King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin

Mark your calendar and get your advance tickets for King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin — a multimedia extravaganza celebrating Scott Joplin, ragtime music, art, picture book illustration, and community connections – at the Colonial Theater on Sunday, June 5, at 3:00 pm. (Some fun details on our Facebook page!)

Local author, illustrator, and self-described “rusty piano player”, Stephen Costanza will share themes from his recent book, King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin. He will be joined on stage by Rita Brown on flute; Maria Keeler on violin; Edith Gawler on vocals, fiddle and calabash banjo; and Zeb Campbell on vocals, guitar and banjo. Pianist Alden Mills will play popular hits from the 1890s to the 1920s before the show, so arrive early!

In Dreamland at the Colonial Theater, 163 High St. $5 kids, $15 adults. Advance ticket sales at or available at the door. (Doors open at 2:30 pm.)

Masks are heartily requested, in accordance with the BFS public health policy, here.

What will the show be like?

This family-friendly show features live music, projections of art, animations, archival footage, some historical context, and a window into Steve Costanza’s process of writing and illustrating a book about a composer as amazing as Scott Joplin.

What’s Ragtime?

Here’s Steve at the tech run, explaining some features of ragtime music. Come to the show to hear more!

What’s the book like?

Published in 2021 by Atheneum, Costanza’s book has garnered accolades from critics and won the 2022 Golden Kite Award for Picture Book illustration from SCBWI . Described as “pitch-perfect” by Publishers Weekly and “a biography as bouncy and colorful as ragtime itself” by Kirkus, the “melodic, flowing text goes beyond Joplin’s personal details to paint a picture of what life looked like for African Americans during the Jim Crow era,” according to Booklist.  Left Bank Books will host a book signing in the lower lobby after the show, so you can get your own copy on June 5!

Here’s a video trailer of the book:

Who made this program possible?

BFS co-founder Annadeene Fowler and BFS director Chrissy Fowler collaborated with Steve Costanza to plan this event, and BFS is grateful for support and funding from the Belfast Free Library, The Colonial Theater, Left Bank Books, First National Bank & First National Wealth Management, No Axe to Grind, and BFS supporters.

Celtic Music at Mermaid Plaza 5/19

Belfast Flying Shoes and the Makers Guild of Maine present an evening of Celtic music featuring Seán Heely & Beth Patterson, with special guest Owen Kennedy, at Mermaid Plaza, One East Main St (Rte1/Rte3) in Searsport on Thursday, May 19. A 6:30 pm workshop for musicians kicks off the event, followed by a 7:45 pm concert. Sliding scale admission for the workshop is $5-20 sliding scale, and the concert admission is $10-25 sliding scale.

The trio’s high-energy repertoire focuses on Scottish and Irish tunes and songs. Seán Heely is a young champion fiddler from the Washington DC area, but he’s known locally for his teaching chops, such as his past work with the Acadia Trad Festival and his online lessons. In fact, Seán is one of Owen’s mentors, and the two award-winning musicians have shared the stage before, including in October 2021 when they played for a large and enthusiastic audience at an outdoor concert in Searsport. On May 19, Seán and Owen will be joined by the bouzouki-playing Louisiana native, Beth Patterson, who has been described as “a cross between a cobra and a puppy”.

This concert at Mermaid Plaza will be a great way to emerge from a long winter and cold spring! Get ready to tap your toes and let your shoes and fiddle bows fly to the exciting rhythms of this powerful music.

Read more about the performers in their bios, below:

Champion fiddler and singer Seán Heely is one of the most creatively versatile and captivating young artists of his generation. He is a U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, an award-winning Irish fiddler, and a singer in the folk and Gaelic traditions of Scotland/Ireland. He holds a degree from the University of South Carolina in Classical Violin Performance and was a 2019 Artist-in-Residence at Strathmore Music Center in Maryland. An in-demand educator, he is on the adjunct faculty at American University and has been on the faculty of several music camps all around the U.S. Seán has performed with music icons such as Liz Carroll and Bonnie Rideout and continues to share his rich Celtic heritage with audiences around the globe. His debut solo album “Edge of the Bow” and duo record “Home Port” with Colin McGlynn as the Glencoe Lads have received critical acclaim.

