Author Archive

Author: Margaret
• Tuesday, October 01st, 2013

The New England-based Clayfoot Strutters with caller George Marshall are returning to Ithaca after a too-long absence for a Hands Four double-header dance, 4-11 pm, Saturday, October 19, Beverly Martin School, 302 W. Buffalo St., Ithaca.Clayfoot StruttersIn the contra dance world, this band is a standout for “groove.” The Strutters draw inspiration from the far corners of the roots music galaxy to deliver an exciting fusion of traditional New England, Appalachian, and Quebecois music, progressive harmonies from pop and modal jazz, and hot dance-floor rhythms from the Afropop, swing, Latin, Cajun, and zydeco worlds. They’re prolific composers of dance tunes and songs as well. Core members are fiddler, songwriter, and producer Pete Sutherland, Jeremiah McLane on accordion and keyboards, and drummer, vocalist, and guitarist Lee Blackwell. Special guests include: Peter Davis, who plays clarinet, sax, piano, and guitar, bassist Harry Aceto (our hometown lad), and banjo and flute player Mark Roberts. George Marshall, with his suave, concise style and a deep repertoire of fun dances, will teach each dance.

There’s a session for experienced dancers, 4-6 pm, and an evening dance for all, 8-11 pm, with a potluck supper at 6:15 pm in the cafeteria between sessions. Please bring a generous dish to share! Beginners are most welcome: steps are simple and each dance is taught; there’s pre-dance instruction for newcomers at 7:30 pm. No need to bring a partner, but please bring clean, soft-soled shoes to protect the floor!

Prices (Hands Four member/nonmember): both sessions $16/20; afternoon only $8/10; evening only $10/12. Join or renew at the dance and receive the discounted admission. Info: 607-539-3174 or www.hands4dancers.org.

– Margaret Shepard, for Hands Four Dancers

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Author: Margaret
• Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Saturday, 5 October 2013, 8:00 pm

165 McGraw Hall, Cornell Arts Quad, Ithaca, NY

Cornell Folk Song Society Concert

Old friends Sally Rogers and Claudia Schmidt, each with productive and storied solo careers, relish joining forces to make glorious music. Between them, they have over 30 fine recordings, but only three as a duo, most recently Evidence of Happiness in 2012. Radio stations across the country voted their 1987 collaboration, Closing the Distance, in the top 10 most popular albums of the year. Their separate home bases (Rogers in Connecticut, Schmidt in Minnesota) and full teaching, composing, and touring schedules make it challenging to converge. This Ithaca concert is a rare chance to hear them create magic together, with the synergy that comes from shared musicality and a gift for lyrics, instinctive harmonies, passion for social justice, education, and the environment, and radiant joy in the “Tree of Life.” These are energetic, powerful women who revitalize their audiences with a mix of humor, poignancy, and fire. Both drew attention decades back as regulars on A Prairie Home Companion, and have traveled far and wide since then.

Free-ranging and unclassifiable, Claudia Schmidt is fluent in folk, jazz, blues, and world music styles, a prolific composer and great wordsmith, and a soulful player of 12-string guitar and mountain dulcimer. In addition to taking the stage at festivals, big arenas, and house concerts across North America and Europe, she writes and performs in film, television, and theater. She’s an inimitable force. “When Claudia sings a song, it stays sung,” declares Garrison Keillor. A reviewer in the San Francisco Bay Guardian wrote, “Schmidt’s shows are a lot like falling in love. You never know what’s going to happen next, chances are it’s going to be wonderful, every moment is burned into your memory, and you know you’ll never be the same again.”

