Thursday, May 28, 2015

Carnegie Museum to host French Canadian folk song workshop, concert and Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival traveling exhibit May 30

Maple Sugar Folk with Dave Bezotte (foreground) on accordion perform French Canadian songs during the July 2014 Omega House benefit concert. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum in Houghton will host a traditional folk music WORKSHOP and CONCERT with Dave Bezotte and the Maple Sugar Folk beginning at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 30. On the same day the Carnegie welcomes visitors to the opening of the TRAVELING EXHIBIT: "Music in the Pines: A History of the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival," on loan from the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at Northern University from May 30 to June 27, 2015.

French Canadian Song Workshop and Concert

A free fifty-minute workshop with Dave Bezotte and the Maple Sugar Folk will begin at 1:30 p.m. Come learn several response songs in French; receive some background information on each song; and learn where to find more information, collections and recordings of French Canadian music. The songs you’ll learn in the workshop will be sung in the concert, so you can sing along with enthusiasm! The concert begins at 2:30 p.m.

The Maple Sugar Folk is a musical group formed in 2005 to celebrate and share the Upper Peninsula’s French Canadian heritage through music, song and dance. They’ve performed at several Upper Peninsula Folklife Festivals in Marquette and at museums, heritage centers, libraries, schools, community fund raisers and festivals throughout the Copper Country, including the area’s observance of Michigan’s first French Canadian Heritage Week last fall. Shortly after the Workshop, the Maple Sugar Folk will perform some of our favorite French-Canadian folk songs and instrumental dance tunes. Many of the songs are chansons à répondre, or response songs, designed for singing along.  You are encouraged to sing, dance, clap your hands or tap your feet and experience genuine French Canadian Joie de Vivre!

Music in the Pines: A History of the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival

Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival. (Photo courtesy Carnegie Museum)

People come to the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival not only to enjoy the music by main stage performers, but to experience nature by camping out and catching up with people they’ve come to love over the bond of similar appreciation and passion for music and family.

Hiawatha has its roots in Deerton, Michigan, at what is known as the "Big House," where a group of young adult musicians lived together, fulfilling their happiness with potlucks, saunas, parties, and weekly jam sessions. The "Big House" and the small cabins surrounding it came to be a sort of commune with an appealing way to live closely to one another, but far enough away to avoid argumentation over house cleanliness and other issues. Members of the "Big House" group came up with the idea of a music festival after a few visited the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, Michigan, in 1978. Members felt that because their passion was music, creating a music festival like Wheatland was in their realm of possibility.

Hiawatha was held in Champion for five years before the attendance numbers overwhelmed the amenities of the Horse Pulling Grounds. Tourist Park in Marquette, Michigan, was chosen as the new location for Hiawatha and the date was also switched to the second-to-last full weekend in July in 1984. Tourist Park proved to be an ideal location for the festival, with well-defined campsites, permanent restroom, showers, and electricity, and lots of shaded areas provided by the forest and came complete with a lake, lifeguard, and playground. The most appreciated aspect of the new venue was that it was isolated from the residential areas of the town, yet close enough to attract more festival attendees and volunteers.

The Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival and the Hiawatha Music Co-op gained recognition at Michigan’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1987, the Concerned Citizens for the Arts in Michigan in 1992, and also received the Governor’s Outstanding Arts Organization Award. The success of the festival is directly linked to the amount of workers and volunteers that contribute their time to Hiawatha and of course the dedicated attendees that come year after year.

The Carnegie Museum is on the corner of Huron and Montezuma streets in Houghton. For more information email history@cityofhoughton.com or call (906) 482-7140. Regular hours are Tuesday and Thursday Noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday Noon to 4 p.m.

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