Saturday, June 18, 2022

Walton Dance June 18 Covid Update

 At present, Delaware County is rated by CovidActNow as having a low infection rate, a medium vaccination rate, and a low and declining hospitalization rate.  These are very encouraging figures as we present our second in-person square dance for the season tonight at 7 pm at the Walton Grange (see article below).  . 

So tonight masks are welcomed, but optional while dancing.  You can add a margin of safety by wearing your mask while dancing and when moving around inside the Grange, also by maintaining social distance.  Further safety can be enhanced by arriving with a group of people to dance with and staying with that group. 

Join us for an enjoyable night of familiar - and a few new - square dances with time to waltz in between.

See you at the Grange!

--- Ginny Scheer, Folklorist, Catskills Folk Connection 

  

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Old-Time Square Dance Walton Grange June 18 [Pinkster recordings are just below.]

 A Toe-Tapping Good Time To be Had by All 

A Traditional Round and Square Dance at the

Walton Grange, 135 Stockton Avenue

Saturday, June 18 at 7 pm

featuring The Tremperskill Boys

"Kick up your heels" is the apt phrase for enthusiastic dancers at a Catskills Folk Connection square dance.  But don't think that the fun is not for beginners.  At CFC dances, all square dances are taught so beginners can participate from the outset.  And remember that we welcome listeners who want to hear the old, familiar tunes - and maybe some new ones too!  

At the western edge of Delaware County, Walton has a rich tradition of music and dance.  It was the home of the Catskills ballad singer (and fiddler, and square dance caller) Grant Rogers, and has an active group of dancers from town and from surrounding communities.  Walton is also the home of the Walton Theatre which hosts music performers on its big stage and in its "coffeehouse," all planned by a sister-organization, Music on the Delaware. 


Walton Grange, #1454, is still active, run by local management.

Many people know the Walton Grange's location because it is at the turn everyone must take to get to the Delaware County Fair, proudly called "the Walton Fair."  It has also been the site of numerous town functions, including many square dances. If you are driving west from Delhi on St. Route 10, after entering Walton turn left at the traffic light. If you are driving east from Masonville or Trout Creek, turn right at the light. This is Bridge Street (also 206) and it leads directly to the Grange, the brick structure visible opposite the other end of the bridge. Some, like Wikipedia, mistake the former Armory, with its crenellated towers, for the Grange. The Grange is immediately left of the Armory which has been known as the "Castle on the Delaware."  

At 7 pm Saturday, June 18, the Tremperskill Boys will start the music for a traditional old-time square dance with John Jacobson and Dane Scudder, fiddlers and callers.  Accompanying them will be Amy Lieberman on bass fiddle, Sheila Addison on guitar, and Ginny Scheer on flute.  It will be an evening of familiar squares, with a few new ones thrown in, plus round (couple) dances and songs 

Masks are recommended, and by the 18th may be required, due to the unpredictability of Covid infection rates. The safest plan for dancers would be to wear a mask and to arrive in a group of eights, and dance only with that group. (Square dances are usually much more democratic than this, but these are not typical times!) Windows and doors will be open as much as possible to increase ventilation and seating can be arrange for social distancing  Check here just before the dance to see if Covid data has caused the dance to be moved to an outdoor location or to be changed to a concert. For more information, contact Ginny Scheer at gscheer.mcs@gmail.com or 607-326-4206. 

Catskills Folk Connection's square dances follow the Eastern tradition of rural family dancing.  This is not the kind of dance where you have to show a certificate of achievement in order to participate!  There are certain conventions and regional variations in Eastern square dance, but we'll make sure everyone knows about them .

Granges and community halls were common sites for square dances through most of the 20th century. In the 19th century, and for a time in the 20th, a dance was more likely to be organized as a "house dance." A farm family would put the word out and hire a fiddler. Guests would arrive after evening milking and would help move the living room and dining room furniture out of the way (onto the porch...even onto the lawn!).  The fiddler would set up between the two rooms, perhaps accompanied by a neighbor on the piano, or another musician on guitar, and call dances so familiar that everyone knew them.  Like the children who came to the dance with their families, the dancers had grown up going to house dances and might sing the calls along with the caller.  

Join us for a night of community fun and enjoyable music.  See you at the Grange!

Catskills Folk Connection is sponsored by the Roxbury Arts Group and is funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts Folk Art Program, by Gov. Hochul and the NYS Legislature, by HumanitiesNY Action & Vision Grants, and by the O'Connor Foundation.

 



 

  




     


Pinkster Recordings for WIOX Listeners, Who Missed Them


A Pinkster Player represents Sojourner Truth
 as the 2022 Pinkster Walk winds through the historic neighborhood. 

