“There’s magic here, in these hollows, carved out by ice over the last two million years leaving behind a region unlike any other in the world and it keeps bringing you back.” This introduction to The Springwater Music Fair and American Crafts Show reminds us of an earlier time, long before the founding of Springwater; even further removed from the Springwater Fair. Yet, the area does keep bringing us back; once that spell has been cast, the region, and all its beauty, captivates and holds us in its embrace. For many people, The Springwater Fair is a celebration of home, of place. That this celebration is marked this year by the bicentennial of Springwater’s founding speaks not only to the Earth’s power to transform, but also to humankind’s tenacity and creative spirit.
Creative spirit and the spirit of community is what The Springwater Music Fair and American Crafts Show is all about. More than that, it is about the people, past, present and future, who have been inspired by the region’s beauty. It is about those who came first, those who came later, and the many new people who now call Springwater, and the surrounding lakes, fields and woodlands, home. She gets under your skin. During fair days, the feeling of what it means to be here rings out in song.
Started as an “ol’ time fiddlers festival” in 2009, The Springwater Fair has evolved and grown. The first fair was held at Sugarbush Hollow, a maple farm owned by Chuck Winship. Pam Masterson was the first chairperson. When Chuck died in 2003, other community members stepped in to keep this Springwater music tradition alive. This year marks the third year that the event will be held at Punky Hollow Farm, on Pardee Hollow Rd at Tabors Corners Road in Springwater, NY. The event has expanded this year into a two-day gathering of musicians, artists and all those who are moved by the region’s beauty, by the whispers of the past in rippling water and the rhythm of good music. According to the fair’s organizers — the Fair Committee of the East Springwater Historical Society, a not-for profit organization in the Punky Hollow School House Museum — there will be “more music, more artists and more food.” Many of the people who make this yearly event possible contribute every year, in a variety of ways. One Canadice native who has been a part of the fair since its inception is Jeremy Button. Button plays the Great Highland Bagpipes in the Rochester, NY area. He also plays with the Feadán Òr Pipe Band, and is an active solo competitor. Button’s annual offerings include an end of fair performance and a yearly poem commemorating the event. This year’s poem speaks to the cry of the people for an extra day of music and fun.
What started as a fiddle fair,
Just could not be contained.
Wanting to share in the fun,
The fiddle’s friends came out to play!
Whistles and mandolins,
Standup bass would sound just right.
We’ll bring it all to a close with the skirl of Hieland Pipes!
Oh such delight!
I scarcely know, What else could we do?
“We want more!” the people cried.
Not just one day, how ’bout two?!
This year’s Springwater Music Fair and American Crafts Show takes place Saturday, September 17 and Sunday, September 18, 2016, with the gates open from 10 AM to 6 PM each day. Ten dollars at the gate gets adults in for each fun-filled day; children ten and under are free. The event offers two full days of musical performances, artists showcasing their crafts, food venders and children’s activities — nature crafts, fairy houses, children’s music by Cathy McGrath and a fire truck with community firefighters. There will also be hosted musical workshops and “jamming tents” for some free for all musical fun. The event takes place rain or shine.
The Springwater Music Fair’s main tent features “a full spectrum of music including the traditional fiddling music you’ve been coming to hear, mixed in with Folk Americana, Bluegrass, Zydeco, R&B, Cajun and more.” Saturday features The Brothers Blue, The Dady Brothers, Li’L Anne and the Hot Cayennes and the Buddhahood. Sunday features Howie Lester & Friends, Watkins & the Rapiers, The Crawdiddies, Bobby Henrie & the Goners and an all music jam from 4:30-5:30. This year’s Big Jam on Sunday will be led by Kathy Vandemortel, at the request of area musicians - who, when asked about prospective hosts, said, “she is the best.” Vandemortal has performed and played for dances across all of New York State, and parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania, since catching fiddle fever and learning to play. She has taught fiddle and old-time workshops as well as private fiddle lessons, and has been hosting a twice-monthly old-time jam session in her home since 1992. She also plays with Stephen Bland in their band Old Time Hoedown.
Many of these performers have lived in this area their entire lives; others are new comers, captivated by the lakes and valleys; some have moved away, for a time, and are drawn back. One local musician who has returned to the area to live and perform wrote a moving musical tribute to Canadice Lake. I heard this song before I met the musician, not long after I moved to the area, and was mesmerized by the way Ben Haravitch captured the beauty of this place I now call home.
Late at night in the pouring rain I was sittin’ on the shore.
