Lifetime Contribution Awards
The Lifetime Contribution Award Celebration for Kate Barnes was held on:
Sunday, September 26, 2021
4:00-6:00 p.m. ET
Last year, we announced Kate Barnes as the 2020 recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award. The award ceremony we originally planned for September 2020 was sadly cancelled due to the pandemic, so we created an online celebration to include as many people as possible, and to make it easy to attend for Kate’s friends, family, and well-wishers from across the continent.
The event included the award presentation, several group musical contributions, photos, videos, personal reminiscences, tributes and much more. We also invited participants to record some pieces of music to share at the event.
View the Scrapbook and add a memento
As part of the celebration, we have gathered your good wishes, stories, reminiscences, and/or reflections on Kate's influence in your life in order to create a digital scrapbook for Kate. We are still seeking contributions in the form of text, video, or photos (with some explanation of the content of the photo). You can be funny. You can be serious. You can be heartfelt. You can be silly. Kate will love hearing from you, however you want to share your wishes.
If you would like a prompt to help you gather your thoughts, you may want to choose one or more of these questions:
- What would you like to wish for Kate at this special occasion?
- What is one (or more) of your favorite memories of something involving Kate?
- How has Kate's presence in the world had an impact on you?
If one or more of these prompts is helpful, wonderful! However, they are not required; you may share whatever you wish to say to Kate.
To share your contribution, please fill out this submission form. The form will allow you to upload a limited number of photos. If you have large video files or a larger number of photos you would like to share, please email us to arrange this; or record a short video on your phone and email the file to Nancy Boyd.
If you have questions about the event or your contribution to the scrapbook, please email email@example.com
Jeanne Morrill & Ruth Reiner—event committee co-chairs
Crispin Youngberg—CDSS LCA coordinator
2020 CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award for Kate Barnes
September 26, 2021 – 4 to 6pm
Produced by Charlie Pilzer
Lisa Greenleaf and Gene Murrow (Maestra and Maestro of Ceremony)
Kate Plays Well with Others
Tributes by David Millstone, Mary Lea, Anne Hooper (with Barbara McOwen, Robert McOwen, and Jud Webb)
Band Slide Show by Anne Goodwin
Tributes by Karen Axelrod, Seamus Connolly, and Lisa Greenleaf
Produced by Dave Langford and Bill Tomczak
Kate’s Influence Felt Far and Wide
Video Montage by Nancy Boyd
Tributes by Jacqueline Schwab, Carol Ormond, George Marshall, Steve Zakon-Anderson, Susan St. Germain, and Richard Powers
CDSS Executive Director Katy German and Kate Barnes
Rachel Bell and Susan Kevra
Kate as a Renaissance Woman
Participant Quiz by Lisa Greenleaf
Photo Montage of Instruments Kate Plays compiled by Anne Goodwin
Tributes by Gene Murrow and Sharon Green
Interview with Kate by Pat MacPherson
Tributes by Earl Gaddis, Sam Bartlett, and Max Newman
English Country Dance Medley
Produced by Daniel Beerbohm
Tributes, Thank Yous, and Credits
Ruth Reiner and Jeanne Morrill
Lisa Greenleaf and Gene Murrow
Kate Barnes Biography
Kate Barnes has been playing piano, flute, whistles and guitar (along with other assorted instruments: banjo, harmonica, bass (acoustic and electric), oboe, English horn, sousaphone, mandolin, fiddle and alto saxophone for traditional dancing since 1971.
She’s been invited to most major contra, square, British Isles and vintage dance events throughout the United States, performing for dances and concerts, leading ensemble workshops, and generally acting in a crazy and often undignified manner. Averaging over 250 engagements per year since 1980, she is arguably one of New England’s busiest and most sought-after musicians.
She has played for festivals and tours in Canada, England, Ireland, France, Denmark, Shetland, Scotland, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Africa, Peru, Ecuador, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Hawaii, Alaska, Egypt and St. Croix.
