Blog

Thank you, Bruce!

On November 10, 2014, at the BFS board’s annual meeting at Seng Thai restaurant, Bruce Snider joined the Belfast Flying Shoes board of directors. Seven years later, at our annual meeting this month, the BFS board wistfully accepted his resignation. Current and past board members are deeply grateful for his support of our nonprofit and its programs.

Throughout his tenure, Bruce was a pillar of BFS volunteerism. At the First Friday BFS Dances, he was always willing to help, diligently moving chairs and tables, lugging heavy sound gear, sweeping the floors, and installing fans. He cheerfully played mandolin, banjo uke, and harmonica in the All Comers Band almost every month, and was a steady presence at the door, seeming to relish the role of good-humored ‘meeter and greeter’.  And whenever he danced, Bruce positively beamed!

Bruce was a visionary board member. He felt that the First Friday Community Dance & Contras created a kind of magical elixir that we should broadly share, with people from our local community and beyond. For example, he spearheaded the 2020 collaboration with WBFY-Belfast Community Radio that led to our ongoing Flying Shoes Radio Hour. His witty and entertaining publicity helped further the elixir-sharing goal, and his thoughtful writing and editing elevated all of our BFS communications, from policy documents to blog posts.

As our board President, Bruce was a careful steward, albeit one who occasionally doodled on the agenda or came out with some zinger of self-aware sarcasm. His creative wryness came into play in many ways, such as his signage explaining how to keep the sensitive Legion toilets from getting clogged.

This dry sense of humor, in concert with Bruce’s candor and civility, also helped him provide balance at our board meetings. He kept the more excitable elements from getting carried away, simply by being a calm and centered presence. All of us have appreciated Bruce’s consistency, patience, and methodical approach, especially over the past couple of years when so much has happened and information has been rapidly changing.

Thank you, Bruce, for all that you have given to Belfast Flying Shoes and our local community!

Sing Along & Tap Your Toes

It’s official! Ten videos from the Belfast Flying Shoes “Sing Along & Tap Your Toes” concert series are available for viewers of all ages! The concerts will air in various slots in the BCTV2 cable schedule, on channels 2 and 1301 for Spectrum cable customers. All ten “Sing Along & Tap Your Toes” videos are also available on demand on Belfast Community Media’s channel on Vimeo.com.

Flic Shooter, Director of Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County, applauds the release of the videos. “These shows were sheer magical fun. Now, with the video recordings being made available, anyone from anywhere in the world — including the folks who were lucky enough to enjoy the fabulous concerts in person — can bring that same magic into their own home.”

Indeed, the concert series for older adults was a rousing success. An average of 25 people attended each outdoor event, enjoying the diverse mix of music provided by 32 different talented performers. The concerts spotlighted two community music ensembles (Stone Soup Ukes and Belfast Bay Fiddlers), some musicians from farther afield (Tiffany Williams & Sara Trunzo, DunCreagan, Skeeter & the Maestro) and many local favorites (Jennifer Armstrong, The Clemetson Brothers, Elsie & Ethan, and John Pranio, Toki Oshima, Russ Lloyd, & Jeff Densmore).

Chrissy Fowler, Director of Belfast Flying Shoes, says, “We are immensely grateful for the support of our concert audiences, the performers whose talents engaged us all, and our project collaborators, Belfast Community Media and Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County — especially the Hospice Fairies! We’re already looking forward to next year!”

Major funding for this program was provided by a 2021 Community Building Grant from the Waldo County Fund at the Maine Community Foundation and by the many generous contributors to Belfast Flying Shoes. (See July 2021 blog post: Concerts for Older Adults.) To donate, click our online donation button, below, or mail a check to Belfast Flying Shoes at 93 Kaler Rd, Belfast ME 04915.

Hospice Fairies swinging along with a trad fiddle tune

Flying Shoes is 16!

Getting ready to celebrate BFS with a tasty treat, party duds, & birthday crown!

Join us in celebrating the 16th year of our dance & music nonprofit!

Listen to the Flying Shoes Radio Hour!

The Flying Shoes Radio Hour airs every Friday at 6:00pm on WBFY~Belfast Community Radio. For the December 3 show, Chrissy Fowler highlights the joys of a Belfast Flying Shoes Community Dance, with tunes from the All Comers Band repertoire plus some suggestions for dancing along! (Tune in at 100.9FM, listen online, or stream on demand all week long!)

Send BFS a Photo!

As we plan public programs for 2022, we’d love to see your smiling faces. Send BFS your picture and we’ll assemble a BFS collage for a future blog post. Wear silly party hats ~ Dance ~ Play tunes ~ Share tasty treats ~ Or just beam at the camera! [email protected]

Help BFS Get a Matching Donation!

