It’s official - you’ve probably heard the rumors. The Common Ground Night Club in Ithaca NY is under new ownership and is now called The Oasis Dance Club. They recently remodeled and expanded and refinished their dance floor and are making a serious effort to support live local dance music.
Archive for ◊ January, 2009 ◊
Nate and Kate at the Pourhouse tonight: canceled. Djug Django at the Lost Dog Lounge this evening is canceled. Send me yours or use the comment section below …
John Specker, Cornell Folk Song Society concert on Saturday, February 7, 8 pm at 165 McGraw Hall, Cornell Arts Quad $15 adv./$17 door. Rebate at door: $3 for CFSS members, seniors, and teens; children free. CU student admission $10 adv./$12 door.
This fiery Vermont-based fiddler made his name in the 1970s as “father of the Ithaca sound” (Old-Time Herald Magazine, Winter 2000/2001) with The Correctones String Band, who pioneered a riveting mix of old-time, reggae, and African rhythms. Fellow band member Danny Kornblum explains, “We wanted to take ourselves and our dancing friends to another level where the droning buzz of the fiddle and the chunk of the banjo hung in the air like a ball of fire. We played into that fire to make it grow and burn brighter.” With full respect for, and mastery of, traditional Appalachian music, Specker has profoundly influenced the next generation of old-timey fiddlers. Since the early 1990s, Specker has been a mainstay at the Grassroots and Champlain Valley festivals, legendary for his darkly intense, original style. “On stage, John stomps and screams, whispers and grins, crowds fall to attention, and he works them with professionalism and wit. Truly a wild-eyed fiddling-man from the hills who plays early American music he way it should be played, with heart. Crazy, crazy heart.” (Funkyside.com 2004.)
After his move to Vermont in1978, Specker spent the next 25 years in orchard work, pottery, and raising a family (daughters Lila and Ida Mae are also professional fiddlers who record and often tour with their father). But always, at every available moment through the day and night, he fiddled and sang in a gritty, passionate baritone. Sometimes he played with groups, but more often solo, creating a whole-band sound through the complexity of his bowing technique (inventive and dizzyingly fast double and triple stops) while singing and tapping a powerful foot percussion at the same time. About 10 years ago, he made his first solo CD, Old Bunch of Keys. Now he’s on the road much of the time, a vital force in the mountain-music revival. A strong believer in honest, fresh music-making, Specker is known for one-take recordings that convey the energy of a live performance. But nothing beats the way he drives an audience to near-frenzy. The Cornell Folk Song Society is delighted to provide this chance to see him in action. Our only regret: even self-proclaimed non-dancers may feel compelled to take to the floor, but we have limited flat space!
On the January 22 broadcast of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” local musicians and music collectors Judy Hyman and Peter Hoover were featured in a story about the Field Recorders’ Collective. The group is preserving old recordings of old time musicians through use of the Internet. The story begins in Judy’s “living room in Ithaca, N.Y.,” where there is a pine-wood dresser right next to the couch that “holds hundreds of precious cassette tapes, an archive of rare recordings that spans more than three decades.” Excerpts of an interview with Peter appear about mid-way through the story.
If you missed the story, you can hear it at the NPR website. While you are there, you can see a picture of Peter Hoover as most of us have never seen him before.
Going Strong in its Seventh Decade: the Juilliard String Quartet brings Haydn anniversary program to Cornell’s Bailey Hall
“The Juilliard String Quartet remains the standard by which all other quartets must be judged.” - Los Angeles Times
Ithaca, NY – In the 60+ years of its existence, the Juilliard String Quartet has become internationally renowned and admired for performances characterized by clarity of structure, beauty of sound, and extraordinary unanimity of purpose. Recognized for the boldness of its interpretation of the classics as well as for championing new works, the Juilliard has long been recognized as the quintessential American string quartet.
On Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 3:00pm, the Juilliard String Quartet will grace the stage of Cornell University’s Bailey Hall. Violinists Joel Smirnoff and Ronald Copes, violist Samuel Rhodes, and cellist Joel Krosnick will present four of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Op. 20 “Sun” Quartets, a selection commemorating the 200th anniversary of Haydn’s death. This special matinée concert, presented by the Cornell Concert Series, will be one of Mr. Smirnoff’s final appearances with the quartet [he is leaving the quartet to serve as president of the Cleveland Institute of Music]. Tickets are available at www.cornellconcertseries.com and through the Ticket Center at Clinton House, 116 N. Cayuga St., Ithaca, (607)273-4497 or (800)284-8422. Ticket prices range from $22-32 for the general public and $16 for students; a Cornell discount is available on-line only with netID authentication.
In January 2008 Chamber Music America recognized the Juilliard String Quartet with its highest honor, the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, in acknowledgement of the Quartet’s artistry, dedication and advocacy of excellence in chamber music. As Quartet-in-Residence at New York City’s Juilliard School as well as the Library of Congress, the Juilliard String Quartet is widely admired for its exemplary influence on aspiring string players around the world.
The Juilliard String Quartet has performed a comprehensive repertoire of some 500 works, ranging from the great classical repertoire to compositions of the current centuries. It was the first ensemble to play all six Bartók quartets in the United States, and it rescued the Schöenberg quartets from obscurity. An ardent champion of contemporary American music, the Quartet has premiered more than 60 compositions of American composers, including works by some of America’s finest jazz musicians.
More information on the Juilliard String Quartet can be found at www.juilliardstringquartet.org.
Juilliard String Quartet – Bailey Hall, Cornell University
Sunday, February 8, 2009 – Bailey Hall, 3 p.m. matinée
Program: Four of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Op. 20 “Sun” Quartets: No. 4 in in D Major; No. 3 in G Minor; No. 5 in F Minor; No. 2 in C Major.
Tickets: Reserved seating. General $22/27/32, Students $16 all sections [Cornell discount rate available on-line only with valid netID.]
in-person: Ticket Center at Clinton House, 116 N. Cayuga St., Downtown Ithaca
by phone: (607)273-4497 or (800)284-8422
Event Parking: Free weekend parking is available at the Schoellkopf Field Garage, located between Campus and Hoy Rds. just two blocks from Bailey. Concert Series also sponsors a complimentary shuttle between the garage, Dairy Bar, and hall. A confirmed schedule of stops can be found at cornellconcertseries.com.
The current play at the Kitchen Theatre is a world premiere. Portland, Oregon playwright Francesca Sanders’ play I BECOME A GUITAR is rich and poetic, and it really calls for an elaborate soundscore. In fact, sound designer Don Tindall said that the play reads like it was written by a sound designer–the language and the way that events unfold evoke music and sound in a way that few plays do. Don and composer Ron Kristy and have given it a beautiful, lush score. I talked with Ron about the music in this play.
LESLEY: Tell a bit about yourself—what brought you to Ithaca? What do you write and play?
RON: I make my living composing music for TV, films and video. The invention of the Internet is basically what allowed me to move to Ithaca - I have clients across the country and we send music and video files back and forth over the web. About 5 years ago while living in Nashville, I met Terry Burns, the youngest of the Burns Sisters, at a party. Within the year we got married here in Ithaca. After our son Noah Skye was born 3 ½ years ago, a very wise friend of ours encouraged us to let Noah’s well-being guide us in making major life decisions. We spent the following two summers here to see if we could be happy and still make a living, and I fell in love with Ithaca. We knew in our hearts that this would be a wonderful place to raise Noah. This is a deeply spiritual, creative and progressive town, and the perfect place to freeze in winter. There is such a beautiful community here, and Noah has had a wonderful childhood so far. I’m having a pretty good childhood myself… when not hanging out with Terry and Noah, I compose a lot of music aired on Access Hollywood, the NFL network, PBS - “Soul of the Senate - the Robert Byrd story”, the Discovery Channel - “Angel Stories” & “Miracle Stories,” lots more.
