An Account of Our Trip to DC to receive the

NATIONAL HERITAGE FELLOWSHIP

September 21 – 25, 2009

Monday, September 21.  Left home at 10:00 am to catch a 12:30 flight from Manchester to BWI, arriving at 1:35 .  Shuttle to the Doubletree Hotel in Bethesda , Maryland .  Checked in at the Doubletree Hotel in Bethesda , Maryland where all the recipients were quartered. Warm Tollhouse cookies.  We walked the half mile to the nearest Metro station, to see how long it would take. 10 min.  Had a cup of gaspatcho and a beer at a café there, walked back to the hotel to find a small feast of bread and cheese and wine, given to us in our room by the NEA. 

 At the orientation that evening at the Doubletree Hotel, (more food) each recipient was given a gold National Heritage Fellow lapel button by Barry Bergey, Director of the National Endowment for the Arts. They were all introduced and each one told a bit about their tradition. There were eleven recipients. THE BIRMINGHAM SUNLIGHTS, A cappella gospel group, Birmingham , Alabama . EDWIN COLON ZAYAS, Cuatro player, Aguadilla , Puerto Rico . CHITRESH DAS, Kathak dancer, San Francisco , California . LEROY GRABER, Willow basket maker, Freeman , South Dakota . “QUEEN” IDA GUILLORY, Zydeco musician, Daly City , California .  DUDLEY LAUFMAN, Dance caller and musician, Canterbury , New Hampshire .  AMMA D. MCKEN, Yoruba Orisha singer, Queens , New York . JOEL NELSON, Cowboy poet, Alpine, Texas .  TERI ROFKAR, Tlingit weaver and basket maker, Sitka , Alaska . SOPHILINE CHEAM SHAPIRO, Cambodian classical dancer, Long Beach , California .  2009 Bess Lomax Hawes Award, MIKE SEEGER, Musician, cultural scholar, and advocate, Lexington , Virginia .

Late supper at the Mattesons, Gary and Sabrina.  They had lived in Epsom , NH , and their three boys were fiddle students and apprentices of ours.  Sabrina and Gary gave up growing anenomes for the Boston market to work in DC for Farm Bureau and Farm Credit.  They live in a narrow three floor house on D Street . 

 

Tuesday afternoon we were all bussed to the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center on Capitol Hill for a public ceremony where each awardee received a beautiful green marble plaque engraved with gold. Dudley ’s was given by Mrs. Judd Gregg, wife of Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire . Dudley has played for their children when they were students at the Well School in Peterboro , New Hampshire , and also for Judd’s father, Hugh, when he was governor of New Hampshire .

 

After this event we all walked over to the Library of Congress for a splendiferous banquet in the marbled foyer with grand fluted columns. The gilded, vaulted ceilings with colorful inlaid mosaic heightened the sense of homage and honor that the Arts community was bestowing on these Fellows. As they spoke in turn at the podium, it became clear that there were two aspects of their story that were the same for each one: they all followed a passion that had first stirred within them long ago; and, it was important that they were passing down their art form and tradition to others who were learning from them.

 

Early Wednesday morning, 7:30 , we took the Metro into Capitol Hill to accept an invitation for coffee from Senator Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire .  She was governor of New Hampshire when Dudley received the New Hampshire Governor’s Award from here in 2001.  We had coffee, had a picture taken, the three of us.  Reminded us of the dance at the Govoernor’s Award in 2001 when the three of us danced Le Papillion.  Saw Chick Colony’s son from Harrisville.

 

Caught the metro to the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda for our first rehearsal for the concert to be held Thursday. Dudley and I were joined here by his musicians and dancers who were to perform with him. Vince O’Donnell, fiddle, Ted Levin, fiddle, Sylvia Miskoe, accordion, and Neil Orzechowski, piano. Dancers were five of Dudley ’s children, Heidi King, Bronwen Rainaud, Nathaniel Laufman, Singwen Mientka, Windelyn Homer,  two grandchildren, Jacob King and Max Homer,  his sister Ann Mason, and a niece, Sara Mason, and my daughter, Laura. Later that afternoon there was a rehearsal for the grand finale.

