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Showing posts from 2006
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After a three-year hiatus from knee and back injuries, I'm back on a morris team, serving my three-month apprenticeship as the (non-dancing) Fool for Red Herring Morris (that's me in their team photo with The Fish Called Waldo). I'm honored that my new teammates and other fellow morris singers have recently been asking me for songs of the morris, including requests from Toronto Ale singers, Red Herring, Banbury Cross, and Cold Barn of Toronto to help promote singing among their new dancers, and to become stronger song leaders themselves. Thanks to all of you who have been so kind as to ask me to share my experience; it's made me feel immensely welcomed back to be so honored.

This provides the great opportunity to dust off my morris-song bookmarks and post them in del.icio.us so as to keep them updated. Check this link for periodic updates; here's my idiosyncratic collection of Songs of the Morris resources on the web.

So, how to get your team singing? It starts with…

The Spontaneous Triad: 1986-1988

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My graduate school-era trio in Madison, Wisconsin, with Mark Fulton and Rebecca Lee. We formed through our association with Madison’s Oak Apple Morris (Mark, foreman; Lynn, squire; Rebecca, musician) and explored traditional English harmony, early music, parodies, and even a little jazz. Our recording The Last Sheaf was Mark’s swan song before he headed to Sweden for Ph.D. work, while Rebecca continued with her jazz work to form a new quartet in Madison.



From the introduction to my first book of original songs, Songs My Paddle Sings:



"The Spontaneous Triad. That was the name of my favorite trio, the best friends I ever sang with, but it also seems to describe a lot about my music, my career and my life. How do all the parts fit together? Like chords. A chord isn't a single note: it helps to think in threes. Geographer, musician and environmental educator. Songs of waterways both fresh and salt, tales of adventurous women, and the magic of the seasonal round. Three-part harmony,…

University of Wisconsin Heritage Ensemble: 1988

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My first professional touring ensemble was a core influence in using music and storytelling in heritage interpretation. The winter/spring 1988 tour featured “Sacred Fire of Liberty (American Revolution), “Steamboat ‘Round the Bend” (Mississippi River), and a quintet version of “Skillet, Ballot, and Book” (women’s history). Papers of the Heritage Ensemble’s founder are archived at the University of Wisconsin’s David C. Peterson Collection.

Lingua Franca: 1999-2001. Where Are They Now?

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From 1999-2001, I sang with a wonderful quartet of like-minded musicians who loved close harmony and travel as much as I did. The only problem with a world music group, of course, is that they all go off to see the world, and so we parted ways as a quartet, contenting ourselves with the occasional harmonic convergence at a folk festival or a party.

Lingua Franca was founded by Liz Lewis and Ed Softky, who performed with Alan Field as the a cappella trio Lewis, Softky & Field. Lynn Noel became the "fourth volume of the trilogy" in January 1999. Lingua Franca were featured in the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston's May 2000 production of "Bound For Glory: The Words and Music of Woody Guthrie." The quartet performed at NEFFA, NOMAD, local festivals, senior centers, and anywhere else they received the slightest encouragement to sing.

Lingua Franca is not currently performing as a quartet. Liz Lewis sings with the women's a cappella sextet Constellations.…
The Old Songs Festival Fringe June 2006 marked the third annual gathering of certifiable fringe elements at the Old Songs festival in Altamont, NY. We take group camping to splendid excess, this year with a 10x20' Renaissance-style pavilion, courtesy of SCA actor and blacksmith Carl West. We enjoy our elegant and shady "living room" for sharing meals and relaxing between workshops, but its primary purpose (besides announcing our presence to the camp at large) is to host a full-service High Tea.

We serve 15-30 invited guests, complete with china teacups and saucers, loose tea in teapots, linens & silver, proper cream and lump sugar, and a full menu of sweets and savories. This year featured Earl Grey and Darjeeling, cranberry-orange and cinnamon chip scones, cucumber-mint and salmon tea sandwiches on homemade tea bread, "wrye smiles" (stuffed rye crescent rolls), cookies and bars galore, and strawberry-rhubarb shortcake with whipped cream.

Last year's hea…
FloodspottingMost people hate the rain. Not me. Give me a good thunderstorm and you're likely to find me in a wet T-shirt and bare feet, splashing happily down the street to unfoul the rain gutters and bust the leaf dams.

Once upon a time, being a river rat meant heading north to huge wilderness watersheds in Canada. These days, I stick closer to home, eagerly tracking the latest precipitation event online, and planning my next floodspotting field trip.

If you want to see whitewater inside Route 128, you had better move fast--most flood events last only a matter of hours, as we are so close to sea level and the terrain is relatively low. But if you get your skates on, you can see a roaring waterfall in Greater Boston with a little floodspotting.

Real-Time Stream Gauge Data for Massachusetts

Want to be a floodspotter? Start with the USGS real-time stream gauge data for your local state. I start paying attention when the dots turn dark blue, but the real fun starts when a dot turns b…

Sea Music: The Launching of the MIT Chantey Sing

This past Sunday, February 2006, we had 70 people at our monthly chantey sing at the MIT Museum. One of them was a reporter from the Boston Globe who asked me the usual questions about how the sing got started, and how I got into this. It's such a long story, I said...I've loved water, music, and boats as long as I can remember, and to love something is to sing about it. But if I had to trace a line on a map of how I got from there to here, now is as good a time as any to point out some landmarks along the voyage. This sing may be newly afloat, but it's got a good 30 years of my life for a hawser, with the lives of many more folk braided into the rope.

1974-81: Growing up on the Charles River in Natick and Newton, I was a certified lifeguard and paddling instructor by age 16. I taught canoeing on Cape Breton Island and later on the Connecticut River (Dartmouth '81). A strong voice is as useful for teaching water sports as it is for leading songs, and I soon learned to u…
Trouz Bras: Making a Big Noise with the Breton Boys
I love craigslist. You can log on looking for basement shelving and come away with a cat and a band. At least that's what happened to me. I adopted Cleo the Maine coon cat, and was in my turn adopted by Trouz Bras, "the only band in North America devoted to the music and dance of Brittany." A week after my audition with Ray Price and Barry Hall, I found myself on stage at Passim, making my debut at the Boston Celtic Music Festival with a French sea chantey. Le Capitaine de St. Malo lived up to the band's name--Trouz Bras means Big Noise in Breton--and I'm delighted to find myself singing call-and-response with a bagpipe. Not to mention a jazzy medieval vielle, a rockin' bass, and the USA's first NEA Master of the Bodhrán. These guys have some chops.

For my first official gig with TB at the Dance Flurry, I have 3 weeks to learn 9 songs in a language I don't speak. What fun! The dance songs are a joy, dr…

Crosscurrents: Have I really been at this for 20 years?

Crosscurrents: Have I really been at this for 20 years?

Since 1986, I have been researching and presenting traditional music, living history, and heritage interpretation under the banner of Crosscurrents: Sense of Place in Song and Story. Sometimes called Bluewater and Whitewater Music, this work has taken me down wild rivers in every province and territory in Canada; to a Russian monastery and an Icelandic glacier; to a shamanic workshop on the ancient Vikings; and to untold maritime adventures, from being rescued by a Newfoundland dog in Boston Harbor to sailing a tall ship in Penobscot Bay. And then there was celebrating my birthday at a whisky distillery...not to mention my current adventures of joining a Breton folk-rock band and running a monthly chantey sing at MIT.

In celebration of the past 20 years of musical journeys, I decided to start this blog to share my newest research and to make myself write down some of the more splendid memories. I hope to find blogging informal en…