She has been a member of the BANDS The Latter-Day Lizards, Bare Necessities, Yankee Ingenuity, Les Z Boys, Kestral, Big Bandemonium, Cilantrio, Dark Carnival, Childsplay, BLT, Panel of Experts, Crazy Quilt, The Dactyls, Tulluchgorum, Airplang, Trio Picante, Culchullan, Third String Trio, Trio Con Brio, Foregone Conclusions, The Fitzwilliam Dance Band, The Cathie Ryan Band, The Old Found Country Stay At Homes (not the New Lost Country City Ramblers), Corporal Rockies Mystery, Richard Power’s Vintage Orchestra and has played with countless musicians in pick up bands. She has performed with many traditional greats including Seamus Connolly, Joe Derrane, Cathie Ryan, Chris Norman, Alasdair Fraser, Rodney Miller, Joe Cormier and yes, Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block.
Her RECORDINGS include Sleeping on a Rock and Rainy Night in Montague with the Latter-Day Lizards; Kitchen Junket and Heatin’ Up the Hall with Yankee Ingenuity; Bare Necessities, Take a Dance, Nightcap and 15 CDs in the CDS Boston Centre Dance Series with Bare Necessities; Airplang and Airplang II with Rodney Miller; BLT (Barnes, Lea & Tomczak); Soir et Matin with Kerry Elkin, Yankee Dreams and Moxie with Frank Ferrell; Shape Shifting and Impulse of the Heart with Jeanne Morrill; Cascata de Lagrimas, Between Two Worlds, and Gypsy Wine with Mary Lea; Twelve-Gated City, The Great Waltz, and Childsplay with Childsplay; At Rainbows End (The Corona Sessions) solely with Kate Barnes; Gary Roodman’s Calculated Figures; several CD’s with various musicians; Sous le Ciel de Paris and Al Fresco with Third String Trio; and 2 CDs with the Scottish band Tullochgorum. She has made guest appearances on recordings with Anisa Angarola, Bob Abrams, Bob Dalsemer, Dave Nieman & Beverly Woods, Donna Hebert, Frank Ferrell, Jan Maier, The Keltic Kids, Kim Wallach, Leo Kretzner, Larry Unger, Mary Lea, Matt Glaser, Ruthie Dornfeld, The Boston Christmas Revels, Timothy Abell, “Waltzing for the Grange,” Nat Hewitt, The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society of Boston and many others.
BOOKS: She has done the dance world a great service by compiling three volumes of English Country Dance Tunes which are widely used by English country dance musicians and many others throughout the US and in Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Belgium, and Germany. She has also compiled a book of couple dance music called A Little Couple Dance Musik and has written a tutorial for playing contra dance music called Interview with a Vamper.
Below is a small sampling of concerts, dance festivals, special events and overseas engagements.
CONCERTS: The Ark (MI), The Bread & Roses Heritage Festival (MA), Caffe Lena (NY), Club Passim (MA), The Colonial Inn Concert Series (MA), The Crosscurrents Fold & Classical Concert (MA), El Tremedal Coffeehouse (MA), The Fiddle and Bow Society (NC), Gaelic Roots (Boston College, MA), The Hallockville Folklife Center (NY), The Iron Horse (Northampton, MA), The Irish-American Heritage Society (GA), The Irish Cultural Center (NY), Johnny D’s Uptown (MA), The New Hampshire Highland Games, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors (NY), The Lowell Folk Festival (MA), Massasoit College Concerts (MA), The New England Conservatory Select Series (MA), Music of the Americas Festival (NY), The Pittsburgh Irish Festival (PA), The Provincetown Muse Series (MA), The Smithsonian Institute (DC), The Stonehill College Irish Festival (MA), The University of Vermont Lane Series (VT), The WGBH Acoustic Music Festival (MA), The Wolftrap Folk Masters Series (MD)
DANCE FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS: Alta Sierra Dance Weekend (CA), Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camp (NY), Augusta Folk Heritage Camp (WV), Black Mountain Folk Festival (NC), Boxwood Wooden Flute Week (Nova Scotia, CANADA),