Last Sunday was the celebration of the First Annual Pinkster Festival, organized in Kington NY on June 5 by TransArt Inc., and featuring musicians, historical players, and others in a multi-faceted event whose theme was "Joy is an Act of Resistance."    

Link: 2022 June 5 Pinkster Walk with "Dancing the Plank"  The Pinkster Festival began with a worship service in the Old Dutch Church, Kingston, NY.  It consisted of songs, stories from the Bible about Pentecost, that was celebrated by Dutch settlers,  and stories performed by the Pinkster Players about Pinkster as a 200-year tradition among Africans enslaved in the Hudson Valley. Then everyone went outside for the Pinkster Walk, accompanied by elaborate drum rhythms, to the church Sojourner Truth attended, and then on the the "Assembly Green for the festival itself.  

The festival offered booths that had, for example, samples of Dutch-African foodways, African games, as well as things for sale.  One booth, representing a local vegetable farm was giving away salad makings, greens, and flowers - for free! The Players entertained the festival with interactive demonstrations of body percussion and drumming.

 Link: 2022 June 5 Pinkster Festival Players Engage Audience in "Hambone"   Chief Baba Neil Clarke introduces the idea of "Polyrhythm".  A Pinkster Player (whose name I missed) tells the audience that enslaved Africans had not been able to bring their musical instruments, so they invented ways to make familiar sounds and rhythms with their bodies.  To a simple stomping rhythm he adds more complex rhythms until the audience can play along with him in a call and response song.  

Next year, watch for the second annual Pinkster Festival in early June, about 5 weeks after Easter, the approximate time of Pentecost.  Be prepared participate in African traditional rhythms, dance, games, foods, and joy.   

Thursday, May 26, 2022

More Resources on the History of Slavery and the Pinkster Festival

 

Photo from Wycoff Historic House Museum Pinkster Festival 2022

Catskills Folk Connection's folklorist, Ginny Scheer, interviewed Chief Baba Neil Clarke (right, above) on Tuesday, May 24 on her WIOX radio program, Catskills Folk  (www.wioxradio.org).  The Chief, a well-known scholar in African American music and history, as well as a master drummer, described the efforts of white slave owners and their governments to "erase" African culture - its languages, religions,  music traditions, and family connections.  The people captured and transported from Africa could not bring any of their material culture,  But they could bring their skills, talents and aesthetics and eventually apply them in their new surroundings.  Given a chance, such as the freedom of the Pinkster Festival, when owners gave enslaved people the day off and even allowed them to travel to other communities, outlawed music instruments and other practices appeared   

Chief Baba Neil Clarke is one of the organizers of the Pinkster Festivals being celebrated up and down the Hudson River Valley, with Kingston the closest one to the Catskills Region.  See this blog's previous article and go to TransArt & Cultural Services for more information about the Pinkster Festival on June 4 & 5 in Highland NY and Kingston, NY.   

Audio recordings used in the WIOX broadcast with Chief Baba Neil Clarke came from two interviews done as part of a virtual Pinkster celebration at Wycoff Historic House Museum.  One, used as background for the radio program, examines the history of African slavery in America as context for the Pinkster Festival.   Melissa Branfman from Wycoff House and Meredith Horsford from Dyckman House interview Lavada Nahon, culinary scholar and interpreter of African American Traditions for the NYS OPRHP and Chief Baba Neil Clarke in this 49 minute recording:  Lavada Nahon & Chief Baba Neil Clarke

The second recording was excerpted on the air sharing brief interviews with musicians OrjeƱo Enrique Prince (fiddle) and Ayoudele Maarkeru (banjo) and a longer demonstration by Chief Baba Neil Clarke about drumming - how it fit in the Pinkster Festival and helped perpetuate musical traditions that were part of the development of jazz. This recoding is about 13 minutes long:  Virtual Pinkster Music

I hope you enjoy these links. Click on the words "TransArt & Cultural Services" to go to information about the June 4 & 5 Pinkster Festival.  The words are not underlined and are not in blue.  Click on the words "Lavada Nahon & Chief Baba Neil Clarke" for the longer, historical interview.  Click on the words "Virtual Pinkster Music" for the interview with the musicians at Wycoff House's virtual  Pinkster Festival.  Please let me know if you have any trouble accessing them.  Ginny: gscheer.mcs@gmail.com.