Sally Rogers is firmly grounded in traditional folk, old-timey, and children’s music, graced with a pure voice and accomplished playing of guitar, banjo, and dulcimer. In her hands, songs, whether original, contemporary, or hundreds of years old, have a timeless quality. Once heard, audiences remember them and take them home to sing in the kitchen, car, or at gatherings. As a born, and now professional, teacher, Sally Rogers’ successful mission is to set the world singing. When she’s not in a schoolroom, she’s likely to be touring across the States, Europe, or China, recording, creating books and videos for children, composing songs for Unitarian and Quaker hymnals, and quilting. She has won numerous awards, including Best Folk Album of 1982 (Circle of the Sun), Parents’ Choice Gold of 1990 (Piggyback Planet: Songs for a Whole Earth), Best Children’s Recording in 1993 (What Can One Little Person Do?) and in 1994 (At Quiet O’Clock). Her eagerly awaited recording for adults, We’ll Pass Them On, was recently released on Red House Records. She can tackle serious subjects in a way that uplifts rather than numbs. Writes Peggy Seeger, “Sally Rogers has a clear, fluid, and remarkably agile voice, a keen sense of drama, and a most refreshing sense of fun.”

Rogers and Schmidt tore up the stage at last June’s Old Songs Festival, and are sure to delight and inspire when they make their first duo appearance in Ithaca. Seating is limited, so it would be wise to get tickets in advance.

Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, Autumn Leaves Books, GreenStar, Bound for Glory, online at www.cornellfolksong.org/, and by mail (SASE to CFSS, PO Box 481, Ithaca, NY 14851). $15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens. Cornell students $10/$12. Children free. Info: 607-351-1845 or website.

–Margaret Shepard

Claudia Schmidt and Sally Rogers

Claudia Schmidt and Sally Rogers

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Author: Margaret
• Wednesday, September 04th, 2013

Bill Staines. Cornell Folk Song Society concert, Saturday, September 21, 2013, 8 pm, Hollis Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall, Cornell Arts Quad

For more than 40 years, Bill Staines has roamed from Alaska to New Hampshire and most points between, crafting timeless, singable songs as he goes. He so convincingly evokes the West, small towns, and open spaces that one might think was a once a cowboy (he is a champion yodeler). Many of his beloved songs, such as “All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir” and “Roseville Fair,” are sung from summer camps to Carnegie Hall, fill the pages of Rise Up Singing, and are often miscredited to “Trad.” Staine’s 27 recordings, three songbooks, and indefatigable touring (over 200 concerts a year) ensure that his music will be embraced for generations as part of the folk lexicon.

“Any new song that can live comfortably beside the well-worn songs of folk tradition has a good chance of surviving the test of time. Such, we believe, are the songs of Bill Staines” –  Sandy PatonFolk Legacy Records

Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, Autumn Leaves Books, GreenStar, Bound for Glory, online at www.cornellfolksong.org/. $15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens. Cornell students $10/$12. Children free. Info: 607-351-1845 or website.

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Author: Margaret
• Friday, August 16th, 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Contra Dance with George Wilson, Selma Kaplan, and Casey Carr
CSMA, 330 East State Street, Ithaca
Beginner’s workshop: 7:30 pm; dancing 8:00-11:00 pm
Sponsor: Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca

A talented, multi-instrumentalist and singer, George Wilson’s repertoire samples a wide variety of traditional and folk styles. As a fiddler, he has over 500 tunes for dancing and listening tunes from New England, Quebec, Cape Breton, Scotland, Ireland, and the Shetlands. His dynamic fiddling has been popular with contra dancers and concert goers since the late 1970s. Selma Kaplan is an accomplished pianist, composer, and arranger, and plays the ultimate sensitive and inventive piano accompaniment with rock solid rhythm and swing. She is one of the East Coast’s foremost requested dance musicians, and was renowned as one of the Rude Girls. She is a great harmony singer and teacher. One of our gifted local callers, Casey Carr, will teach each dance; complete beginners will find it easy to pick up, and are always welcome. The CSMA space is air-conditioned and has a special floor, so bring clean, soft-soled shoes for dancing. Admission $8 members/$10 nonmembers. Info: 607-539-3174 or www.hands4dancers.org

For those who can’t get enough of these musicians, Wilson and Kaplan are doing a contra tunes workshop at 2:00 pm (also Aug. 24) at the Canaan Institute outside Slaterville. $20, limited seating: RSVP: mike@cinst.org.

