Friday, September 17, 2021

Catskills Folk Connection at the Cauliflower Festival September 25

I hope you will join me, folklorist Ginny Scheer, at Catskills Folk Connection's booth at the Cauliflower Festival, 11am - 4 pm on Saturday, September 25, in Margaretville, behind the Freshtown supermarket. 

The foodways theme for this fall is fermented foods.  At the Cauliflower Festival you will be able to view selections from my field interview with Robert Ford about making sauerkraut and listen to my radio interview with Madalyn Warren about making kimchi, both fermented Catskills products.  I will even have a crock with cabbage getting ready to ferment!  

In addition, I will acquaint visitors with Catskills Folk Connection's 2020 and 2021 programs by offering individual viewings of previous programs in video, audio and photos.  These will include field interviews with tradition bearers, folk artists and square dance musicians, as well as presentations of works from "Folk Art in Wood," our successful in-person exhibit from 2020.

Catskills Folk Connection's "Folk Art in Wood" exhibit 2020
Carved goose and two ducks by Joe Dibble

Our booth is usually under the pavilion. Look for the orange tablecloth.

See you at the Cauliflower Festival!

Sunday, August 29, 2021

In Person Concert September 4, 2021, at 5 pm


Covid Update: After declining from a high earlier in August, the rate of positive tests and Covid cases has recently started to rise. Therefore, Catskills Folk Connection has stayed with its alternative plans for a concert, not a square dance, on Saturday, September 4 with Covid precautions. See below. NOTE THE NEW STARTING TIME 5 P.M. We will continue to try to plan dances in the future.

Tremperskill Boys put on a square dance at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts a few years ago.

The Tremperskill Boys, will offer a lively free outdoor concert of Catskills tunes, original songs, plus Irish and Scottish melodies, on Saturday, September 4 at 5 pm, sponsored by Catskills Folk Connection. Please note the time change to 5 pm. This way you can get supper from the food truck, Health on Wheels, which will be there even after the concert begins.

The concert will take place under a tent on the lawn at Dirty Girl Farm, 114 Delaware Avenue, Andes, NY 13731. Some chairs will be provided, but for your comfort bring your own lawn chairs. Should rain interfere, the concert will be postponed. Covid precautions are planned. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available at the gate, and the audience area will indicate social distances.

Originally, Catskills Folk Connection had planned to offer on this date its first in-person square dance since 2019. But the Delta variant made us change our plans, and we will hold the concert instead. As soon as the infection rate falls sufficiently, even if it is in the depths of winter, CFC will offer in-person dances on short notice.

The Tremperskill Boys band was founded in 2008 by John Jacobson with several string players, and was named for the creek that runs past John's home in Andes. In addiiton to John's fiddle the band included a guitar, banjo, and mandolin – later adding string bass, button accordion and flute, and an occasional keyboard. The current group has been together for many years: John Jacobson fiddle and calling; Dane Scudder fiddle, banjo and calling, Chris Carey banjo, Sheila Addison guitar, Amy Lieberman string bass, and Ginny Scheer silver flute. Though the genders are evenly divided, the band decided to keep their “Boys” name. They say “We’re an old-time string band – but we’re not all strings; and we’re the Tremperskill Boys – but we’re not all boys!”

The concert will include a wide variety of tunes – some fast and toe-tapping and others more mellow. They will be drawn from a repertoire of Catskills tunes, especially ones learned from Hilt Kelly, Irish and Scottish jigs and reels common in northern and southern regions, and original songs by John Jacobson. John Jacobson's songs are thoughtful. "Red Hill" reflects the experience of Catskills farmers in the face of “progress,” and "We'll Say a Prayer" is a meditation on on the prevalence of personal loss.

