FolkFire Articles

November/December 1996

  • Make Each Day St. Patrick's Day
  • Wild Oats Dance
  • Taproots Special Event
  • FolkFire Groups to Perform at First Night
  • FolkFire's Editor Resigns
  • Folk Technology
  • FolkFireHome

  • FolkFire Groups to Perform at First Night
    by Andrew Limanni

    FolkFire is excited to announce that it has been invited to participate in the First Night Celebration in downtown St. Louis, on Tues. Dec. 31, 1996 (New Year’s Eve), from 6:00 till 11:30 pm. FolkFire will showcase twenty or so of its constituent groups, one performing about every twenty minutes. This will be similar to the annual FolkFire Birthday Bash of the last two years, a chance to celebrate the birthday of our magazine and give St. Louis a chance to take a closer look at all of the wonderful diversity and fun contained in our roster of 60 of the best dance and music groups in the area, representing all facets of the folk/ethnic/traditional spectrum.
    First Night will be held indoors (no worries about standing in line in cold weather) and FolkFire's groups perform at America’s Center. First Night engages the community of St. Louis in a shared cultural experience, one which celebrates our diversity through creative participation. Everything from ballet to painting to Morris dancing to world beat percussion to artist Bill Christman’s walk-through performance art piece “Guilt-O-Rama” will be presented. It is truly a unique experience. If you have never been down here, you really owe it to yourself to try it. It’s lots of fun and culture for the $5 admission. It’s also a great place for the family, as First Night is a totally alcohol-free New Year’s Eve presentation. It typically attracts 20,000 to 50,000 people. The one in Boston last year attracted 1,500,000 people—with 10 inches of snow on the ground!
    FolkFire hopes it can fill a gap in the previous four years programming at First Night, which has been heavy on the modern cultural side of things (modern dance, painting, etc.) with an opportunity to participate and do many of the dance styles presented, and in a more traditional folk vein. This will give St. Louis a chance to see what is available here in our own town, and it gives our companies an opportunity to show their stuff to a very large crowd. Please come and see us at America’s Center on New Year’s Eve.
    Make Each Day St. Patrick's Day
    by L. D. Walters

    You can enjoy the fun of St. Patrick’s Day, the joy of dancing, and keep in shape aerobically all year by learning to dance traditional Irish reels, jigs and hornpipes with St. Louis Irish Arts. Programs are provided for all ages, and the whole family can join.
    St. Louis Irish Arts is the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (a Gaelic name pronounced “Koltas Keltori Erin”), which is dedicated to teaching, promoting, and preserving the Irish traditional arts of music, dance, song and the Gaelic language. Comhaltas is an international organization based in Dublin, Ireland. The North American Province of Comhaltas consists of four regions in the U.S. and Canada. St. Louis Irish Arts is one of eleven branch organizations in the Midwest Region.
    Irish traditional music is folk dance music consisting of reels, jigs, hornpipes, mazurkas and polkas. Irish traditional dance is of three types. Step dancing is performed by tapping rhythms while performing intricate steps. Ceili (pronounced “Kaylee”) dances are figure dances performed in groups of two, four or more couples dancing precise steps and figures to reels, jigs or hornpipes. Set dancing, associated with various regions (counties) in Ireland, is similar to square dancing and consists of four couples dancing patterns and steps to music which can also include mazurkas and polkas. All of the dances require practice to master, but they are easily enjoyed by all ages, and are excellent aerobic exercise.
    St. Louis Irish Arts provides adult recreational dance classes and instruction in dance, instrumental music, voice and language to youths from the age of 5. All youth beginning dance students are required to take elementary instruction on the tin whistle. Students who exhibit talent and a desire to progress further are provided instruction in harp, fiddle, accordion, concertina, flute, harmonica, uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes), bodhran (Irish drum), and singing.
    Students in all age groups perform at various schools and festivals throughout the U.S., and at local dinner dances sponsored by St. Louis Irish Arts. Live music by advanced students and local Irish musicians is featured at all performances and at the dinner dances. Students also compete in frequent regional and national competitions sponsored by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. Winners of the competitions can compete in the international All-Ireland competition held each August in Ireland. St. Louis Irish Arts students have won first, second and third place awards in harp, flute and harmonica at recent All-Ireland competitions.
    All classes are held in the Gardenville Community Center at the corner of Gravois and Kingshighway in south St. Louis from September through June. Youth classes are held on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. Adult recreational dancing is provided on Wednesday evenings: Adult step dancing is scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.; Ceili and set dancing is scheduled from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Call 849-1662 or drop by Gardenville Community Center on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon for more information.
    Taproots Special Event
    by John Shewmaker