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Author: Margaret
• Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Sixth Fiddlehead Frolic: Moving Violations with Gaye Fifer

Saturday, 27 April 2013, noon to 11 pm

Beverly J. Martin School, 302 W. Buffalo St., Ithaca, NY

Ticket info and schedule http://www.hands4dancers.org/frolic/

Fortunately, March did not present us this year with the 90-degree days that spelled disaster for fruit trees

Moving Violations in the Woodpile, and coming to a dance floor NEAR YOU!

and messed with ecological timetables last year. Still, spring has been slow in coming, and what better way to celebrate it than with nearly 12 hours of dancing among superb, playful musicians and excellent company from near and far? The Sixth Fiddlehead Frolic, sponsored by member-run Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca, features the renowned Moving Violations from Western Massachusetts (we’ve been trying to bring them to Ithaca for years), polished caller Gayle Fife, from Pittsburg by way of Missouri and Virginia, as well as a regional favorite band, Escape, and beloved local callers.

Beverly Martin School has locations for simultaneous activities appealing to dancers, jammers, singers, silent auction aficionados, plus an instrumental workshop with Moving Violations and a waltz workshop with Gaye Fifer (her specialty). A waltz jam (open band) with makings for sandwiches kicks off the fun at noon; contra dancing, with Moving Violations and Escape alternating, goes from 1 to 6 pm, ending with the wildly popular contra medley (an ever-evolving non-stop dance with different callers taking turns). A potluck supper (6:15-7:15 pm; bring a generous dish to share!) at the school will supply the needed fuel for the evening session of couples dances taught by Gaye Fifer (7:30-8:00 pm) and contra dancing with the Moving Violations (8:00-11:00 pm).

And who are the Moving Violations? They’re veterans of the Fourgone Conclusions, Swallowtail, Big Bandemonium, and other fine dance bands. For many years, MV have been the backbone of the Greenfield and Amherst contra dances, but now they’re really on the move across the country, where dancers can hear for themselves why Ralph Sweet and Tom Hodgson consider them the consummate contra dance musicians. They made a big splash at the Dance Flurry a few years back, where their diversity of styles and pacing, intricate but always rhythmic and lyrical arrangements, and self-described “affectionate abandon and occasional silliness” won the crowd. The Moving Violations are: Van Kaynor (from the fine line of Kaynor musicians), fiddle and limberjack; Ron Grosslein, fiddle and mandolin; Chuck Corman, bass, guitar, and percussion; and Eric Eid-Reiner, piano. With decades of experience in classical and dance music, they have the skill, energy, and imagination to respect and transmute a wide range of music: Celtic, Swedish, Eastern European, Klezmer, original compositions, Vivaldi, and a few Handel Bars. Their spontaneity also encourages dancers to improvise. Listen for the exquisite double fiddles, traveling harmonic lines, and creative percussion that make them stand-outs.

Caller Gaye Fifer

Guest caller Gaye Fifer has been dancing for 30 years, so she knows how to create and teach dances that will delight dancers of all levels. She has a reputation for clear, concise, and friendly calling. Her forte is instruction in “folk waltzes,” which she has taught for years. She’s committed to the preservation of traditional dance and song as a board member of CDSS.

We’re also delighted to bring the decidedly “cool” but accessible Escape to town: Tim Ball on sublime fiddle, Jodi Austin on keys, synthesizer, and cowbell, and Peter Blue on button accordion, nyckelharpa, percussion, and everything else.

This 11-hour festival has something for people of all ages and experience levels. The dance community always welcomes and assists newcomers. Beginners will find that the few simple steps are easy to learn, and that each dance is taught. Please bring (1) clean, soft-soled shoes to protect the dance floor, and (2) food to share at the fabulous potluck supper. You are encouraged to bring your own place settings, but there will be extras on hand.

