Project grant opportunity for musicians

Folk musicians — how often have you wondered how to get a little help with producing a recording, marketing yourself, or repairing a musical instrument? Our friends at Club Passim have just announced project grants for musicians called the Iguana Fund. It looks like a nifty opportunity for artistic and or professional growth. Applications are accepted through mid-November. Check it out!

Festival season

Poised to dance. Photo by Maggie Holtzberg

Fall (and shorter days, cool weather, and school) may be just around the corner, but festival season is still going strong in Massachusetts. Two in particular are well worth attending.

On Sept 12-14, the Irish Culture Centre of New England hosts Icons: Irish Music and Arts Festival. Luminaries in the Irish music world will be there, including Solas, John Whelan, Chulrua, and many more. Plus Irish wolfhounds, soda bread, and stepdancing. It’s like the Washington area Irish festival has been reborn.

The last weekend in September, I suggest heading to New Bedford for the Working Waterfront Festival which is the flagship event celebrating the region’s commercial fishing industry. Fishermen’s contests, fresh seafood, boat tours, live music — and it’s free. The festival brings together a cross-section of the commercial fishing community — both those who are currently working in the industry as well as old-timers who haven’t been down in to the docks in years. Don’t miss it.

Tugboat Muster Shucking osyters

Photos courtesy of Working Waterfront Festival.

To find out more about great festivals taking place around Massachusetts, visit Worldfest.

Our local gem, Club Passim, on NPR!

Folklorist Millie Rahn knows the history of folk music in Massachusetts – and serves as the archivist for Club Passim. Catch this recent story on NPR celebrating the legendary folk music venue.

New England folk musicians celebrate Quebec 400

Crossroads Finale

Joyeuse Anniversaire, Québec!

Just back from accompanying a great group of musicians to perform for our neighbors to the north. “Crossroads: Music Traditions of New England” was New England’s contribution to Québec 400, a year-long celebration marking the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding. Crooked Still represented Massachusetts and Nightingale VermontRehearsing. Nightingale on deckRhode Island sent the Pegheads, Connecticutt it’s state troubador, Pierce Campbell. Maine was represented by Nipmuc flutemaker/player Hawk Henries and New Hampshire by dance fiddler Rodney Miller (a National Heritage Fellow), David Surrette, and accordion wiz Gary Sredzienski. Above you see everyone squeezed on stage for a finale. The event took place at Espace 400 on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. A full day of traditional tunes and songs, some with strong Franco-American influence, culminated with everyone on stage. Just minutes after closing, we were all treated to Robert LePage’s incredible sound and light installation projected on the grain silos across the river.

The Québecois know how to enjoy life!

Fiddle through line

Suhas Rao and Tara Anand Bangalore. Photo by Billy Howard.For years I’ve wanted to pair a kora player with an oldtime banjo player. Or get rhythm tap dancer Rocky Mendes together with swing fiddler Matt Glaser. We did just that and more at a recent concert, African Roots, Fiddle Tunes, and Fancy Footwork — one of two performances complementing Keepers of Tradition: Art and Folk Heritage in Massachusetts at the National Heritage Museum. The concert gave us the opportunity to hint at the diversity of performance traditions thriving in Massachusetts today — African kora, old-time fiddle and banjo, swing fiddle, South Indian Carnatic violin, and Irish accordion and fiddle. This is music that makes people dance — and so we complemented the musician’s offerings with some of the extraordinary dance steps their music has inspired: rhthym tap dance and Irish stepdance. It wasn’t “Riverdance,” “Hee Haw” or “Bollywood.” It was the living, breathing root traditions from which they sprang.

We’re putting something similar together for October 4th. Stay tuned . .

Photo by Billy Howard

Crooked Still Quebec bound

Crooked StillHow does New England help Quebec City celebrate its 4ooth birthday? By sending acoustic musicians from each of six New England states to perform on July 4th in Quebec City. Crossroads: Music Traditions of New England takes place at the Grand Square on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. On the bill are Crooked Still, Rodney Miller and David Surette, Gary Sredzienski, Nightingale, Pierce Campbell, the Pegheads, and Hawk Henries. The musical fare will include a blend of French, Native American, Celtic, Scandinavia, Anglo and other influences, opening people’s ears to some of the exciting traditional music that is thriving in New England today.