 

Wednesday evening we played for a house dance in Takoma Park at the home of Loretta Kelley. There was no keyboard but there was an old pump organ. Neil had great fun with this. What a funky sound…four fiddles, accordion and organ. Dudley noticed there were some morris dancers there…Bob Dupre, Charlie Pilzer, Dudley ’s sister Ann, her daughter Sara, me, and another guy. Dudley , after much arm twisting, (“We don’t have bells, we don’t have hankies, I don’t know Bampton”) cajoled us into doing a sandlot morris version of Bampton Highland Mary. It was great. Lots of energy. Dudley finally got to meet Marcia Segal from the Library of Congress who had located some rare recordings for him of Sammy Spring , Happy Hale, and Arthur Hanson.

 

Dances & music @ Takoma Park     Lady of the Lake , Swing Your Jenny, (Flop Eared Mule/ Fisher’s Hornpipe) Petronella, (Finnegan’s Wake) Money Musk, Chorus Jig, French Cotillion

 

Thursday had dress rehearsals. Before the big performance, Dudley took all of us out to eat at a French restaurant, La Madeliene. The big performance was that evening at the Strathmore Music Center . All the recipients took part. Basket weavers had slide shows and interviews with Nick Spitzer, host of the radio program American Routes.  Mike Seeger, who got the Bess Lomax award, had died in August.  He did get the award at bedside before he died.  His wife, Alexis, was interviewed with a nice video of Mike presented at the large screens. She was radiant. There was one video of Mike playing a Jews harp and diddling McLeod’s Reel (Hop High Ladies) finishing with “Deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle, dot com.” 

 

Our part was less of a performance, more of a kitchen junket. We opened with Dudley ’s tune Mistwold, once through. Then Nick Spitzer did a short interview (“How did you get started?”) Then Mistwold again while the dancers hung around the piano until Dudley said “OK, time to dance, let’s do a Virginia Reel.”  Music switched to Dudley ’s tune deMartelly three times through. Dudley and I put down our fiddles and jumped into the top of the set as the music went into the Money Musk (what else), and we gleefully shuffled our way through that three times. Then the music went back to Mistwold, and the dancers did more reeling and promenading while Dudley and I got our fiddles and got the audience to “la la la” along with us. Reception followed and much visiting with friends who came to see the show. Among them were Debby Vines (Quimby) all the way from Wales , and Johanna Berman (Quimby) from Illinois .  They had grown up on Mistwold Farm.

 

Heartfelt thanks to Madeleine Remez and Ann Kogan who coordinated and arranged all our travel and hotel reservations from beginning to end.  We had met them at our gig at the Lowell Folk Festival in July, where they also did the same great job of taking care of us.

 

Home on Friday and without a break went right into my oldest daughter Becky’s wedding  rehearsal and dinner and great wedding on Saturday. Dudley is still on cloud nine, and I still haven’t unpacked.

 

On our kitchen table, set on a bold brass stand, the marble plaque reads:

 

 

 

--Jacqueline Laufman from Canterbury , Sept 30, 2009

POSTSCRIPT: 

It was really a privilege to be able to join all of you in that amazing  event.  What a great collection of talent.  I was fascinated by the way  people loosened up as the performance went on - it seemed that as each  performer finished, they started to lighten up and relax.   On the plane home from DC Friday, I happened to sit next to Sen. John  Kerry, and told him about the event, and the National Heritage  Fellowship program - I said that I know a lot of folks complain to him  about what they think the government does wrong, but this amazing  display of America's cultural breadth is definitely something they do  right.  He was curious about our music, asked about the fiddle music [he  knows me from my day job as an affordable housing person], and sort of  sheepishly said that he plays guitar - showed me the long finger nails  he uses for picking.   If the DVD ever does arrive, I can't wait to show it to Marcia, Liora  and friends who couldn't get there.

be well,
Vince