Showing posts from 2007
I went to the Bennington (VT) Museum to meet with Lisette's soon-to-be publisher and the museum archivists. There was a present waiting for me: a photo from the Museum's "Highlights of the Collection" catalogue. To wit:"Figure 51. PA-TUS-SE-NON (SHOT BAG), 1810
Lizette Harmon, Cree Indian, 1790-1862
Porcupine quills, red floss, beads, leather
H: 11 in. W: 7 in
Gift of Mrs. Nelson Bradley Carter"…This shot bag was made by Lizette for her husband and was decorated with naturally-dyed porcupine quills. Although shot bags do survive, few can be found with leather in such fine condition, with such vibrant colors still evident, or with such strong documentation and history.""Just imagine. After ten years roleplaying this obscure M├ętis woman, to see a color photograph of something she made with her own hands. And such an artifact. I'm thunderstruck. I must see the actual thing itself asap, and *of course* I'm burning to try to copy it as it's go…

Finding Lisette's Grave

Finding Lisette's GraveYesterday we found Lisette’s grave. Helen Meredith had wanted to help me look from the beginning, and having a Montreal native along really smoothed the way. I had written to Mount Royal Cemetery before and gotten a location number, G-11, which as it turned out wasn’t much help. We went in to the office and asked for Elizabeth Harmon d. 1862 and Abby Maria Harmon d. 1904, and the woman at the desk went in the back and came back in five minutes with a Xerox of two index cards. Yes, she was there, all right, and so were Mary and Calvin and their son Andy and a few others as well. Calvin Ladd had purchased the plot, but didn’t appear to be buried there. She gave us a plot map of that section of the cemetery, marking it on the main map. So off we went to G-1, Lot number 11.

Helen had done this before with her friend Jill’s relatives, so she knew how hard it was going to be. And we walked all around the edges of the section, which joins G-2 with just a dotted line…

Christmas Mummers Kit


Definition of Mummers


An Unusual Wassail Ingredient: Roasted Crabs


Recipe for Wassail with Eggs


Origins of the Expression "To Drink to the Pin"


Colonel Pickering's March to Lexington, 1775

Here's an obscure local tune for Paul Revere and the 19th of April in '75. When I lived in Arlington at the turn of the millennium, I could get up at dawn and walk a block to wait for Paul Revere and his horse to gallop down Massachusetts Avenue en route to Lexington.

Source: The National Music of America and Its Sources By Louis Charles Elson

Advice to Dancers, 1729


The Music of the Waters: Sailors' Chanties, 1888

The Music of the Waters: A Collection of the Sailors' Chanties, Or Working ... By Laura Alexandrine Smith:

This relatively rare and out-of-print collection has a larger and more diverse array of the non-English chanteys and maritime songs than those found in Hugill, Colcord, or Doerflinger. Many of the songs have notated tunes, making the collection especially useful to singers.


Primary Source Texts: Google Books for Singers

Primary Source Texts: Google Books for Singers Want a first edition of the Child ballads (1860) or Ritson's Ancient Songs and Ballads(1829)? A facsimile edition of The Universal Songster, or Museum of Mirth (1834) or D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719)? How about a collection of full-text books on American naval song from 1800 to 1820? They're yours, in print, for the cost of the paper and your time. Download them to your own machine as PDF and have at it. Or leave them online: simply add them to your library and search them with a few clicks. All that's missing is that lovely musty smell of leather bindings.

Google Book Search is a feast for the desktop scholar. Visit the site to see all their amazing features--this isn't a how-to piece per se. Take away the news that it has never been easier to do your own primary source research. Find out for yourself where a song came from; where and how it was first collected and printed; what the collector said abo…

The Golden Whales of California and Other Rhymes in the American Language ... By Vachel Lindsay

The Columbian Naval Melody: A Collection of Songs and Odes, Composed on the ... By Henry B Anthony:

An 1813 collection of American naval ballads, hymns, and songs covering the era from the American Revolution through the War of 1812.
Bentley's Miscellany By Charles Dickens, William Harrison Ainsworth, Albert Smith:
Three of my passions here conjoined: whiskey, May, and song. Ah, the wonder of the keyword search.

OH the May-morn of yore was a blithe one, I ween,
When they danced round the pole on the old village green ;
When the maids gather'd dew at the break of the day,
And they wore a bright wreath for the Queen of the May.
Though the good times are past, and the world has grown cold,
Still the dew and the flowers are as sweet as of old ;
Still the sky laughs with love, and the earth with good cheer,
And the birds sing their merriest song of the year.
Wake up, Marion, wake — come away, come away !
Tis the morn that we love, — 'tis the morn of the May !
Our steeds but thy coming, fair loiterer, wait ;
Hark the neigh of Black Gipsey below at the gate !
Her bridle I've wreathed with the freshest of green,
And I 've cull'd thee a rose, love, that 's fit for a queen.
The hedge-rows are swe…

The Wassail, Robert Herrick, 1900

Poems of Robert Herrick: A Selection from Hesperides and Noble Numbers By Robert Herrick, Thomas Bailey Aldrich:

A wassail poem from the author of the much-beloved song Candlemas Eve.


Comic sketches from The wassail bowl By Albert Richard Smith:
"In comes I, as never been yet / With my big head, and little wit!"

Back to the Source: Online Links to Morris Musicians of the Past

Red Herring Morris has recently engaged in a typical fall discussion around morris musicians and their role on the team. Foreman and head musician Jeff Bigler has reminded us of two core "rules" (remember, they're more like guidelines) for the new musician. To wit:

1. Musicians should dance (health permitting) or observe for a few weeks before playing in. 2. Musicians shouldn't play in on a tune until they're off book.
Rule #1 is to ensure that new musicians have some idea of how the music fits with the dance.
Rule #2 is to ensure that new musicians know the tunes well enough that they can pay attention to ensemble, both with the other musicians and with the dancers.
I responded to the team, and then reflected that this was a common enough discussion that it might be of interest to other morris folk as well. Here's my post to the Red Herring list:
JB's Rule 1 and Rule 2 get it in a nutshell. What he said. Hasn't changed in thirty …

On Planning a Set: Hook, Line, and Sinker

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.

Visit Mina's photo album!

A silly bit of doggerel (c) 2001 Lynn Noel

There once was a spinach burrito
Plump with posole and beans
And barbecued pollo con frio
And salsa, cilantro, and greens.

Bought in a moment of impulse
It could have fed four, 'twas so big
A couple of bites per musician
And the rest shared out after the gig.

But the burrito soon had competition
In the form of a friend of the group
Who offered them all a late supper
At a pub that made great oxtail soup.

Hey, lunch is just fine for burritos.
We'll wrap it in foil to save
As a bite of refrito reheato
And pollo con el microwave.

Ah, pity the spinach burrito
Forgotten, abandoned and lost
In a car in a bag in the back seat.
In the morning, 'twas covered in frost.

Sad is the burrito owner
Who hastens too swift and too fleet
To an eight a.m. morning appointment
And leaves a dog in the back seat.

Ay de mi! Pobrecito!
The search was too late. Naught availed.
There was nothing but scraps of clean foil
Shaped like two ears--and this tale.