Photo by Robert Forsyth

Written by David Liden, former Folk School Development Director, Chairman of the Board, and now a local musician and friend.

After almost thirty years in Brasstown, Bob Dalsemer has moved to a lovely new home in a residential community in Black Mountain, North Carolina where he joins a number of musical friends. But rest assured, he took a piece of Brasstown with him: a wonderfully whimsical quilt. This quilt was created and blessed by lots of his friends who pieced and sewed a little bit of their hearts and memories into a beautiful expression of thanks for helping us understand that music and dance are a natural part of a full life. 

During his tenure, Bob was the backbone of music and dance at the Folk School and beyond that, an inspiration to greater Brasstown. He saw music and dance as essential to Mrs. Campbell’s understanding of the Danish Folk School idea. In his own words:

“While music and dance are class offerings at the Folk School, they play an even greater role in community building: an important aspect of the Folk School philosophy. Mrs. Campbell made special note of the importance of community singing, folk dancing, and singing games in bringing folks together.”

Photo by Robert Forsyth

Photo by Robert Forsyth

Photo by Robert Forsyth

Photo by Martha Owen

Photo by Martha Owen

Photo by Celia Larson

From 1991 to 2013, Bob played an essential role in renewing the Folk School’s music and dance program through his national, and even international, reputation as a master caller, teacher, and musician. He created new classes and recruited new teachers. He built Winter Dance Week into a vibrant event encompassing a variety of traditions. He popularized the Tuesday night dances and Friday night concerts for students and neighbors. The Saturday night dances flourished with live music, popular callers, and musicians from all across the region. And all the while, there was an enthusiasm for inclusiveness where everyone, especially young people and beginners, was always welcome and dancing was fun. When Annie Fain Barralon took over upon Bob’s retirement, the foundation was in place for her to build on. 

Photo by Robert Forsyth

Photo by Robert Forsyth

Photo by Robert Forsyth

Photo by Robert Forsyth

Bob’s place in the local community of dancers and musicians was equally important and inspiring. He was the anchor of the local Morris Dance bands with his accordion providing the musical core, suggesting the perfect tunes, and encouraging others to rise to his standards. The Tuesday and Saturday night dances for students and neighbors were always fun because he was there to call, play or dance. He was always ready for a jam or to add music to a local event. And, he inspired our local Dog Branch Cats dance band as the fiddler who always had the right tune in mind, providing a danceable blend of melody and rhythm.

So now we want to thank him for the dance. For the opportunity to enjoy each other, meet new people, and build community. We wish him all the best and look forward to frequent visits. How long will it be before they have a regular square dance and string band in his new community?

Bob accepting the County Dance & Song Society’s Lifetime Contribution Award in 2011

John C. Campbell Folk School
About John C. Campbell Folk School

The Folk School transforms lives, bringing people together in a nurturing environment for experiences in learning and community life that spark self-discovery. Located in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina, the Folk School offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing.