No NOMAD Festival in 2008

No NOMAD Festival in 2008

Due to a lack of sufficient personnel in key organizing-committee positions, the Board of Directors of NOMAD, Inc. regrets to announce that there will be no NOMAD Festival in 2008. We will continue working to fulfill the purposes and objectives of NOMAD. Current NOMAD memberships remain valid and will help us meet those objectives.

We welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Sincerely, the NOMAD Board of Directors

Alice Griffin, Chair
Fran Hendrickson, Vice-Chair
Tova Clayman, Secretary
John Mazza, Treasurer
Louise Foley, Records Officer
Kate Mahoney, Board Member At-Large

We will leave the NOMAD 2007 info on the site for the present.

The 2007 NOMAD festival will be Friday through Sunday, November 2-4, 2007, at the Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, CT.  Our annual festival of traditional music and dance features:

  • A big Friday night dance and “meet the performers” concert
  • Participatory dance sessions, including contras, squares, English country, international, and more
  • Concerts of folk music from the US and around the world
  • Musical instrument workshops
  • Sing-alongs and song-swaps
  • Dance performances
  • Family song, dance, and craft activities
  • Storytelling for kids and adults
  • Handcrafts and folk bazaar with clothing, dancer’s gear, performers CDs, rare recordings not found elsewhere, instruments, music supplies, jewelry and more
  • Hallway jams (and a place to check your instruments)
  • Great food
  • Much more

The festival is very kid friendly.  For example, this year we’re introducing an extended hands-on craft area in the cafeteria.

Wilbur Cross High School is a beautiful school in the East Rock section of New Haven in the heart of the Yale community.  It is readily accessible, less than a mile from Exit 6 of  I-91.  It is a modern, bright, spacious building with:

  • Two large gyms for dancing
  • A superb auditorium
  • A chorus room, band room and lots of other excellent classrooms and musical spaces for concerts and music workshops
  • A huge cafeteria for dining, socializing, jamming and a bright, open area for our folk bazaar
  • Limited on-site parking, but a reliable shuttle service from a nearby lot

In other words, we have plenty of space and plenty of activities – Now we just need you!

The Final Chapter of the History of NOMAD

Each successive year brought new challenges, often unanticipated – from finding the lower gym full of school supplies on the opening night of the festival to complying with abrupt changes in the fire regulations. One notable challenge was being notified just two weeks before the 1994 festival that the main gym would be closed to install a new floor. Each time the NOMAD volunteers pulled through. In that last instance, the program committee adjusted the dance schedule to various large hallways around the school, and the dances were saved.

During our time in Newtown High School, the festival date was always subject to the school’s football schedule, so we landed on a different weekend each year.

Early on, NOMAD was mostly dance and its related music. That changed one summer when Fran’s husband Chip was hired to play a wedding. During the break, Chip and Fran spent time with Sandy and Caroline Paton, traditional singers and owners of the Folk-Legacy record company, who were also performing there. After hearing the concept of NOMAD, the Patons attended the next festival. They were so pleased that they shared their performer mailing list with the program committee, and in 1992 the “right hand side of the grid” was born. At this point, we were running eight rooms for programs.

In 1993 we started the “red hot” Friday evening dance for early festival attendees. The Friday evening event has continued to this day and has expanded to include song sessions as well.

Ed Potter, John Foley and Fran developed a set of by-laws, and we were accepted under the umbrella of the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) as a 501(c)(3) non-profit group.

Chip was the silent partner, supporting us in so many ways ranging from organizational skills to developing the festival booklet and giving us valuable ideas from his years of experience with major dance festivals and desktop publishing. In January 1997, Chip suffered a major stroke. It was just after the 9th NOMAD Festival, and Fran and Chip left NOMAD to deal with his catastrophic illness. The faithful volunteers – committee heads and others – pulled together to see that the 10th anniversary of NOMAD was a success. This festival moved to Newtown Middle School due to major reconstruction at the high school.

When we returned to the high school two years later, we found that the floor-plan was not as user-friendly to our events as it had been, and eventually the committee planned to move the festival.

A great deal of searching for just the right school brought us temporarily to the Hill Career Regional High School in New Haven, and the next year to New Haven’s Wilbur Cross High School. We’d had our eyes on Wilbur Cross for some time, but were unable to move there previously because the school was undergoing extensive renovations. Now we are settled comfortably in a festival-friendly facility in a fabulous neighborhood.

The final chapter of the History of NOMAD has not yet been written, and we expect that it will not be for a long time. We are still tinkering with the layout of the festival in our new home, trying to make NOMAD even friendlier and more accommodating to our performers, volunteers, vendors, and all of our loyal NOMAD attendees, so many of whom return year after year.

