March is sneaking up on all of us, even though we get an extra day this year. Please note that a fabulous band, Groovemama, is doing a southwest tour, starting with a house concert in Corrales on Thursday, February 28, an Albuquerque contra dance on Saturday, March 1, and fiddle and guitar workshops at very reasonable prices in Albuquerque and Corrales on March 2, followed by a potluck dinner and jam. Details here. Don’t miss out on these exciting events!
I’m guessing most of you would never expect me to attend a whole weekend of English country dance, but here I am, ready for the ball.
Mary, Kit, Merri, Meg (photo by Richard Letts of Austin, TX)
My road trip report has details if you’re curious.
Corrales House Concert, Thursday, February 28
Groovemama playing at 7:30 p.m.
$10 suggested donation (all proceeds go to the musicians)
RSVP to reserve your spot and get directions — email Jane Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 505-898-2565.
Melding minds and rhythms, Groovemama performances blend music of Ireland, Scotland, French Canada and the Appalachian South with new compositions of their own. Old-Time fiddler Jane Rothfield and Franco-American fiddler Donna Hébert (hey, this is the Donna Hébert who founded the famous New England band Yankee Ingenuity that plays every Monday night at the Scout House dance in Concord, MA) have played together for many decades. Their style is one of musical exploration as they morph into new rhythms and harmonies in tunes from the British Isles and North America. Max Cohen’s great groove guitar is the perfect rhythm instrument; his original songs are well-crafted stories with a twist. Groovemama has a great time onstage and invites the audience to do the same! Come hear the band in an intimate setting!
Albuquerque Contra Dance, Saturday, March 1
Merri Rudd calling and special guest band Groovemama playing New England style dance tunes. 7:30 – 10:30 p.m., acoustic jam at 6:30 p.m. and newcomers class at 7 p.m. Heights Community Center, 823 Buena Vista SE (1 block east of University, south of Lead/Coal). Bring clean dance shoes. No shoes with nails or that leave black scuff marks, please. $7 members, $8 others, students 1/2 price with ID.
Durango Contra Dance, March 1
CONTRA DANCE , POTLUCK AND CONCERT MARCH 1
Saturday March 1
VFW, 1550 Main St, in Durango
5:00 is a community potluck that is open to all. Bring a dish to share.
6:00, the Albuquerque band Hey! will present a concert.
7:00 is beginner dance instruction
7:30, the Contra Dance starts, with Durango caller Wendy Graham and more music from Hey!
All dances are taught and called. No partner is necessary, and dancers of all ages and abilities are welcome. Admission is $10. First-timers get a pass to come back for free. For further information, call 970-385-9292, or see the website http://groups.google.com/group/Durango-Contra-Dances
Fiddle & Guitar Workshops, Sunday, March 2
The Groovemama musicians will hold workshops from 3-6 p.m., followed by potluck dinner and jam. Fiddle workshops will begin at 3:00 & 4:30.
Guitar workshop will run from 4:00 to 5:30, to allow participants time to join us for potluck and jam in Corrales. (See full schedule on FolkMADS website: )
Location: Fiddle workshops in Corrales; Guitar workshop in NE Heights
90-minute Fiddle Workshops: FolkMADS members: $15 for each workshop
Non-members: $25 for each workshop or $40 for both.
90-minute Guitar Workshop: FolkMADS members: $15, Non-members: $25
Old Time Music Circle, Albuquerque, Sun., March 2
Come jam from 2-4 PM at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, 9315 Candelaria NE, Albuquerque, NM. There will be 2 groups playing in 2 separate rooms. Bluegrass music will be in the front room (entry room) and Old Time music will be in the west room (where concerts are held). Email Judy Muldawer at email@example.com for more details.
Santa Fe Irish Concerts, Sat., March 1 & Sun., March 2
Saturday, March 1, 7:00pm and Sunday, March 2nd, 2:30pm Matinee
Belisama Irish Dance Company
“Rhythm of Fire” Concerts
James A. Little Theater
NM School for the Deaf
Albuquerque Irish Concert, Tuesday, March 4
THE DAVID MUNNELLY BAND! From County Mayo, Ireland
Tuesday, March 4th, 7:30 p.m.