There’s a discount if you register for both afternoon and evening sessions by 6 April ($20 members/$25 nonmembers). At the door, the cost for both sessions is $24/$30, and for either the afternoon or evening session alone, admission is $12/$15. You can join Hands Four when you register early or at the door, for reduced admission to all HFDI dances. Jammers and singers who do not dance or take a workshop are admitted free. For a full schedule, downloadable registration, and other details, visit www.hands4dancers.org or call 607-539-3174. The web site also provides contact info. for volunteering, for donating to a silent auction, or for out-of-towners who need a place to stay overnight.

Bring on the Fiddleheads!

– Margaret Shepard, for Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca

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Author: Margaret
• Friday, April 05th, 2013

Larry Hanks and Deborah Robins

Larry Hanks and Deborah Robins

Larry Hanks and Deborah Robins in Concert

165 McGraw Hall, Cornell Arts Quad

Saturday, April 20, 8 pm

Berkeley, California-based Larry Hanks and Deborah Robins sing unadorned, true “brand spankin’ OLD” songs. Known as a “folksinger’s folksinger,” Hanks has been performing to delighted festival and club audiences for over 50 years, solo and with folks such as Janis Joplin, Utah Phillips, Mike Seeger, and Geoff Muldaur. He’s still remembered fondly from the glory days of Fox Hollow, and with Deborah Robins, his wife and musical partner, he has charmed the Old Songs Festival for the last several years. Hanks gained “legendary” status in the 60s while playing with the likes of a young Mac Benford, in-her-prime Malvina Reynolds, and then-emerging songwriter Bill Steele when they all were based in the San Francisco Bay area. After his move to Bellingham, Washington, Hanks seemed to “disappear” for a few decades, with little touring, especially in the east. Thankfully, Deborah Robins persuaded him a few years ago to return to full-time performing. They’ve been touring regularly and have put out two great CDs together (No Hiding Place and OLD DAYS) since then.

Larry Hanks and Deborah Robins aren’t flashy or over-the-top. Instead, they are warm and unpretentious. Hanks is a master of spare 6- and 12-string guitar accompaniments and a virtuosic Jew’s harp player. His bass-baritone voice has been called mellifluous as well as rough-hewn; it combines well in earthy and unearthly close harmony with Robins’ resonant alto. They do some originals (such as Hanks’ widely-sung “Apple Picker’s Reel”) but like to keep the traditional songs alive. Influenced by the music of Sam Hinton, Leadbelly, and Woody Guthrie, they range lovingly across cowboy songs both sad and funny, rousing work songs, political and topical songs, and old ballads.

The Cornell Folk Song Society is pleased to welcome Larry Hanks and Deborah Robins at last. Find out what caused another veteran folk musician Michael Cooney to say of Hanks, “This is why I got into folk music to begin with.”

Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, GreenStar Market, Autumn Leaves Books, Bound for Glory, online at http://www.cornellfolksong.org/, or at the door. $15 advance, $17 at door: rebates of $3 for CFSS members, seniors, teens; children under 13 free. Students $10/12. Info: website or (607) 351-1845.

– Margaret Shepard and John Henderson

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Author: Margaret
• Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Andrew Calhoun in Concert

Saturday, April 6, 8 pm

165 McGraw Hall, Cornell Arts Quad

Andrew Cohen is a quietly powerful wizard of music-making, master of songs both traditional and new. Interspersing his own compositions with African-American spirituals, hymns, songs of liberation, poetry of Robert Frost and Mary Oliver, ancient Scots ballads (which he has translated from medieval dialect), early American folk music, and songs from friends such as Dave Carter, Annie Gallup, and Kate MacLeod, he spins a lyrical web of a concert. His original songs range widely; some tell stories, others are impressionistic; some are topical, others autobiographical. They may be dark, frankly challenging, or side-splitting funny. He can write a beautiful love song. His work is both grounded and full of restless curiosity. “Andrew Calhoun tells the truth; … there is no better songwriter alive,” said Dave Carter.

