The Old-Time Herald Volume 7, Number 8

Festival Profiles- 2001

21st Annual Old Songs Festival of Traditional Music and Dance

The 21st Annual Old Songs Festival of Traditional Music and Dance will be held on June 22-24 at the Altamont Fairgrounds, Altamont, NY. Some of the performers at this year’s festival will include Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson, Tom Spiers, Sara Grey, Tom, Brad & Alice, Arrogant Worms, Stillhouse Rounders, Sally Rogers and Howie Bursen, Joel Mabus, Lou & Peter Berryman, the Beverwyck String Band, and much more.

Old Songs Festival is a family friendly festival with a lot for kids to do in a safe environment with craft activities, mime and juggling, singalongs, storytelling, and participatory dancing.

There will be a juried craft show, instrument vendors, and varied and ample foods.

The festival begins with a concert at 7 PM on Friday followed by a late night contra dance. Saturday begins at 9:30 AM with a choice of 70 daytime sessions until 5 PM followed by a concert at 7 PM and a late night contra dance. Sunday begins again at 9:30 AM with daytime sessions until 3:30 PM followed by a concert that ends at 7 PM. The festival is preceded on Friday by two-hour classes taught by festival performers from 3-5 PM.

Tickets may be purchased for the entire festival or by section. Discounted advance tickets are available until June 4 ($20 per section and $60 all-festival). Full price tickets are available after June 4 ($25 per section and $75 all-festival per adult). Youth tickets (ages 13-18) are $40 in advance and $50 at the gate. Children 12 and under are free. Senior citizens 65+ and students with ID get a $5 discount at the gate only. Camping passes with an all-festival ticket are $15 per adult.

The festival is accessible to the disabled, assistive listening devices are available and concerts are signed. For a festival brochure with complete information including camping, write or phone: Old Songs, Inc. PO Box 399, Guilderland, NY 12084; 518-765-2815; http://www.oldsongs.org.

The State Fair of Virginia Fiddle Contest

Crisp autumn air and the excitement of the Fair provide the backdrop for the State Fair of Virginia Fiddle Contest at Richmond Raceway Complex, September 29-30.

Old-time fiddlers compete on Saturday, Sept. 29 while bluegrass fiddlers compete on Sunday Sept. 30. The event will take place at the Fair’s Heritage Village Music Hall during the State Fair of Virginia. There are many places for jamming if you bring your instruments.

Virginia and the Richmond area have a long history of fiddlers and old-time music performers. Early records indicate that fiddle contests were abundant in local fairs and gatherings in colonial Virginia. Richmond was the site of the 1920s and ’30s WRVA radio show, "Corn Cob Pipe" which aired nightly at 11 PM and featured the "Old Virginia Fiddler," J.W. "Babe" Spangler from the Meadows of Dan in Southwest Virginia. Spangler was also the recipient of the 1927 Virginia State Fiddling Championship. The State Fair of Virginia hopes to restart this tradition of a State Fiddling Champion by hosting this event.

The contest will start at 10 AM and will include a playoff at 7 PM. Fiddlers will be required to play several tunes and may have up to two instruments accompanying the performance. Prizes range from $200-$150 (1st-3rd) and rosette ribbons for 4th to 10th places. The entry fee is a ticket to the fair. There is no refund to performers.

There is limited camping at the Fair but there are several commercial campgrounds in the area. Hotel information can be obtained from the address below and there is a State Fair rate available. The most current State Fair information is available at www.statefair.com.1.800.LUV.FAIR; Marilyn Wetton, mwetton@areevents.com; State Fair of Virginia at Strawberry Hill, Heritage Village Music Hall, PO Box 26805, Richmond, VA 23261-6805; or Joe Malloy, fiddle contest organizer at ljmalloy@sbc.edu.

Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival

The Hiawatha Music Co-op’s cultural-educational objectives are to provide and promote traditional American music, educate and inform society on traditional American music, and encourage the appreciation of such music through the facility of an Annual Traditional American Music Festival. This music festival includes folk, blues, country, bluegrass, jazz, and ethnic styles—music that has been largely overlooked by today’s popular music industry.

