Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Off to Adult Singing Camp in Colrain, Massachusetts...

Last year I was thrilled to get the chance to work for Village Harmony summer camp for the first time. I've known the founder, Larry Gordon, since the 70s when he directed the "Word of Mouth" Chorus and worked with the anarchic and revolutionary Bread and Puppet Theater.

As you will see if you look in my archives for July 2005, we met at a buddhist retreat center in upper Vermont, bought hundreds of dollars worth of groceries, and waited for the arrival of two dozen high energy, fascinating kids, mostly of the hippy variety but not all, carrying instruments and wearing no shoes. Every day for a week we fiddled, danced, and practiced our brand-new concert repertoire of songs which ranged from a 16th century Victoria Mass to tunes written on the spot (right there at Sky Meadow) by Brendan Taaffe, the third teacher. I was teaching mostly Yiddish and mariachi songs and leading the band.

After a week we all piled into the hippy vans and started a road trip which zigzagged across Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, with one stop in Massachusetts. Every afternoon we pulled up at a tiny church (in Massachusetts it was a synagogue) in a new town. People fed us dinner and we sang a concert and then stood around like refugees at Ellis Island with our suitcases as the "Housing Committee" assigned us places with the kindly families who had agreed to take us in. We'd shuffle off with our hosts, spend the night - sometimes in a kids' bunk bed, sometimes in royal splendor - be given breakfast, and then get shuttled back together again in the church parking lot. The vans (which over time became indescribably grotty) would pick us up, drive us somewhere new, and we'd do it all over again, with occasional stops for picnics and skinny-dipping.

This year should be a lot easier - for one thing, it's ten days of music instead of three weeks, and for another, we ain't going nowhere. We are staying put, at the The Center for Cultural Evolution (The Roundhouse). Go ahead and look at that website and get jealous!:
There are goats, chickens and other assorted four leggeds on the land to keep you smiling. We have organic gardens, from which we feed our guests, fruit and nut trees, and bountiful medicinal plants growing in Nature.

The house is truly magical. It is a rounded building, though of 14 sides, sparkled by stained glass windows and Zen views. The Round House has a domed center and is 4 stories high with a cupola on top.

The food served is largely organic and bountiful. ... My latest pride on the property is a lovely outdoor wood heated bread/pizza oven ... There is a great outdoor cedar lined wood heated sauna that was dubbed, "Excellent" by Finnish visitors who used it every night.
We'll get to know each other, try out a lot of music, and give a couple of concerts.

On the way up I'm taking my own beatup van into Manhattan to visit with my daughter Melina, see the YIVO library, and swing by the National Yiddish Book Center on the Hampshire College campus.

I'll be back by August 23. I don't know if there will be internet access along the way but I'll try to check in with y'all, and if Melina gets inspired, perhaps she'll feed the blog from time to time.

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