Tuesday, December 8, 2020

WIOX Tonight, December 8: Archives and Catskills Folk Lyceum

In a special two-hour Catskills Folk radio program at 6 p.m. tonight, Ginny Scheer, folklorist, will present a report on the folklore archiving forum she attended last month and a report about last Sunday's talk by Kathy Shimberg for the Catskills Folk Lyceum, "Traditonal Music and Dance in the Catskills: Delaware and Otsego Counties."  While there are no illustrations for the archiving report, the photos and video link for the recordings from the Catskills Folk Lyceum are included below, for you to follow during the second hour of Catskills Folk.

Folklore Archive Forum

The archival forum was organized for New York Folklore Society's series "Critical Folklife Forum" and featured presenters from among New York State's distinguished folklorists.  After their presentations it became a wide-ranging exchange with attending New York folklorists as well as several from other locations, totalling about 40.  Presenters were Varick Chittenden, founder of Traditional Arts in Upstate New York and SUNY professor in Canton; Simon Bronner, founder of the Pennsylvania Center for Folklore and professor at Penn State Harrisburg; and Elizabeth Tucker, specialist in children's folklore, folklore of the supernatural, and digital folklore, and also a professor at Binghamton U.  They spoke about their experiences with archives and archiving, the kinds of archiving challenges they encountered, and the prospect of a national archiving initiative.  All said that in their areas (geographical and academic) there was a great need for archive capacity - folklorists keep producing files! - but also for tending existing archives to ensure continued access and even continued existence of archived materials.  The conversation ranged widely with each folklorist's experiences with their own materials and with informal collections (made by musicians, artists, and tradition bearers as well as local historians) that are un-archived at present. 

I encouraged folklorists waiting for the national initiative to consider the example of grassroots archiving here in Delaware County: the Grant Rogers Project initiated by the Ogden Free Library in partnership with Music on the Delaware in Walton, NY.  Neither group could house and make accessible the collection of materials about Grant Rogers, the legendary Delaware County singer, fiddler and square dance caller, so they decided to create an on-line archive of the materials, and then went on to collect more material about Rogers, his musical activities and his musical cohorts.  I recommend you visit the on-line archive www.grantrogers.org.

The bottleneck for most folklore arechiving seems to be digitization, which is now expected for archiving.  But digitization is the most time-consuming (and therefore expensive) aspect of archiving.  And there is little funding, as far as we know, for digitization.  New York Folklore Society has taken on the task of applying to foundations and other funders for a state-wide digitization project.  In the meantime all we have is our scanners and a Walkman-sized cassette player that will store a digital file of the cassette tape on a flash drive.  Digitization allows greater access to materials and reduces the wear and tear on the original recordings and paper.  But even so, there needs to be a repository for the physical originals.  Perhaps the next funding drive will focus on support for the construction of archive rooms and buildings - as are underway at the Historical Society of Middletown and Delaware County Historical Association. 

Catskills Folk Lyceum: Kathy Shimberg, speaker, "Traditional music and Dance in the Catskills: Delaware and Otsego Counties."

On Sunday, December 6, Kathy Shimberg gave an on-line talk for the Catskills Folk Lyceum based on her extensive experience with traditional music, traditional musicians, traditional dances and dance figures, and traditional dance calls in our area.  Before gaining a master's degree from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in 1980 Kathy and her husband/musician partner, Joel Shimberg, began learning from traditional dance musicians and callers, and afterward began a project that would feature traditional dance callers and the older tunes that were Kathy's and Joel's specialty.  They hoped to bring together the local community's veteran callers and dancers with enthusiastic dancers from the colleges and community; so Joel and Kathy joined others in founding the Oneonta Contra and Square Dance that lasted for 11 years.  Joel played fiddle and Kathy played rhythm and harmony on the piano, and - lacking local callers - called and taught the dances.  The dance might have lasted longer, but finding suitable space became impossible.  The Oneonta dance ended, but another sprung up in Cooperstown - the Otsego Dance Society - which holds monthly dances - primarily contra dances - to this very day.

Below are photos that were shown during Kathy's talk.  If you listen to WIOX (91.3 FM or on your ocmputer at www.wioxradio.org) you will hear the tunes and calls that Kathy described while you are viewing the photos.  Three of the recordings are videos, with links available here in much longer form.  Where they would be in the sequence of illustrations you will find links to the YouTube site.  On the air, I may play only a fraction of each piece, if time is getting short.  

Catskills Folk Lyceum: Traditional Music and Dance in the Catskills: Delaware and Otsego Counties.