Raised in Chicago by parents who took their Jewish and Christian faiths, poetry, and union/civil rights politics seriously, Calhoun also credits as early influences W. B. Yeats, John Prine, Elizabeth Cotton, Bessie Jones, Mississippi John Hurt, Joni Mitchell, Joseph Conrad, Leonard Cohen, and Martin Carthy. He began to make music professionally in his teens, and 40 years later is still fresh, performing world-round, making superb recordings, exploring new terrain in music as ritual, and mentoring other musicians. As founder of the cooperative Waterbug Records, he has helped to launch the careers of many folk luminaries, including Dar Williams, Lui Collins, Cosy Sheridan, and Anais Mitchell. These days, he’s also been performing with his daughter, Casey Calhoun, and with their band Zozo.

Few contemporary folk musicians can rival the power of Calhoun’s imagery, the warmth of his baritone, his deft fingerpicking, and sly humor. He mystifies, inspires, and delights. Writes Lui Collins, “Andrew’s music goes straight to the soul.” His concerts are an always-surprising fusion of energetic intellect, deep humanity, and pure magic.

Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, GreenStar, Autumn Leaves Bookstore, Bound for Glory, and online at www.cornellfolksong.org/. $15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens; children 12 & under free. Cornell students $10/$12. Info: 607-351-1845 or website. Performer website: www.waterbug.com/calhoun/

– Margaret Shepard and John Henderson

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Author: Margaret
• Saturday, February 09th, 2013

TONY BIRD in Concert, Saturday, March 2, 8 pm

165 McGraw Hall, Cornell Arts Quad, Central Ave.

Tony Bird is unique: a truly original performer and song writer, “untamed; a wild-card creature of inordinate invention.” No one else sounds remotely like him. He is a white African musician and internationally acclaimed poet now living in the United States. Village Voice has dubbed him “the finest, most impressive folk poet in years.” His music and spirit are deeply rooted in southern Africa, the beauty of the Rift Valley, and the suffering of his continent. Tony Bird’s voice is haunting, powerful, eccentric, radiant, percussive. He playfully suggests that “it probably comes from trying to sound like John Lee Hooker and Hank Williams and failing at both.” From a quirky high tenor to a throaty growl, Tony Bird may break into falsetto or howling, bird calls or bushman clicks, to serve the song. He weaves stories rich in symbolism and gritty, carefully observed detail. His lyrics are intimate, clever, often angry, but frequently joyous. They reflect his complex relationship with his native land, from sweet pleasures (Mango Time) to the magic of wild Africa (Tssik…Listen to the Stars) to profound despair (Sorry Africa) and hope (Run).

Born in Malawi (Nyasaland), educated in Rhodesia and Britain, Tony Bird returned to Africa as a young adult to make a career in music. Unfortunately his politics, in the fight against apartheid, made him unwelcome to governmental authorities. After years traveling around the world, he made a home in New York City. Not simply a singer of protest songs, Tony Bird calls his music “African folk rock.” It fuses African pop, Southern rhythm and blues, and ethereal world music. His polyrhythmic but melodic guitar work is as ample as a full band. In addition to his earlier recordings for Columbia, his CD from Rounder also features Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon’s Graceland band.

Tony Bird is unforgettable. He has performed in Ithaca only three times in the past 28 years, but each concert has erupted in a standing ovation. The Cornell Folk Song Society is pleased to help him be heard once again.

Tickets are available at Ithaca Guitar Works, GreenStar Market, Autumn Leaves Books, online at http://www.cornellfolksong.org/, or at the door. $15 adv/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens; children 12 & under free. Students $10/$12.

