Tag Archives: pinewoods

Rima at Camp—part 6: English & American Week at Pinewoods, and more!

A series of summer blogs by CDSS Executive Director Rima Dael:

At the CDSS office (l-r): Robin Hayden, CDSS Development; Deborah Thompson, Appalachian Center at Berea College; Rima Dael, CDSS Executive Director; Pat MacPherson, CDSS Publications

Berea College, Texas Tech, and the Castaways?

My continued travels to each week of CDSS camps had me stopping at English and American Week this past Sunday and Monday (more below), but the Friday before we had another visitor to our office in Easthampton—Deborah Thompson, Director of Programming for the Appalachian Center at Berea College, stopped by our office on her way to Pinewoods. We wore her out from chatting about our programs, education, her newly completed PhD program, shared opportunities, and partnering on projects that would be mutually beneficial. (I realize that sounds all very official, but as you see from our picture, we had a great time connecting!) We are very excited about the possibilities that can come out of future collaborations.

At Pinewoods this time I stayed in Twin Sisters. It was a homecoming of sorts, since I stayed in Quite Carried Away, a cabin nearby, with my daughter during Family Week. My daughter asked me to check on how the fairy houses were doing near her cabin, which I did. In case you were wondering, happy to report, they are doing okay.

Texas Tech students demonstrate their dancing

One of the joys of camp is meeting, dancing, singing and playing music with folks from all over. At English and American Week, it was great to connect with the Texas Tech students from the Vernacular Music Scholars Program (http://www.vernacularmusiccenter.org/outreach-scholars.html), pictured here dancing, with Jim Morrison on fiddle.

Our partnership with Texas Tech and Vernacular Music Center Director, Dr. Chris Smith, is a great partnership and friendship. There were six students (four returnees and two new) this year, with scholarship support from CDSS. We are happy to continue our work fostering emerging talent and practitioners in our genre.

Broken bones don't stop the Castaways

I have to include here a lovely picture of Barbara Moloney and Anna Matheson. If you have to be in an arm cast, being at Pinewoods helps take the yuckiness out of it. As Barbara and Anna shared on the Camphouse porch, there is a community around you to help with meals, literally prop up an elbow, and good company. Not to mention, the dancing and music! (And, I heard from CDSS Program Director Steve Howe that this duo performed hambone at morning gathering as The Castaways!)

The most amazing part of my summer travels has been meeting many CDSS friends and family—new and first time campers, multiple generations of campers, musicians, dancers, teachers, dance gypsies, historians, scholars…well, you get this picture. My time at English and American Week was along those lines. It is fun for me to put faces to the names of the book authors, songwriters, dance leaders, dance historians, composers, choreographers and artists who are part of our community.

It is fun, important fun, for me to listen and learn from those who have come before me and to engage in discussion of what lies ahead for CDSS.  I feel that I have been given a very special gift. I accept the responsibility to steward this organization in a manner that respects the history and traditions from where we came but to be forward looking to ensure a sustainable and viable CDSS. I look forward to partnering with everyone I’ve met to celebrate our Centennial in 2015 and beyond.


Rima at Camp — part 4: Packing up, and the “Meet, Greet and Listen” Tour

A series of summer blogs by CDSS Executive Director Rima Dael:

Some of the books and recordings from the CDSS Store, heading for its week at Ogontz

So the office in Easthampton, MA has been in a flurry of packing as we get ready for Family Week and Teachers Training Course at Ogontz Camp in NH. The pictures are two of our piles ready to get loaded onto the truck tomorrow. I too am getting ready — for a brief trip to Ogontz this weekend and then back to Pinewoods for a day and a night of American Dance & Music Week.

I thought I’d share why I’m making it a point to visit all the camps. First, it is an opportunity to really get to understand the camp programs we do at different locations, with each week having a very different feel to it. Second, I’m on a “meet, greet and listen” tour! At each week, I’m meeting many of our members and constituents, listening to their histories with camp, CDSS, dancing, singing and playing music, and what their thoughts are for how we may celebrate our Centennial. On my way to Timber Ridge next month, I will be stopping in Washington, DC to meet with some funders and potential strategic partners like the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Sound equipment and cables resting up for the journey

By the way, our Centennial celebration is in 2015. Our goal is to celebrate, on a North American spectrum, one hundred years of dance, music and song within the English and American folk traditions. We are currently in the brainstorming and preliminary planning mode and I’ll be in touch soon with more on our celebratory plans.

Be well, Rima

PS. Please keep your fingers crossed for good weather at both camps!



Rima at Camp — part 3

A series of summer blogs by CDSS Executive Director Rima Dael:

Good-bye Family Week…

What fun to see everyone get dressed up for the Friday parade. Here I am pictured with Kimberly Fields, and yes, that is a horse hat on top of my head! Saying good-bye to Family Week was bittersweet. My daughter has made plans already for next year, asking to maybe start violin again this fall and who her roommate may be. We said good-bye to our fairy houses, the lake and many, many new friends, but we did look forward to getting home to our own beds and starting the mounds of laundry. My husband picked up Karana on Saturday; I followed by bus the next day. Till next year, Family Week at Pinewoods!