Windchime Champagne Gallery
518 Central SW (between 4th & 5th, south side)
$15 Advance/$20 Door
Tickets at Natural Sound, The Bookstop, and Windchime Champagne Gallery
Or through AMP Concerts: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/25865
The David Munnelly Band took Walnut Valley Festival (aka WINFIELD!) by storm three years ago, and has returned to the Festival ever since (including the upcoming 2008 event). The David Munnelly Band is Button Accordion/Fiddle/ Guitar/ Flute/ Rhythm (& sometimes piano), and in addition to playing traditional and modern tunes & songs, play music from the 1920’s & 30’s Irish American Dance Hall era. This is mostly Ragtime style. When Ireland became its own country, many immigrants returned from America, & brought the popular music with them. David is keeping this tradition alive, and with GREAT VIGOR! This is one of the most exciting Celtic Bands around. They also boast an All Ireland Champion singer, Shauna Mullins, and they even have a Tap (not Step) Dancer!!! It will be an unforgettable show! Here they are on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NJSU4KidSE
Corrales Sing, Friday, March 7
FOLK SONG CIRCLE. Newcomers welcome! They’ll sing songs about Tall Tales and Miracles.
FIRST FRIDAY OF EVERY MONTH, 8:00 P.M. TO MIDNIGHT
Each participant in the circle may lead a song, do a solo, request a song, or pass. Bring enthusiasm, songbooks, instruments, beverages/snacks, kids, and friends.
Contact: Laurie McPherson 898-6978
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
114 Coronado Road, Corrales, 87048
(Directions: From the intersection of Alameda and Coors, go 1.8 miles north on Corrales Road. Pass the Chevron station, go several blocks. Just past the Horseman’s Supply store, turn left on Coronado Road. Post office is too far. They’re the second house on the right, come in past the barns to park.)
Santa Fe Contra Dance, Saturday, March 8
Note new dance time of 7:30 -10:30 p.m. (same as ABQ dances now) Donna Howell calling with Beat La Feet playing dance tunes. 7:30 p.m. -10:30 p.m., IOOF Hall, 1125 Cerrillos Rd. Instruction at 7:00 p.m. $7 members, $8 others, students 1/2 price with ID.
Second Sunday Dance, March 9
Richard Wilson calling elegant English and zesty contras; Second Nature (Karina Wilson on fiddle and Della O’Keefe on piano) playing. 7:00 – 9:30 p.m., Heights Community Center, 823 Buena Vista SE (1 block east of University, south of Lead/Coal). Bring clean dance shoes. No shoes with nails or that leave black scuff marks, please. $7 members, $8 others, students 1/2 price with ID.
Albuquerque Megaband Practice, Tuesday, March 11
Join the Megaband in a jam in its current location at O’Niell’s Pub, Banquet Room, 4310 Central Ave SE (Central at Washington in East Nob Hill), 7:00-10:00 p.m. More info: Bruce Thomson, 277-4729. (We just ate there today and it was YUMMY!)
ABQ Dance Committee Meeting, Saturday, March 15
3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Bob & Linda’s – 509 Aliso NE
Come give input and volunteer to help keep the dances invigorated and organized. Then you can go dancing after the meeting. For more details, call 255-6037
Albuquerque Contra Dance, Saturday, March 15
Marj Mullany calling and the Albuquerque Megaband playing. 7:30 – 10:30 p.m., acoustic jam at 6:30 p.m. and newcomers class at 7 p.m. Heights Community Center, 823 Buena Vista SE (1 block east of University, south of Lead/Coal). Bring clean dance shoes. No shoes with nails or that leave black scuff marks, please. $7 members, $8 others, students 1/2 price with ID. I’m guessing green attire would be festively encouraged.
Taos Contra Dance, Saturday, March 15
Dance at the San Geronimo Lodge, at 7: 00 and wind down at 10:00. Call 776-1580 with questions about the dance.
Taos Irish Concert, Sunday, March 16
6:30-9:30 pm, Irish Traditional Music
Roger Landes & Friends
Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos
Taos Concert, Thursday, March 20th
6:30-9:30 pm, Roger Landes Solo
Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos
Las Cruces Contra Dance, Friday, March 21
Lewis Land and Lonnie Ludeman calling with SNMMDS Band playing. Location: La Mesilla Community Center, 2251 Calle de Santiago, Mesilla NM. It’s actually the adjacent town of Mesilla, and hall is 2 blocks west of the plaza. For info, contact 505-522-1691. 7:30 p.m. beginner lessons & dance to follow to 10:30 p.m., Cost: $5
Santa Fe Contra Dance, Saturday, March 22
Richard Wilson calling and Second Nature (Karina Wilson on fiddle and Della O’Keefe on piano) playing. Dance 7:30 p.m. -10:30 p.m., IOOF Hall, 1125 Cerrillos Rd. Instruction at 7:00 p.m. $7 members, $8 others, students 1/2 price with ID.
Special Swing Dance Event, Saturday, March 29
Come to a special sizzling swing dance with Le Chat Lunatique playing. This dynamic, young quartet will blow your dancing shoes off with their energy, creativity and vive!
