Old Keowee blog.
play Stenson's #2 during Southern Appalachian Day at Hagood Mill, Pickens, SC in May.
A round of applause for possibly the biggest contra dance band ever (special guests were Andy's fiddle students!) and caller Becky Walker! The band was comprised of Marshall Goers on mandolin, Andy Brooks on fiddle, Lucy Allen on guitar, Briggs Hamilton on bass, Alice Martel on banjo, and special guests Terry Patterson on banjo, Colleen Patterson on fiddle, Emily Cooper on fiddle, and Amelia Tiebalt on fiddle.
They kept the dancers moving for three and a half hours last night! There were also lots of volunteers from the Oconee Heritage Center making everything go smoothy and keeping the potato salad cold and hot dogs hot! Thanks to our sponsors Keowee Towne Market and Crystal Geyser Water and and thanks to all the dancers who came out on such a beautiful night to have fun and move to some great tunes! We will keep you posted on the next event... perhaps one each season? Thank you all and see you again soon!
"Hey Everyone.....This is Andy. I can't wait to see people dancing around at South Cove. We have a great band ready-to-go. So come on out and let's build a community and enjoy this life!"
As far as the dance is concerned, the only thing left to get is yourself on down tomorrow and get down with the get down!!! Andy took the opportunity yesterday evening (at around 7... what a beautiful sunset! And the weather is supposed to be as good or better on the 30th... which is tomorrow, by the way!) to pose at South Cove park's "selfie station." I'm not sure how anyone could make a selfie with this unless you had really long arms or a tripod. But I digress...
In case you are wondering what to wear tomorrow, ladies generally wear skirts. As you might imagine with a square dance, or any ballroom dancing, wardrobe is part of the spectacle! No need to stress, any full skirt will do, long or short... just keep in mind, if it's short, you may want a pair of leggings underneath (or bloomers for those die-hard traditional dancers!). Guys, well, that's up to you... some do wear kilts, some even wear skirts, because why let the ladies have all the fun? But mostly, wear what is comfortable to move in. You will be moving a lot! But there are lots of places inside and out to relax and take a break. Hope to see everyone there tomorrow at South Cove park with their dancing shoes on!
This past weekend we made it down to the Sautee Nacoochee Center in Georgia for their 35th anniversary celebration contra dance and jam. We were welcomed by the friendly folks running the center, made some new acquaintances and ran into some people we already knew! Some people came from Waynesville, NC (about 2 hours), Greer, SC (about 2 hours) and we drove about an hour and a half. Here in Oconee County, SC, the golden corner (or, as they used to call it, the dark corner, due to its moonshine production) is the upper left hand corner of the state which abuts Georgia and North Carolina. So even though it might seem like a big deal to "cross state lines," it's hard to live here and not be at most half an hour's drive to another state.
Our friends Becky and Steve Walker who will be helping us out on Friday (Becky will be calling the dance) were there dancing away to the sounds of the Blue Ridge Rounders, an upstate South Carolina band. We are grateful to live in the midst of so many traditional music and dance practitioners in this region and were inspired by the fantastic cultural center of Sautee Nacoochee!
We are so excited for the cooler nights and to see the trees start turning their fall colors! As the autumn equinox happens on September 22, we are preparing our garden for a long rest (next year I'm giving up on a summer garden and just focusing on fall/winter plantings) with mulch and soil amendments.
As the garden winds down, we are winding up for the contra dance next week! The Oconee Heritage Center will be selling hot dog plates and we will have water available for all the dancers. Bring your kids, friends, neighbors and tell people you just met! We want this inaugural dance to be a big one. Come out and support grassroots music and community in a beautiful setting with good people and learn something new (or show off your moves!)
As we get ready for the best contra dance this year in Oconee County, putting up posters and posting on contra dance websites and Facebook, we are reminded of how vibrant the local music scene is. Whether Andy plays for dances, fundraisers, weddings or just for fun, there is always a source of talent he can call upon to make great music. Last week we went to a house concert with musicians who had come all the way from France to soak in the culture and musical traditions of the south east. They had been busking in Asheville, Chattanooga and even into the Panhandle of FL. In the audience that night were arguably some of the best musicians in South Carolina, certainly some of the best in the Upstate! Needless to say, after the wonderful concert, people broke out their instruments and jammed together. This is the spirit we are chasing with the Old Keowee Contra Dance, the spirit of spontaneous fun, music making... and dancing!
They will have this illustration and LOTS of text in an attempt to give folks an idea of just how wonderful our dance is! We will also have little flyers for people to take, read, and then recycle! Who doesn't need a tiny piece of paper to carry around to remind them they want to go to the best fundraising and social event of the season!?
Despite having a date and a venue, there's something about someone unrelated to you willing support you to make you feel like you're on to something good. Thank you, Keowee Towne Market of Salem, SC! You guys are the best. Your food is, hands down, the best thing around, and it's always nice to see your smiling faces when we pop in (no matter how dirty we are from the farm work!).
Andy is on the board of the Oconee Heritage Center, as the marketing director. He also knows music and how to have fun: hence, the Old Keowee Contra Dance was born! He hopes that it's successful enough to become a regular event in our little corner of South Carolina, surrounded by lakes, mountains & forests. Andy comes from a long line of fiddle players and is a South Carolina Arts in Education Folk life/Traditional Arts approved artist. He is also the longest-serving instructor in the Oconee County Young Appalachian Musicians (YAMs) program and the 2016 South Carolina State Fiddle Champion.