If you enjoy traditional music there is something for everyone to like in this concert: danceable tunes, engaging melodies, and wonderful songs. Join us on Sept. 4 at 5 pm. Dirty Girl Farm is going all out to make this Labor Day event memorable.
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For more information visit CFC’s blog or contact Ginny Scheer at 607-326-4206 or
Catskills Folk Connection is sponsored by the Roxbury Arts Group and is funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts, by Action and Vision Grants from HumanitiesNY, by Gov. Hochul and the NYS Legislature, and by the O'Connor Foundation

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

LINK Wednesday August 25 at 7 pm "Diversity iin Square Dance"

Tony Parkes

Meeting number 414 085 861

Tony Parkes, the nationally and internationally known caller from Massachusetts, will present an on-line talk for Catskills Folk Connection on Wednesday, August 25 at 7 p.m. Tony and his wife Beth Parkes have presented dances and offered workshops in 35 US states and in several countries in Europe, and Tony has written two books on calling and dancing. According to the Square Dance History Project, Tony’s calling has “specialized in old and new contra dances, traditional and contemporary New England squares, and squares from the 1950s (arguably the Golden Age of recreational square dancing).He has long been interested in square dance history and has unearthed “long-forgotten dances and developed an appreciation for the breadth and depth of American dance traditions.

Tony’s current research has focused recently on inclusiveness in the square dance tradition, especially by people of color in North America, from the Caribbean to above the Arctic Circle. His talk, entitled “Diversity in Square Dance,” will review the influence of African and African American music in the history of American traditional dance – and especially the development of calling dances – and then will use lively videos to visit a wide variety of living traditions of square dance. Among them will be Jamaican dancers, US Western club square dancers, community dances in far north indigenous communities, and dance performances by First Nations people in Canada.

Join Catskills Folk Connection on August 25 at 7 p.m. for this review of the vibrant living tradition of square dancing in unexpected places. The link is For those who can attend Zoom meetings with just the meeting number it is 414 085 1861. 

 For more information, contact Ginny Scheer or 607-326-4206.

Catskills Folk Connection is sponsored by the Roxbury Arts Group and is funded in part by NYSCA Folk Arts Program, by Gov. Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, by Humanities NY and by the O’Connor Foundation. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

LINK: Old Time Music and Dance in Rural New York July 28 at 7 p.m.

September 4 is on the horizon when we can get "back in the swing" of in-person square dancing. Meanwhile, you can join Catskills Folk Connection's in-depth talk by Jim Kimball revealing his intimate knowledge of traditional music and dance from Geneseo to the Catskills. It will take place on Wednesday, July 28 at 7 pm, presented by Catskills Folk Connection's series "Catskills Folk Lyceum." 

The talk is free and the link is

The meeting ID is 414 085 1861, in case you need it and the link is also on our FaceBook page.

"Old time Music and Dance in Rural New York" is the second in a series of free on-line talks about traditional music and dance presented by our Catskills Folk Lyceum series. The talk will be given by Jim Kimball who teaches at SUNY Geneseo and has made a study of historical and current music and dance traditions in central and western New York State, and as far east as the Catskills. His presentations are spiced with entertaining and informative quotes from newspapers and other publications; from diaries, tune books and dance cards in his collections; and from interviews with living tradition bearers who play and call for traditional dances in western New York.  Here's a newspaper article about young people enjoying riding to a dance in the 1870s:


On Friday evening last, a party of 24 young ladies and gentlemen seated themselves in a huge sleigh    box on a pair of bobs and started for Mt. Morris in merriest mood.  Arriving at Mt. Morris at 8:30,        they stopped at the Eagle Hotel, and half an hour afterwards were enjoying one of [Mr.] Scoville's best suppers. . . .and at 10, commenced keeping time with dancing feet to the good music of  Sedgwick's fiddle, assisted by McArthur and Chilson of Mt. Morris. They were assisited in this delightful amusement by another sleighing party from Geneseo.  The dancers were not ready to start for home until 4 a.m. Saturday and looked somewhat weary when they rode into Dansville at 7 a.m.

Jim Kimball teaches music history, world music and folklore, and directs the Geneseo String Band in the Music Department at SUNY Geneseo. He plays several traditional instruments, including fiddle, button accordion and concertina, calls square dances and frequently lectures on many musical subjects. Jim has collected tunes and stories from several old time musicians and callers, written articles and performed in museum venues where he specializes in 19th century popular and folk music traditions. The Geneseo String Band is made up of SUNY Geneseo students, alumni and local residents and plays a variety of old-time American popular and folk music, especially music that is characteristic of central and western New York.