History of NOMAD

In the summer of 1986, the idea of the NOMAD Festival was just a spark in the mind of its creator, Fran Hendrickson. Based on fond memories of growing up in the Boston area, dancing the various styles that abound there, and becoming a faithful NEFFA (New England Folk Festival) goer, Fran decided that it was time to create a fun, family-oriented participation festival in Connecticut. It was in the wee hours of a May morning that the set of eleven purposes for this festival fell out of her heart onto paper. The next day, it still looked like a good thing, and a possibility. Almost immediately, Fran sent this set of purposes, along with an introductory letter to several long-time dancer, musician, and caller friends who had also expressed an interest in starting a new dance festival.

The first meeting was held at Fran’s home on April 13, 1987. The invited attendees at that meeting included Fran, John & Louise Foley, Ed & Marj Potter, Pat & Dick Wexelblat, and Doris & Warren Pemburn. Crowded around the table in the tiny dining room, they hashed out ideas. The name came from Dick Wexelblat. We decided we were more than Connecticut, more than New England – we were Northeast Music and Dance. NEMAD didn’t sound very inspiring so we used the first two letters of NOrtheast as capitals and the name became NOMAD. Later the “A” came to represent the Art incorporated within the creations at the festival.

Using the video prepared by NEFFA explaining the nature of their festival, Fran was able to “sell” the NOMAD concept to the principal of the Newtown, Connecticut, high school and then to the superintendent of the Newtown schools.

In the year and a half before the doors opened on the first NOMAD festival, the committee worked hard researching and developing plans. Dance groups were surveyed to encourage them to support such a festival. Procedures from other festivals and events were scrutinized. Rules were secured from the Newtown police and fire departments. Insurance was purchased. Volunteers signed up. The first festival was scheduled for October 15-16, 1988.

With only our own funds, a small loan from NEFFA, and a great deal of faith that “if we build it – they will come,” we launched NOMAD with great hope and enthusiasm. It began as a full Saturday day and evening and Sunday event. We were very brave! Miraculously, things went smoothly. Crafters moved in, food vendors set up, dancers arrived, leaders came for their 50-minute time slots, musicians jammed in the hallways; hugs were seen at every turn. All ages laughed together and enjoyed each other’s company whether dancing, performing or watching a performance or concert.

It was over before we knew it. As everyone packed up, bathed in the glow of success and a beautiful sunset washing through the picture windows of the NHS cafeteria, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. One committee member had brought a bottle of champagne (non-alcoholic, of course). We toasted each other, the performers, the volunteers and the attendees. Then the inevitable question was asked – should we do this again? A resounding “Yes” went up from the group.

Members of NOMAD’s first board of directors were Terry Brettman, John & Louise Foley, Jim Gregory, Fran Hendrickson, Maria Kruelski, Greg Luckman, Ed & Marj Potter, and Pat & Dick Wexelblat.

Additional committee heads for the first festival were Rachael Gordon Lambertson (Artwork), Geraldine Parent (Children’s Programs), Evelyn Cirillo (Hospitality), Katheryn Veszi (Lost & Found), Paul Kerlee (Morris & Sword with Carol Mazza), Nelson & Gail Beers (Parking), Warren & Doris Pemburn (Security), Tom Halmose (Indoor Signs), Amy Cann (Outdoor Signs), Andy Woodruff (Sound), Eric Hollman (Stage Manager), and Cheryll Compton (Volunteer Coordinator). The board members divided up the balance of the committee head jobs.

Wrap-Up Report, NOMAD 2006

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 2006 NOMAD Festival, November 3-5, 2006, at the Hill Regional Career High School, New Haven, CT.

We are still experimenting to find the best way to use the pleasant, modern facilities at Wilbur Cross High School. One experiment that succeeded beyond our expectations was use of the beautiful front foyer as a performance space.  We did have a few sound bleed problems which we are working to overcome, but performers and audiences enjoyed the space. We think the music and activity helped create a festive atmosphere for people entering the building, and everyone enjoyed the sunlight and the autumn colors visible through the wall of windows. We were especially pleased with a visit from our old friends, the Kartuli Ensemble, who entertained an appreciative SRO audience with choral music from the Republic of Georgia. Other good friends who made use of this wonderful new space were Robert Messore displaying his virtuosity on guitar, the Greater Hartford Scottish Country Dancers, and banjo virtuoso Roger Sprung.

