About Me

My photo
Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Do People Still Make Music Like in the "Old Days"?

Yes they do!
I am proud to be associated with the Riverside Folk Song Society, which celebrated 50 years of music making yesterday. For half a century, nearly every month, with rare "dark" months, the members of this group have gathered, usually in homes, but sometimes in larger meeting halls, to share music and stories, friendship and food. Most of the original members are now gone from our midst, but some of the founding folks are still around and 4 of the charter members were at the meeting yesterday.

The group began with a handful of educators and music enthusiasts desiring to join together in song (just as our ancestors used to do). They formed a "loose" organization on 2 January 1960 and from that sprang a current membership of about 40 people. The organization continues to be "loose" - we have a president but that is the only conventional officer. There is no board of directors. There is no treasury (we dissolved it with the party!). I am the "membership/meeting coordinator" as well as the webmaster and we have another member who is in charge of our listing on "MeetUp." We hold our meetings on the third Saturday (usually) of each month (occasionally we change that date to accommodate the host or other local happenings). We gather at the homes of members (these are never listed on the Internet: to attend, a prospective member must contact the president or me to get information on where the meeting is held; this is to maintain the privacy of our members). To read more about our meetings, check out the website for the Riverside Folk Song Society.

Yesterday's celebration included the sharing of songs for the first couple of hours, then we had a slide show by founder Chet Roistacher, followed by a feast, provided by the members and the society combined, including anniversary cakes, during which more slides were shown in the background, reminding all of the many wonderful times we've had together. Following that it was back to music until 9pm. Then everyone pitched in to clean up the hall (we rented a fellowship hall in a local church for this event). Everyone who attended (and wanted one) received a complimentary tote bag with the logo (above) to remind us of this occasion.

We've watched each other grow, watched each other's children grow, and many have moved into third and fourth generations. This group is like a second family to me and I can't imagine celebrating any event in my life without them there (some of the photos we showed were of Butch's & my 20th & 30th wedding anniversaries, my 40th birthday, and Butch's retirement/my graduation parties . . . there we all were, time after time, raising the roof with song!).

If you would like to view what a music party can look like, check out the slide show on flickr - click on "slide show" (thanks to long-time member, Dr. Robert Sirotnik, for taking them and making them available). More photos will be going up soon on Facebook and possibly on my website or here on this blog. Our "official photographer," my long-time friend (from our youth in Illinois), Judy Wagner, took a number of photos also and I will get them up as soon as my schedule allows.

I would like to think that, when our ancestors got together to share an evening, some of those times looked a lot like this! If you want to have this sort of experience, there is likely a group near you that gets together for song-swapping and jamming - let me know if you want help in locating one (musicians are a lot like genealogists - we network!).

1 comment:

  1. My parents, Don and Jean Stone were part of the early days (the 60's) of the Riverside Folk Song Society. We often had meetings at our house and I have fond memories of meeting up at Chet's cabin too. I live in Vista (about an hour south of Riverside)now and am trying to start something similar here. It's nice to see that the original format of the group continues. My mother who kept active in music passed away on Sept.1,2009. I live in her house now and want to continue her tradition here as a remembrancer of her and also for the love of music. Erik Stone


Please keep comments related to this post or topic; others will be deleted. Contact blog author directly for other issues.