Old Time Music in Old-Time Styles: Joel and Kathy Shimberg

Hilt Kelly playing "Soldier's Joy" from a video by Bob Nisbet


Randy Hulse Sr. singing "Lay Down Sally"

Don Irwin, one of Hilt Kelly's Sidekicks, calling "Walking the Floor Over You"

Hilt Kelly calling "Quadrille in D & A" from Bob Nisbet's Video

For Quadrille in D & A use from the beginning to 2:10


Hilt and Stella Kelly playing "'Golden Slippers"
photo by Jim Kimball

Don Strausser, Lead Guitar & Don Irwin, Rhythm Guitar in Hilt Kelly's Sidekicks
Both are prize winning square dance callers. Here they speak at Hilt's memorial. 
 On the audio clip they are calling "Climbing Up The Golden Stair"

A poster for a benefit at Hanford Mills Museum featuring the Shimbergs 
and a flyer (blue) for Klipnockie, a band that played for the Oneonta Square and Contra Dance.

Joel playing fiddle and Kathy playing piano 
while calling the dances at the Oneonta Square and Contra Dance

Joel playing fiddle for the Oneonta Square and Contra Dance
 at the YAM coffeehouse in Oneonta.

    Kathy playing piano for the Otsego Dance Society,    
regular monthly dance in Cooperstown.

Catskills Folk Connection hopes to publish Kathy's talk,
 most likely on our YouTube Channel, sometime next year. 
Watch this blog for an announcement.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

On WIOX Tonight: Catskills Traditional Foods

 Kelli Huggins is Guest on Catskills Folk

At 7 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, November 24, Kelli Huggins, Catskills native and Visitor Experience Coordinator at the Catskills Visitor Center, will join Ginny Scheer, folklorist, in a radio program on WIOX 91.3 FM and wioxradio.org.  The program will focus on Kelli's work with traditional Catskills foods, from both family sources and "historic print culture" such as newspaper recipes and community cookbooks.  You may have seen photos of some of these foods and articles about them in the Catskill Center's magazine, sent to its members.  Tonight, Kelli will delight us with family recipes such as her grandmother's blackberry pudding and, from a local cookbook, "Dot's Apple Cake."  Please join us.

Kelli's paternal grandmother, Ruth Huggins, holding Kelli.

Links to recipes in Kelli's articles

 and to the Catskill Center's magazine in general:

Dot's Apple Cake:


 Steamed pudding:

   All of the other magazines: https://issuu.com/catskillcenter

Monday, November 23, 2020

Catskill Folk Lyceum:

Live On-Line 

Sunday December 6,  2 p.m.

Traditional Music and Dance 

of the Catskills: Otsego & Delaware Counties

A talk by

Kathy Shimberg

        Go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4140851861

Up to 100 participants will be admitted through Waiting Room

Meeting ID: 414 085 1861

One tap mobile
+16465588656,,4140851861# US (New York)

Dial by your location
        +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 414 085 1861

In her on-line talk Kathy will draw on her long experience working with traditional music and dance in the eastern states of the U.S.  Since the early 1970s she has lived in Otsego County and has absorbed an exceptional amount of the area's traditional dance tunes, dances and square dance calls.  With some surprising grounding from luminaries in American folk song and folk music, and a degree in American Folklife Studies from the Cooperwtown Graduate Program in 1980, she and her then partner, husband Joel Shimberg, immersed themselves in local music, hoping to find in the area the survival of dances to old fiddle tunes.  In the process they co-founded, with four friends, the Oneonta Square and Contra Dance which brought together multi-generational dancers for many years.  

Kathy will discuss dance forms, unique and in variations, old traditional forms and newer iterations, dance calls and callers, tunes both ancient and popular, and her own philosophy of the relationship among the words, the music, and the physical movement of the body that coalesce in a square dance.

Join Kathy, with Ginny Scheer, folklorist for Catskills Folk Connection, to tap Kathy's decades of experience and take part in a lively Q&A afterwards.  

For more information, including phone links for other locations, contact Ginny at 607-326-4206 or gscheer.mcs@gmail.com.

Catskills Folk Connection is supported by the Roxbury Arts Group and is funded iin part by the NYS Council on the Arts Folk Arts Program, by Gov. Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, by Action & Vision Grants from Humanities NY, and by the O'Connor Foundation.




Sunday, October 4, 2020

Exhibit "Folk Art in Wood" Closing Soon

Carved Decoys by Joe Dibble, Bovina Center, NY

Catskills Folk Connection's current exhibit featuring folk artists who work in wood will close on October 15.  We hope you have had a chance to see in person the amazingly diverse creative expressions offered by the artists in the exhibit.  To obtain a free reservation, call Hanford Mills Museum 607-278-5744.  The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 to 4 pm and on Columbus Day October 12.   

It is not surprising for works of art to reflect the artists' lives.  In the 20th century and before, when most families lived on farms, folk art in wood reflected rural life and agricultural pursuits.  To show you this type of historical folk art, carvings by of two past folk artists are part of this exhibit, along with works of seven current folk artists.  Lavern Kelley and Homer Benedict, both 20th century artists, carved agricultural implements and vehicles, as well as people engaged in farm processes like plowing, and hauling logs.  