More people are discovering the delights of the V wing. The V wing rooms are located at the opposite end of the cafeteria from the gyms and are the venues for intimate concerts, family activities, and in-depth discussions of musical traditions.  It is definitely worth the short walk. In 2006 the V Wing provided venues for such diverse presentations as the Walkingwood Mandolin Quartet, Songs and Stories of the Underground Railroad with Nzinga’s Daughters, West Gallery Music and Shape-Note Singing with Bruce Randall, Songs of Cowboys, Outlaws and Scoundrels with Woodchucks’ Revenge, a Chantey Blast hosted by Mystic Seaport chanteyman Geoff Kauffman, a Ballad Blast for lovers of song-stories, Irish fiddle and flute music with Damien and Sally Connolly, and many more acts too numerous to list.

We had two new food vendors this year.  La Carreta Mexican specialties and Elm City Kettle Corn tempted our taste buds with their delicious fare. Our mainstay vendors, the Hamden Plains Church catering group coordinated by Anthony Moore, are just amazing.  Their variety of tasty and satisfying dishes warmed the hearts as well as the stomachs of many hungry NOMAD attendees.  Our good friends the Scottish Country Dancers provided coffee and dessert.  They have been part of NOMAD almost from the beginning, and their Sunday morning oatmeal (porridge) is an annual treat that many of us look forward to.

The vendors in the crafts bazaar were very happy with their new location in the cafeteria.  They were right in the middle of things, and they helped make the cafeteria the heart of the festival as it was in our early years at Newtown.  We hope this positive energy will help attract more vendors to the upcoming festival.  Several of our vendors, including Eastern European Emporium, Alamo Styles, Folk Legacy Records, and Celtic World have been with us from those early years.  They are part of the family!

As usual, the two gymnasiums attracted large crowds of enthusiastic dancers all weekend long. There were events in both gyms for every hour of the festival this year, from 8 p.m. Friday through 5 p.m. Sunday. We presented a full program of Contra Dancing, interspersed with English Country, Scottish, Zwiefache, and Squares. With all that vigorous dancing we do a good job of keeping ourselves warm in the main gym, but thanks to a computerized central heating system we sometimes get just a mite too warm. We will contact the school engineers in advance of the 2007 festival to try to have the temperature lowered for our event.

The auditorium stage provided space for a wide variety of participatory international dancing. The styles we enjoyed this year included Scandinavian Turning Dances, Russian Cossack Dances, Colonial Cotillions, Balkan Dances, Breton Dances, Italian Dances, and many more.

For next year we hope to produce a festival just as jam-packed with activities.

As a dance and music festival NOMAD depends heavily on knowledgeable sound volunteers to keep the music playing.  If you or someone you know has experience with sound system operation for dances or concerts, please get in touch with us.  NOMAD can’t happen without a sound crew.

In fact, we need volunteers for all aspects of the festival.  NOMAD is an all-volunteer festival.  We need people to serve on the organizing committee and others to help during the festival.  Please consider becoming a volunteer.
Volunteers receive discounts on festival admission and lots of love!  Please contact us at 860-355-9029 or by email to learn how you can help with future festivals!

We hope to see you in November 2007.

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 2003

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 2003 NOMAD Festival, which was held November 15-16, 2003, at the Hill Regional Career High School, New Haven, CT.

NOMAD ’03 found us in completely new surroundings – a new school in a new and very different environment. We went from mostly rural Newtown to the middle of the bustling university city of New Haven. But, as the local New Haven daily newspaper pointed out, we simply moved from one end of Route 34 to the other.

We found our new digs at Hill Regional Career High School quite comfortable. The school has sufficient rooms of just the kind we need for our variety of participatory dance, dance performances, concerts and music workshops. The large lobby provided sufficient space for our Folk Bazaar and the huge cafeteria provided lots of space for jamming, group singing and socializing, not to mention dining. Our local food vendors included Lalibela’s Ethiopian Restaurant, Judie’s European Bakery and Hamden Plains United Methodist Church. The school’s location in easily accessible downtown New Haven had a positive effect on our attendance.

The move was not without the last-minute glitches that seem to have become routine in NOMAD planning though. We discovered at the last minute (about a week before the festival) that the second floor would be unavailable to us since the rooms there were needed for school activities. No problem – we simply moved our programs to identical rooms on the third floor. We also learned at the last minute that one half of the large parking lot across the street had been rented out and was unavailable to us. Same story as the school rooms – there still was plenty of parking available, but we needed to assemble a small parking crew to direct NOMAD participants to our side of the lot.

