once again be talking about folk art in anticipation of Catskills Folk Connection's presentation on Friday at the Catskill Art Society in Livingston Manor.

The radio program will be a preview of my talk on Friday about the folk painters represented in Catskill Art Society's  Rural Life Festival exhibit "Homegrown."  Asking the questions "What is Art?" and "What is Folk?" we will look at the works of Don Strausser and Cheryl Kolb and compare them with Catskills artists, both fine artists and folk artists.

Last time on WIOX listeners and I dealt mostly with the "folk" question and applied it especially to traditional dance and music. We compared traditional examples of singing with revivalist examples, revealing difference not so much in style as in the singer's relationship to the cultural source of the song.  Tonight we will continue the comparison with the paintings.  Cheryl Kolb's paintings are illustrated below in unfortunately tiny images that cannot be enlarged.  Scroll down the blog to the previous post for a one of Don Strausser's paintings and then check the Gallery for more of Don's and Nellie Bly Ballard's paintings.

I'll play some music breaks not necessarily related to tonight's theme, and if there is time I'll try to give you another sample of Luvan throat singing that I heard at the Old Songs Festival last month.

Join me if you can this Friday from 3-5 p.m. for the opening reception of "Homegrown" featuring quilts, photographs of Catskills farming, and the folk paintings.  My talk will be at 3:15 p.m. and the photographer's talk will be at 3:45 p.m.  The gallery is called "The Laundry King" and is at 65 Main Street, Livingston Manor, NY  12758.  

 -- Ginny Scheer, Folklorist and Host of Catskills Folk  at 7 p.m. on WIOX. 

Cheryl Kolb's landscapes near her home in Pennsylvania:

And examples of Catskills artists other than Don Strausser and Nellie Bly Ballard, for comparison:

Thomas Cole, View of Schoharie Valley, Fenimore Art Museum

John Hoopkins, Landscape

Robert Selkowitz, Manhattan Country School Farm
Mary Leone, Farm Scene

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Folk Art for July 11 WIOX Radio Program

Here are some of the examples of folk art I will be discussing on tonight's program at 7 p.m. on WIOX, 91.3 FM in the Catskills and streaming live at

Catskill Art Society "Homegrown" Exhibit, July 28 - August 27
Don Strausser, folk painter:

Catskills Folk Connection 2018
Folk Art in Stone

Richard McCormick

Mark Swanberry

Community Celebrations

Downsville Lighted Christmas Parade

(Scroll down several blogposts below to see lighted parade videos.  They may appear as black squares with an arrow.  Click the arrow.)

Friday, June 16, 2017

CFC at Meredith Dairy Fest!

On Sunday, June 18, from 10 am to 4:30 pm Catskills Folk Connection will fill the Dairy Fest's Entertainment Tent with music, dance and folk art.  The morning program will feature Catskills Folk Connection's folklorist, Ginny Scheer, who will present of Pop-Up Folk Art events about Quilting and Folk Painting.  Also in the morning will be mini-concerts by the Tremperskill Boys playing Catskills and Celtic tunes and by Parlor Praise singing old-time hymns and gospel tunes.

Bring your families at Noon for a traditional square dance presented by the Tremperskill Boys with John Jacobson, caller.  Beginners are welcome.  All dances will be taught and there will be a facilitator on the floor to aid anyone who needs help.

After the dance ends at 3 pm there will be two more Pop-Up Folk Art events, featuring Catskills Foodways and Catskills Folk Architecture plus another set by Parlor Praise.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

New Horizons for Catskills Folk Connection

Each year since 2015, Catskills Folk Connection has sought to expand its reach either geographically or in the types of folklore it presents, or both.  In 2016 CFC began offering square dances in the western Catskills, curated an exhibit "Growling Up To Brush" at Roxbury Arts Group featuring two folk painters of landscapes, and added a pair of lectures about traditional music and dance and about regional folk art.

