Category: Music

An Evening Dance at Dance Musicians’ Week

This week at the Folk School, we have many talented musicians who serenade us on the Dining Hall porch before lunch, and provide incredible live music at contra dances each night. This treat is brought to us by the talented folks participating in Dance Musicians’ Week, an annual class that teaches musicians how to play together for contra and square dances.

Read More

Dance Callers’ Week

In conjunction with Little Middle Folk School last week, adults had some fun dance opportunities. The Dance Callers’ class gave callers great instruction and practice in calling contra and square dances. With the small class size, students benefited from plenty of personalized instruction and hands-on practice. Of course a contra dance can’t happen without dancers. Dancers also signed up for the week, to be guinea pigs for practicing callers. Energetic live music by Steve Hickman and John Devine kept everyone in high spirits.

Read More

Many Fine Tunes: A Brief History of Dancing at the Folk School

The stories of our lives where dance and song are called for, go back to faraway lands where kings and villagers alike danced for joy.  Dance as a way to express joy that cannot be contained is part of many legends across the globe.  I know that you understand what I am talking about.  The many threads of our Southern Appalachian story can be seen beginning with the Singing Games or Play Party Games, which are a long time part of a vibrant mountain culture.  Almost any occasion where the earliest settlers and pioneers gathered, there was time to sing, clap, laugh,  and stomp in time with the music they created.  Not too different from what we do now, whenever we are together!

Read More

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.

Read More

Dance Musicians’ Week Update

Here we are at John C. Campbell Folk School for another week of music and dancing.  This is the seventeenth year of this fantastic class, with dancing every night for everyone, and dancing and playing every day for the 21 instructors and students participating in the class.

Read More

Learning by Doing

Summer is here and so is Little/Middle Folk School.  While the campus is taken over by kick ball, card games, picnics, and the fire truck that stopped by on Tuesday to spray the kids off – there is still one adult class happening, and that’s Dance Caller’s Week.

Read More

Monday Night Music

Morning song at the Folk School is a cherished way of waking up.  We  can slowly get out of bed, walk to the Keith House Community Room, make a cup of coffee or tea, and for thirty minutes before breakfast, blink, yawn, and listen to music.  Depending on who is performing – listeners are invited to sing along, or lean back in their chairs to hear stories.

Read More

Upcoming Concert Evokes a Folk School Memory

Music and dancing is the heartbeat of the Folk School.  While students, instructors, and staff work during the week, it is at the dances and concerts when the community comes together to have fun.  Free concerts are held almost every Friday night at the school and this Friday Paul and Jerry Wilson and their family will perform.  Groups who play here often travel from afar to share their music, but this week the band will be coming from just down the road.   Tipper Wilson writes about her memories at the Folk School:

Read More

Folk School Friend: Norman Kennedy

You meet the most interesting people here.  Over the years, I’ve learned from and enjoyed talking to some of the world’s great characters right here in Brasstown.  Shortly after I became the Director of the Folk School, I asked some of my musical and crafts friends to tell me great people we should try to get to teach at the Folk School.  A trusted musical advisor, Beth Ross Johnson, said “Get the great ballad singer Norman Kennedy.”  My weaving advisor (spouse Nanette) said, “Get the great weaver Norman Kennedy.”  These two turned out to be the very same ponytailed Scotsman.  So for the last eighteen years or so, he has made visits to Brasstown which are always memorable for us here, jazzing up weavers and spinners, slamming tweed on the table to the beat of the ancient waulking music, where the singing and the weaving come together, as the song propels the cloth sunwise around the table while all the hands of the people lift it up and slam it down and pass it on to the next waulker.  In this way, the wool is preshrunk, softened, bonded and unified.  The people likewise, except they are not preshrunk.

Read More

Current Catalog


Embrace your creative potential, and join us for a life-changing Folk School experience. View the current eCatalog now. You can also search and register for classes here.

Our Top Priority: Health and Safety

As we prepare for 2021 programs, the health and safety of our students, instructors, staff, and community is our top priority. We recognize COVID-19 will likely continue to be a public health concern in 2021, and there is much more to learn about it in the coming months. Read detailed information on safety measures and what you can expect to find at the school on our blog, or on page 9 of the eCatalog.

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!

Archives