The program, as usual, was filled with dance and music from everywhere. Among the newer and notable additions to the dance participation program were Leora Berns’ “Dances For A Big Fat Greek Wedding,” Cliff Rainey’s workshop “Salsa/Merengue Rhythm Revealed” and Terry & Jim’s Mazurka Workshop. We presented a couple of Minuet workshops – Tanya & Sam Rotenberg’s Minuet Step Workshop for beginners and NOMAD founder Fran Hendrickson’s intermediate session – “Figures from Honors to Honors.” The rest of the program was NOMAD’s usual dazzling variety of English, Scottish, Contra, Square and International sessions. The dancing filled four dance venues continuously for the entire weekend with a roster of talented dance callers and musicians too numerous to list individually. Saturday night ended with a three-hour Balkan Blast, and we were pleased to host a CD release party for internationally known English Country Dance expert Fried de Metz Herman.

The music side of the program was also blessed with participation by an internationally known scholar, namely Joe Hickerson. Joe is familiar to students of folk song as the (now retired) Director of the Archive of American Folk Culture at the Library of Congress. Joe, a 1953 graduate of Wilbur Cross High School right here in New Haven, presented a session titled “My 50+ Years of Folksongs from New Haven to the Library of Congress and Back.” Ballad scholar and singer Heather Wood presented a session titled “Ballads – Real History,” examining the historical accuracy – or lack of it – in some of the English and Scottish popular ballads. Speaking of history, we offered two sessions titled “Civil War Songs” one by Allen Hopkins and another by the Connecticut-based bluegrass band Shoregrass. Bruce Randall introduced us to West Gallery Music from 19th-century British churches. Lorraine Hammond conducted an interesting and helpful workshop titled “Singing for the Confidence-Impaired.” Other musical treats included concerts in a wide variety of styles and subjects – hobo songs, Celtic music, Balkan music, gospel, sea music, Scandinavian, blues, cowboy songs, women’s songs, love songs and more. Musical instrument workshops included banjo, bodhran, drum, fiddle, hammered dulcimer, harmonica and ukulele. The always popular Songs for a Sunday Morning song-swap continued in the spacious cafeteria at Hill Career High.

The dance performances in the auditorium featured the Greater Hartford Scottish Country Dancers, the Matachin Dancers with a program of Middle Eastern Dance, the Victorian Ballroom Dancers, the Gay Blades Sword Dancers and the Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Yale.

We were pleased to welcome two other groups from Yale – the Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus and the Yale Klezmer Band. We are hopeful that we will have increased participation from Yale cultural groups in the future, now that we have become a New Haven-based event.

Our Family Area offered a nice variety of dance, music and stories for kids and their parents, including a Woody Guthrie Jam Session, Gaelic songs and drumming on the music side and Israeli, Contra, Scottish and Colonial dancing for the more active participants.

We owe a special “thank you” to Walter Wagoner of WPKN – non-profit community radio in Bridgeport. Walter recorded the concerts in our Chorus Room and broadcast significant excerpts of them on WPKN.

The Event Grids will remain on the web site until it’s time to replace them with this year’s grids. Please visit them to see the many NOMAD offerings that simply couldn’t be listed individually here.

Remember that NOMAD is an all-volunteer festival and we always have too few volunteers. If you have some special skill that you feel would be helpful, please contact us. We need help on both the organizing committee and the operational staff. Contact information and links are in the “Contacting NOMAD” section of the main page. Links to the Event Grids will also be found there.

Preliminary information about NOMAD 2004 will be available in late Spring. Please watch for it.

Wrap-Up Report, NOMAD 2002

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 2002 NOMAD Festival, which was held October 25-27, 2002, at the Newtown High School, Newtown, CT.

NOMAD ’02 got off to an impressive start on Friday night. Both the music and dance events were simply spectacular.

Highlighting the evening was a three-hour tribute to Alan Lomax, the world’s pre-eminent folksong collector, who passed away in July at age 87. We were fortunate to have the participation of a number of scholars and singers who actually worked with Lomax during his long career. NOMAD regulars Sandy and Caroline Paton, founders of Folk-Legacy Records, told of meeting Lomax in London in 1957 through the efforts of Shirley Collins and, through Alan Lomax, meeting master Irish piper Seamus Ennis. Jeff and Gerret Warner, new to NOMAD this year, told of Lomax’s influence on their parents Frank and Anne Warner, who went on to collect and publish quite a number of traditional songs from the American South. Jack Langstaff, best known as founder of the popular Christmas Revels programs, made his first appearance at NOMAD. He told of his own early meetings with Lomax and he led the entire group and audience in a truly inspiring singalong of “Walking on the Green Grass.” Our surprise guest, introduced by Jack, was Robin Roberts Howard. She told about travelling around Ireland with Lomax, meeting and recording such folk sources as Seamus Ennis, Mickey Doherty and Elizabeth Cronin. She also recounted stories of her stay with Lomax in New York, meeting Woody Guthrie and helping Lomax with his memorial tribute to Lead Belly at Town Hall. Jerry Epstein, also a NOMAD regular, moderated the proceedings and provided a few anecdotes of his own. Each of the participants sang a number of songs, giving the audience a good sampling of the kind of material collected by Alan Lomax.