Louisiana native Beth Patterson has played bouzouki (an Irish adaptation of a traditional Greek instrument professionally for thirty years. She has been featured in various lineups, ranging from traditional Celtic to myriad genres that typically don’t include the bouzouki, such as Cajun, blues, and metal. She began touring as a founding member of The Poor Clares before setting out on a solo career as a singer-songwriter. Beth studied traditional music and ethnomusicology with Micheál Ó Súilleabháin and Mel Mercier at University College Cork, Ireland, and hold a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from Loyola University, New Orleans. She has performed in twenty countries and appeared on over two hundred recordings, including eight solo albums of her own. Seán and Beth met during one of her gigs in Norfolk, VA in 2020 and since then they have been creating new music together as well as breathing new life into their vast Celtic music repertoire.

Owen Kennedy is a teen-aged fiddler from Maine whose love of traditional music and enthusiasm for performing has captivated audiences from San Diego to the Shetland Islands and all over New England. He enjoys tunes from traditions beyond Maine, especially Scotland & Shetland, Cape Breton, Quebec & the Maritimes, and appreciates the challenge of playing true to the authentic style of a place and culture. Owen recorded his debut album Oh When: Now with Owen Marshall in February 2022. People have been asking for a while: “Owen, oh when will you have a cd we can buy?” Owen will soon be able to answer that question at upcoming performances! As an emerging musician rooted in the Maine Maritime music tradition and exploring the music of Scotland, the album includes the tunes he’s loved for years, as well as newer favorites from Shetland and Scotland. Owen made the best of the Covid challenges with various video projects including the ongoing 50 Fiddlers from 50 States Project and sharing music online.

Dancing 2 by 2 ~ Couple Dances for Flying Shoes

Dancing two by two in the streets of Belfast! (from the BFS archives)

Two by Two: Couple Dances for Flying Shoes

BELFAST – Belfast Flying Shoes presents an evening of couple dances by the All Comers Band, led by Larry Unger & Rebecca Weiss – waltz, polka, schottische, foxtrot and more — on Friday, May 6, at 6:30 pm at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.

Dancers are encouraged to practice courtesy and cooperation, in accordance with the Flying Shoes public health policy , as they glide two by two across the wooden floor with each dance partner — whether a beau, friend, family member, or neighbor. We’ll offer fun tips on ways to meet everyone’s needs for safety and consent, and we’re thrilled to step carefully back into social dancing on First Fridays!

Musical guests Rebecca Weiss on fiddle and Larry Unger on guitar & banjo will lead the All Comers Band (all musicians, instruments, and skill levels welcome!) Musicians can find a partial tune list at

Boston-based musician and tunesmith Larry Unger is a local favorite, known for his rock solid rhythm, a rich repertoire that includes his 5000 original  compositions, and his deep roots in traditional music.

Larry Unger on banjo at Renoir’s Boating Party

Part of a younger generation of exciting dance fiddlers, Rebecca Weiss hails from the Pioneer Valley in MA and grew up in greater Washington D.C., where a variety of tradition-bearers mentored her in the Appalachian, Irish, and contra dance music communities.

Rebecca Weiss on fiddle

Doors open at 6pm. The evening begins at 6:30 with a warm up session for the All Comers Band musicians, with open dancing from 7-9 pm.  Dance callers will offer mini-lessons on ways to enjoy the various types of dances, giving simple tips for satisfying and accessible dancing.

Sliding scale admission is $5 – $20 per person. The Troy Howard Middle School gymnasium is at 173 Lincolnville Ave (Rte 52) in Belfast. Doors open at 6:00, the All Comers Band warms up at 6:30, and the dancing starts at 7:00.  Masks required indoors. See BFS public health policy for more info.

