I’m back home in Hiram, Maine, after three months in Teesdale, in the North East of England, where my true love David Wallace-Lawrence and I spend time each winter with family and friends. We enjoyed taking part in the rich music scene there, including the Richmond Folk Club, Scarth Memorial Hall open mic, the Darlington Folk Club, and the local Singing for the Brain sessions for people living with dementia.
As a multi-instrumentalist, I’ve been collecting instruments on the British side of the Pond. As a Lithuanian kanklės player, I’ve long been searching UK Ebay for a Baltic psaltery. This winter I got this lovely Latvian kokle, made in Leeds by Latvian exile Rūdolfs Priede. The playing technique is the same across the Baltic region, so this will serve nicely! I’ve already resumed my musical work here in New England. In addition to serving as a guest musician at area churches and playing at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and adult day programs for people with dementia, I look forward to several performances with selected fretless zithers, including the DownEast Country Dance Festival in Topsham, ME on March 2 (Upstairs Bistro, 1 PM) and the New England Folk Festival on April 13 (Middle School Rm 119, 4 PM). My full gig calendar is available here.
I’m also actively exploring the songs of the Grange (The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry) and the nexus of that organization with rural historical and social realities and populist political movements of the 1800s’. I love their motto “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” I’ve been collecting their songbooks (see “Grange Music” list here). The Grange is still active. I’ll be sharing a few of their vintage songs in the 4th Annual Maine State Grange Variety Show, Sun., April 28, 3 pm, at the Topsham Grange, 47 Pleasant St., Topsham, Maine. While history can offer lessons and strength for today, much remains to be done, and music always helps! The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, rooted in the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., inspires me and gives me hope. I invite you to check out their We Rise: A Movement Songbook, available as a free pdf with active links to song videos.