Perhaps the most interesting participant in the session was Alan Lomax himself – by way of audio and video recordings. Jack provided a simply wonderful audio tape of Lomax giving a talk to the third annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada in 1987. He described the groundbreaking work of his father, John A. Lomax, in his ultimately successful struggle to get cowboy poetry recognized as serious literature worthy of scholarly study and publication. Robin provided a home video from the mid-90’s of the last time Lomax was recorded before illness curtailed his activities.

Our Welcoming Contra Dance was called by Bill Olson and Christine Hale. They provided an incredibly varied mix of lively and interesting dances. It is always a pleasure to watch talented callers inspire a gym full of enthusiastic dancers. Bill has made the long trek from Maine quite a few years now, and his contributions to NOMAD are appreciated by all. Duffy’s Insurance from New York State provided solid musical accompaniment.

For the rest of the weekend, NOMAD continued its tradition of offering the best in performances, participatory dance, concerts and singalongs. The Saturday performances in the auditorium included Appalachian Clogging by Fiddlekicks, Irish Step Dancing by the Gray School of Irish Dance and a Middle Eastern Bellydance performance by the Matachin Dancers. Once again The Greater Hartford Scottish Country Dancers treated us to a demonstration of the best in Scottish dance. The Monique Legare International Dance Company presented their usual dazzling performances of dance forms from various eastern European countries and Puerto Rico in an array of colorful costumes.

NOMAD again offered enough participation sessions for non-stop dancing throughout the weekend. Our core English, Contra, Square, International and Scottish sessions included such talented callers as Mary Jones, Gary Roodman, Robin Hayden, Donna Hunt, Eric Hollman, Ted Crane, Steve Holland, Ridge Kennedy, Leora Berns, Danny Pollock, Brian Haeckler and many more. Music was provided by The Flying Romanos, Garden Variety, Pleasures of the Town, Hot Under the Caller, The Fiddleheads, Zornitsa, Zdravets, Zima, International Folk Sounds, Cal Howard and a host of others. To all of that we added Bransles with Susan DeGuardiola and Gaile Ivaska, Russian with Murray and Randi Spiegel, Cajun with the Back Porch Rockers, Bulgarian with Divi Zeni, Clogging with Stamp of Approval, Italian with Paolina Kavanagh, Zwiefachers with Sam and Sandy Rotenberg, Harp Waltzes with Ellen Tepper and many, many others. There just isn’t room here to list all of the talented dance leaders and musicians who make the participatory dance program at NOMAD so impressive. Workshops in most of the dance forms were offered to all experience levels, from Beginner to Experienced.

The music program was equally diverse. Performers from the Alan Lomax tribute returned to present their own special programs. Jeff & Gerret Warner presented a program of songs from their parents’ collection. Jerry Epstein and Jack Langstaff gave an interesting and informative presentation of Ritual Songs. NOMAD stalwarts Sandy and Caroline Paton presented selections from their huge repertoire of Songs and Ballads. On top of all that, we had one more delightful surprise. The Bisserov Sisters, an internationally famous troupe of singers and musicians from Bulgaria, happened to be touring the U.S. and made a last-minute decision to stop by at NOMAD. They gave a simply stunning performance of Bulgarian songs, instrumental music and ritual displays to an SRO crowd in the Chorus Room. A big “thank you” to Henry Goldberg for relinquishing his time slot so this performance could go on. Another big “thank you” to Karl Finger for bringing this marvelous group to the U. S. and persuading them to check out NOMAD. The rest of the music programs are too numerous to list here. Sea Songs, Cowboy Songs, Rounds, Shape-Note Singing, a Harp & Kantele concert, workshops in fiddle, banjo, guitar, dulcimers and other instruments were just a few of the dozens of sessions to interest listeners, singers and musicians.

The offerings in NOMAD’s Family Area were no less diverse than the adult sessions. Dance activities included Contra, International, Israeli, Colonial, Klezmer and Scottish. Stories, Ballads, Drumming and Old-Time String Band Music filled out the program.

The Event Grids for NOMAD ’02 will remain on the web site until it’s time to replace them with NOMAD ’03. To get a look at the entire program, just return to the main page and click on the links to the several sections of the grid.