Pinkster Festival June 4 & 5

                                                                        Congolese Dancers                                                            

Photo from TransArt & Cultural Services


The Pinkster Festival on June 4 and 5  is a contemporary expression of this historical celebration that occurred for over 200 years in the Hudson River Valley.   This year it is taking place in Highland  and Kingston NY and offers African and African American music, dance and foodways, re-enactments, a Sojourner Truth play, festival vendors and much more.
 
For more information go to the website of this year's producers of the Pinkster Festival TransArt & Cultural Services:   TransArt & Cultural Services:  You may be asked to click through.

Activities begin at 2 PM in Highland Park NY at the Sojourner Truth Statue/Walkway Over the Hudson Park Visitor’s Center, with the Congolese Dancers performing African dance in remembrance of the traditions the earliest captured Africans brought with them to the Americas. Then at 2:45 pm at the same site a short play about abolitionist and suffragist Sojourner Truth, "Raw Truth," will be presented, followed at 4 pm by an on-line offering "Seeking Truth," a virtual museum that tells the life story of Sojourner Truth.

On Sunday at 10:30 am at the Old Dutch Church, 272 Wall St. Kingston NY 12401, the festivities begin with a presentation by the Pinkster Players "Joy is an Act of Resistance," then a panel discussion including Lavada Naron, culinary scholar and interpreter of African American Traditions at NYS OPRHP, and Chief Baba Neil Clarke, scholar of African American history and music and well-known percussionist. The panel will talk about the Pinkster Festival in the context of the history of slavery in America, of slavery's negative impact on the continuity of cultural traditions of enslaved people, and on the cultural identity of African Americans today.

Gather at noon on Sunday for the Pinkster Walk at 1 pm, proceeding from the Old Dutch Church to St James Church and ending at the Academy Green for the festival proper. There until 6 pm you will find contemporary and historic music and dance, including the Congolese dancers, the Sojourner Truth play, the Pinkster Players, Afro-Dutch foodways, a percussion ensemble, and many festival vendors.

Come enjoy one of the oldest traditional festivals in the Catskill-Hudson River region!

For more information about the the Pinkster Festival, the history of slavery and its cultural impact, see the next article. "More Resources".  

Friday, May 20, 2022

Update May 21 Square Dance


 The square dance is ON! Join us tomorrow night, May 21, 7 pm 
 at the Halcott Grange  for a toe tapping evening of Catskills tunes,
 old-time melodies, and some other favorites.

We hope you will join us for our first scheduled round and square dance in two and a half years!  With Covid and heat precautions, we will gather at a traditional  local square dance venue, the Halcott Grange, north of Fleischmanns in Halcott Center.  The address is 264 County Route 3, Halcott NY.  

Simplest Directions: 

From NYS Route 28 follow Fleischmanns' Main St. to the only gas station.  Coming from the east, turn right; from the west, turn left.  You will go almost 3 miles on Delaware County Route 37.  At the county line the Route will change to Greene County Route 3.  Less that 1/4 mile ahead you will see the Grange on the right, with a big dairy barn on the left.  You may not have cell service while following these directions and the first part of the road is very rough.  

Parking:  Parking will be just past the Grange on the right, also just before the Grange on Ursum Road going toward the transfer station, or last resort along the right side of the road past the Grange.

Back Road Directions (better road conditions, but more complicated directions): 

From Route 30 south out of Roxbury, 4.5 mi. south, turn left on County Route 8, then 2.8 mi. (up hill and down: jog left just past John Shultis Road) and turn right on County Route 36.  This is the main road the length of the Denver-Vega Valley.  Go 1 mile, then take second left (the one after John B. Hewitt Road) on Dimmick Mountain Road; go 1.41 Mi, where Dimmick become Big Red Kill Road.

Go on .29 mi and turn left on Little Red Kill Road.  Go 1.08 and turn left on Basil Todd Road.  Go .11 mi. staying  straight on Streeter Hill  Road.  Go 1.14 Mi and turn left on Breezy Hill Rd.  Go .33 mi to a Y and take a slight right onto Halcott Road. Go .42 mi to County Route 37.  This is the main road the length of the Halcott valley. 

Turn a slanted left onto Route 37 and go 1 mi. At this point County Route 37 becomes Greene County Route 3.  Go .62 miles to the Halcott Grange, on your right.  The Grange is across the road from a big dairy barn.     Note: one set of directions says that the distance into Greene County is .25 mi, and this one says it is .62 mi.  There is wifi at the Grange.

Coming from the west from Margaretville: From Main Street, go north on State Route 30 for 3.60 miles.  Turn right (at Kelly Corners) onto County 36.  Go 2.94 mi and turn right on Dimmick Mountain Road (post office with flag on your right)).  Use directions from Roxbury from Dimmick Mountain Road to the Halcott Grange.  