My wife Terry is a wonderful singer/songwriter, and we have begun performing together at coffee houses and spiritual venues, time and Noah permitting. The songs I write from my heart have titles such as “looking deeply” and “caravan of love,” which don’t really play well on the NFL network… I visited and taught music on death row at Riverbend maximum prison in Nashville for 6 years, played at peace rallies, spiritual centers and things like talent shows in prison with Bo Lozoff. Not exactly the kind of places to sell a million CDs… but talk about a captive audience! I have written a lot of little songs to Noah, and I (sort of) proposed to Terry by sending her an mp3 of a song I wrote for her. It worked… now I’m very happy and very tired. I’m currently working on 20 TV promos for Universal/Paramount publishing.
LESLEY: This is your first time writing for theater - how is that different from writing for film?
RON: The inherent dilemma of writing music for theater, as opposed to film, is that the pesky actors don’t do everything exactly the same way every performance, which is also what makes it such a magical, organic thing. Writing for film, you watch a cue over and over and find your “hit points,” where you want the music to change mood, etc.
Everything is fluid in a play, which is something that Sara Lampert Hoover, the director, helped me learn by letting me know that most of what I was originally writing sounded great but was not going to work! The music had to be easily manipulated and looped so that it could work within the variances of the performances. Honestly, I still don’t exactly know how it works. I think it’s magic or something. Sara really helped me to strip the music to its most simple form, to be easily recreated later in the process for various cues. She knew exactly what she liked when she heard it. She also knew what she didn’t like! It was honest, demanding, and fun working with her. Sound designer Don Tindall is like, dude, where did you come from? Don knows so much about sound and music for theater that it wouldn’t surprise me if he were kidnapped and interrogated by agents from a foreign country that doesn’t have the theater technology that we have. His cue sheets look like something you could guide the Mars Landing probe with. Without Sara and Don I wouldn’t have had a clue about the process. One more thing about the team - a major part of the beauty and emotion of the music comes from the quiet yet awesome talent of Nate Silas Richardson (of Rep Studio) as a guitar player and sound engineer extraordinaire. No kidding.
LESLEY: We learned at an early read-through of the play with designers in attendance that you actually have lived in Zihuatanejo, the tiny fishing village where the character Madrigal was born and raised. Did your history in that village affect the music you wrote for the play?
RON: I actually lived in Mexico for about 9 years in the mid 70s and 80s, and lived for a year in a tiny fishing village named “Pie de la Cuesta” (foot of the coast), between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo. I lived in a palm tree hut, got bitten by scorpions & fire ants, chased by wild boars, rams, mad cows, and federales. It was a totally magical time of possibilities in my life. My neighbors were mostly peasant fisherman with a few sorcerers thrown in - it’s a long way from Bellmore, Long Island… Mexico is a big part of my heart and soul - I absolutely love the country and the people. They are incredibly funny, loving, giving and hard working people. And they love to party! I wrote a lot of music down there for Mexican artists and telenovelas, so writing the music was like visiting an old friend. And what beautiful synchronicity brought me to Ithaca to work on the play! ¡Que buena onda!
LESLEY: Tell about the process of writing music for this play.
RON: The process of writing music for theater is for me, the same process as writing music for film - there’s a lot of kicking and screaming, praying for inspiration and just plain hard work on the way to the final score. There’s probably an easier way, but I don’t know it.
LESLEY: Anything else you’d like to add?
RON: I can talk till the cows come home, but it seems I’ve run out of time…
Peace out, rk
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PLAY, see http://www.kitchentheatre.org/Guitar.html
Contra Dance and Dessert with The Contradictions on Saturday 31 January, 7:30-11:30 pm; dessert potluck 10:30-11:30 pm at the Women’s Community Building, 100 W. Seneca Street, Ithaca (across Cayuga Street from Dewitt Mall). $8 HFDI members; $10 general admission
Get warm, really warm, at the annual “Dance and Dessert Potluck” hosted by Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca, Saturday, 31 January, Women’s Community Building in Ithaca (100 W. Seneca St., opposite Dewitt Mall). Contra dances are 7:30-10:30 pm, followed by a fabulous dessert potluck and schottisches, hambos, and waltzes, 10:30-11:30 pm. If you’re clever, you may be able to 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 effervescent Vikki Armstrong calling. Their irresistible fiddle harmonies and imaginative, hot rhythms will drive away winter blahs and blues. Performing together since 1990, they bring to the dance floor a lively mix of Appalachian and Irish jigs and reels, bluegrass, driving French Canadian tunes, lilting Swedish couple dances, 1930s and Texas swing, and sophisticated tango-waltzes from Venezuela. They’ve been hits at the Saratoga Dance Flurry, the Brattleboro Dawn Dance, Ashokan, and certainly in Ithaca!