Join us on Wednesday, July 28, at 7 p.m. to learn more about the history of traditional music and dance in upstate New York and to see and hear Jim Kimball’s collection of traditional music recordings, publications and diaries from the rich heritage of traditional music and dance in rural New York.  The free talk will be presented live on Zoom, Meeting ID 414 085 1861. The link is  For more information contact Ginny Scheer, folklorist, at 607-326-4206 or  

If you also receive Catskills Folk Connection's e-blast, your e-mail provider may be marking it as "spam."  So check there if you think you've missed an e-mail and if possible notify Catskills Folk Connection about the problem at  Thank you.  

Coming Up from Catskills Folk Connection:

  • The third talk in this Catskills Folk Lyceum series will take place on August 25 at 7 p.m.  In "Diversity in Square Dancing" Tony Parkes will talk about African and African- American influence on square dancing and square dance calling, and he will share his research about past and present participation in square dancing by communities of color in North America and from the Caribbean to the Arctic Circle!
  • On September 4 at Dirty Girl Farm in Andes, we are presenting our first in-person square dance with the Tremperskill Boys, John Jacobson and Dane Scudder calling.  Buffet dinner at 6 pm or earlier and dancing at 7 p.m.  On a wooden dance floor under a tent.  Watch here for exact times, location and Covid precautions.
  • Catskills Folk Connection is planning several in-person square dances this fall, Covid permitting.  These may be as often as every two weeks!  If Covid restrictions return, we may be able to present a socially-distanced concert by the square dance band.
  • If you attend Andes Community Day on August 14 you may find members of the Tremperskill Boys playing pop-up sets of tunes.  Still tentative. 

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


Saturday, June 5, 2021

LINK:______________________Square Dance: An American Medley

To attend David Millstone’s on-line talk, presented by Catskills Folk Connection’s Catskills Folk Lyceum on June 23 at 7 p.m., go to this link:

No password is required. Please wait for the host to admit you. To make sure you receive announcements of future speakers on traditional music and dance, and notices about live, in-person dances beginning in September (Covid permitting), please fill out Catskills Folk Connection’s form in the CHAT, during David's presentation, with your name and e-mail address.

David Millstone (Paul Ross photo) 

David Millstone is a preeminent dance caller and historian of American traditional dance, especially contra dance and square dance in the Northeastern U.S. David has been a dance caller for more than 40 years—squares, contras, English country dance, and family-friendly events. He has appeared at venues across North America, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and in eight European countries. With the band Northern Spy, he hosted a monthly dance from 1980–2015. He is past President of the Country Dance and Song Society, and co-ordinates  the Square Dance History Project. David is co-author of Cracking Chestnuts, a book about classic American contra dances; he wrote the contra dance history chapter of Dance a While; he created video documentaries about Bob McQuillen, Dudley Laufman, and Ralph Sweet and he has presented numerous talks on dance history at weekends and dance camps - and now on-line. David has made virtual presentations about traditional music and dance for regional dance presenters, such as the Mt Airy Contra, and for major festivals such as The Flurry. And on June 23, at 7 p.m. he will join Catskills Folk Lyceum on traditional music and dance with his talk about the origins and development of square dancing in the United States.

David’s Catskills Folk Lyceum Talk “Square Dance: An American Medley”

From the Quadrille ...

How did square dancing originate? How did the dancing change over centuries? What are some regional variations found in North America? What created the square dance boom of the 1950s? Eastern and western, traditional and modern, today's square dances are a blend of many cultural influences. Using historic movie footage, audio clips, and photographs in this hour-long presentation, David will explore the complex history of this dance form that is a vital part of American culture. Following the presentation, there will be an opportunity for questions and discussion.

June 23 at 7 p.m.

To "Bird in the Cage" ....

Join us for an enlightening talk and discussion, and watch for opportunities to dance in-person in September.

