I had a wonderful time at the Hotel Bethlehem this morning, part of gathering some very specialized folks who actively tend to our history. My life-long interest in folk music dove-tailed nicely with their curiosity and knowledge of our society’s past. This Lehigh Valley conference brought out our beer, Martin Guitar, Moravians and more, so it was an honor to be considered amongst these folk.
I was originally scheduled to present along with the Philly Folksong Society (and Festival), so I was in awe of their history and looked forward to that input. As it turned out, the presenter couldn’t make for family reasons, so one of the conference’s staff, Gregg Kimball, presented a wonderful alternative – his work with a folk festival in Virginia from the 1930’s. He had archives of old-time fiddlers, program books and some great music, as well. He played a old, old version of Ground Hog, had pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt and talked about her support for the festival, some festival sponsors like the KKK, the effort for the ‘purity’ of Appalachian music (i.e., white) by some of the early board members, ‘authentic’ folk music played by recorded and professional musicians. How some things never change…..
I started with a slice of my recorded version of Ground Hog. Nice dove tail. And I figured we should all sing together on principal as well, so I followed with Green Green Rocky Road. It was a good way to engage.
I had a nice PowerPoint presentation ready, and it was the wrong font for the computer there. So much for my slick presentation. But we weny on, and I had presented GD calenders, Gene Mater caricatures, live photos, including Elizabeth Corrigan from the early years, Stan and Garnet Rogers, Martin Carthy, Norman Blake and a fresh one of Mark Wenner from this past Saturday night. I talked about GD’s Live at Godfrey’s radio show, and efforts to update our archives efforts.
I ended with a slide of Brenda Brown’s GD quilt, with John Gorka’s ‘Legends’ song embroidered on it. I then played the song live on my GD Martin guitar, and finished with the story of Utah Phillip’s signing the tag on the inside of the guitar.
I had approached Bruce Phillips at the Philly Folk Fest to thank him for signing the guitars, and he said, “Dave, I signed one of them ‘Eleanor Roosevelt'” and that’s the one I was playing. It brought things around quite neatly, and made for a satisfying workshop.