Coming from the east from Highmount/Pine Hill:  From State Route 28 go into Fleischmanns and drive the length of Main Street.  Just past the Valkyrie Motel on the left and River Run B&B on the left, turn right on Big Red Kill Road.  Go 1.57 mi. and turn right on Little Red Kill Road.  Use the directions from Roxbury form Little Red Kill Road.  

The band:

The Tremperskill Boys band usually plays for Catskills Folk Connection square dances, continuing the tradition of Hilt Kelly & His Sidekicks with tunes they often played and dances they commonly called.  This Saturday night Catskills Folk Connection will offer a lively program with two guest musicians, Earl Pardini and Pete Halvorsen playing with the Tremperskill Boys.  

Earl is a well-known dance caller and fiddler, and Pete plays mandolin and fiddle.  Earl and Pete agreed to come on short notice when we found that three of the Tremperskill  Boys (count them, three!) are out of commission. One is taking care of a hospitalized family member, another has an on-going medical condition, and the third fell and injured her shoulder.  But the dance will go on!

Health and Safety:

Covid precautions, in light of current data, will at minimum be for CFC to suggest masks.  For added safety, you can plan to dance with the same group all evening - bring them with you and or find folks you know after you arrive. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available.  For the predicted heat, we will be offering iced drinks, and plenty of cold bottled water.  Downstairs at the Grange is a good spot to cool off.  At any time dancers and audience members can suggest to CFC staff that we should convert the event from dancing to a concert with socially-distanced seating.     

See you at the dance!



   

      

   




Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Square Dancing Returns! May 21st at Halcott Grange

 
"Left Hand Star!"

If you have enjoyed square dancing in the past .. or think you might like to try it - now's the time.  Catskills Folk Connection is once again offering in-person square dances at locations in and around Delaware County.  

Just over the Delaware County line in Halcott - north of Fleischmanns -  on Saturday, May 21 at 7 pm the Tremperskill Boys will play for a traditional old-time square dance with John Jacobson and Dane Scudder, fiddlers and callers.  Accompanying them there at the Halcott Grange will be Amy Lieberman on bass fiddle, Sheila Addison on guitar, and Ginny Scheer on flute.  It will be an evening of familiar squares, with a few new ones thrown in, round (couple) dances and songs.  All dances will be taught.

One of the featured callers, Dane Scudder, grew up in Halcott and attended many dances at the Grange.  He has been heard to say that before he left for college, the main source of live music in his life was Hilt Kelly and the Sidekicks at the Halcott Grange.
  
Granges and community halls were common sites for square dances through most of the 20th century. In the 19th century, and for a time in the 20th, a dance was more likely to be organized as a  "house  dance."  A farm family would put out the word and hire a fiddler.  Guests would arrive after evening milking and would help move the living room and dining room furniture out of the way ( on to the porch...even on to the lawn!).  The fiddler would set up between the two rooms, perhaps accompanied by a neighbor on the piano, or another musician on guitar, and call dances so familiar that everyone knew them.  Like the children who came to the dance with their families, the dancers had grown up going to house dances and might sing the calls along with the caller.  

The Halcott Grange is at 264 Route 3 in Halcott Center, a large agricultural valley north of Fleischmanns.  From Route 28, from either direction, turn off into Fleischmanns.  From Main Street turn by the gas station on to Lake Street (County Route 37); approaching from the east it is a right turn; from the west it is a left turn. Go a little less than 3 miles where you will see a sign that the road number has changed to County Route 3.  You will have just crossed into Greene County.  Go about a quarter of mile further, and the grange will be on the right.   

Masks are recommended, and by the 21st may be required, due to the unpredictability of Covid infection rates. The safest plan for dancers would be to plan to wear a mask and to arrive in a group of eight, and dance only with that group.  (Square dances are usually much more democratic than this, but these are not typical times!) Windows and doors will be open as much as possible to increase ventilation, and seating can be arranged for social distancing.  Check here just before the dance to see if Covid data has caused the dance to be moved to an outdoor location or to be changed to a concert.

For more information contact Ginny Scheer at gscheer.mcs@gmail.com or  607-326-4206.

We hope you will be able to attend Catskills Folk Connection's first square dance in over two years!

See you in Halcott at the Grange on Saturday May 21 at 7 pm. 

Catskills Folk Connection is sponsored by the Roxbury Arts Group, and is funded in part by the NYS Council on the Arts Folk Art Program, by Gov. Hochul and the NYS Legislature, by Action and Vision Grants from HumanitiesNY, and by the O'Connor Foundation.