Beginners are welcome, with a workshop at 7:15 to teach the simple steps. No need to bring a partner, but please bring clean, soft-soled shoes and something yummy to share for the grand dessert finale. Hot beverages will be provided.
Admission: $8 for HFDI members, $10 for nonmembers. More info. at www.hands4dancers.org or call 607-273-7076.
Emily Arin has recently been invited for two radio interviews. The first is on Out of Bounds Radio with Tish Pearlman airing this Thursday, Jan 15 at 7pm (EST) on WEOS-FM. If you don’t live in the Ithaca area, you can listen to the live stream at weos.org. The interview will be rebroadcast on Sunday, Jan 18 at 11:30am on WSKG-FM.
The second interview is on “the legendary free-form radio show” WFUV Vin Scelsa’s Idiot’s Delight. If you live in NYC, the dial is 90.7FM … otherwise, you can listen to the live stream at wfuv.org. This interview will air next month on Saturday, February 7. The show is from 8pm to midnight.
Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance - With Instructors: Cara Leach and Kay McGrenaghan Cafasso: Adult and Children’s classes strting soon! See http://canaaninstitute.org/mikesmusic/viewtopic.php?p=2308#2308
The 22nd annual Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend takes place in Durham, NH, Jan. 16-18. This is a NEFFA event of a nice size - Car pool wanted http://canaaninstitute.org/mikesmusic/viewtopic.php?p=2298#2298
Workshop on Rhythm for Guitars with Gail Blake at Canaan Rd Wed Jan 14th 2009 from 7:00 - 9:30 pm (Instead of the usual jam session) FORUM thread for feedback: http://canaaninstitute.org/mikesmusic/viewtopic.php?p=2233#2233 Gail is a wizard at backing up fiddle dance tunes with guitar. Send her your thoughts or ideas.
The CAJUN jam is starting up again. This was around a few years ago when I first started fiddle. New management at Oasis Social Dance Club [Common Ground] is making it possible once again! WooWhoo! Support venues that host LIVE music and JAMS! Details http://canaaninstitute.org/mikesmusic/viewtopic.php?p=2299#2299
DANCE FLURRY FESTIVAL - Huge indoor music and dance festival in February with lots of JAMMING and of course DANCING - Saratoga Springs NY (near Albany) Mail in advance ticket form is now online! - Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8001273807 - Facebook Event http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=34544458457 - Central New York forum thread for carpooling etc http://canaaninstitute.org/mikesmusic/viewtopic.php?p=2221#2221 - Flurry Festival Website http://www.danceflurry.org/festival/index.html
Due to the predicted storm there are some cancellations coming in. I can post more here if you email them to me. -m
Valley Folk fundraiser Elmira - postponed until Jan 31 (scroll down in this blog to see the full listing).
Olean Contra Dance in Western NY - Canceled
Binghamton Contra Dance - Canceled
I came across this list of jam etiquette guidelines adapted from here http://www.reinerfamilyband.com/fiddlehellmassac.html - a website for a small fiddle festival. Note the author’s comments on the different styles of jams. Many of these details could apply to jams in the Ithaca and surrounding areas. Of course these are just friendly suggestions, but most of them make sense for making it more fun for everyone. -Mike
“Most of you are here to join in on the jam sessions. It’s a great way to meet new friends and create spontaneous music together. Here are some rough guidelines from experience to help you out.
0. Put your instrument cases out of other folks way. Popular jams can often get fairly crowded and there is nothing tougher than arriving late only to discover that every available horizontal surface is filled with giant wide open instrument cases. So … the polite thing to do is get out your instrument, latch your case closed and get it of of harm’s way, with as small a ‘footprint’ as possible, then other folks after you have space to get around and do the same! :-)
1. There are two fundamentally different types of jams, usually (but not always!) depending on the style. It’s a good idea to observe which type is happening before you jump in:
- All players play together just about every time through: Southern Oldtime, Irish, New England ["contra"], Scottish styles
- Players take turns playing instrumental breaks: Bluegrass, Swing, Texas, Blues, Rock styles
2. Some jams have a leader (either appointed or de facto). Leaders call or coordinate the selection of tunes, including medleys, and may call out arrangements on the fly. Other jams have no fixed leader, in which case the tunes are often selected and led by the players in some order, such as going clockwise around the circle.