Flash of green I ain’t never seen lightening like that before
So far away is yesterday I lie awake and hear her snore.
If I could dream, I know I’d be back sittin’ on the shore.
I hear the sound, the sound of the lake
Give me more, give me more, give me all that I can take
And if I could, this whole life I would forsake
If it would get me any closer to the hills of Canadice Lake
Haravitch will be playing at The Springwater Fair with The Brothers Blue on Saturday and with the Crawdiddies on Sunday. The Turtle Hill Folk Festival honored the Brothers Blue as the winners of the “New Voices” Emerging Artists Showcase. Their “Ghost Town” CD is a collection of great songs, including the Canadice Lake/Love Bug Stomp track, that are locally grown, along with all the bands members including Haravitch, Matthew Sperber — who also grew up in Honeoye — and Buffalo native Charlie Coughlin. Haravitch’s Canadice Lake song has also been performed by the Crawdiddies — who play regularly around the Finger Lakes and are sure to get audiences members tapping their feet, swaying to the tunes and dancing up a sentimental storm with their unique blend of Americana Roots Music influences.
Howie Lester, who will be preforming at 11:00 AM on Sunday the 18th, is a Hemlock fiddler whose roots dig deep below the lakes and soils to conjure up music that is sure to get you out of your seat and up on your feet. I was told that his “energetic style hooks you right in to whatever he has on his musical mind,” which is, I believe, a beautiful way of saying that his thirty or more years of performing as a professional musician have allowed him to develop an energetic style that is all his own. Reflected in his performances is his passion for various genres including bluegrass, Irish, folk, Cajun, county, Americana and more. You can find Lester playing out all over the Finger Lakes, at the Little Theatre, as part of the Rochester Fringe Festival and in other venues around the area. His name is well known in and around these parts, and his message is in his music. As he is fond of saying — so I hear - “I like to play so you’ll laugh, dance and split your pants”.
Dady is another name that keeps flashing about in local musical conversation. I have yet to catch this brotherly duo doing what they do best — making music. So, who are the Dady Brothers anyway? They are both singers and multi-instrumentalists - with a repertoire that includes 4 and 5 string banjo, pennywhistle, ukulele, fiddle, mandolin, bodhran - a shallow one-sided Irish drum, harmonica, concertina and the uilleann pipes (Is that all?!). Genre transcending is in, and is, at its roots, a sign of fine music making creativity. It doesn’t seem like Joe and John Dady are trying to be different - they just are. Rooted solidly in an American Folk and traditional Irish base, their unique sound has resulted in opportunities to play well with others, including with mainstream musicians, and has taken them around the world - including to Ireland, where they have led twenty-two guided tours. A Summer 2017 tour is currently being booked - which sounds like great fun. On September 17, 2016 we don’t have to travel far to hear the Dady Brothers perform; they will be here, singing and playing up a storm.
Another local sibling group whose voices will be echoing off the hills at the Springwater Fair on September 17th, to the delight of listeners near and far, is the Gauer trio — Veronica, Monika and Krystine — known collectively as Dutch Hollow. Springwater natives, these young women have been composing and performing, together and solo, for as long as they can remember. They combine their “rich three part harmonies with acoustic guitars and a cajon”- a box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru - that bring a “youthful and fun vibe” to their original songs and cover takes of artists like CAM, Strumbellas and Mauren Morris.
This prevalence of musical siblings, and a bit of free association, brings me around to another of this year’s fair performers and gives me an opportunity to reflect on my music listening past. Bobby Henrie and The Goners — featuring Bobby Henrie, Brian Williams and drummer James Symonds - will be making an appearance on September 18th. “Bobby Henrie and The Goners are a legendary institution now celebrating 30 years together and still going strong.” They offer up authentic old-school Rockabilly and roots Rock’n’Roll. Bobby Henrie is also one of the legendary Henrie Brothers. As for the other musical past connection I mentioned — there are always connections - I have long been a fan of Django Reinhardt’s music and a fan of another band that Henrie and Williams are a part of - The Djangoners. I grew up listening to fellow Djangoners, Eric and Harry Aceto — as well as brother Robby Aceto — as they resonated with various vibes and bands in the Ithaca music scene, beginning in the 1970s, including the Zobo Fun Band and Red Letter-one of my favorites. Moving on.