For concert information, call (607) 351-1845. For information about the performer, see http://www.mangotime.net/

– Margaret Shepard

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Author: Margaret
• Friday, January 18th, 2013

Contra Dance and Dessert Potluck with The Contradictions

Saturday 2 February 2013

Contra dancing 7:30-10:30 pm

Dessert potluck and couples dances 10:30-11:30 pm

CSMA (Community School of Music and Arts), 330 E. State St., Ithaca

A feast of fine music, dancing, and friends, as well as delectable treats, are the allure of this annual event hosted by Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca. Contra dancing (7:30-10:30 pm) will be followed by a dessert potluck and couples dances, including waltzes, swing, schottisches, and hambos, 10:30-11:30 pm. Step lively and you just might balance your caloric intake and output! Music is by the witty, high-energy Contradictions: Laurie Hart on fiddle, Rick Manning on fiddle and mandolin, Tom Hodgson on guitar, Dave Davies on bass, and the sparkling Vikki Armstrong calling. Their irresistible fiddle harmonies and imaginative, hot rhythms will drive winter away, at least for one night. The Contradictions are revered for tight, dynamic, and soulful playing; nary a contradictory note. Their peppy, broad mix of Appalachian and Irish jigs and reels, bluegrass, driving French Canadian tunes, lilting Swedish dances, 1930s and Texas swing, and sophisticated tango-waltzes has brought joy to dancers from the Saratoga Dance Flurry, the Brattleboro Dawn Dance, and Ashokan, to their home in the Finger Lakes. Find out more and hear them in action at http://lauriehartfiddle.com/contradictions.html .

Contra dancing is a more than 300-year-old tradition, a community event at which beginners of all ages are always welcome. A workshop at 7:30 pm will teach the simple steps and moves, each dance is “called,” and experienced dancers are willing to guide. No need to bring a partner. Please bring clean, soft-soled shoes to protect the special Marley dance floor and something yummy to share for the grand dessert finale. Hot beverages and water will be provided. Info: 607-539-3174 or www.hands4dancers.org. Admission: $8 HFDI members; $10 nonmembers.

– Margaret Shepard

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Author: Margaret
• Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Saturday, Dec. 1, 8 pm, 165 McGraw Hall, Cornell Arts Quad


Expect tight harmonies and expressive singing from the heart from this mother-son duo. Sara Grey and Kieron Means, American-born, have resided in Scotland for many years, following their musical passions. With guitar and clawhammer banjo accompaniment supporting the power of the lyrics, and fine storytelling that traces the music’s history, they perform old-time songs and ballads from the Appalachians, Ozarks, New England, and the West, blues, gospel, traditional music of the British Isles, and original compositions.

Sara Grey has spent a lifetime absorbing traditional music, through her childhood in New Hampshire to her move to Scotland, home since 1970. Her father, son of Russian Jewish immigrants, was an old-time New England fiddler, strongly influenced by both his French Canadian neighbors and friends in North Carolina. It was on a family visit to Greensboro that Sara Grey got hooked on fretless banjo. As a girl, she performed at dances, singing parties, and storytelling gatherings, and was fortunate to learn directly from many of the ballad singers, such as John Galusha and Lena Bourne Fish, who were the “sources” collected by Frank andAnne Warner.

Brian Peters admires the vitality with which she embodies the tradition: “In Sara’s performance, the art of the singer and that of the storyteller merge to produce a web of tales and songs capable of transporting an audience from the concert hall or club room to the intimacy of a kitchen fireside.” After more than 40 years of touring, she is as keen to share her music as ever. “Everything she does is characterized by freshness and enthusiasm … . You couldn’t hear half a dozen bars and think it was somebody else,” writes Vic Smith in Folk Roots. Drawing forth the mood of the song, Sara Grey’s clear voice conveys sorrow, triumph, calm, fire, playfulness, and pure joy. For her scholarship in tracing the migrations and transmutations of songs, and for collecting many of them “from the field,” Sara Grey is considered a national treasure in American traditional music.