We were able to expand the Folk Bazaar this year. Over 20 booths filled the high school’s spacious front lobby, offering books, recordings, musical instruments, clothing, jewelry, toys and gift items.

As always, the cafeteria was a popular place. The high school’s Culinary Arts Program, the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School and the Scottish Country Dancers provided a considerable variety of meals and snacks. Fruit smoothies from Dancing Smoothies were just the thing to cool down after a few sessions of vigorous dancing. Once again the Scots provided their wonderful Sunday breakfast. The tradition of Saturday and Sunday morning song swaps continued this year, with Liz Lewis leading the session on Saturday and Kathy Westra on Sunday. For the rest of the weekend, a program of jam sessions and singalongs provided a backdrop to the dining and socializing.

NOMAD continues its tradition of being a 100% volunteer festival. Thanks are due to all the volunteer performers and staff who make this remarkable weekend possible.

Please do check out the Event Grids to view our complete program. If you haven’t experienced NOMAD yet, we hope you will be persuaded to give it a try in 2003.

Wrap-Up Report, NOMAD 2001

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 2001 NOMAD Festival, which was held October 26-28, 2001, at the Newtown High School, Newtown, CT.

We began the festival on Friday night with our traditional contra dance party featuring Eric Hollman calling, with music by our favorite local band, The Fiddleheads. We added a Friday night music session this year as well – a “Taste of NOMAD” sampler, with 12-minute mini-concerts by over a dozen of the weekend’s performers. It went extremely smoothly and was enjoyed by all who attended. We’re hoping to make that event a tradition also.

We were pleased to have use of the auditorium this year. In recent years, conflicts with the school’s Drama Department have made that facility unavailable to us, and we have really missed it. Moving the festival date up to October removed the conflict and gave us one very important area back. It’s impossible to dance on a stage full of sets and props. We were delighted to invite back the Monique Legare International Dance Company, who gave us a superb set of dances from Armenia, French Canada, Russia, Ukraine and Hungary, complete with some really fast costume changes. Zolotyj Promin, a group of young Ukrainian dancers from the Hartford area, provided a spectacular demonstration of the vigorous, athletic dances so characteristic of Ukraine. Our NOMAD regulars, the Greater Hartford Scottish Country Dancers and Reel Nutmeg performed their suites of Scottish and English Country Dances. It’s a delight to see these groups return each year with new programs designed just for NOMAD. Nefesh returned to give us an upbeat performance of Klezmer music in their own inimitable style. A surprisingly large crowd of onlookers braved the chilly October winds to view NOMAD’s only outdoor event, the ritual dance performances presented by eight Morris and Sword teams from New York and New England.

The music and participatory dance programs are just too numerous to list here. Our two-hour shanty blast returned, followed by a two-hour old-timey and bluegrass party. Roger Sprung’s open jam had the walls of the music room just bursting with an overflow crowd. The Songs for a Sunday morning song swap, long a NOMAD favorite, was ably emceed by Kathy Westra. It was joined this year by a Saturday morning song swap, led by Liz Lewis. For the dancers, NOMAD offered its customary, wide range of dances from just about everywhere. Contra, Square, English, Scottish, Klezmer, Italian, Bulgarian, Israeli, Scandinavian, Macedonian, Zwiefache, Balkan, Clogging, Morris and a variety of other International kept everyone’s feet moving.

The Family Area kept the children entertained throughout the weekend. Story-telling, family concerts, singalongs and funny songs are the usual favorites at these sessions. Practicing Umoja gave an interesting presentation of the Afro-Caribbean Experience, and Danny Pollock delighted the children on Sunday with his Israeli Dance workshop.

We think we have finally licked the sound problems that have bedeviled us in the main gym for several years. Our several food vendors seem to have offered just the right mix of selections to satisfy everyone. The Scottish Dancers’ Sunday morning breakfast was wonderful, as usual. A bowl of their steaming oatmeal is a great way to start a crisp Fall day. The craft/folk bazaar area just gets better and better each year. Congratulations to long-time NOMAD vendors Folk-Legacy Records, celebrating 40 years in business this October, and thanks to Folk-Legacy’s Sandy, Caroline, Rob and David Paton for all they have done for NOMAD.