Musicians everywhere connect not only with other musicians, but also with the crowds. Allen Hopkins, a native of Springwater who has lived in Rochester for the past thirty years, provides an interesting sociological perspective on what it means to perform in smaller settings. “There’s something special about this type of gig, whether it’s at a library, a farmers’ market, a museum, or a town park gazebo. If you get an audience of ‘only’ 50,” as in one small town where he had recently performed, “you then realize that’s 8.3% of the village’s entire population! But beyond number juggling, there’s a level of acceptance and appreciation that a performer receives; these small towns don’t get music every day of the week, and my gig may be a real special event.” Hopkins plays a wide variety of folk music: American traditional, Celtic, Yiddish, blues, bluegrass, old timey and contemporary on a diverse range of instruments including guitar, banjo, mandolins, Autoharp, concertina, harmonica, and bass. Hopkins plays in Rochester and travels all over the Finger Lakes bringing his music to folks wherever he goes. He will return to his Springwater roots on Sunday, September 18th along with his broad repertoire of styles and his range of music making machines.
Saturday and Sunday musical influences also include a Li’L Zydeco influence from Li’L Anne and the Hot Cayennes as part of Saturday’s line up. This band, whose members herald from the Northeast and into Louisiana, “add a spicy blend of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and funk to the up-tempo Zydeco beat” to create a “dance groove that just won’t quit!” They have been invited to numerous well-known musical festivals and have become an active and welcomed presence in the Northeast Zydeco scene. Another Saturday presence is Buddhahood, with their mix of Roots, Rock , Reggae and Ska. These folks were part of the Oswego Harbor Fest on July 30, 2016. You can also catch them during their Rochester city performance at the Rochester Fringe Fest on September 16, 2016. Little Theatre Café regulars Watkins and the Rapiers will perform on Sunday. The band features Rochester area Regan Brothers, Scott (guitar percussion, vocals) and Kerry (bass guitar, harmonica and vocals) along with Tom Whitmore (bass, guitar, mandolin, vocals), Marty York (drums, percussion, washboard, vocals) and Steve Piper (guitar, ukulele, vocals). There are many more musicians, beyond the few local and regional performers I am familiar with, who will share their creative muse with their listening audiences during the The Springwater Music Fair and American Craft Show, along with many visual artists, food venders and a contingency of volunteers who make this annual historic event possible. Thankfully for us all, the organizers and promoters of this event have created a great online presence that gives more information about all the talented artists near and far.
This region inspires artists in all different mediums. As the music echoes between these glacially formed hills, there is time to stroll and chat with the visual artists who use their hands and minds to transform their visions into works of art. These artists offer an “eclectic mix of Folk Art Crafts, Basketry, Pottery, Textile/Fiber, Glass, Wood, Jewelry, Leatherwork, Metal-Stone and Mixed media and 2-Dimensional works,” per the website for the event; a description that does not begin to fully capture the diversity on display or the depth of the artists’ passions. This is a favored arts event, for artists and attendees alike, that includes many local visual artists from all around the area, including artists from Springwater, Canadice, Dansville, Bloomfield, Canandiagua and Avoca. What is wonderful and special about this type of event is being able to talk with these many talented artists, to ask questions and see demonstrations of crafts that have been developed through lifetimes and passed down through the wisdom of those who came before.
One artist’s bio reminded me that art in all its forms is about sharing, and that artistic expressions crosses genres as it flows and evolves like the land around us. Oral storytelling has the longest tradition of any artistic form. Eli Thomas, a “Native American Artist - Painter...Storyteller-Wisdom Keeper” shares his knowledge of “growing up with oral tradition on the Onondaga Nation.” He shares stories in layers of overlapping images in his paintings. This layering of memories is what makes each song, each story, each line of pigment, and each piece of clay pulled from the Earth an expression of individual pasts, rather than mere words or objects of admiration and adornment.
Likewise, each passing year of an event like The Springwater Music Fair and American Craft Show adds a layer of memories that continue to define Springwater, two hundred years after its founding. The Fair is about community. In addition to providing a feast of music, art, food and fun, the organizers of the Fair have also made a commitment to give back to the Springwater in other ways. All grants, community sponsorship and admission sales related to the Springwater Music Fair, not cycled back to support next year’s event, are donated back to the Community. An initial beneficiary of fair proceeds was Springwater Trails, founded in 2003 to “create, identify, protect and promote hiking trails in the Springwater area.” Community contributions from the fair have also provided, since 2010, Art and Music Scholarships to Wayland-Cohocton Seniors. These awards allow young people in the community to build on their artistic interests and share their creative spirits, as they, and those that follow, add to the ever-evolving tapestry of time that has shaped the land, the community, and the people of Springwater.