…and hello Harmony of Song & Dance!

My single morning of singing with the entire camp, was…well…it touched my soul. It has been a while since I’ve sung with a large choir and it was incredibly moving. If my bus ticket home hadn’t been paid for and nonrefundable, and if there wasn’t work waiting for me in the office, I might have begged to stay one more night.

Let me also share that I was tickled and a little starstruck at the opening of Harmony Week. David Jones, a magnificent storyteller and folksinger is on staff this summer. My daughter and I are big fans. David is featured on the “Sea Music” CD and DVD by Dan Zanes & Friends, and our favorite song, “Strike the Bell,” is one that my daughter has grown up with. No, I didn’t ask for David’s autograph but someone got our picture! When my daughter and husband picked me up at the bus stop Sunday night we watched the DVD with David singing “Strike the Bell” and shared memories of Pinewoods all the way home.

Yes, I get it. CDSS Camps are so very special. Pinewoods is magical — thank you to everyone who help make the magic happen. My BIGGEST thanks go to Steve Howe (CDSS’s Director of Programs) and his summer office assistant Maggie Bye for their hard, hard work to make CDSS Camps what they are. Thanks to Judy Savage (Camp Manager) and the Pinewoods staff for the wonderful facilities and food!

I’m off to Ogontz next, to say hello this Sunday, and will swing back to Pinewoods for a couple of days of American Dance & Music Week — more pictures and thoughts to come.

Cheers, Rima

PS. It took a WHOLE day to do laundry from camp…I get that now too! (Smile.)


Rima at Camp – Family Week at Pinewoods, part 2

A series of summer blogs by CDSS Executive Director Rima Dael:

A great cool Thursday morning from Family Week at Pinewoods…perfect for English country dance, especially after yummy pancakes for breakfast!

A summer storm came yesterday afternoon that cancelled the swim across the lake. Stories from Peter Amidon and Andy Davis kept us riveted and the younger campers distracted from the booming thunder and wind. But all is well now with lower humidity.

Cheers, Rima

Harmony of Song & Dance: A new week at Pinewoods

A message from Peter Amidon, co-director of Harmony of Song & Dance week at Pinewoods.

Peter and Mary Alice Amidon

I studied, and loved, instrumental classical music through and after college, playing piano, guitar, cello and viola da gamba. Then, when I was 25, and living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I was introduced to traditional song and dance. It was an epiphany; I loved the physicality of the singing and dancing, and the fact that it was participatory. I loved that it came from and was for the common people. I sold my viola da gamba and bought a fiddle and a banjo.

I met my wife Mary Alice at a contra dance and in 1976 we went to CDSS’s Folk Music Week at Pinewoods. I went into Pinewoods to learn more fiddle tunes, and I came out a singer who also played fiddle. It was a life-changing experience. Over the last 35 years many CDSS Pinewoods weeks — Folk Music, Family, English & American Dance — have helped define who Mary Alice and I are and what we do.

Now we are honored to be chairing The Harmony of Song & Dancethe new CDSS week for singers who love to dance and for dancers who love to sing — with a dynamic and diverse staff of dance and song leaders.

Kim and Reggie Harris

We are bringing together some of our favorite music and dance activities…

  • group harmony singing by ear and from written arrangements
  • English folk songs
  • Appalachian ballads
  • shape note
  • secular and sacred gospel singing
  • contra, English, and ritual dance
  • work songs and sea songs
  • tune sessions and playing in a dance band

…with some of our favorite people…

  • dynamic and gifted singing leaders Kim & Reggie Harris
  • Cambridge Revels music master George Emlen
  • master singer/instrumentalist Keith Murphy

    Becky Tracy and Keith Murphy

  • profound bass and dance caller Nils Fredland
  • delicious English pianist and humorist Karen Axelrod
  • elegant and graceful fiddler/singer Naomi Morse
  • master English dance caller and choral singer Brad Foster
  • sublime yet powerful dance fiddler Becky Tracy
  • steeped-in-traditional-music-since-birth singer/banjo player/clog dancer Leela Grace
  • Master of All Ceremonies and leader of songs from across the pond (Scotland & England) and ritual dance Alistair Brown
  • brilliant Irish flute/whistle player/singer Shannon Heaton
  • innovative guitarist and singer Matt Heaton
  • inspired leader of joyful song Mary Alice Amidon
  • and pretty good singing leader Peter Amidon (me).

This would be our dream staff, except they are all really coming!

I believe that the act of singing and dancing together creates a powerful and joyful synchronicity. It is a foundation of Mary Alice’s and my lives and the foundation of the Harmony of Song & Dance.

We hope you will come join us for what we are expecting will be an extraordinary week.

— Peter Amidon, June, 2011

Harmony of Song & Dance at Pinewoods will take place July 23 – 30, 2011. There is still space available! To find out more visit www.cdss.org/harmony.

There are also still scholarships available at this writing. To inquire, please e-mail camp@cdss.org.

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