FolkFire Articles

May / June 1998

  • Bringing it All Down Home, Folk Festivals Abound
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  • Bringing it All Down Home, Folk Festivals Abound

    by John Shewmaker
    On May 1, 2 and 3, at Taproots School of the Arts, 4021 Iowa at Gasconade (see advertisement on p. 7) experience the Downhome Spring Festival. As Folkfire goes to press, the final list of performers hasnít been set in concrete (the list, not the people), but many of our finest local musicians, callers and teachers will participate. St. Louis has such a rich diversity of truly wonderful musicians, singers and dancers! These people are our neighbors and friends, and if you havenít heard them play, then itís time you did. Who is doing what, at what time, will be on the web at, or you can call Taproots at (314) 752-9752, for a recorded message.
    This is a participatory event, and people of all ages are essential. Bring your voices, feet and instruments and use them. Space for jamming and impromptu events will be set aside. Sure, thereíll be concerts and workshops, but the folk arts are something you do, not just watch.
    We have asked a couple of out-of-town performers to join us as well. Alistair Brown is a Scot who lives in London, Ontario, where he sings an extensive repertoire of old songs, accompanying himself on the button box. He sings with Fiddlers Green, a gang in Toronto organized around a folk music club of the same name, and he likes to have people sing with him. When he isnít singing, he plays morris tunes and dances morris, and has taught all of these things at Pinewoods Camp, among other places. Heís offered to lead a morris dance workshop, too. Do we have any takers? Heís never been here before, and we are pleased to welcome him.
    We also expect our good friends Andy Cohen, Larkin Kelly Cohen, and Susan Boyer Haley. Among just these three is a complete folk festival, so varied are their talents.
    The St. Louis Shape Note Singers will sing on late Saturday afternoon. If you have not tried sacred harp singing, this will be a great opportunity to experience and participate in it.
    Friday eveningís principal event will be a contradance (everything taught and calledóbeginners welcome), and Saturday evening there will be a concert, as well as alternative activities.
    We have the use of the Taproots building and some adjacent buildings and spaces. Please give us a call before the event at 752-9752, so we can give directions on parking, or leave a message on voice mail.