Although our President Rick Hill and Song Circle leader Tomy Wright, actually held a trial song circle in January, it's been 7 months since we advertised in the Frederick News-Post that our first official Traditional Folk Song Circle, using the Sing Out! Rise Up Singing (RUS) group singing songbook occurred, and the participation and enthusiasm have been heartening.
Held every second Saturday of the month at Dublin Roasters Coffee on 1780 N. Market Street, Frederick, our initial turn out had 25 persons show up, several of which had their own copy of RUS. It seemed like the awakening of the Frederick environs Folk sleeper cell. And we are averaging 10 to 12 participants monthly.
All of this effort is to meet F.A.M.E.'s first goal "to nurture, promote and preserve acoustic original and acoustic music of all genres in Frederick and Frederick County through live music, education and community outreach." Baby Boomers, their parents, and grandchildren have attended and even casual passersby stopped long enough to sing a chorus of two on many of the popular songs housed in the 1200 song compendium.
As song leader, Tomy has casually amassed the follow non-scientific statistics:
· We have sung 29 of the 35 Song Categories
o We'll get to the other 6 before the end of the year!
·We have played 99 of the 1200 songs, 16 of which have been played more than once with the top three songs being:
o This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie, page 5 (America)
o The Cat Came Back, Harry S. Miller & Ethel Raim, page 70 (Funny Songs)
o Paradise, John Prine, page 149 (Mountain Voices)
· We now have more singers than instrumentalists, many of whom are very talented and produce some wonderful harmonies
· We've signed up at least five new members and sold 4 RUS thus far
· We now have an opening song, You are My Sunshine, page 83 (Golden Oldies) along with a closing song, Goodnight Irene, Huddie Ledbetter, page 132 (Lullaby)
In April, we purchased the teaching set of 20 RUS CDs, so theoretically there's no song we can't learn. F.A.M.E. members may borrow a CD for 30 days, if they wish to lead a new song or two the following month.
Of the instruments we've had guitars, upright bass, harp, harmonica, bongos and all manner of shakers. Some old pros* and some beginners. However, this event has evolved into a great opportunity for those shy at public performing, to sing with or without an instrument. It has also served a golden opportunity to learn about some song origins, share reminiscences and stories of family, summer camp and brief glimpses into college life in the 60's. (*Many of the older F.A.M.E. members already play some of these songs. We're challenging them to learn a new one this year, announce, and perform it at a F.A.M.E.-endorsed Open Mic!)
As Wammie Award winner and WAMU radio personality Mary Cliff said, she'd join us, but her radio show is on air 3 to 6 Saturday afternoon, part of the Roots & Branches block on BluegrassCountry.org
-- streaming, AND on FM 105.5 AND newly on a repeater in Frederick, MD! -- "93.5 FM, W228 AM Frederick."
We say, "Support live acoustic Traditional Folk music when you can, where you can." If not us, support Mary. She's on Saturday evenings from 11pm to 1am on 88.5 FM also.
We're looking forward to you to come, bring your friends and family, start your own tradition and share some great locally-produced, acoustic music. We will tackle at least one song from the last six RUS categories: Freedom, Peace, Rounds, Sacred Rounds and Chants, Spirituals, and Women this year along with other songs folks want to play from the book. You could even lead it!