The string players of CMW and the fiddlers of the RI Fiddle Project came together on Friday, February 3 to join hands and kick up their heels in a traditional American barn dance. Outside the D’Abate School cafeteria, the imaginary snow was swirling and drifting and, underneath the virtual barn loft, the cattle were lowing and the horses were chomping down their nightly rations. But in the make-believe lantern light of the hayloft, spirits were high and the music of the Hickorynuts String Band was lively.
CMW students discovered that old-time dances were an important event in rural America. These get-togethers, with their circle mixers, reels and other “hoedowns,” helped form a bond between neighbors that was essential for survival in the old days.
Laughter rang as all ages came together in that traditional blend of music and dance. As Oriana commented afterwards, “We were getting lots of exercise, but it just felt like we were having fun.”
Two of CMW's Fiddle Lab students, Roma and Frankie of the now famous Red Wigglers String Band, joined us to play a set of three lively tunes. They discovered that the fiddler’s bow dances across the strings as fast as the dancers whirl and twirl.
I want to thank my parents, caller Jim Hicks and backup chorder Peggy Holmes, for joining me in bringing an old-time barn dance to CMW. I also tip my hat to Alan Bradbury for setting up his sound system and for joining in with his doghouse bass. It was fun to have Alan’s wife, fiddler Michelle Kaminsky, join me in the marathon final eight-tune set. My special praise extends to the CMW students who added the most important ingredient—their enthusiastic participation. Hee Haw!
-EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks, Fellow