Rays of Sunshine March 25

Since the vernal equinox this week, things are really brightening up in Belfast! Here are some rays of sunshine to look forward to…

March 27

The DownEast Country Dance Festival is hosting an online social for folks to connect and share stories. They’re also kicking off DEFFA’s new project related to our collective history of participatory dance and music in Maine. Register here.

Join Larry Unger on Friday April 1

April 1

We’re soooo excited to make some musical mischief with Larry Unger on April 1st at the Bazz! Details in the BFS calendar.

Saturday April 9 at the middle school

April 9

Longtime BFS folks might remember when BFS door prizes included tickets to A New Vaudeville Revue ~ Belfast’s own fun-filled, down-home music and comedy variety show. Well, they’re back! Sat. April 9, featuring contra dance musicians (Drivetrain), a BFS teaching artist (Mr. Ando), and plenty of humor, music, and even some ragtime! At THMS in Belfast. Complete details here.

Tri Town Music Program starting at Searsmont Town Library

April 25 – June 6

The Searsmont Town Library presents the Tri-Town Music Program for students in grades 2-5, starting April 25, with Jennifer Armstrong leading ukulele and Jeff Densmore leading percussion. BFS is a proud partner with the Library for this free program for residents of Belmont, Morrill & Searsmont. Contact the Library here.

Flashback to February:

We’ll close with a fond memory of the Fireside Chat at Waterfall Arts that featured BFS and Jennifer Armstrong (plus an amazing crepe paper “campfire”). Here’s their recap post, with a bit of audio, on the Waterfall Arts website.


Larry Unger’s Musical Mischief on April 1

On April Fool’s Day, we’re thrilled to welcome Larry Unger, the consummate dance musician, prolific composer, and more. He’ll do a workshop, concert, and jam session —“Musical Mischief with Larry Unger” — on Friday, April 1, at the Bazz (Basil Burwell Community Theater), 17 Court St in Belfast. 5:30 doors open, 6:00 pm start.

Larry Unger on Banjo at Renoir’s Boating Party

Larry has been a full-time musician for nearly 40 years, and his stellar guitar work (with Nat Hewitt’s fiddling) launched the Flying Shoes contra dance in 2005. Over the years, Larry returned many times to Belfast, most often with Notorious.

He has played music all over the world and has written over 5000 tunes. Larry’s compositions are widely played for dances, and are featured in four Ken Burns documentaries. (Plus, Door County #2 was played on the Grand Ole Opry and That Schoenberg Rag was performed by the San Luis Obispo Symphony Orchestra!)

Playing Harp Guitar at the Twisted Tree in Lincoln MA

Larry likes to play unusual instruments such as jaw harp, fretless banjo, and harp guitar (above). For this special April Fools Day musicians’ workshop, Larry’s natural affinity for musical mischief will complement his well-honed teaching skills. [Bonus: Larry teaches private lessons on banjo & guitar, and we asked him to do a popup music studio while he’s here. To book Larry for a class, get in touch directly about schedule and rates – [email protected]]

Following the workshop, Larry will present a solo concert, featuring finger-style blues guitar, old-time banjo, his original waltzes and fiddle tunes, and plenty of stories about the origins of his music and the people he learned from. The evening concludes with an All Comers Band jam session, open to musicians of all ages, experience levels, and instruments. Attendees who don’t play an instrument are invited to enjoy listening from their seats.

Sliding scale admission is $5-20 per person. All attendees must wear a mask. Our updated BFS Public Health Policy is here.

Sittin’ on Top of the World (Playing Banjo)

BFS By the Numbers – 2021

Pi Day (3.14) seems like the right time to focus on the numbers. Here’s some 2021 BFS data to digest, from 4 to 16,703! (Enjoy the infinite joy and delight for dessert.)