7:30 – 10:30 p.m., Heights Community Center, 823 Buena Vista SE (1 block east of University, south of Lead/Coal). Bring clean dance shoes. No shoes with nails or that leave black scuff marks, please. $8 members, $10 others, students 1/2 price with ID. FOLKMADS will set up chairs, and some tables with chairs in the other part of the hall, for more of a social club feel. But most of the crowd, including Le Chat Lunatique groupies (translate: young folk), will be up and dancing all night long!
This & That
Folkmadness 2008 is fast approaching with fantastic talent. Send in your registration for camp in Socorro, NM May 23-26, 2008. Lisa Greenleaf and Bill “Doc” Litchman calling, Groovemongers and Alice/Al White playing. AND Priscilla Zimmermann from Santa Fe has been hired to lead singing. Details at: http://www.folkmads.org/2008Folkmadness.html
Arizona’s Peg Hesley Goes to Texas: 2nd Annual Contra Dance Weekend in Post, Texas (about 5 hours from ABQ). March 7-9, 2008, 8 p.m. Friday until noon Sunday. Caller will be Peg Hesley of Phoenix, AZ with two bands playing, Flagstaff’s Traditional Blend and Texas’s Mimi & Allison. Cost is $70, which includes three meals. Lodging additional, $50-$80 per person, includes 2 nights. Cost: $65 for the weekend of dancing. For information, visit www.thegreatdanceescape.org
ZoukFest World Music Camp (June 8-14 in Santa Fe) is now open for early registration! Check out our new and returning staff and new classes! All those who register before April 1st are automatically entered into the drawing for free tuition. That’s right, one lucky ZoukFest attendee will get free full tuition for the week. Be sure to look at the two amazing instruments in the current raffle! Details at http://zoukfest.com
Happy St. Paddy’s Green to everyone and enjoy your extra Leap Day,
Inevitably the death of a pet makes you contemplate your own mortality. So I suppose I’ve been holding my breath and denying my mortality as we saw Baby Cat through his final days this past week.
Each year we celebrate our natal days; each year the anniversary of our death passes without note or fanfare. Although we don’t know the date of our eventual demise, in Baby Cat’s case, his two dates may well have been one and the same. We’ll never know for sure.
My husband Mark (with whom I share a 26th anniversary today) wrote eloquently about Baby’s Last Day and included much of his history.
Baby came to us as a tiny kitten with his feral mother. He didn’t purr his first year, but finally found his voice. He was so small when we first saw him with his milky eyes and backset ears that we thought he might be blind. He looked more like a mouse than a kitten. Eventually his blue eyes turned yellow-green and his ears perked up. He ultimately weighed 14 pounds, but we still called him Baby. Or Dude or Little Guy or Doodle. His white paws were enormous, compared to our petite Kitty. He was soft as a bunny, with back feet reminiscent of a jackrabbit. His long gray tail had 3 black rings at the tip, like a raccoon.
He was mostly an outdoor cat, sleeping under our spruce tree and the neighbor’s spruce tree. We tried to make him sleep inside at night, not always with success. But Baby always came running when I’d whistle for him, just like a dog. He didn’t necessarily stay inside then; he might meow plaintively at the door, wanting to go back outside. If the weather was bad or cold, we’d make him stay in. Or he’d come in one door and immediately trot to the other door to go back out. When the weather was bad, he’d check both doors, perhaps hoping for a different result, then turn despondently back into the house and lie on the bed or chair.
Each fall when the gas furnace kicked on the first time of the season, Baby would yowl in terror and run for the nearest door. Eventually, each season he would remember that heat was good (even if loud) and would drape himself over a pillow in front of a heater vent, fur blowing gently in the warm breeze. He would also nestle into the electric blanket covering our couch during the winter. Often he was forced to share the couch with Kitty and the dog. On exceptionally cold days, he would jump from the floor under the bedspread and nestle, a big lump on the edge of the bed. We never figured out how he could breathe under there.
Baby was a mellow cat, almost Zen-like. Sometimes he was too passive, submitting grumpily to Kitty’s constant cleaning of him until he’d finally had enough and would stalk away, head wet with Kitty’s saliva. He came home with scratches on his nose and occasional abcesses. We never saw him fight, so we theorized that he just sat there and let another cat swat him, then walked away back home.
He had his decadent side. He might lounge on one’s legs, like a tree branch, purring and cleaning himself. He’d stay there until my legs fell asleep and I had to move him to regain feeling.