Bay Area Country Dance Society Events (CA), Brandywine Old Time Music Festival (PA), Berea Dance Camp (KY), Buffalo Gap Dance Camp (WV), California Traditional Music Society Summer Solstice Festival (CA), Chesapeake Spring Dance Weekend (MD), Cream of the Crop Dance Series (NY), Commonwealth Vintage Dancers Events (MA), Dancing Bears Events (AL), Down East Folk Festival (ME), Eisteddfod Festival (MA), First Night (Boston, Worcester, Quincy, MA), The Feet Retreat (NC), Flying Cloud Academy Vintage Dance (OH), Folk Arts Center of Boston (MA), Folklore Village Farm (WI), Fox Hollow Folk Festival (NY), Harvest Moon Dance Festival (CA), Gaelic Roots Festival (Boston College, Boston, MA), Hands-Four Spring and Fall Weekend (NH), Hudson Guild Dance Camp (NJ), John C. Campbell Folk School (NC), Lady of the Lake Dance Events (ID), Lavender Country & Folk Dancers (MA), Long Island Traditional Music Association (LITMA) Events (NY), Lost Pines Dance Weekend (TX), Louisville, KY Dance Weekend (KY), The Lowell Banjo and Fiddle Contests (Staff, MA), Mariposa Folk Festival (Toronto, Canada), Mendocino Dance Camp (CA), Hay Days (CA), Mohonk Mountain House Dance Weekend (NY), Muskeg Festival (NH), New England Folk Festival (NEFFA, MA), Old Songs Folk Festival & Old Songs Winter Dance Festival (NY), Pigtown Fling (OH), Pinewoods Dance Camp (1976 – 2021, MA), Playford Balls (Boston MA, Providence RI, Pittsburgh PA, Philadelphia PA, New York (NY), Cleveland OH, Nashville TN, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Alaska, Vermont), Port Townsend Fiddle Tunes Festival (WA), Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (MA), Slugs at Sunrise (WA), Spring Dance Romance (NC), Spring Dance Weekend at Circle Lodge (NY), Summer Soiree (NC), Seattle Lake (OR), Tapestry Folk Dance Center (MN), Toronto Dance Weekend (CN), Vernal’s All-Night Equinox (FL) Victoria’s Revenge Dancefest (Cape May, NJ), Vintage Dance Society Events (CN), Wild Weekend (NY), Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp (CO), Ogontz CDSS Family Weeks (NH), Across the Lake Weekend (VT).
OVERSEAS ENGAGEMENTS: Shetland Folk Festival (Shetland Isles -1985,1987), Festival du Maurienne, St. Jean du Maurienne, France (1980), The Tonder Folk & Jazz Festival, Denmark (1986), Tour of Scotland with Tulluchgorum, 1992 & 94, Tour of England with Bare Necessities (6x), on George Marshall trips to Hawaii with Bare Necessities (9x) and St. Croix with Bare Necessities (12x), on tour with Cathie Ryan to Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy & Switzerland, and on Ken McFarland trips to Hawaii, Ecuador, Peru, Egypt, Scotland, England, Greece, Africa, France, Australia and Ireland.
Her MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS include Fair Jenny’s Jig, A Solstice Snow, The Invitation, Mendocino Morning, Middle of Night, Intrigas, Cappricio, Findeborgin, Sleeping on a Rock, March for Warren (for Warren Argo), The Dogs of North Dunans, and countless commissions and other tunes.
David Kaynor of Montague, MA is the 2021 CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award recipient, in recognition of his enormous contributions as a dance community organizer, musician, caller, and mentor to generations. We held a Celebration online on David's birthday, Saturday, April 17, 2021.
David Allen Kaynor passed away on June 1, 2021. We're so grateful for everything he brought to our world, and for the opportunity we had to honor him with this award.
View the video of the Celebration:
David's Acceptance Remarks
I'm delighted and humbled to receive the Lifetime Contribution Award.
I think about the colossal contributions of past recipients, and I ask myself, Why me? Although I enjoyed and believed in what I was doing as a dance caller, fiddle teacher, session host, musician, and graphic artist, I considered myself irrelevant to the lofty circles and activities of the Country Dance and Song Society.