But NOMAD just wouldn’t be NOMAD without a last-minute crisis or two. NOMAD 2001 was no exception. On Thursday, the day before the festival, we were told by the Board of Education that our main parking area – directly in front of the main entrance to the High School – would be unavailable to us for most of Saturday. It seems that one of the local school soccer teams made it to the finals. There were two soccer games that day and, since the soccer field is directly behind the main parking lot, that’s where the parking for the games would be. Like most festivals that are located in educational institutions with large, paved, well marked parking lots, NOMAD has never anticipated the need for a parking crew, and therefore we don’t have one. We were given the use of a large field behind the school for parking, but had no one available to coordinate things. After a bit of chaos, we were able to get the cars parked in a more-or-less orderly fashion. Thanks to all festival attendees who were able to grin and bear it.

One other disappointment was that we were expecting a large troupe of dancers, singers and musicians from Bulgaria, a group named Shoumen, to contribute two one-hour sessions. Again we learned, just a couple of days before the festival, that they had encountered problems with their visas and were unable to make the trip to the U.S.

The CONNtras session with Steve Holland and Christine Hale and, on the music side, the humor workshop titled “What’s so Funny?” helped close out NOMAD 2001 on a high note, a nice counterpoint to our rather inauspicious beginning in the parking lots. Thanks to Mike Agranoff, Evy Mayer, Debra Cowan, Payton Turpin and Jean Schwartz for keeping us laughing.

A big thank you to all volunteer performers and staff and to all who attended, for making this year’s NOMAD such a wonderful time for everyone. Planning has already begun for NOMAD 2002. We hope all who were at NOMAD 2001 will return and be joined by many others. We expect that everything will run smoothly, and the only thing keeping us on our toes will be the dancing.

Wrap-Up Report, NOMAD 2000

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 2000 NOMAD Festival, which was November 10-12, 2000, at the Newtown High School, Newtown, CT.

The festival got off to a roaring start on Friday night, as it has for the past few years, with a well attended contra dance party. Steve Holland and Debbie Munson called some excellent dances, and the band, Hot Under the Caller, provided their usual mix of innovative and extremely danceable music.

Dance: The participatory dance sessions provided just too many choices. The old festival dilemma of inability to be in two or three places at once showed up again this year. On the English program we were treated to sessions by Fried deMetz Herman, Peggy Vermilya, Mary Jones, Robin Hayden, Marj Potter and others. Bill Olson called a truly great Saturday night session, and it was contra throughout the weekend with such talented callers as Sue Elberger, David Smukler, Ridge Kennedy, Ed Potter and others. International and other dance forms ran the gamut from Polish (Regina Laskowski) to Italian (Paolina Kavanagh) to French (Jonathan Young) to Israeli/Klezmer (Nefesh) and many, many others. The Scottish Country Dancers were kept stepping by Brian Haeckler, Priscilla Adams and Barbara Austen. Jim Christensen returned with his Cajun dance workshop and party. Eric Hollman did the same for Swing. Special recognition is due to all those wonderful musicians who provide the melodies and rhythms we all enjoy: The Fiddleheads, Rambling Pitchfork, Cal Howard, Leah Barkan & Garden Variety, Illegal Contraband, International Folk Sounds, Zdravets, A Different Village, Izgori, The Wingnuts, the Jackson Pike Skifflers, Zornitsa, and many others have become perennial favorites at NOMAD.

Music: Although scheduling conflicts with the Newtown High School’s Drama Department again precluded our use of the auditorium, we made good use of the Lecture Hall and Music Room to provide an incredibly diverse program of folk music from just about everywhere. Sea songs and shanties were again a major part of the offerings. The two-hour Saturday night Shanty Blast was repeated this year, and it was bigger and better than last year. Shipping News, our own local sea-shanty group, debuted their brand-new, hot-off-the presses CD, “Wives Tales and Songs of the Sea,” with a concert session of the same name. Other NOMAD performers who performed material from their recent CD releases were Jerry Bryant, Judy Cook, the Johnson Girls and Mike Kachuba.

Performances: The Greater Hartford Scottish Country Dancers and Reel Nutmeg (English) gave their usual superb performances. The Duffy Academy of Irish Dance gave us a vigorous display of Irish Step Dancing, and the Chinese Ribbon Dancers gave a brief, but extremely colorful and eye-catching display of their art.

We’re hoping that all of the performers, dance leaders and musicians mentioned, as well as the others too numerous to name, will return in 2001 to provide the same active, fun-filled weekend that we enjoyed in 2000.

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!

Wrap-Up Report, NOMAD 1998

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 1998 NOMAD Festival, which was held November 6-8, 1998, at the Newtown High School, Newtown, CT.

NOMAD ’98 was a roaring success! Festival staff, volunteers and attendees quickly became comfortable in the newly renovated and expanded Newtown High School. In our “new” home we have two ground-level gymnasiums for dancing, a lecture hall and chorus room, each ideally configured for concerts, and a HUGE cafeteria, ideal for socializing and having our traditional Sunday morning sing. Additionally, we have the auditorium for dances and performances, and several classrooms for workshops and family activities.

