Floorplay in Floyd tonight! (12/8/07)

Photo of Floorplay from Charlottesville: Paul Rosen (mandolin, fiddle, accordion), Mary Prendergast (keyboard) and Aaron Lamb (drums) formed their band this Spring to play their combination of French Canadian, Old-time, Klezmer, Swing, and original tunes. The caller will be Dean Snipes from Charlotte, NC.

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Whenever I go to Charlottesville to contra dance or attend the Virignia Festival of the Book, I get the treat of staying with my friends Rob Craighurst, who runs Tell Me About It Tours , and Sue Berres, an occupational therapist and their daughter Lilly. Their short block is remarkable in that the families of two out of the three members of Floorplay (Paul and Mary) also live there–it’s almost a co-housing community. Mary and her husband Will once put me up for the last night of a stay, since Rob and Sue had family arriving.

Here’s the desription of how the band got together from their website:

Long ago, in Philadelphia, Mary endured classical piano lessons for an entire childhood… Meanwhile, Paul, in the DC suburbs, had delusions of being in the Monkees and banged on any instrument he could reach… He eventually stumbled on traditional music… In the mid ’80s, he found himself playing for a small dance where only 3 couples showed up. The flute player grabbed him and made him dance. His reluctance melted away… In ’88 he started the contradance in Harrisonburg, VA (now in Dayton)… Meanwhile, in Knoxville, TN, Aaron was 11 and saw his cool uncle play the drums and became obsessed… Paul learns how to call… In the 90’s, Mary discovered contras to Jeremiah McLane’s solo accordion at her brother’s wedding in Vermont… Paul played for many dances with the Buzzard Rock Bayou Boys, who broke up 12/31/99… Then Mary moved to Belmont in Charlottesville, started dancing fanatically, joined the Charlottesville contradance board, and began volunteering for the Fall Dance Festival… Aaron moved to Belmont and stumbled onto contradancing. He realized that dancing is like playing the drums… Paul moved to Belmont… Paul and Mary played in the band Catharsis for a few years… Mary played for waltzes and English country dances… Paul walked over to Aaron’s house, knocked on the door and invited him to from a new band.

By the way, I was a groupie ( a Buzzardhead?) for the Buzzard Rock Bayou Boys, driving miles to hear them. At First Night in Charlottesville, I can’t remember the year, the band was told they didn’t need to bring their sound system and arrived to find none except for that belonging to the group sharing the space, who wouldn’t lend its use in that echo chamber of a venue. Reading, as above, that they last played together on a New Year’s Eve, I sure hope it wasn’t that night.

I once lamented to Paul Rosen that the guys (Steve Parks, Mike Williams, John Beach and Paul) had broken up and he said they’d stayed together longer than the Beatles. I still play “Songs of Love, Death and Food (still available from Steve),” but it’s just not the same as their live music.

I didn’t realize until I went to his website today that Steve Parks plays with Steve Fishman in Cutting Up Gumby. Now in Chapel Hill, Fishman played in Richmond with the Ululating Mummies.

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And speaking of the Festival of the Book, here’s the latest on who’s appearing free March 26-30, 2008:

  • Colm Toibin (Mothers and Sons)
  • Nathan Englander (The Ministry of Special Cases)
  • David Ignatius (Body of Lies: A Novel)
  • Margaret Coel (The Girl with Braided Hair)
  • James W. Hall (Magic City: A Novel)
  • Jacqueline Winspear (Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel)
  • Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace���One School at a Time)
  • Rosa Montero (Historia del Rey Transparente – Story of the Transparent King)
  • Ward (See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America)
  • A. J. Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically: One Man���s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible)
  • Natasha Trethewey (Native Guard)
  • Claudia Emerson (Late Wife)
  • Heather McHugh (Eyeshot)
  • Charles Wright (Littlefoot: A Poem)
  • David Kirby (The House on Boulevard Street)
  • Barbara Hamby (Babel)

Besides appearing at free open to the public events, the Holton family will host the annual authors reception (tickets are $25). Known here in Virginia as gubinatorial family linked to racial desegregation of public schools, Woody Holton (Unruly Americans) will be joined by his mother, Jinx and his father, the 1970-4 Virginia Governor Linwood Holton. Jr., (whose memoir Opportunity Time will be published in spring). The senior Holtons are, of course, also in-laws of current Democratic governor Tim Kaine. Mike Farrell will appear in a headline event during the 14th annual Virginia Festival of the Book on Saturday, March 29 at 8PM at the Paramount Theater. Admission to this special event is $10. Underwriters for this special event include the Paramount Theater and Covington Travel. Mike Farrell (Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist) will appear at one of the events charging modest admission ($10) to raise money for the event. walter Mosely will be at a pricey event to raise money for an endowment ($38 to 125, the latter including a reception and authographed copy of Blonde Faith)

But back to Governor Holton. You may remember the 2002 dust-up when Trent Lott got axed after his remarks about Strom Thurmond (See Trent Lott’s Wish List: Thinking about What the Nation Would Have Been like under President Strom Thurmond, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 42. (Winter, 2003-2004), pp. 24-26.)

Hailing from Big Stone Gap and in the Mountain-Valley moderate tradition of the Republican Party in our state, Linwood Holton had beaten back Harry Byrd’s political machine to be the first Republican elected since Reconstruction. He wrote an eloquent essay in the December 23 New York Times, “An End to the Southern Strategy,” in which he explains how his party moved right.

Unfortunately a more cynical vision prevailed among the party’s national leaders. With Nixon strategists leading the charge, these few (but prominent) Republicans opted for the so-called Southern strategy to lure white racists into a coalition with the party’s traditional business constituency. The tactic was simple: lace your speeches with coded appeals to racists in Southern states, dressing the policies up in the language of fiscal conservatism.

When challenged about the racial nature of the rhetoric, the Southern Strategist would defend himself by claiming ignorance: ”I didn’t mean that, of course.” The intended target of the message — the racist voter — understood completely, while leaving the politician ”plausible deniability” with non-racist voters.

It’s no wonder, there’s an elementary school named after Holton in Richmond.

Well off to join friends from The Burning Book for dinner at Oddfellows Cantina before the contra dance.

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