We’re about 60% of the way toward our 2021 annual appeal dollar and donor goals…  AND… we have been given an AMAZING CHALLENGE GIFT by generous BFS supporters who are celebrating our anniversary!  If we can raise at least $2,400 this week (before December 10), they will contribute an additional $2,400!

How can you help?

Review Our 16th Year!

For our 15th Birthday in 2020, we premiered the video of the  Virtual All Comers Band , shared tasty treat recipes, hosted an online party, and launched the Flying Shoes Radio Hour on WBFY.  We’ve done a LOT since last December!

  • Evolved BFS programs (outdoor music and dance programs, online Social Breaks, monthly Radio Hour programs with archived transcripts, participatory arts residencies for schools, outdoor concerts for isolated older adults, music lessons & instruments for incarcerated men)
  • Forged new partnerships (The Makers Guild, Searsmont Town Library)
  • Supported artists (musicians, performers, teachers, leaders)
  • Secured grants (Maine Community Foundation, Onion Foundation)
  • Paid a part-time administrator (Chrissy Fowler has managed BFS programs, secured funding, and helped our nonprofit support our community)

Thanks EVERYONE for being part of our music and dance community ~ We’re happy to be here!

~Belfast Flying Shoes Board & Part Time Director (Cedar Callahan, Bruce Snider, Alex Mann, Margo Burnham & Chrissy Fowler)

Remembering Al Arthur & Mike Little

We recently lost two humble and kind people who made an impact on Belfast Flying Shoes ~ Mike Little and Al Arthur. They each brought  goodness to the world, and will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to their loved ones.

Mike Little died on October 1 at home on his farm in Bucksport. His obituary paints a picture of the generous soul that he was, whether in his gardening clothes or his formal kilt. “Mike was the epitome of the Renaissance Man – he was a scholar and a farmer; a dancer and a carpenter; a musician and a beekeeper; a book collector and an environmentalist; a fierce cribbage player and a top-notch birder, and so much more. He was a man of many interests and passions who lived and loved life to the fullest.”

Way back in early 2005, the BFS co-founders were searching for just the right dance hall. A friend suggested we contact Mike Little to ask his advice. Mike was one of an ardent group of enthusiasts who did Scottish Country Dancing every Monday evening at the American Legion. After a cheerful phone conversation discussing all things dance and tradition and Waldo County, Mike gave us a favorable introduction to the Legion leadership. With his help, our First Friday series found its beloved venue. We can picture Mike grinning broadly as he dances down the set in his tartan kilt, bringing joy to the room.

Al Arthur died on October 16 at home in Belfast, six days after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Al gave the Belfast Flying Shoes organization its public face by building our website, redesigning and refining it over the years, and maintaining the content with lightning fast responsiveness. In addition to his alacrity, we appreciated Al’s candor, directness, and honesty; his artistic sensibilities and tech skills; his quirky wit and social commentary; and his unwavering support of our work. We treasure the memory of the rare occasions when he stuck his head in the Legion entryway on a First Friday, just to take in the happy scene before quietly heading back out the door.

Al’s obituary documents many of his wide ranging life experiences, from gigging musician to talented visual artist, the world traveler and the man who walked to town for errands. It also perfectly describes the webmaster we knew: “His devotion to his clients was extraordinary and he was regarded as a first-rate webmaster. He earned a reputation for being exceedingly generous with his time for his clients and friends on the array of computers in his home office and was particularly helpful to those who were less confident with the latest digital technology.” Al’s devotion to family, friends, and clients–particularly artists and arts organizations–made the world a better place. We’re grateful that we knew him.

October BFS Events

As we clean up our gardens and pull out our winter gear, BFS has been busy with a bunch of public programs. Here are two recaps and a reminder of one more outdoor extravaganza ~ a popup event in Searsport!

Trip to Scotland at Searsport Shores ~ Oct 11

When we heard the acclaimed Scottish fiddler from the Washington DC area, Sean Heely, was going to be be here with time on his hands, we leapt at the chance to host him and his award-winning student from Maine, Owen Kennedy, for a workshop, concert & jam. Hope to see you there! (And bring your dance shoes if you want to practice your Cape Breton steps to live music — the two musical traditions are deeply connected, and Sean & Owen are sure to play jigs, strathspeys, and reels to delight us all.)

  • Monday, Oct 11 ~ 2:00 workshop ~ 3:00 concert & post-concert session
  • Trip to Scotland with Sean Heely & Owen Kennedy
  • Free admission, with suggested donations ($1 -$35) to support performer compensation, the Makers Guild’s instrument lending library at the Carver Memorial Library in Searsport, and Belfast Flying Shoes.
  • Searsport Shores Campground, 216 West Main St, Searsport
Workshop, Concert & Jam Session on Monday October 11th!