Our Friday night grand festival opening dance party, featuring Bill Olson’s contra dance calling with music by Reckless Abandon, was well attended and lots of fun. It provided a good preview of the weekend of dance and music that was to follow.

On Saturday and Sunday NOMAD went full blast. Our volunteer dance leaders, musicians and performers provided a full schedule of contra and square dances, English and Scottish country dances and a whole range of International dances in the two gyms and auditorium stage. In the music rooms we heard songs and tunes from such far-flung places as Australia and the Georgian Republic, as well as the more familiar music from the British Isles and North America. Family attendees were treated to songs, stories, dances and magic for children. As usual, Pete Lane’s balloon sculptures were to be seen everywhere.

Each year NOMAD adds a few volunteer performers/teachers with new contributions. 1998 was no exception. NEFESH, an Israeli/Jewish Klezmer band provided the music for a lively Sunday afternoon dance party. Paolina Kavanagh led “Balliamo,” which filled Gym 3 with the tarantella and other vigorous Italian dances. In the music area, Arthur Cole provided one of the festival’s more unusual features — a classrom full of novice and experienced players filling the room and the surrounding hallway with the distinctive sound of Australian didgeridoos. Ariane Lydon came to NOMAD from Wisconsin to introduce us to her unique interpretations of traditional and original folk songs. In the family area, Andrea Wright entertained the children and their parents with “Books Alive!” a theatrical presentation of stories using a variety of props and puppets.

Newtown High School’s culinary arts program once again provided an ample supply of interesting food at reasonable prices. They were supplemented this year by the staff of Al’s Chat House, who provided coffee and snacks during the late night hours. The Sunday morning breakfast, offered by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society of New Haven, was a big hit, as usual.

NOMAD’s folk bazaar, located in the cafeteria and main hallway, gave us all an opportunity to do some early holiday shopping. CD’s, books, musical instruments, jewelry, clothing, paper crafts, wooden toys and other useful items were among the offerings at over a dozen booths.

Now we’re planning and looking forward to NOMAD ’99. We’ll publish the dates and other information as soon as it becomes available.

Wrap-Up Report, NOMAD 1997

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 1997 NOMAD Festival, which was held November 6-8, 1997, at the Newtown High School, Newtown, CT.

NOMAD ’97 was a smashing success. Attendance was up sharply from 1996, resulting in a high energy level and a strong sense of community among the participants. We estimate that the total number of attendees was well over a thousand, excluding performers and vendors. We had sixteen craft/folk bazaar vendors and about 150 performing acts, performers, and dance leaders. Including all members of performing groups and vendors’ staffs, this works out to over 500 additional participants.

It rained off-and-on all day Saturday and Sunday at intensities ranging from mist to torrential downpour. We don’t know whether the rain reduced attendance, or increased it by limiting people’s choices of other activities (leaf-raking or other outdoor events). Alas, the ones who suffered most were the Morris and Sword dancers, who had to abandon their plans to dance on the front lawn and settle instead for a narrow sheltered entrance sidewalk.

We feel that we had more participation from the local community this year, thanks to fairly heavy newspaper and radio publicity and some purchased advertising.

For the local participants, the newly established Family Area was a big hit, with its variety of music, dance, and craft activities for kids and their parents. A particular favorite was Pete Lane aka “Vanilla Swirl the Clown.” Pete not only did a balloon-sculpture workshop and a magic show, but he also spent the rest of the weekend in the hallways making balloon animals by the dozens. The kids were all over the place with those things. It definitely increased the festive atmosphere.

The vendors and many festival attendees expressed pleasure at our decision to eliminate amplified performances from the cafeteria, which made socializing and conversing about merchandise much easier.

The food area worked quite well. There was a greater variety of selections this year, but there were a few instances of some items being sold out. We think that our major vendor, the Newtown High School’s Culinary Arts Program, was not quite prepared for the size of the crowd we drew this year. Also, there were some logistic problems resulting from the fact that the food is actually prepared at the High School’s kitchen, some 2-1/2 miles distant.

We have reviewed the evaluation forms left by attendees, and the comments were overwhelmingly positive, with constructive suggestions. Yes, we will have changing rooms for the performers in ’98! Next year, we are hoping to be back at the High School, and the food glitches will disappear along with the need for shuttle buses and the various other logistic problems. It will be a different place than the one we left two years ago, thanks to the extensive reconstruction and additions that took place during our absence. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.