Rays of Sunshine – Online Treasures! (first posted 6/24/20)

We marvel at the ingenuity and creativity of organizations and individuals offering online programs in music, song, and even dance (some we’ve shared in Rays of Sunshine blog posts.)

BFS hosts 1st Friday happeningsRadio Hour at 6pm (more here).

ONLINE TREASURES: Here are things we’ve discovered and are enjoying. Please let us know if you find others!

Country Dance & Song Society – Online and in person (!) dance & music camps in 2021, more here.

Maine Fiddle CampVirtual MFC – 3rd online camp is June 19-21, Winter Edition was Feb 19-21, Lots of craziness and fun. Check out the intro videos on the MFC YouTube page.

NEFFANew England Folk Festival‘s Online Program Committee put together an exciting lineup for the NEFFA Festival weekend, April 23-25, 2021. Videos from the Online NEFFA Festival weekend are available. Not all sessions were recorded, for a variety of reasons, but we’re happy to share what we have. You can find them here.  Many performers made videos ahead of time for the NEFFA 2021 Festival. It’s a delightful collection, and if you haven’t had a chance to explore those, you can find them here. The massive asynchronous jam videos made specifically for this year’s NEFFA are also there, and they capture the spirit of NEFFA wonderfully. These will all be available for at least a few months. Check it all out!

Callahan Bridge – BFS board member Raelin Callahan and her dad, Kevin, comprise trad group Callahan Bridge. They are offering weekly concerts through the Callahan Bridge Music facebook page, on Fridays at 6 pm (except 1st Fri, when it’s BFS Radio Hour & Social Break.)

Contra Pulse – Julie Vallimont hosts this series of interviews with contra musicians about contra music and more. contrapulse.cdss.org/  Many BFS favorites, including some who give shout outs to our local dance community.

Dance History  – Mt. Airy Contra (Philadelphia) has hosted dance history talks that dive deep into our traditions.  Diversity in Square Dancing (Tony Parkes), Country Dance in Modern Times (David Millstone), Hoedowns Reels & Frolics (Phil Jamison). All are archived videos, available to view (and learn!) More here

MFC Maestro Bistromainefiddlecamp.org is hosting 3rd Saturday “Maestro Bistro” shows plus workshops, and more.  Subscribe to the MFC mailing list for updates. Find archived episodes on MFC YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Peter & Mary Alice Amidon Stellar trad leaders from Vermont share stories and music activities for kids.

CDSS Online Event Listing (CDSS) Comprehensive and up-to-date listing of online events, including many offered by BFS favorites – more here

Jennifer Armstrong’s Fiddle Lessons – A former All Comers Band leader and BFS board member, Jennifer Armstrong is offering fiddle lessons via Patreon – more here

More Music Lessons Staff at Maine Fiddle Camp are teaching online lessons – more here

National Folk Org.NFO‘s free online conference, April 7-11, has dancing, music, crafts and discussion. Sessions include cultural appropriation, square dance history, and Polish/Irish/Serbian/Balkan/Bulgarian/Appalachian/French/Polynesian/Iranian dance traditions. Registration and Schedule

CDSS Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh dance & music group is offering an English Country Dance session with Joanna Reiner Wilkinson (April 10) and a musicians’ workshop with Rachel Bell (April 11) – Both online, more info here!

CBC Program on Value of Dance – A friend in Ottawa told us about this. Canada’s national broadcaster did an interview w/ Peter Lovatt, a psychologist who studies the benefits of dance. (Interview starts at 1hr 11min) https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-57-sunday-edition

Fiddle Hell Online – Another virtual  Fiddle Hell is coming, April 15-18– the wild weekend of traditional music and dance, workshops, concerts, jam sessions usually held in Westford, MA. Fiddle Hell attendees and staff include scores of folks from the BFS community. Register here, for access long after the weekend itself.

DownEast Country Dance Festival – March 20 – Lots of workshops and fun, including a Virtual Festival Orchestra, at this Maine-based festival put on by DEFFA (DownEast Frriends of the Folk Arts) – deffa.org/festival/

Christina Barstow Art ShowBFS board member (and queen of tasty treats) Christina Barstow is featured in a virtual art show at the Camden Public Library. The opening talk was great, and featured much more of Christina’s work.

Films by Huey – Maine filmmaker, Huey, has a host of documentaries available for streaming or purchase. MFC recently aired Bonsoir Mes Amis: Goodnight My Friends (a gorgeous film about dance musicians Lionel “Toots” Bouthot and Ben Guillemette). Huey’s other subjects include Tony Montanaro (mime, mentor, educator) and Marian McPartland (jazz pianist).

Chestnut Tunes with Emily Troll Thursdays in March, 6-7pm.  Here’s what we know from Emily (BFS contra musician with Anadama and other groups): Come learn some tunes on Zoom! Emily makes it fun and relaxed, and provides recordings to help with extra practice at home. Chestnuts are New England dance tunes, some of which match specific old-style dances. They are quirky and fun, and sometimes even EPIC! This session we’ll do Moneymusk, and Petronella, and a few others. Join me! [email protected] with any questions.

Helpful Dragons – Fun project from Emily Troll (BFS contra musician). Here’s her explanation: Helpful Dragons remind you to be gentle, and fierce, and funny. And to keep social justice at the front of your mind. Send a helpful dragon to a friend, or keep one for yourself! Message Emily ([email protected]) if you want one, then pay what you like to  BLACK POWER in Portland, ME. For more, follow @helpfuldragons on Instagram.