He never really craved attention like some cats. He wanted it on his own terms, usually when it was least convenient to the human. If I was sitting on the toilet with the bathroom door cracked, I would see a fat white paw poke through the crack, opening the door. Then he’d pad in, purring and butting my legs. I’d say, “Excuse me! I’m trying to use my litter box.” He’d ignore me and continue to purr and rub my legs. Sometimes he’d stand up, balanced on the toilet rim demanding to be petted. When I was weeding the yard, Baby would wander out from the bushes, butting my hand with the trowel. I always wondered if he could hear the weeds’ protest and wanted to stop me. When I was working on the computer, he’d jump onto my desk and stand on the keyboard, producing an endless series of s’s. I rarely minded his intrusions.
We also had a winter ritual. When I emerged from the shower, I’d put on my robe, open the bathroom door, and in would come Baby. He’d sit in my lap in front of the wall heater, and I would rub his throat and vigorously scratch the top of his head. He would act as though he didn’t like it, shaking his head and walking away a few steps. Then he would head-butt me, seeking more.
He had a ritual with Mark too. Mark is allergic to cats, although not deathly so. Still, if we failed to make the bed in the morning, we would find Baby curled on Mark’s pillow, never mine.
I have many images of Baby: waiting at the corner of our block, until we appeared. Then he’d walk alongside LuckyDog as we headed home, shoulder to shoulder, cat and dog tails erect, parallel plumes. He liked to sway; if I was on the wood-slatted swing out back or the quilted hammock, he would watch the motion and join me, timing his jump to the swaying. Once we had an infestation of mice in the garage and outside, and Baby ate four or five in one afternoon. I witnessed one mouse sliding down his throat, legs and tail the last to vanish, just like the python we used to housesit. In the morning I’d open the front curtain and see him on the front porch futon, lounging in the sunlight, lazily looking up and meowing at me.
In October 2007 we went on a short camping trip, and when we returned home, Baby was nowhere to be found. Mark looked around and finally heard him mewing sadly, but distantly. In our absence, Baby had climbed the ladder to the roof of the house, but couldn’t figure out how to get down. The neighbor and cat-sitter didn’t find him, and he probably spent one night on the roof.
Mark’s blog entry explained that Baby blossomed after Kitty’s death in July 2007. Irony abounds even in the animal world. Baby was mostly an outdoor cat his whole life probably because Kitty dominated and bothered him. After Kitty died, Baby evolved into a different cat. He stayed indoors much more, he talked often after 14 years of silence, he purred more, lap-sat more, visited more people who came to our house, rather than running for the door. But he didn’t get to enjoy his ‘top cat’ status for even 8 months.
It took us a few days to notice that he had quit eating. After a week, we took him to the vet. She found an abdominal mass the size of a fist. X-rays and blood tests revealed that he most likely had inoperable cancer. The largest tumor was inside his small intestine, blocking food. They kept him overnight to rehydrate him, and when I went to visit before closing hours, he had perked up due to the IV fluids entering his right front paw. I petted and brushed him and sobbed for a half hour, trying to come to terms with the fact that he was terminally ill and unlikely to live more than a few more days. The next 24 hours we debated: how do you know when is the right time to euthanize him? Why can’t he tell us how he feels and what he wants? We waited too long to euthanize Kitty–what should we do for Baby?
The universe sent more irony. As soon as I got home from the vet, the neighbor kids across the street rang the doorbell. They had found Baby’s collar, which had been missing for more than SIX MONTHS, in the church parking lot behind our house. I was certain this was a message from the universe, but could not unravel the meaning.
We had planned to euthanize him tomorrow, getting him through his 15th birthday and our 26th anniversary. But after lying on the floor with him for hours, gently stroking and brushing him, I realized he was extremely uncomfortable. What was the point of keeping him alive? We injected fluids under his skin to help hydrate him, but he couldn’t keep down the Prednisone, opiate, or even water from his bowl. So we called the vet and moved his appointment to yesterday.
The vet tech wanted to take him away to put in the catheter for the euthanization. But I had promised Baby I wouldn’t leave him again. So she inserted the catheter in Room 5, the room that you don’t want your pet to go to, the room where Kitty and our friend Meg’s dog Jackson were euthanized. I stroked Baby as the fluids entered his body, and we heard him purring, even during the euthanization. Then the purring faded.
When we got his body home, waiting to be buried, we both swore we still heard him purring. We hope we were wrong.
During the last few days of Baby’s life, Mark and I manifested our grief physically. Mark says his was a taut feeling in his stomach, like he needed to puke but couldn’t. I felt a severe tightness across my heart, and tried to swim it out at the YMCA. I also felt a great weight of sadness. After Baby’s death, I felt some relief from the physical pain. Although we are both very sad, we feel that we did right by him his whole life. We have no regrets other than that he couldn’t stay with us a few more years. We gave him a peaceful end.