A low point in my musical life came in the spring of 1981, when the president of NEFFA told me that, in their opinion, what we ... my cousins, uncle, other Fourgone Conclusions band mates, and I ... were doing had nothing to do with New England contra dancing.
My response to numerous real or perceived organizational snubs was to submerge myself in the pleasures of the moment in my core interests and pursuits: Long distance running, cross country skiing, dancing, calling dances, teaching basic Swedish dances, teaching basic fiddling, and playing music. I also became something of a calligrapher and graphic artist.
Eventually, I found a niche as a teacher and caller. This led to countless gigs in which I enjoyed a happy integration of my artistic, spiritual, and political ideals and having to earn enough money to get by.
All these facets of my life came together when I became Music Director of the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra and the Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts. These groups welcomed all musicians of all skill and experience levels. My tasks included including all. Our practices blended learning and arranging tunes with in-the-moment adventure and fun. I wrote out many harmonies while on AMTRAK'S Vermonter, where the conductors knew me by name and the scenery was sweetly familiar.
I'm grateful to Jay Ungar and Molly Mason at Ashokan, Bob Dalsemer and Annie Fain Liden Barallon at the John C. Campbell Folk School, the Reiner family of Fiddle Hell, Paul Rosenberg and Peter Davis at the Dance Flurry, my colleagues at Northeast Heritage Music Camp, Mike Reddig in Flagstaff, Arizona, Fred Karsch in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Sue Songer and Betsy Branch in Portland and Mark Lewis and Carla Arnold in La Grand, Oregon, Sherry Nevins and Tom and Amy Wimmer in Seattle, Lindon Toney in Olympia, Washington, and numerous other organizers and bandmates in the Pacific Northwest. These folks gave me opportunities to share my developing skills and deep love of music and dancing, not just once, but over and over.
Thanks to all these people, I was able to cultivate relationships with and within their communities. This, in turn, enabled me to not just share tons of fun, but also share experiences of growth and development in many ways. Our skills and repertoire evolved and so did our senses of self, possibility, and purpose.
We didn't just perform music and dance. We SHARED it. This became a fundamental personal philosophy: There are times and places for performing, but sharing can happen so much more often, and it's good for us all. Maybe it's even good for the world.
I've struggled to matter for as long as I can remember. This showed itself in a number of ways, including sports and music and dance. I was always dogged by the weight of self doubt. This finally dissipated in the final years of my career, thanks to all of the above who provided opportunities for us to explore mattering together.
Part I—Introductions (~15 minutes)
- Montague Processional (3 mins) Video
- Introductory words from co-hosts Lissa Schneckenburger and Andy Davis Live
- Welcome from CDSS Board President Gaye Fifer Live
- Words from David, Read by Becky Hollingsworth Live
Part II—Lifetime Contributions (45-60 minutes)
- Sustainers Video
- Jay Ungar and Molly Mason Live
- Fiddle Hell Video
- Stuart Kenney Video
- Peter Siegel Live
- Footage from Guiding Star Grange
- George Wilson Live
- Northwest Interviews (by Doug Plummer) Video
- Sue Songer Live
- Bob Dalsemer with Katie and Corie Pressley (a.k.a. The Pressley Girls) Video
- Fred Karsch and Katie Pressley Live
- Vermont Fiddle Orchestra Video
- Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts—Becky Shannon (FOWM) Live
- Van Kaynor and Cammy Kaynor
- Chris Wise (Montague Common Hall) Live
Part III—Finale (10-15 minutes)
- Award Presentation—Gaye Fifer Live
- Closing and thanks—Lissa Schneckenburger and Andy Davis Live
- High Clouds Video
Extra Conversation / Breakout Rooms
- Participants who wish to stay and chat will have the chance to go into breakout rooms.
Please email KaynorLCA@cdss.org if you have any questions.
