September, 2011

Apart from our big transition into the post-Nightingale era (see home page for some details), much of our summer of 2011 was occupied by a lot of music camps. We began close to home with a couple of teaching events which are outgrowths of our work with our local music school, the Brattleboro Music Center. Throughout the year, Becky and I lead lead a series of weekly classes for adults and kids in both instrumental music and a traditional singing class (with Tony Barrand). These classes have grown substantially over the past several years and have helped spawn a new community of traditional players in Brattleboro. It’s been very satisfying to see that grow. This summer, at the end of June, we held our second Trad Camp, a week long day camp for kids 9-14. Becky and I and our local musical comrade, Andy Davis, led the kids in traditional dancing, singing, instrumental classes and a mummers’ play. I’m happy to say that the week was a smashing success. A week later, it was the Northern Roots Weekend, a weekend camp just outside Brattleboro for adults with guest teachers Jean Duval (flute player from Quebec) and Jeff Warner (traditional singer from New Hampshire). The weekend has taken on a wonderfully warm character with great jam sessions and informal dancing. It feels like a great, weekend long house party. (Plus classes!)

Less than a week later, Becky and I were running Family Week for the Country Dance and Song Society at Pinewoods. It is such a privilege and delight to be able to assemble a staff of that size for a week. The music was outstanding and the atmosphere was inspiring. We stayed a second week at Pinewoods for the inaugural Harmony of Song and Dance Week, led by our dear friends, Peter and Mary Alice Amidon. That week was another huge success and it was so great to have an entire week focused on singing.

Becky and I raced from camp to the Champlain Valley Festival in Burlington, VT to perform the music of the Atwood Family with Tony Barrand (see notes to the CD, On the Banks of Coldbrook). That festival has changed forms many times over the years but continues to showcase great folk music. We are grateful to those who continue to make it happen.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of recording and performing with Hanneke Cassel, the great Scottish fiddle player. Hanneke has a strong connection with many of the thriving Scottish fiddle camps around the world. She was running the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle camp this year and I was invited to be on staff. It was a great scene with a fantastic staff. My mother is Scottish and I have always had a special affinity for Scottish music and dance. And I was particularly delighted to be able to bring our son, Aidan, who has been fiddling for almost 6 years and to have him be part of the classes.

Late in August we played Nightingale’s last dance and concert in Peacham, VT. It was an emotional time and was made more emotional by having old friends and fans appear unannounced who had travelled impressive distances to be with us – fans from throughout New England, western New York state, Florida and California. We were very moved. And so we closed what was a big chapter in our musical lives.

We have already been changing gears for the fall. Our weekly classes have begun and I am preparing to debut a solo show that I have been working on for a little while. Becky and I will be doing some duo concerts that we have always enjoyed and we have a couple of shows with Tony Barrand. Becky will be on the road with Wild Asparagus and Keith will be part of the Childsplay east coast tour in December. We hope to have details up on our calendar for all this and more.

All the best,
Keith

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