In 2017, as a regional folklife center, CFC is continuing its geographical expansion by collaborating with organizations to present square dances in different parts of the Catskills, in Ulster County, Delaware County and Sullivan County.  In Ulster County we partnered with the Pine Hill Community Center to offer a square dance on Memorial Day weekend, and in Delaware County we co-sponsored a square dance at the Castle on the Delaware in Walton.

In June 2017 CFC folklorist Ginny Scheer has been asked to make a presentation at the Meredith Dairy Fest, first introducing the Tremperskill Boys' sqaure dance by giving a short talk about the history of traditional music and dance in the Catskills and by showing different types of folk art at a vendor booth.  Coming up in July Scheer will make a presentation about folk landscape art at the Catskill Art Society in Livingston Manor, where one artist from "Growing Up To Brush" will be exhibited along with another folk artist and in conjunction with an exhibit of photographs about farming in the region.

During the summer 2017 folklorist Scheer will research farm foodways in the Catskills for a presentation of  traditional farm foods at the Cauliflower Festival in September.  At the same time she will research six stone houses in Roxbury and present a display about them at various venues in Roxbury and elsewhere.  The autumn of 2017 will see additional square dances in September and October, plus the lecture series in October, this time focusing on foodways and vernacular architecture.

Catskills Folk Connection's schedule for the rest of 2017:

Sunday, June 18 at Meredith Dairy Fest in Meridale, NY 10 am - 5 pm; 
10 am - Noon:  Pop Up Folklore at Catskills Folk Connection's booth.              
Noon:               Talk about traditional music and dance, followed by a traditional
                         square dance with John Jacobson and the Tremperskill Boys.
3-5 pm:            More Pop Up Folklore at CFC's booth

Saturday, July 1 at Catskill Art Society, Livingston Manor, NY, time TBD
Talks by Ben Halpern, photographer for exhibit about Catskills agriculture and by Ginny Scheer, folklorist, about folk landscape painting.  Works from CFC's exhibit "Growing Up To Brush," painted by Don Strausser, will join those of another folk artist and the exhibit by the photographer in an gallery display at the Society.

Saturday, September 23 at the Cauliflower Festival, Margaretville, NY 10 am - 4 pm 
Demonstrations and sharing about Catskills foodways, including recipes from traditional farm menus.

Saturday, September 30 Location TBD
A traditional old-time square dance, featuring John Jacobson and the Tremperskill Boys.  This is a family dance.  Beginners are welcome and there will be a facilitator on the floor.

Sunday, October 8 at Roxbury Arts Group's annual Fiddlers! event, Roxbury, NY, Noon til ?
Catskills Folk Connection will facilitate a family and community square dance, followed by a concert kicked off by the Tremperskill Boys and featuring well-known fiddlers from around the region and further afield.

Sunday, October 1, 2-4 pm, Opening Reception for exhibit "Six Stone Houses in Roxbury, NY" Location to be announced.  Please check later to confirm date, time and place.

 Saturday, October 14 at Roxbury Arts Group, 2-4 pm 
Catskills Folk Lyceum will present a lecture about Upstate New York foodways by Hannah Davis, the New York Folklore Society's Upstate New York Regional Representative for Folk Arts.

Saturday, October 28 at location TBD, 2-4- pm      
Catskills Folk Lyceum will present a lecture about Catskills vernacular architecture by Neil Larson, Historic Preservation Consultant.  Please check later to confirm date, time and place.

I hope you can join us!

-- Ginny Scheer, Folklorist, Catskills Folk Connection


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pop Up Folklore on WIOX Tonight, May 30, 7 p.m.

 Tonight's radio program will be about all different types of folklore and folk art, some of which are shown here.

The Denver Store, by Nellie Bly Ballard

Nellie Bly Ballard in her studio

Mink Hollow, Spruceton
Painting on Shelf Fungus by Don Strausser

Don Strausser (guitar) and John Van Benscoten

Sketch of a logging truck by Lavern Kelly

Sculpture in wood of a logging truck by Lavern Kelly

Quilt patches from Betty Sherwood's grandmother's quilt box.