The Country Dance and Song Society is pleased to announce that Kate Barnes of Greenfield, MA, is the 2020 recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award. Kate was selected in recognition of many years of performance and teaching at CDSS programs, the international importance of her publications, her generosity of spirit when running music workshops, and her contributions to current and future communities.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kate's award celebration was postponed. We will celebrate online on Sunday, September 26, 2021, from 4:00-6:00 p.m. ET via Zoom. Click here to register, or read the full details.
Tell us what Kate means to you!
Has Kate influenced you or your dance community in some way that you’d be like to share with us? Can you describe it in a selfie video of 15-20 seconds? We are putting together a montage of videos to share at the award celebration and would love to hear from you.
“As a contra dance piano player, Kate pioneered an improvisatory style that brings joy to dancers, and influences musicians directly and through countless workshops. Her decades-long work with Bare Necessities created fresh interpretations of English country dance music to lift our feet, and the three volumes of the Barnes books are the standard reference collections of tunes used by musicians throughout the dance community.”
—David Millstone, Lebanon, NH (caller, former CDSS president)
“Kate has contributed consistently to the scene for more decades than I know. She’s inspired dancers with her music —exquisitely played, full of forward motion and joyful variety, sensitive to the period, tune type and occasion, and in tight teamwork with other musicians. She’s a reason many people like English dancing.”
—Bruce Hamilton, Menlo Park, CA (caller, former CDSS president)
“I’ve had the great fortune to travel the US, Canada and even as far as Denmark with The Latter Day Lizards. Everywhere we go Kate is universally known and respected and admired for her musicianship, warmth and quick-witted humor. I can’t think of a better recipient for next year’s CDSS Lifetime Contribution award!”
—Dave Langford, Arlington, MA (musician, bandmate)
“Since I first heard and started playing with her in the 1970’s, her passionate, creative, traditionally spirited-but-not-stifled playing and composing have been a bottomless wellspring. Kate’s ink-stained (and later electronic) publishing labors of love have saved many musicians from hauling libraries around in order to play for a dances and have encouraged many to learn the underappreciated craft of playing for dancing. I’m grateful for Kate’s strong, courageous commitment to self-expression, and her deep commitment to the much-needed-in-today’s-world, affirming values of our dance community.”
—Jaqueline Schwab, Cambridge, MA (musician, bandmate)
When Sue Songer started learning contra dance tunes in 1989, she had no idea of the forces she would set in motion in Portland – and beyond. She only knew that she found it personally useful to transcribe tunes that she had learned in order to keep them in her head. Before long, others started asking her for her transcriptions. As word spread of her growing collection of tunes, she was approached frequently by strangers asking for copies of her collection. From this, the Portland Collection music products were born, with Clyde Curley as her collaborator. The three books and four CDs have become staple resources for contra dance musicians around the world. Sue never would have imagined in 1989 that her transcriptions would travel as far as Australia!
In 1996, Sue – inspired by the large contra dance band Rum and Onions – decided to try leading a large contra dance band in Portland. She thought that maybe it would last a year or two. 25 people signed up the first year, and they liked it so much they asked to do it again. The Portland Megaband now has about 75 members, a wide variety of levels and instrumentation, and plays for an annual dance for 500 dancers. The dance raises money for a scholarship fund for community members to continue their music and dance education. Sue's positive leadership has made the Megaband a community favorite. Furthermore, the Megaband dance in March gave rise to a 5-day long event known as the Cascade Promenade, capped by an all-day contra dance featuring regional bands and callers on the Sunday after the Megaband dance. People come from far and wide for this annual celebration of music and dance---all sparked by Sue's idea in 1996.
Sue is also active as a dance musician and teacher. She currently plays with two contra dance bands, Joyride and The Stage Crew, plus she collaborates with many other musicians for contra and English dances. She has led large contra dance bands in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Coos Bay, Oregon, and was a teacher and musician in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for CDSS's Centennial Tour. She has tutored piano numerous times at the American Festival of Fiddle Tunes, and she teaches every July for Contra Dance Musicians Week at John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.
Furthermore, Sue has been active on boards and committees of many organizations, including Northwest Folklife Festival, Portland Country Dance Community, CDSS, and Northwest Passage Dance Weekend.
