Author: Emolyn Liden, Writer, Student & Instructor

Dance Musicians’ Week at the John C. Campbell Folk School

Dance Musicians’ Week is for the musician who is comfortable playing a few tunes on his or her instrument and wants to play for traditional contra, square, and couple dancing. It is a week of breaking out of shells, letting the “inner-musician” flourish, improving techniques of playing and arranging music, and being part of a band. It comes around once a year, in July, and I can say from experience that the larger the class, the more the fun.

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Waulking with Norman Kennedy

The campus was decorated with Scottish flags last week during Scottish Heritage Week.  With the blacksmiths learning ironworking techniques of ancient Scotland, the woodcarvers chiseling Celtic motifs,  the cooks boiling broths on the open hearth and making hagis and bannocks – it’s a wonder we didn’t all start talking with Scottish accents.

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Cheese making is whey cool!

The Cooking Studio is a nice place to be during the summer.  The windows along two sides of the building look out to the fields and herb garden.  Inside the kitchen is bright and clean and, while class is going on, full of hustle and bustle.  I stopped in during Mary Lou Surgi’s cheese making class and it looked like so much fun!

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Play all day, dance all night!

At Dance Musicians week it so happens that there are numerous people wandering around with instruments looking to play music.  During the week-long musical “take-over” you can hear music all around campus.  The musicians are put into bands and before long they infiltrate the nightly dances and bump the instructors off stage.  David Kaynor, Susan Songer, Naomi Morse, and Peter Siegel don’t seem to mind, actually I hear that they encourage it.

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Current Catalog


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While classes and events are currently suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our board of directors and staff continue to work toward reconnecting with our Folk School family on campus once it is considered safe and appropriate.

The Folk School Cookbook

Author Nanette Davidson meticulously collected, curated, and adapted over 200 delicious recipes for The Folk School Cookbook. These include some of the most memorable recipes served family-style in the school’s Dining Hall and at seasonal celebrations over the decades. Bring the Folk School’s culinary traditions into your own kitchen and order your copy today!

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