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rev.11/13/12  Web page problems, broken links, etc: Don Wade

Jason Poole's letter:

     Aloha Evy, Heather and Jerry!

    I wanted to send a giant MAHALO to you all for bringing me to the Eisteddfod this year!  What a blast!  James and I had a great time attending all of the workshops and concerts.  And eating all of the food!

    And we LOVED meeting the people!  Such great folks gathered in one place and for one reason--their shared love of traditional music.  Magic!

    It is always an honor to share the music and stories from Molokai and the other Hawaiian islands. (And the hula, too!) Thank you for giving me the opportunity.  A delight to share Aloha beyond Hawai'i's shores.  I hope it proves to have been fun/informative for the FMSNY members! to top

    And because of the workshops and concerts, my eyes have been reopened (and my heart reawakened!) to some of the songs that I remember hearing when I was a little boy.  Songs from my ancestral homelands.  I look forward to exploring those and then taking them back to Hawai'i--a cross-cultural experience!

    Thank you, again.  Mahalo nui loa.
    And I look forward to our paths crossing, again, soon.  Would love to have the chance to work together, again!
    With Aloha,
    Jason Poole

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Eclectic Company
Riding Out The Storms With Songs
By Leslie Berman

We Long Islanders came through Superstorm Sandy pretty well, considering, and thank you all for asking how we’d weathered it.  When I say pretty well, I mean my immediate family’s losses were relatively few, especially as compared to those of some of our friends and colleagues.  My mom’s apartment building is in Long Beach, New York, right at the ocean front, and if you saw the televised coverage from there, with the boardwalk coming apart, and tons of sand left on the streets after the surge waters receded, if you heard that they’ve got no potable water, 500 port-a-potties to serve the town’s needs, a 7:00 p.m. curfew, and no electricity (she lives on the eighth floor) you can imagine that she won’t be able to go home for some time.  Her rental property in Far Rockaway that produces her retirement income (and housing for two large low-income families) was also deluged – water up to the ceiling of the basement – but my sister Jocelyn is a wonder, and she got in a plumber with a pump along with her regular handyman Miguel and his brother Edgar, in a couple of pairs of thigh-high waders, and with a fair amount of elbow grease, they’ve probably saved two furnaces, two hot water heaters, the electrical system, and the house itself. 

For me personally, apart from the trauma of reliving Rita (and as I know you all remember too well, the three-week evacuation for that storm that was followed by nearly three months of personal and business disruption, bursts of virtually aimless activity alternating with the frustration of hurrying up to wait for just about everything, paralysis and the doldrums, anger at the incompetence with which the aftermath was handled, and finally acceptance that life as we had previously known it was gone forever), the small abrasions of sibling and parental demands, and today, the worry that just after we got our electricity back, the Nor-easter bearing down on us might take it away again, our losses were bearable and mostly financial.

The POSSLQ and I had planned to enjoy our anniversary the weekend after Sandy in the Catskill mountains at the Eisteddfod – a festival of traditional folk music begun in Dartmouth MA in the 1970s and now run by the Folk Music Society of New York – at which we’d met a year ago, so after a couple of nights in our light-and-heat-less house, shivering under the covers and reading by flashlight like a pair of superannuated summer campers, we upped sticks and went to the resort a couple of days early to savor electricity, heat and hot water.  Ha cha cha cha!

When I wrote about the Eisteddfod last year, because I’d fallen in love with the music of Welsh traditional singer and storyteller Christine Cooper who performed there, I noted that while guest performers were on the program, much of the music was provided by FMSNY members and the audience.  Last year’s “camper concert” featured 15 attendees performing at an afternoon open mic, and workshops and mainstage performers included homegrown acts such as Folksong Society President Evy Mayer’s group Triboro, featuring close harmonies, hot guitar-picking, and Hawaiian melodies on ukelele (nicely foreshadowing this year’s Hawaiian music of Chris Davis, Claudia Kanile’a Goddard and Jason Poole).

This year the POSSLQ and I were both on the program, him playing and discussing recordings of campaign songs of yore, and displaying our collection of campaign buttons, bumper stickers and other bumpf, and me demystifying copyright rules for amateurs and professionals performing and recording traditional folk music.  Other FMSNY members on the schedule were Heather Wood who sang her own campaign song “H. Wood for Dictator” (“Elect me dictator in 1984 . . . I'll make sure that everybody has enough to eat /
I'll set up soup kitchens on every major street / Those that disagree with me / they'll provide the meat /
 If you will vote for me”) and led a workshop of spoken poems, stories and other stuff; Alan Friend, showcasing banjo styles; songwriter John Ziv; Steve Suffet and Ann Price performing lesser-known and intriguing Woody Guthrie songs and displaying some photographs of and books by and about the author of “This Land Is Your Land,” among a gazillion fantastic songs (and the subject of numerous 100th anniversary events around the world), and The Johnson Girls, a quartet of sea shanty singers with bold voices and close harmonies who closed the first night’s mainstage concert and appeared in numerous workshops throughout the weekend.

Among the non-Society guests on the bill this year was fiddler Kenny Kosek, who’s played just about every style possible and is my favorite violinist hands down for clean and effortless transitions from swing to bluegrass to Swedish Hardanger fiddle styles.  Kosek played on Broadway with the late Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia, and on Broadway in the musical Big River with actor John Goodman, who, disguised as a mild-mannered comic, created an off-hours show with Kosek and Richie “Citizen Kafka” Shulberg on New York City’s WBAI Pacifica alternative FM station for almost a decade beginning in 1979.  Kosek enlisted the members of the Red Hen String Band to join him onstage for his show, and they returned the favor, making him the fifth Hen, during their set the following day.  Red Hen is just one of the many projects of prolific old-timey fiddler Jane Rothfield and her husband, Scottish singer and bassist Alan Carr, who I met years ago in Edinburgh, when they lived in an apartment in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, an amazing giant rock planted in the middle of a park in the middle of the city by some prehistoric giant.  Or aliens from outer space.  The way I remember it, Jane was always having a musical inspiration, a laugh, or a serious discussion that nevertheless ended in giggles, and so she still goes these days.  Jane and her sister, Californian Susie Rothfield, a/k/a Suzy Thompson, well known as a bluegrass and Cajun fiddler, accordionist and guitarist, will be collaborating on a new album of Jane’s own old-timey songs before the end of the year.  I’ll clue you in on Jane’s previous and upcoming albums soon.

And for all the great stuff we’ve seen and heard in the last few weeks, there’ll be more commentary and reviews when we’ve recovered from the storms some more.  You remember how that goes.  Keep us in your good thoughts.
Leslie Berman, Esq.
PO Box 706
East Setauket NY 11733
(516) 492-5116 CellPhone

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Eisteddfod-NY 2012 by Howard Glasser
They made it look so easy - simple -
Fiddles, banjos, flutes -
The fiddles out numbered the guitars -
The songs and stories rolled out - no effort -
So simple - -  it wasn’t -
We can learn -
Dance, make a knot -
Sing a song - 
It was not a show -
It was a come-along -
We were we’s - not I’s or me’s -
It was a - you can - try!
You have a story - a tune -
A memory -
Give it a try -
Eisteddfod NY 2012 -
Reunions with precious friends -
Meeting new friends -
Every workshop - a teacher - inspirer -
      I have their recordings -
      Attended their concerts -
      And we had breakfast together -
The organizers have earned our trust -
Their world gathering - done for us -
The best of the best -
Here’s good health to all the enablers -
They gave us encouragement -
Time for us to return some to them.
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Folk Music Society of New York, Inc.  2012