Radio Hour ~ Oct 1

Last chance to listen on demand to the Oct 1 Belfast Flying Shoes Radio Hour with host Chrissy Fowler – requests, waltzes, Scottish & Cape Breton tunes, and more. belfastcommunityradio.org/one-week-archive/  NOTE: The icon may be for First Americans Story Hour, but it’s actually the BFS Radio Hour!

Sundays in the Park ~ Oct 3

Whoa! What a glorious time with Katie McNally & Neil Pearlman, even under grey skies. Neil’s Cape Breton step dance workshop got us moving to three different tune types: jig, strathspey & reel. He recorded tutorials as reminders for participants (or introductions for folks who missed the party!). They’re posted on the BFS YouTube channel. The mystical grape BFS dance spots are beautifully scuffed up now!

In their music workshop, Katie and Neil taught the Last March, a tune by the late John Morris Rankin. They performed the tune to close their concert set, joined on stage by the workshop participants.

The jam session with the Belfast Bay Fiddlers and company rounded out the evening in fine form. Thanks again to everyone who showed up at Steamboat Landing, made a donation, and danced & played music. You are the best!

 

Rays of Sunshine Sept 28 = BFS programs!

When we wrote the first Rays of Sunshine post in March 2020, we hungered for inspiration from others. In the last few weeks, we’ve realized that Belfast Flying Shoes is emitting plenty of bright light of our own.

Here are some highlights of recent programming, including a few new videos on our BFS YouTube channel.

Going out! Lowell, Cindy, Doug, and Don wrap up a tune from the gazebo stage.

OPEN AIR KITCHEN PARTY = TRES BON!
Nous avons passé une soirée fantastique! Wow, what a good time at our pop up event on Sept 16, 2021 with Cindy Larock, Don Cunningham & Doug Protsik, jamming musicians, and a zesty group of Quebecois step dance participants of all ages. The purple dance spots were gorgeous in the evening light, and the disco ball on the gazebo was outshone by a nearly full moon rising over the bay.

The various steps from the routine in Cindy’s Review Video, below, can be practiced using these Audio samples (five tempo variations, including “glacial”!)

STRUNG TOGETHER WALTZING:
Our first step into collaborating with Strung Together and the Makers Guild at Searsport Shores was super sweet.  The Montville Project was in rare form, playing a variety of waltzes along with some regular members of the All Comers Band, as folks spun around the dance floor. We look forward to future collaborations with Strung Together and the Maker’s Guild!

SCHOOL RESIDENCIES:
What a thrill to use some of our youth programming funds to provide community-building music, song, dance, and movement programs for displaced students and staff at the Captain Albert Stevens School! (See our Sept 8 newsletter for the back story, and this article in the Republican Journal has photos of ukes in action plus a shout out to BFS.)

Special thanks to the City of Belfast for use of Steamboat Landing and the Common on sunny and dry days, and to the UU Church of Belfast for use of their building on rainy or wet days! Yeah community support!

Ando Anderson taught ukulele to band students; Ethan Tischler led ukulele and song/movement sessions; Dean Anderson shared five animals tai chi; Cindy Larock and the Maine Folque Coop performed fiddle tunes and rhythms from Quebec, Ireland & more; and Chrissy Fowler dove into songs, movement, and some dancing from different cultures and countries. We’re continuing the BFS connection with CASS, including new programs with hand drum percussion and work songs, and we look forward to providing similar programming in other schools. Contact [email protected].

OTHER PROGRAMS:

Sundays in the Park will conclude on October 3, starting at 2:30 pm, with Cape Breton step dancing and music, featuring Katie McNally & Neil Pearlman. Support these talented artists and enjoy some terrific participatory arts on the waterfront.

The 1st Friday Flying Shoes Radio Hour on WBFY has gotten some props lately, including for our recent”All Request” show. “Great show last evening! Thanks for playing my requests and for all the lovely words you said!!” The Oct 1 show will also feature requests. (6:00pm EST, 100.9 FM in Belfast, streaming at belfastcommunityradio.org, and on demand all week)

Music lessons at the Reentry Center are ongoing, and we recently were given several instruments for the program. Generous funders include a local church whose members donated the quarterly proceeds from their fifth Sunday collection. We are eager to resume our community dance program with residents and staff as soon as it’s feasible.

Our Sing Along and Tap Your Toes program for older adults is winding up and the concerts will be available for viewers of all ages via Belfast Community Media on their Vimeo channel and BCTV2 (on Spectrum cable channels 2 and 1301).

YOU!
One more ray sunshine is you, our dear BFS community, for reading our news and for participating in our programs in all the ways you do (attending, playing, dancing, watching, listening, supporting, and more!) Thank you one and all!