    Taproots School for the Arts presents an evening of dinner and dancing with Andy Cohen and Larkin Kelley Bryant on Sat Nov 23. They will be playing at Focal Point the evening before (See p12). The two concerts will not repeat material, and the Taproots concert will be kid-friendly. Both venues have limited space, so order tickets early.
    Non-potluck spaghetti dinner starts at 6:00, but come early to see the Capering Roisters perform at 5:45. A Family Dance follows dinner at 7:30, then a short Concert, and an Evening Dance at 9:30 ending about 11:00. Bob Borcherding will teach and call the dances.
    The $10.00 cost of the Taproots evening will be the same with or without the spaghetti dinner. Only those who call and pay in advance (MC/Visa, cash) will eat. This is the “discount” for signing up and paying early. Excess proceeds will go to support Taproots children’s programs. The meal allows us to begin our ceremonies early in the evening, which is good for little people.Families with kids are welcome, as are single people.
    There will be a vegetarian sauce for the spaghetti as well as a meat sauce, a salad and iced tea or lemonade will be included, and milk for people with growing bones. Taproots is a smoke and alcohol-free environment.
    After the scheduled events, open bands, open callers, and general party atmosphere is encouraged. We will have an instrument check, for people bringing instruments, and everyone is welcome to. We will set aside a quieter room for kids who need to sack out, and, after the concert, will have some additional activities those who don't participate in the Evening Dance.
    Parking at Taproots is on the street, and around Laclede Park. We will provide heightened security around Taproots with volunteer watchdog patrols. There have been high-intensity security lights installed on the front of the Taproots building this last year.
    Taproots has the sound-baffle pillows that were made for the Kimmswick dance event last May, and will hang them up to cut the gymnasium echo.
    We will need a few volunteers to help with the event. People wanting to help solve the gym echo should also call. We have time between now and November 23 to make a real difference in that room.
    Call John at 367-9079.
    FolkFire's Editor Resigns

    Lynn Devries has resigned from FolkFire due to personal and professional considerations. She has done a great job editing and laying out the newsletter for the last year and a half. She also provided the impetus to get our web page started. We are hard pressed to find a replacement. FolkFire is searching for people who would volunteer to pick up the reins of layout, editing, and the overall design of the FolkFire nerwsletter.
    If you feel that you, or someone you know, might be the one or ones who could take this organization into the future, please call the FolkLine (776-FOLK) or Dan at 771-7619 (# disconnected in 4/2002) or Andrew at 994-0888 and let us know. You would have the option of working directly with the current board (and maybe even getting on the board before the next election), or working with one of the current members in an editorial committee to design and produce the next issue(s) of our newsletter.
    FolkFire can always use help on a part time or continuous basis finding advertisers, designing ads, and contacting groups for each issue. Ideally, we are seeking some people outside of the contradance community, from which this organization has always been composed.
    We apologise to those who have offered to help with certain parts of the job, and in our current snafu we couldn't find a way to easily employ.
    Folk Technology
    A casual observation by Dan Klarmann

    I've noticed that, among folkies, most fit into one of two distinct attitudes toward technology. One is the stereotypical, "if it wasn't good enough for grandpa, then it's not good enough for me." The other group are the sort who eagerly embrace each new tool or convenience as it comes along, and makes it their own. FolkFire has always had both types of individuals on the board, so we try to be sensitive to the former and responsive to the latter.
    Have you tried the Folkline yet? Several of our listed groups, and some bands leave messages here to inform all their members of their latest happenings. The FolkLine phone number is PRO-FOLK (314 776-3655 (disconnected 3/2001)). This is also our fax center; just treat it as a normal fax machine, it doesn't mind. Some of the listings in here mention their extensions, but you can find the groups by following the voice mail menus. Check out the Donna Line (extension 3-2). Hold each number for about a second; for a voice mail system, it's a bit hard of hearing.
    If you have a web browser available, please visit This site has the complete local listings, articles, plus some listings from further afield. We also link to many other folk-related sites, some of which are massive link lists to still more sites. Enjoy!
    Wild Oats Dance!

    The helpful folks over at Wild Oats, St. Louis’ newest and largest health food store, are holding an Old Fashioned Barn Dance on Thurs. November 7, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. This is a benefit for FolkFire! Half of the $4 admission goes to FolkFire, and the rest supports Wild Oats’ other community programs. It will be held in the Community Room at Wild Oats on Ladue Rd., one block east of I-170. The band is the UFO’s with fiddler Marc Rennard, and the caller is Andrew Limanni.
    This is fun, old-fashioned New England style contra dancing—all dances will be taught, singles and couples are welcome, and no special clothes or skills are required; just an abiblty to have fun. Wild Oats will have complimentary snack and drink samples on hand. Wild Oats is part of a forty-store nationwide chain of cutting-edge health food stores, that pride themselves on community involvement in the cities they serve. Come on down for a good time!