ABCs of Contra Dancing – BFS contra caller Luke Donforth (of VT) has collaborated on an contra dance themed board book, available through the online store at CDSS (Country Dance & Song Society).

NYE Sea to Sea – Dancing, Music, and More: December 31, 2020 starting at 7pm Eastern – 1am Pacific. Toast the new year 4 times – or more. Dance, laugh, sing, play games. Website has details about events and talent (including some BFS favorites) – Register here

Claire Takemori’s online events: Claire called a contra for the BFS Birthday Party, and she is a diva of leading and organizing virtual dance & music (e.g., Dec 27 contra with Nils Fredland and the Figments, Jan 2-3 Camp Harmony family/barn dance, Feb 19 Glen Echo contra, July 4th BACDS Family Week) – more here

Maine Traditional Music School – Online lessons from this Portland group, sessions start in January ’21 with BFS favorites like Emily Troll, Alden Robinson and Owen Marshall – more here

Mt. Airy Family Barn Fest – dance, laughter, stories, crafts, and more [email protected] email for link 1st Sundays through April,  2-3pm EST.

Ann Arbor Community for Traditional Music & Dance – Variety of events online, including pub sings and open band. events.aactmad.org

Atlanta DistDance – Virtual Contra and ECD dances specially designed for dancing by 1 or 2 people, and plenty of time to chat and interact. Fridays via Facebook – more here.

Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Music – Talk on Dec 3 by Phil Jamison (author of Hoedowns, Reels & Frolics, available at the Belfast Library) – register here

Celtic Colours At Home 2020 – The legendary Cape Breton music festival, Celtic Colours, is offering nightly online concerts Oct 9-17. Check out the performing artists and the schedule (and remember the time zone difference!)

Fiddle Hell Online – Nov 5-8 is the virtual version of the wild weekend of traditional music and dance, workshops, concerts, jam sessions held in Westford, MA. Fiddle Hell attendees and  staff include scores of folks from the BFS community. Register here, for access long after the weekend itself.

Country Dance Music Radio – Listen to a variety of trad musicians–including past BFS performers Rodney Miller, Anadama, & Atlantic Crossing–at https://radio.contracorner.com

Trad Cafe Engaging podcast of “accomplished and unique musicians chatting informally with Neil Pearlman [a BFS musician], peer-to-peer in long form conversations” plus unplanned musical collaborations with his guests, who include many folks in the greater BFS community.

Stars in the Rafters – “A podcast of comfort & community” hosted by BFS musician, Julie Vallimont, with episode titles ranging from “Remembering Joy” to “Stronger Together”.

Country Dance & Song Society – The CDSS Resource Portal is a clearinghouse for all sorts of information and guidance – for dancers, musicians, singers, educators, organizers of song/dance/ritual dance, and callers. There is a section on the benefits of our shared traditions, plus two we want to highlight:

  • Inclusivity “As an arts organization, CDSS understands inclusivity to mean striving to promote cultural equity.”  The initial launch of this section is focused on race, sexual/romantic orientation, and gender; over time, it will expand to include different marginalized identities. “The resources on this list are included not because they are ‘perfect,’ but because they each make valuable contributions to the larger discussion of equity and inclusivity.” Check out the juicy resources that relate to amplifying marginalized perspectives, expanding/retelling history, and increasing inclusivity in our communities.
  • FamiliesThis section was “inspired by our interest in supporting parents during this time of physical distancing.”

CDSS also lists a cornucopia of Online Events, featuring dancing (English country, contra, clogging, international folk), concerts, classes for musicians & callers, a “Daily Antidote of Song” from Revels DC, and even read-alouds by BFS caller Nils Fredland.  Lots more via the CDSS FB page, from spoons tutorials to articles about folk songs appropriated from Black culture (and ideas for teaching them using their full histories.)

Belfast Summer NightsBFS supports the Summer Nights team in their efforts to present live & local music in a safe and fun way in 2020. Bring your mask, launch or borrow a boat, and head over to the Footbridge on July 16, August 6, and September 3!

Maine Fiddle CampVirtual MFC –  At 2020 summer’s peak, the talented MFC staff & campers gathered under the big (virtual) tent for the annual trad music and dance camp. Parts of the weekend were reserved for in-the-moment community connection, but several elements are archived on MFC’s channel on YouTube, along with highlights from past “terrestrial” MFC gatherings.






Ashokan Ashokan Music & Dance Camps took place online this year. Check out their archive for videos like Ashokan Hello, Catskill Conversations, Ukes in Space, and more!

New England Folk Festival AssociationNEFFA took its 2020 festival to the virtual plane, with videos archived online (including a silly Everly Brothers remake about video-conferencing.)

Syracuse Country Dancers (home of BFS callers Sarah VanNorstrand and David Smukler) – SCD has “hit the pause button” on dances, but they compiled a wide variety of “Things to Do Until Dancing Starts Up Again”

Stockton Folk Camp – This was Stockton’s 73rd (!!) Annual Camp. (Wow.) Besides being virtual, it’s free. Bonus = silly dancing devices on the t-shirt.

Crac Short and sweet film, set in Canada (One version here.) 

Our Town BelfastOTB lists local Belfast offerings (radio, tv, movies, theater, art, history, bike routes, fitness, trivia, and more.)