Old-time Mountain Music comes to T-day
One thing that Townshippers’ Day is never without is live, foot-stomping music, and this year is no exception. The performances start in the morning and last all afternoon at two venues: the Music Tent at the Main site and in the beautiful Chapel of the Manoir Stanstead.
There will be choral music with Choromondo, Rock music, Country Rock, Country music and several folk music performers.
Visitors to Townshippers’ Day will also get to hear a very distinctive kind of folk music when the Bear Mountain String Band hits the stage in the Chapel of the Manoir Stanstead on Saturday afternoon at 2:00. This band of Canadian and American musicians, appropriately named after a mountain that straddles the Canadian/American border, have been getting together for several years now to play “Old Time Appalachian” music, a kind of music that originated in the 1800’s in the southern Appalachian mountains of Virginia and has been credited with influencing both country music and bluegrass.
“It was traditional music with the Scottish and Irish settlers. The music is very lively and fun to listen to – it’s dance music,” commented David Vachon, of Ogden, who plays fiddle and mandolin in the band. “I first started playing Appalachian music when this guy came up from Virginia and showed us the music. I was living in Montreal back then,” said David who moved to Ogden about thirty odd years ago with his wife, Elaine, another member of the band.
Joining David and Elaine Vachon to make up the Bear Mountain String Band are, from this side of the border, Chris Hinton, and Americans Mike Bellizzi, Bob Doane, Michael and Linda Wickenden and Kate Wolff.
The members of the Bear Mountain String Band, although they meet faithfully every two weeks, are “all just playing for fun” and that’s exactly what they were doing last Sunday, at Bob Doane’s house in Vermont, when I spoke with a few more of the musicians.
“Old Time Appalachian music has a great Irish influence and sounds a lit- tle similar to Quebec fiddle music. It became popular again in the 1970’s but it’s not the kind of music that you will hear on the radio,” mentioned Bob Doane who plays the banjo. As much as playing the music, Bob also seems to enjoy meeting the kinds of people who are drawn to playing this traditional music. “People who play Appalachian music generally seem to be interesting people with similar values, interested in sustainable agriculture with progressive political views. I’m looking forward to going to Stanstead next Saturday; I love going to Quebec. Quebec and Vermont have a lot in common and I feel very much at home on that side of the border,” added Mr. Doane.
Elaine Vachon, who plays the upright base, described the music and what she likes about playing it: “It’s an instrumental form of music – you can play a tune for three or four minutes and really get into a groove while you’re playing. It’s a lovely, collective sound with all those string instruments; it’s mountain music, really.” Also a member of the Choromondo Choir who have appeared at T-Day events for about the last ten years, Elaine is certainly no newcomer to Townshippers’ Day. Elaine and David Vachon have also appeared at several T-Day events performing as a couple, after all, they have been playing and recording music together since they met as teenagers in Montreal. Elaine will actually be performing in almost back-to-back concerts at Townshippers’ Day on Saturday; luckily they’re on the same stage. “I’ve performed at Townshippers’ Day for many, many years, but it’s always nicest when it’s in your own hometown!” finished Elaine.
That it is!
A few members of the Bear Mountain String Band who will be performing at T-Day this Saturday are (front l. to r.) Bob Doane, Linda Wickenden, Cheryl Crytzer and (back l. to r.) Elaine Vachon, David Vachon and Mike Wickenden.