My friend Ann wrote, “Baby’s a very sweet cat…really the best cat I ever met. With visits every four years, I only got to see him a few times. But I will miss him very much…he was very good company while I visited, more of a buddy than I ever really knew a cat could be. He made me feel at home away from home. He is a beauty on the outside and the inside….”
Although Baby shared the house with Mark, me, Kitty, and Lucky, he was my cat. If a cat can love something or someone, then I believe Baby loved me in his own cat way. He would curl up with me as I read a book, purring. Perhaps it was my warmth he craved, perhaps my company. It doesn’t really matter to me. Either way, I am buffeted by grief. Ann’s right—Baby was the sweetest cat I’ve ever met.
Photo by Mark Justice Hinton
I just spent a whole weekend in Oklahoma City at an English country dance weekend. It was fantastic!
My long-time dance friends know that this is a remarkable declaration. I failed to embrace English country dance for more than 20 years, and only in the last five years have I discovered its beauty, nuance, and grace.
Eight New Mexicans attended the event, along with about 75 other dancers from Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, Kansas, and other spots. Meg, Kit, Mary, and I flew. Richard Wilson drove 1,000 miles with daughters Karina and Lily and family friend Mia. Karina is in her early 20’s and has become quite an accomplished dance fiddler. We stayed at local homes with wonderful hospitality. Our hostess extraordinaire Cia pampered us with meals and stories, and we were delighted to find tasty and affordable Indian and Vietnamese food around town.
Bare Necessities, THE premier English dance band in the world, flew in from various states for the event. Jacqueline Schwab played piano while calling the dances. Peter Barnes on flute, English horn, and penny whistle, Mary Lea on fiddle, and Earl Gaddis on fiddle rounded out the band. English country dance music is rooted in the 1600 and 1700’s, with some modern compositions thrown in. The music swells, transcends, and heartbreakingly evokes simpler and more peaceful times. The dances, each of which matches a particular tune, were danced in England in castles and villages. The dances immigrated to America along with the dancers. They require grace and precision with “moments” of connection with one’s partner and others. Many of the dances are jubilant, some are elegant, all are fun. Dance moves immortal through time.
It wasn’t until lunch at Lido’s on Saturday that Earl mentioned casually that he had 104 fever. Taking his temperature after his meal revealed that it had dropped to 99-something. During lunch we told him and Jacqueline about Karina, whose radiant fiddling is the hope for the future of English dance in New Mexico.
Most of the dancers who attended the weekend were somewhat or greatly experienced. However, a few new dancers braved the weekend and happily survived. We danced three hours Friday night, had a two and a half hour workshop Saturday morn, 3-hour workshop Saturday afrternoon, and fancy final ball Saturday evening. Surprisingly, I did not take an Advil, get a blister, or suffer any consequences from leaping and twirling and gliding about with vigor and exuberance. I had not planned to wear the “period dress” requested, but not required. However, a few days before we travelled, I found a maroon velvet queen’s costume with regal gold trim for $7 at the thrift store. AND it was machine washable.
Mary, Kit, Merri, Meg (photo by Richard Letts from Austin)
During the Saturday night dance, I heard an especially beautiful waltz flowing from the stage. I looked over and observed that Karina was playing fiddle with Bare Necessities and Earl was nowhere to be seen! Astonished, I sat out one dance to watch her fingers silently pluck the strings, rehearsing the tune while Jacqueline taught the dance. I admired Karina’s serenity and joy playing with these new-to-her musicians. I studied the communication between the musicians, and how each dropped out to showcase the others. Afterwards, Karina was euphoric and thanked us for “talking her up” to the band. “We’re very proud of you,” I replied.
Peter Barnes (in period dress?), Mary Lea, Karina, Jacqueline Schwab
photo by Mary Beath
It turned out that Earl was lying on his stomach behind the stage with 5 acupuncture needles protruding from the base of his skull. His fever had rekindled, and he needed help. Luckily for Earl, one of the dancers present was also a doctor and acupunturist. With needles still visible, he played the last few tunes of the night and proclaimed that he hadn’t felt this fine in several days.
The organizers of this weekend, Carol Barry and Kevin Barrett, created a memorable event from the beautifully decorated hall to the excellent sound to the ambiance of long ago. Even the name tags were brilliantly inventive, laminated paper with a washer, a magnet, and double stick tape.
As they might say in Shakespeare’s day…”Huzzah!!!”
Saturday’s Ball (Richard and Lily Wilson in foreground)
Photo by Mary Beath