3. Some coherency in jam style is expected. An Irish jam shouldn’t suddenly change into a Southern Oldtime jam, or a bluegrass jam into a Scottish jam. On the other hand, some players play multiple styles, and their jams may wander among styles (which may be fine, or may cause problems).
4. Jams may vary in their choice of tempos, usually depending on the level of the players. Some jams are rather speedy! Occasionally, jams are designated as “half-speed” or “slow.” Beginner jams are also slower. It’s good manners to let the person calling a tune start it at his/her tempo, Sometimes a group may agree to play a tune slowly at first, and then speed it up. If tunes are falling apart rhythmically, it’s better to slow them down. Good taste is better than raw speed any day! Keep the beat.
5. Sometimes you may be invited to join an ongoing jam. If not, it’s polite to ask to join in. But it’s generally fine to stand or sit on the periphery (“outer circle”) of a jam, playing along quietly (perhaps learning the tune!) and not getting in the way. Be conscious of the level of a jam before jumping in at full blast. And tune up before joining in.
6. Listen to the other players! Watch them, too. Support singers or soloists; don’t play over them or back them up disruptively. For jams where many players are playing together, such as oldtime, the goal is to converge and lock in on a common version, getting tighter as the tune is repeated.
7. Tend towards choosing tunes that are common or at least easy to follow. A large jam with multiple levels of players isn’t the time to trot out a complex, obscure tune. That being said, advanced players like to challenge themselves, and may throw anything out. Or a player may really want to teach everyone a new tune. Whatever the level, it’s a common practice to mention any strange chords, crooked parts, or other structural oddities before starting a tune. Oldtime sessions with clawhammer banjo players usually stay in a chosen key for quite a while.
8. Be kind to beginners and new jammers. It takes courage to join in and play along, and many players don’t have much jamming experience. Ask what tunes they know, keep tempos down, and help them out where you can.
9. At jams with breaks, such as bluegrass jams, the lead singer or the person who started the tune calls the breaks by nodding at players or raising an eyebrow, or shouting out a name or instrument. Indicate your willingness to take a break by smiling, nodding, or stepping forward. Indicate that you’d rather pass this time by shaking your head no, or avoiding eye contact in the first place.
10. It never hurts to play melody on a break. Don’t throw in every lick you know! If you screw up part of a break, keep going if you can. You may find your touch again. If not, nod to another player to step in and finish the break.
11. Whoever starts a tune determines when it’s over. It’s common to raise a foot (or yell “out”) to indicate the last time through.
12. Minimize noodling around between tunes. This isn’t the time to show your virtuosity, practice tunes you don’t know, or raise the noise level in general. If you want to suggest the next tune, say it, don’t start noodling on it.
13. Step aside to tune [your instrument] or converse at length.
14. If you don’t want to continue with a jam for any reason, split off and start your own. Or just listen for a while.
15. Seek out jams at the right level and in a style you can play. Your jamming skills will improve over time.”
Once again, the Student Union Board at Cornell presents Phil Shapiro’s GROUP FOLK GUITAR LESSONS. You can learn to play acoustic guitar, or improve your guitar playing, with this inexpensive course. There are eight one-hour lessons, on Monday evenings, starting Monday, January 26th, 2009, in the International Lounge of Willard Straight Hall. Registration is at the first lesson. Just come, and bring a guitar. The classes are well thought out, and will give you the information and the skills that you need to learn how to play guitar, or how to play better. Phil Shapiro has been teaching guitar in Ithaca for over 30 years. Two separate classes taught each Monday: One beginner level and the other intermediate level. WHOLE STORY HERE http://canaaninstitute.org/mikesmusic/viewtopic.php?p=2297#2297