Wrap-Up Report, NOMAD 2005

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 2005 NOMAD Festival, which was held November 4-6, 2005, at the Hill Regional Career High School, New Haven, CT.

We dedicated NOMAD 2005 to Chip Hendrickson, who passed away in February. Chip was Connecticut’s own Dancing Master. He was a researcher and educator in the fields of Colonial and Native American Dance. He was a good friend of NOMAD and he provided valuable support and assistance to his wife, NOMAD’s founder Fran Hendrickson. In Chip’s honor, we offered sessions in Colonial dances led by Patricia Campbell, Chip’s Contras led by Eric Hollman and Chip’s Squares led by Allen Brozek and Dave Hass. As we expected, all were very well attended.

We continue to be delighted with our new home at Wilbur Cross High School. As we reported previously, it’s a bright, modern facility located between a comfortable suburban neighborhood and a very popular state park. For a better idea of just how pleasant our venue is, please refer to our Directions page for a photograph, and to last year’s wrap-up for a more detailed description.

As in past years, NOMAD 2005 quickly became a place to meet old friends and welcome new ones. On the dance side of the schedule, our core program of Contras, Squares, Scottish, English, and International was complemented by such offerings as Multi-Ethnic Israeli with Danny Pollock, Historical Dance and a Ragtime Dance performance by Terry & Jim, a Croatian Dance Party with Pajdashi, an exceptionally impressive performance of Lithuanian Folk Dances by Vetra, and many other interesting and often unusual sessions.

Our musical offerings also were too numerous and diverse to list. We will mention just a few here. Deb Cowan delighted the children with her Silly Songs and Funney Folk (yes, that’s how it’s spelled). Shoregrass gave us a good sampling of their new CD in a Songs of the Civil War workshop. John Roberts and Pamela Goddard kept the ballad fans enthralled with their Double Ballads session (Pamela also has a new CD “As Time Draws Near” that is getting rave reviews from folk radio hosts all across the country). Other musical delights were the West Gallery Music session led by Bruce Randall and Voyageur and Habitante – Women’s Voices in New France with Diane Taraz and Lynne Noel.

Sandy and Caroline Paton have been making their contributions to NOMAD for so long that we are in danger of taking them for granted. Many, many thanks to Sandy and Caroline for their Folksong Harvest session, for all of their contributions to NOMAD over the years, and for all they have done to promote traditional music with their Folk-Legacy record label. We look forward to seeing them back at NOMAD in 2006.

We expect many of the 2005 group to return in 2006. Since we don’t have room here to  tell you about each of them individually, we are directing you to our Performers List. As we assemble the lineup for the 2006 we will list all of the performers, with links to their web pages when available. We are truly gratified that all of these good folks perform each year without remuneration, satisfied just to share their knowledge and talents with their appreciative friends at NOMAD.

We hope to see you at NOMAD 2006. Please visit our website periodically. We will post updates on NOMAD 2006 as information becomes available.

Wrap-Up Report, NOMAD 1999

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 1999 NOMAD Festival, which was November 5-7, 1999, at the Newtown High School, Newtown, CT.

In 1999, NOMAD again expanded its variety of offerings in both dance and music. For both dancers and music-lovers, it seemed there were just too many interesting and enjoyable things going on all at the same time. Ah, life — always full of hard choices.

On Friday night, Bill Olson, ably assisted by Pam Weeks and Jim Joseph, got things off to a roaring start at the Grand Festival Opening Contradance.

Dance: We increased the international offerings again this year. The two-hour Saturday night International Folk Dance Party featuring A Different Village was festive, almost too well attended, and probably not long enough. English Country Dancers were in their own heaven dancing to Fried DeMetz Herman, Beverly Francis, Gary Roodman and others too numerous to name. The Ted’s Triplets Contra Dance session with Ed Potter was a blast. Stacy Phillips’ talented young fiddle group, the Bethwood Fiddlers, performed and must be seen (and heard) to be believed. Jim Christensen brought Cajun back to NOMAD with with the upbeat rhythms of the Mudpuppies Cajun Dance Band.

Music: A highlight was the two-hour Shanty Blast on Saturday night. New York Packet, the Johnson Girls, Connecticut’s own Shipping News, Lynn Noel, and David Diamond treated us to a rollicking program of shanties, singalongs, and other songs about life on the water. Then, there was the infamous Broken Token workshop. Mike Agranoff performed what surely must be the definitive version of the much parodied story about Johnny’s reunion with his true love (who despite her passionate love somehow fails to recognize him after seven long years). Mike introduced a whole platoon of characters — all played by himself. He identified which characters were singing by donning hats (some borrowed from the audience or workshp participants) associated with the characters. The sight of Mike wearing Caroline Paton’s purple and aqua chapeau… well, you had to be there. On a more serious note, the Spiritual Freedom and Traditional African Songs by Nzinga’s Daughters were awe-inspiring.

There is not enough space here to name all of the hundreds of talented and enthusiastic musicians, dance leaders, and singers who made NOMAD ’99 such an exhilirating experience. We’re gearing up to do it again. November 10 is not that far off!