Kieron Means, now living in Upstate New York, immerses himself totally in performance, singing with passion and playing guitar in a controlled, spare manner that serves the lyrics. He’s relaxed, yet connects fully with his audience. “His voice is especially striking, achieving the rare combination of a high lonesome edge with a warm richness of timbre, and it has a power to move the listener that few of his generation can match,” declares Living Tradition. “Kieron Means has soul, and I can think of no greater compliment to pay to a singer of folk songs,” says Brian Peters.

In concert, Kieron Means and Sara Grey are fully attuned to each other, matching nuances, pauses, and spirit: a family bond in the love of living music. Now separated by the Atlantic, they don’t tour together often in the States; their appearance at Old Songs was memorable. This will be their first joint concert for the Cornell Folk Song Society, not to be missed!

Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, GreenStar, Autumn Leaves Bookstore, Bound for Glory, and online at www.cornellfolksong.org/. $15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens; children 12 & under free. Students $10/$12. Info: 607-351-1845 or website.

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Author: Margaret
• Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Hands Four Contra Dance with Wild Asparagus and George Marshall Calling

Saturday, 20 October

4-6 pm dance for experienced dancers;

6:15 pm potluck supper;

7:30 pm beginners’ workshop;

8-11 pm dancing for all

Beverly Martin Elementary School,

302 W. Buffalo St., Ithaca

Dance bliss is guaranteed with the return of renowned caller George Marshall and Wild Asparagus. Springing up in the heart of the Pioneer (aka Asparagus) Valley of Massachusetts in the 1980s, the acclaimed band WILD ASPARAGUS has been pivotal in the contra dance renaissance. Their monthly “first-Saturdays” at Greenfield are packed. Over the years, these first-rate musicians have put their individual stamp on traditional tunes from New England, Canada, the wider Celtic world, and beyond, recognized for their imaginative arrangements and dynamic pacing. Beyond skill, their playing is playful. After too long an absence, this fabulous band will bring its unique blend of instruments, creativity, and energy to Ithaca for a “Don’t miss!” event.

Ann Percival, on dazzling piano, guitar, and vocals, is the essential heartbeat of the band; David Cantieni, woodwind wizard, provides melody and joyous flow with flutes, tin whistle, oboe, saxophone, and bombard. George Marshall, gifted at English concertina, bodhran, and bones, brings drive and does double duty as a suave caller. Becky Tracy, of Nightingale fame, fiddles with a rare match of fire and beauty. Ithaca’s own Harry Aceto will build the solid bass foundation for the musical dynamics.

Prices (Hands Four member/nonmember): both sessions $16/20; afternoon only $8/10; evening only $10/12). Join or renew at the dance and receive the discounted admission. Beginners are most welcome: steps are simple and each dance is taught. No need to bring a partner. Please bring clean, soft-soled shoes to protect the floor! For more information, visit www.hands4dancers.org or call 607/539-3174.

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Author: Margaret
• Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Anne Hills & Michael Smith

Saturday, 22 Sept., 8 pm

165 McGraw Hall, CU Arts Quad

Two astonishingly original songwriters and long-time musical partners make real magic onstage. With her warm, expressive soprano, Anne Hills reigns as a top folk vocalist. Michael Smith’s quirky, wonderful outlook makes him one of the most daring, inventive songwriters today. Both performers combine their lyrical gifts (beautiful,   memorable tunes and words) with wide-ranging, eye-opening literacy and heartfelt social values. As natural storytellers, they also shine as composers for theater, from Steinbeck   to Quilts. Many of their songs are folk classics (Michael’s “The Dutchman” and “Spoon River” and Anne’s “Silken Dreams” and “Follow That Road”). The synergy they create — songs historical, cutting-edge, funny, aching, loving — is electrifying.

“Michael Smith is the greatest songwriter in the English language.” — Rolling Stone

“Anne Hills’ writing…is as direct, melodic, and deep as any work being done today. One of my absolute favorites” — Tom Paxton

Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, GreenStar, Autumn Leaves Bookstore, Bound for Glory, and online at www.cornellfolksong.org/. $15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens; children 12 & under free. CU students $10/$12. Info: 607-351-1845 or website.

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