Sue approaches all of her work with dedication, passion and – most of all – kindness. She is always supportive of musicians, no matter what their playing ability is. She has inspired so many, more than she could ever imagine. She graciously thanks the members of the Megaband every year for their hard work and dedication, and tells them how proud she is of them. In return, everyone who has worked with Sue is proud of her achievements and appreciative of her invaluable contributions to music and dance.
The Country Dance and Song Society is pleased to announce that Bill Alkire of Wooster, Ohio is the 2018 recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award. Bill has positively impacted the world of American traditional dance for over 70 years as a dance leader, organizer, choreographer, and mentor.
On Sunday, February 25, 2018 there will be a celebration in honor of Bill’s award. This open-to-the-public occasion will be held in Wooster at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wayne County. The award presentation will begin at 2:00 pm followed by a dance until 5 pm with invited callers leading contras, squares, mixers, and English country dancing for all.
The following letter was written by Susan English who is organizing Bill’s award celebration. You can learn more about this event at www.woosterdance.com/lifetime-award and RSVP by contacting Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read on to learn more about Bill’s remarkable contributions to traditional dance throughout his life.
At age 15, Bill was leading play party dances for his Methodist Youth Fellowship in central Ohio. When they danced in the barn of Lynn Rorbaugh, Bill learned more about dance leadership. He called his first public square dances while still in high school and worked his way through Ohio State University by teaching dance throughout the Columbus area. He served on the committee of the Ohio Folk Festival for several years, serving as General Chairman in 1950, when over 3,000 people participated.
Attending Berea Christmas Dance School for the first time in 1948, Bill discovered new dance forms, including contra dance, English country dance, and Appalachian clogging, which he subsequently introduced to dance communities across Northeast Ohio and beyond. Bill returned to Berea Christmas Dance School multiple years on staff, teaching traditional squares, Appalachian clogging, beginning English, and dance leadership.
After a 1979 visit to Black Mountain, North Carolina, he founded the Cedar Valley Cloggers of Wooster, Ohio, a black-shoe traditional performance group that continues today. As artistic director, Bill adapted a broad range of traditional figure dances to clogging performances.
Bill has served on staff at Pinewoods, Mendocino, Dancing Bears of Alaska, Michigan Dance Heritage, Kentucky Summer Dance School, Cumberland Lakes, and, in 1994, the Silkeborg Festival in Denmark. From Kentucky Summer Dance School he received an appreciation award for his service from 1982-1986. Bill was the American dance leader for many years at Oglebay and Maine Folk Dance Camps, Folklore Village, and at various Recreation Leaders’ Labs--Great Lakes, Chatco, Black Hills, Northland, Laurel Highlands, and Buckeye. For his lifetime service to Buckeye Leadership Workshop, he received an Emeritus Award in 1998.
At home in Wooster, Ohio, Bill prepared a generation of youth for square dance and square dance calling competitions at the Ohio State Fair. He called contra dances starting in the 1950s, and his monthly old-time square dance ran continuously for 50 years. After 2000, Bill co-founded the intergenerational program at Terpsichore’s Holiday and performed “Minuet to Macarena,” a revue of couple dance 1800 to present, from the Wheatland Music Festival to the Atlanta Waltz Society.
As a former mental health professional, Bill sees cooperative group dance as a key to healthy relationships and vibrant communities. Over the years, aspiring dance leaders have turned to him not only for his expertise but also for his philosophy of dance. Though currently not in good health at near 90 years old, he was still passing it on to the next generation well into his 80s.
Postscript: Sadly, Bill passed away on September 12th. He was a true treasure and will be missed by all whose lives he touched.
Note: Photos on this page courtesy of Susan English.
Sandy Bradley of Raymond, WA, was the 2017 recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award.
Sandy exemplifies the power of inclusion and collaboration in developing and nurturing dance communities and high-quality musical talent. She, along with stellar old time musicians, brought about Seattle's trad square dance revival, and she developed a welcoming, supportive and appreciative dance culture that still characterizes the Northwest scene today. A superb caller of squares and a superb old time musician, she greatly influenced many callers across the U.S. through her tours, teaching at camps, and her weekly live radio program.
