Lynn Noel's musical adventures in traditional music, dance, and drama as heritage interpretation since 1986. Visit the Crosscurrents website for details of Lynn's programs, products, and upcoming performances.
prepared for fellow NEFFA workshop participants, NEFFA News, Spring 2000 by L.E. Noel
October is the deadline for NEFFA applications, and I've had several requests to republish this piece from the NEFFA News. Thanks for your interest!So, you have a festival gig. You know your venue, audience, time, location, and set length. You have your performers, and you know what they can do. You have a workshop title, which is probably a theme of some sort. You probably also have a list--a long list--of material you'd like to present, from which you need to select, arrange, and rehearse a set in not-enough time. How do you get from here to there, where THERE is the applause at the end of a dynamite set?
There are lots of ways to organize a set list. The easy way is to go round robin, but we know how to do that. How do you develop a theme? Here's how I work with material that has a lot of content and narrative flow: entertain first, educate second . Start with the basic rule of 1-2-3.
When you play in a band with a pogocello, who can resist a washtub bass? The photo at left is Gloucester Hornpipe and Clog Society founder David Rosen with the inimitable pogocello. On the right is the newest member of the band, a handmade washtub bass from Athens, Georgia: bought on eBay and shipped to Boston on Greyhound.Who buys a string bass on eBay? Well, not intentionally. I was browsing to find out whether anyone should spend the several hundred dollar estimate I'd heard for repairing the cracked upright bass of our late friend Dave Stryker. Not that I really wanted Dave's bass, which is a full-size monster larger than my car. But we wondered what it was worth, for donating to a school or selling to some local musician as-is. So, go to eBay and plug in "upright bass" and "< $500." You don't find much in that price range. But what is THIS? A washtub crossed with a banjo? I read on. "Handmade washtub bass. Full 3…
The Every-day Book and Table Book, or Everlasting Calendar of Popular Amusements, from 1837, has a wonderful series of engravings illustrating a wide variety of Maypoles from England, Scotland, and France. It's remarkable to see the variation from the familiar plain pole with ribbon streamers.
The Northampton May Garland with its Empire-waisted May dolly is well suitable for our own New England Mayday in Northampton and Amherst in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. In the early days of Banbury Cross Morris in Boston, I held a workshop on May Eve with the children's team to make a similar May dolly, which has become a tradition for the team on May morning on the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge.
Kerchiefs flying, smart in their Scotch bonnets and tartan, the May-dew dancers at Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh cavort in drunken Scots abandon around a Scandinavian-style Maypole with a horizontal wreath adorned with branching boughs at head-height. Their bagpiper's &quo…