We are pleased to present the 23rd Annual Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival. Held July 20-22 (always the next-to-the-last full weekend in July) at the Tourist Park in Marquette, Michigan. Situated on the sandy banks of the Dead River Basin, Tourist Park offers a complete camping facility including showers, handicap restrooms, a number of electrical hookups, hiking trails, and a swimming beach. With free camping included in the weekend ticket price and so close to town, this beautiful setting provides many luxuries uncommon to most outdoor festivals.

Each year the Festival highlights national, regional, and local talent in a variety of formats including topical workshops, informal instruction, and concerts. Festivities begin on Friday evening with a dance. We realize the importance of all-family events, thus many hours of children’s activities are also provided during Saturday and Sunday. Local merchants feature regional and ethnic menu specialties throughout the weekend. We also feature handmade arts and crafts in our Artists in the Round area of the campground.

Over 400 volunteer workers contribute to make the Festival an overwhelming success, both financially possible for us and affordable to Festival-goers. Advance ticket prices range from free (under five years), $2 per child (5-12 years), $25 per teen (13-17 years), to $30 per adult (18+ years).

Performers on the main stage for this year include: Corndrinkers, New Riverside Ramblers, Third Generation Bluegrass, Rachael Davis and Brett Hartenbach, Peter Keane, Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan, Hot Club of Cowtown, Stacey Earle with Mark Stuart, Barachois, Jeremy Kittel, and Steppin’ In It.

For more information, write Hiawatha Music Co-op, PO Box 414, Marquette, Michigan, 49855, phone 906-226-8575, e-mail hiawatha@portup.com or visit us on the web at www.portup.com/~hiawatha.

Rockbridge Mountain Music and Dance Festival

The Rockbridge Mountain Music and Dance Festival is not your usual festival. There is no contest and no fancy line-up of big-name acts. No crowds. But if you love dancing and old-time music in a mellow setting, it’s the one for you.

Always occurring two weeks after Labor Day (September 14-15 this year) the event pretty much closes out the festival season. It takes place in beautiful Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista, VA, situated beside the Blue Ridge Parkway and five miles east of Lexington.

Those who like structure will find plenty to do. You can square and contra dance to a live band and caller Friday and Saturday nights in a large covered pavilion, with informal late-night dance parties, also with live music, at the more intimate dance floor at the campground. Saturday afternoon offers kids’ dance and a clogging workshop at the campground, plus instrument playing workshops on fiddle, banjo, guitar, and bass. Prior to the Saturday night dance at the pavilion, there will be an hour’s concert by the two featured dance bands, Big Medicine and Rayna Gellert and Frank Lee.

Other festival goers rarely leave the campground, choosing to play and visit around the "neighborhood," where a laid-back, low-key air prevails.

The usual Saturday afternoon open stage at the pavilion will be replaced this year by a special tribute to Mike Seeger, who started the Rockbridge festival as a non-competitive way to celebrate the music and dance of the region and to cap off the festival season. Typically, part of the stage program highlights a traditional musician or group from the region, and it is fitting to honor Mike Seeger for the festival’s 15-year anniversary. For this event, many of Mike’s musical friends will "play" tribute to and with him. This promises to be a unique and invaluable occasion.

Glen Maury Park offers plenty of elbow room and magnificent views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with rough camping on level grass, and available hookups. There are inside toilets and showers, with additional Port-a-Johns. The restrooms and pavilion are handicapped accessible. The Maury River flows nearby for fishing, swimming, or admiring. Additional secluded campsites are available up the hill, but they will necessitate driving or hiking to workshop and pavilion events. The festival has one vendor of wholesome foods such as burritos, salads, vegetarian lasagna, and "not-dogs," with a range of beverages. A pancake breakfast is offered on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Fast food and other restaurants, as well as grocery stores and two motels, are short drives through town.

On Sunday morning, Tina Liza Jones traditionally leads a Sunday Sing, an informal gathering of gospel singing. One participant described it as "more uplifting than going to church."

This festival has been called "Virginia’s best-kept secret," and some consider it the one with "the highest quality of life." Come and see.

Admission is $8.00 per day, plus camping fee of $9.00 per day per site.

Contact Steve at 540-463-5214 or Toni at williams@rockbridge.net. Web site at rkb.sbc.edu.

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