The contemporary folk artists use wood for their creations of furniture, carved decoys and carved wildlife, wooden toys, musical instruments, and wooden pictures.  Gary Mead offers one-of-a-kind innovative tables, and the story of a pantry too large for the exhibit.  Joe Dibble shows not only his classic decoys but also bird and fish carvings and a unique turkey blind.  Ken Etts and Joe Hewitt, noted Catskills tradiiton bearers, share a traditional toy called a "Whistle Stick."  Chris Carey lends his wooden banjo he made from local wood early in his musical career.   And Dane Scudder, also a banjo player, shares his home-crafted banjos and a fiddle made with wood from his family's farm in Halcott, NY along with southern gourds.  Drawing with a wood burner, Kira Lendo creates dynamic pictures on wood of local domestic and wild animals.

Homer Benedict, Hauling Logs
Collection Delaware County Historical Association.

The exhibit began on September 2 with an opening reception on September 5. It was highlighted by a talk about one of the historical folk artists in wood, in a lecture from the Catskills Folk Lyceum. Sydney L. Waller spoke about Lavern Kelley, a Catskills wood carver who is well-known nationally.  Six of his works are in this exhibit, thanks to Ms. Waller.  Delaware County Historical Association lent three of the Homer Benedict carvings from their collection, and Hanford Mills lent one.  Catskills Folk Connection is very grateful for the generosity of the artists, the speaker, and the organizaitons for their support of this exhibit.

"Folk Art in Wood" is made possible by Catskills Folk Connection's sponsor, Roxbury Arts Group, and is supported by generous in-kind services from the exhibit's host, Hanford Mills Museum.  The exhibit was funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts Folk Arts Program, by Gov. Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, by a Vision Grant from Humanities NY, and by the O'Connor Foundation.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Meet the Folk Artists: 1. Gary Mead

 In its continuing series featuring the folk artists from the exhibit "Folk Art in Wood,"  Catskills Folk Connection presents Meet the Folk Artists: Gary Mead, Furniture.  It can be found on Catskills Folk Connection's YouTube channel or at the link below.  Gary composes his works in wood to create one-of-a-kind tables, shelves, stools, and sculptures.  In this video he describes the vision he had for a free-standing pantry - too large for the exhibit - that he made from a hollow log.  Called "Mother & Child" it contains a unique solution that balances the natural aesthetic of the wood with the practical purpose of the pantry.  Gary's presentation includes reciting two poems he composed while completing the Mother & Child Pantry that give insight into his creative process.


For more information about the exhibit, "Folk Art in Wood", visit Catskills Folk Connection's FaceBook page and for free reservations (required) call Hanford Mills Museum 607-2785744.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Meet the Folk Musicians: 2. Amy Lieberman, Bass

Amy Lieberman and her bass, with fellow Tremperskillian, Chris Carey, banjo.

In this folklore field interview, done through Zoom, Amy Lieberman discusses her musical journey, from elementary band through nearly a decade with the Tremperskill Boys, playing for square dances, weddings and concerts.  Along the way she has learned to play a variety of instruments, some of which she plays in other local music groups.  The link below will take you to Amy's interview on YouTube: 


If clicking the link does not work, try selecting it and copying it into a new search window for your browser - where URLs usually go.  Hit enter and you should go to Youtube directly to the video.   

If you still can't see it or encounter any other problems, please notify Ginny Scheer, at vscheer@juno.com or 607-326-4206.  Also, let us know what you think of folklore interviews like this one.


Thursday, August 6, 2020

CFC on WIOX Thursday August 6: Racism 2

Tonight CFC folklorist Ginny Scheer joins WIOX host Harry Anifantakis at  6 p.m. on his regular program, "Winging It" on 91.3 FM or wioxradio.org, for a special show devoted to the history of white race riots in the United States, especially the one in Tulsa Oklahoma in 1921, when an entire black neighborhood was leveled, many residents murdered, and thousands displaced.  Surprisingly, little or nothing was known among whites about the Tulsa riot until close to the end of the 20th century.  We hope you can join us tonight to hear the story of  Greenwood, as the neighborhood in Tulsa was called, and what it was like for Ginny and Harry to discover its history. .  

For additional information, here are some suggested resources. 



1.Greenwood Cultural Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma


2. John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, Tulsa, Oklahoma


3. June, 2020, 60 Minutes Program about the Greenwood Massacre

Article and link to video

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/greenwood-massacre-tulsa-oklahoma-1921-race-riot-60-minutes-2 020-06-14/ 60 minutes episode

Video only

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA8t8PW-OkA 60 minutes episode

4. What a White-Supremacist Coup Looks Like by Caleb Crain

April 27 2020 New Yorker Article about 1898 Wilmington, NC race riot:


5. "Tulsa Race Riot: A Report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921”

The report on the Tulsa race riot to the Oklahoma legislature, ordered in 1997. 200 pages with photos.  Can be obtained from Wikipedia, in footnote 2 under Tulsa Reparations Coalition

6. Oral History accounts by survivors and their descendants.  

Easiest access to examples can be found at the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation (jhfcenter.org) under Curriculum Resources.

7. Scott Ellsworth, 1982, Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.

Basic history.