                                                            Ginny Scheer, Folklorist

                                                            Catskills Folk Connection


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

Sunday, May 30, 2021

SAVE THE DATE: June 23 at 7 pm David Millstone

If you miss square dancing, plan to immerse yourself in an informative talk by David Millstone about the history of this traditional dance in North America.  It will take place on Wednesday, June 23 at 7 pm, presented by Catskills Folk Connection's series "Catskills Folk Lyceum."  The talk is free and the link will be announced here on Catskills Folk Connection's blog after June 5.  

David Millstone                             Photo by Paul Ross

In Millstone's presentation, "Square Dance: An American Medley," the dance caller and historian will talk about the European sources of square dance's traditional form and figures, regional variations in North America, and the 20th century revival of square dancing,  Using historic movie footage, audio clips, and photographs in this engaging hour-long presentation he will explore the complex history of this dance form that is a vital part of American culture. 

An author and video documentarian, David Millstone has called dances in New England for over 40 years, coordinates The Square Dance History Project, and is a past president of the Country Dance and Song Society.  

Watch here on Catskills Folk Connection's blog to obtain a link to the free presentation, which will be posted after June 5.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Pinkster Resources from WIOX Radio Program May 25, 2021

 I'm happy that so many of you listened to my radio program, Catskills Folk, about the African American festival of Pinkster on WIOX Tuesday night.  Everyone I talked to enjoyed the African drumming and the tradition of "hambone." They wondered where to hear more.  Here are all the resources I offered to share, including the link to the African drumming group you heard on Catskills Folk.  --Ginny Scheer, Folklorist, Catskills Folk Connection.

The Pinkster Festival:

Pulse of the Planet

Listen to the series of short podcasts on Pulse of the Planet, a nationally distributed program about the natural and cultural environments.  Under "Daily Programs" look for 2021 and choose the free podcasts for May 13 "Pinkster", May 14 "Hambone", and May 17 "The Slave King".  These were the transcripts I read with the quotes from the SUNY New Palz professor Albert James Williams Myers, and from Keith Johnston and Ron McBee, musicians with Children of Dahomey.


The group is shown playing at the Monserrat African Music Festival 2013.  I chose this video to represent African drumming because it sounded the most like the drumming on Pulse of the Planet's podcasts.

"Patting Juba"

A video from the 2009 ACTA Apprenticeship featuring  Danny "Slap Jazz" Barber demonstrates Hambone  for apprentice Sekani Thomas.  His demonstration includes basic rhythmic patterns as well as the song "Juba," which had special meaning among slaves.

Pinkster at Philipsburg Manor

The Pinkster festival is re-enacted every spring at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY.  The virtual presentation from 2020 includes five short videos which show the festival, its history and its cultural context.  You can watch these directly on the website or find them and more on YouTube.

    A History of Pinkster

    Embracing Tradition

    Music, Dance & Celebration

    [Food:]  Make Your Own Akara Black-eyed Pea Fritters 

            Recipe: download from video.

    [Textiles:] Make Your Own Adinkra Stamps  

            Instructions: download from video.

Dyckman Farm Pinkster Festival 

A re-enactment of Pinkster in New York City at 4881 Broadway at 204th Street, Manhattan. It takes place live in-person on May 27 from 6 to 7 pm.  It is free.  Bring your own blankets.

Announcements on Catskills Folk:

Canal Street String Band

The Grant Rogers Project and the Ogden Library in Walton, NY, are co-sponsoring a virtual concert on Saturday, June 5, at 7 pm featuring the Canal Street String Band with Dave Ruch, Phil Banaszak, and Jim Whitford. They will present a program of Grant Rogers songs and tunes, plus music from Delaware County NY and American favorites.

Catskill Folk Lyceum: The History of Square Dancing

The history of square dancing in the northeastern U.S. will be the subject of a virtual talk on June 23, 7 pm, by David Millstone, noted expert on traditional music and dance.  For more information about the link to the virtual talk, consult Catskills Folk Connection's blog after June 5.