Betty Sherwood with the SunBonnet Quilters' Raffle Quilt 

Pictorial Quilt at Roxbury Arts Group's 2015 Quilt Show

Church models by Norman and Viola Davis, Sidney, NY

Bouton House, Roxbury

Hubbell House in Bragg Hollow

Stamford Gables in Stamford

Main Street, Delhi 

Andrew Jackson Downing house design

River Run B&B, Fleischmanns

Hilt Kelly and the Sidekicks, plus Henry Hermann

Square Dancing at the Halcott Grange

Grant Rogers, singer, fiddler and coller

Underwood Halloween display

For many years a regular Halloween decoration in Roxbury

The Roxbury Halloween parade, many years ago.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Grant Rogers Website Unveiled

Two recent WIOX programs feature
the new Grant Rogers website

Grant Rogers, the "Catskill Mountain Songmaker"

On April 18 and May 2 on WIOX Community Radio, Catskills Folk presented a preview and a review of the new website about Grant Rogers, the Delaware county resident known as the "Catskill Mountain Songmaker."  Grant was a well-known musician - both instrumentalist and singer - in the mid-20th century in the Catskills.  The website is the collaborative program of a committee of  the Ogden Free Library in Walton and Music on the Delaware, who together unveiled the website at an informative reception at the Library on April 22.  The committee gathered resources about Grant Rogers and designed the website to make the materials available to the public in ways not possible before.  The materials include informative essays, audio recordings of interviews and music, video recordings, interview transcripts, and images, plus a biographical essay.

The focus of the website is, of course, Grant Rogers (  There are historic images of him, his family and his home, audio recordings of his instrumental tunes and his songs drawn from many sources, including his CD still available from Folk Legacy records and a rare recording from the Smithsonian made by Norman Studer, the director of Camp Woodland.  The video section includes black and white recording of Pete Seeger's TV show, on which Grant was a guest.

The audio section also includes tunes from Rogers's contemporaries, and interviews of family members and contemporary musicians as well as musicians he inspired.  Stories from Robert Gregory, tunes from Frank Fisher and Edwin St. Onge, plus interviews with Bob Moss and Bruce Hoyt enlarge the focus of the website to include the 20th century context for Grant Rogers's work. Interviews with Jay Ungar, Wes St. Onge, and Kathy Shimberg (and eventually with Ira and Laurie McIntosh) reveal the current influence of Grant Rogers.

The video section begins with a purpose-made video by Jessica Vecchione featuring the family history in interviews with Rogers's nieces, plus the Pete Seeger TV show,  followed by music videos from Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and a performance by Mile Twelve, a blue grass band.

The archives section contains important essays in a sub-section entitled "Music Genealogy." One essay called "Roots" explores Grant Rogers's musical inheritance from his family; a second essay called "Contemporaries of Grant Rogers" provides the context for his relationship to other contemporary musicians; and a third essay called "Legacy of Grant Rogers" reveals his influence on current musicians.   But this is not all.   "Archives" is where you will find all the images of family, contemporary musicians, and current musicians.  It also includes transcripts of all the interviews filed in the audio section.

The new Grant Rogers website greatly expands the amount of Catskills material available, especially audio recordings of his instrumentals and songs.  Beyond this, the unexpected addition of little known recordings by contemporary musicians and square dance callers, plus both audio and transcript version of each interview shows the thorough work of the committee.  They certainly have met their goal of documenting and preserving important aspects of Catskill Mountain culture by creating a treasure of a website about Grant Rogers.  They intend to keep adding to it, with contributions from the community, and eventually to create a performance of the "legacy" musicians.  Now it is up to folklorists, regional and local historians, and Catskills art centers to do the same for other Catskills musicians and artists.

-- Ginny Scheer, Folklorist, Catskills Folk Connection