On Saturday, January 17, our region held a wonderful informal winter get-together to share music and camaraderie at the warm and cozy home of Pat and Richard McLaughlin in Warrington, Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia. Given the proximity to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, our song swap included more than a few songs about diversity, peace, freedom, and justice, plus a healthy helping of fun, upbeat ditties. It was pure joy to sing and play along on so many great tunes and to compare notes about the inspirational and healing power of what we do. During a break in the music, David and Jenny Heitler-Klevans reported on the highlights of the successful 2014 CMN International Conference, which they co-chaired, and told us about how CMN has been asked to have a bigger part the programming of this year’s KindieComm event to be held March 21–22 in Philadelphia. When suppertime rolled around, we indulged in a bountiful potluck dinner, and the music and fun continued into the evening.
As discussed at the swap, Mid-Atlantic Region members will perform a “Children’s Concert for Peace” on the afternoon of April 11, 2015, at the Newtown, Pennsylvania, Friends Meeting House. Proceeds will go to the Peace Center of Bucks County in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Richard McLaughlin is the CMN contact person for this event.
Sixteen folks from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois joined Barb Tilsen and her husband, David, at their home in Minneapolis on November 8, 2014, for a CMN song swap. A cold, overcast afternoon was warmed by the sounds of shared songs interspersed with stories of new songs written, a discussion of the recording and production process do’s and don’ts, and hot cider, cookies, pie, and other delectables. Among the variety of interests shared were Fran McKinney’s song with her new children’s book. Puppeteer Margo McCreary and photographer Gayla Ellis also described the community programs in which they work with Barb Tilsen. Anna Stange demonstrated how to play a Russian Gusli lap harp. To everyone’s delight, there were banjo players in the mix, along with Barb’s interesting cache of percussion instruments to explore and play. After the lively afternoon activities, many of the group went to dinner at the nearby Global Market. Barb plans to host another song swap in the next year.
The Midwest’s “Six People Singing” song swaps are in motion. Nine people gathered January 25 in Northbrook, Illinois, at the home of Kathleen Weinberg to network and share a wealth of knowledge, songs, and stories. We officially welcomed into our region Dave Orleans, formerly of the Pacific Northwest Region, and two new members. Several more winter SPS song swaps are scheduled around the Chicago area and in Wisconsin, and we are planning SPS Round 2 for spring. Please contact Midwest Regional Representative Carole Stephens if you’d like to host one. The energy is revving up for hosting the CMN annual conference in Zion, Illinois, in October.
Our region was a community partner for Kids Really Rock in South Boston last October 5. The free, all-day family music and arts festival, which was produced by CMNer Karen Kalafatas, took place at The Lawn on D, which is a new park and outdoor event space at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Several other CMN members were also among the performers. The proceeds went to the nonprofit group Cradles to Crayons.
New England members are looking forward to their annual regional conference, which is being planned for May 2, 2015, at the Calvary UMC Church in Arlington, Massachusetts. There will be six slots for workshops and song swaps during the day. Attendees can expect the usual round-robin as well as other opportunities to sing, network, and have a great time.
New York Metro
The White Plains Public Library was the venue for a regional gathering the afternoon of November 15, 2014, with sixteen participants that included a couple of walk-in library-goer families. As part of the day’s theme, “Song as Story,” longtime New England Region CMN member Jackson Gillman gave the featured presentation and workshop on using our first instruments—voice and body—in performance. He demonstrated several dramatic story/songs that needed no accompaniment, showing how sometimes putting down the guitar can facilitate the connection between storyteller and listeners as well as between the listeners and the heart of the story. He invited participants to present a song/story that they wanted to work on that would lend itself to an acapella presentation. Patricia Shih volunteered a Chinese tale she called “the Chinese John Henry” about a race between an abacus and a calculator. She taught the group its refrain, in Chinese, but didn’t reveal until the end of the story that its meaning was “Sometimes progress and pride are terrible.” Jackson and others in the audience then gave her feedback on how she could strengthen her presentation. The informative and entertaining afternoon was topped off with song sharing and refreshments.
Then on Saturday, January 24, ten courageous New Yorkers schlepped out into the snow and up Janice Buckner’s long, winding driveway in Huntington, on Long Island, for another gathering. Huddled near a warm fire, and stuffing our mouths with a potluck lunch potpourri of delectables, we managed to have a rousing round-robin of songs based on the values of Martin Luther King Jr., and we created a fabulous peace song in honor of Dr. King. The song was a real team effort: all ten people contributed words anchored to a beautiful original melody written by Nancy Silber. Because of time constraints, we left with the challenge to each separately create additional verses. The gathering, co-hosted by Patricia Shih and Janice Buckner, was a blend of longtime CMNers, a returnee, and some who were new to CMN—potential members. All in all, it was a great day.
A number of Northern California Region members attended the El Cerrito Free Folk Festival on October 25, 2014. Bonnie Lockhart and Nancy Schimmel led a song swap that also included nonmember festival-goer participants. Nancy’s shared song, “Compost Critter,” was one of the hits, along with her puppet of the same name.