She was honored at the Award celebration on Saturday, September 16, 2017 in Seattle, WA.
Read more about Sandy in the Summer issue of the CDSS News. And check out http://stickerville.org/potluck/, the web home for the recording, graphics, MP3s, liner, notes and all the calls for Sandy's calling recording: Potluck and Dance Tonite. Also of interest is an interview with Sandy conducted by Bob Dalsemer at the 2009 Dare to Be Square event in Seattle.
The Country Dance and Song Society presented the 2016 CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award to Jeff Warner of Portsmouth, NH. Jeff is one of the nation's foremost performers and interpreters of traditional music and an advocate for bringing folk music to people of all ages, through his deep knowledge and love of American and English folk songs. His warmth and encouragement of singers, both experienced and new, young and old, has enriched many lives.
Jeff grew up in New York City, listening to the songs and stories of his father, Frank Warner, and the traditional singers his parents met during folksong collecting trips through rural America. When traveling with his parents, he listened while they recorded the locals who remembered the old songs of their region and community. (These recordings are preserved in the Library of Congress.)
In the 1960s, after receiving a BA in English at Duke University, and after a two-year stint in the Navy, Jeff was editor-in-training at Doubleday Bookclubs, heading, it seemed, toward a literary career until a friend asked if he would help run a nonprofit music school, the Guitar Workshop, in Roslyn, Long Island. He stayed with the school for nine years, working as administrator, guitar teacher, grant writer, and community program coordinator, and learning music theory and arrangement by teaching. His position also helped put him in touch with the significant people involved in the post-WW II folk revival movement that was embraced by both the commercial and academic worlds. In the '70s, he left to carve out a career for himself in historical music. Because of the US Bicentennial there was an increased demand for American songs in schools and Jeff filled that need with outreach programs into the schools.
He says that he is not a traditional singer in the academic sense-someone who has acquired the traditions either through ethnicity or family ties-but refers to himself as a singer of traditional songs taking an historical approach to the music.
"I teach American history and culture through traditional song and" (borrowing a phrase from historian David McCullough) "making history as interesting as it really was." For Jeff, old songs are like archaeological objects which teach about history — "they're living historical artifacts that serve as evidence about the people who used them and the times they lived in."
In 1997, he moved to Portsmouth and began performing in New Hampshire schools as a Roster Artist through the State Arts Council. He has recorded for Flying Fish/Rounder, WildGoose (UK), and other labels. His first solo compact disc, recorded in 2005, is Jolly Tinker on Gumstump Records. His 1995 recording (with Jeff Davis), Two Little Boys, received a Parents' Choice Award. He is the editor of his mother's book, Traditional American Folksongs from the Frank and Anne Warner Collection (Syracuse University Press, 1984), and producer of the CD set Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still: The Warner Collection (Appleseed Recordings, 2000), which is comprised of his parents' field recordings. He appears on the NH State Arts Council's 2003 compact disc Songs of the Seasons, for which he also co-wrote the liner notes.
From 1979 to 1993, Jeff toured nationally for the Smithsonian Institution. He continues to travel extensively in the US, Canada, and the UK, performing at museums and historical societies, folk clubs and folk festivals. In addition to singing and storytelling, he plays concertina, banjo, guitar, and several "pocket" instruments, including bones, spoons, and the jig doll/limberjack.
He is past president of the Country Dance and Song Society, and a past officer and founding member of the North American Folk Alliance (now Folk Alliance International). He has been an artist for Virginia and Ohio Arts Councils, is a speaker for New Hampshire Humanities, and is a producer of the Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival. In 2007, he was named a NH State Arts Council Fellow.
Listen to him sing Baldheaded End of the Broom from Jolly Tinker.
The award was presented in Ashland, OR, on Saturday, October 22, 2016. You'll find details here.
We're thrilled to honor the many accomplishments of Jeff Warner.