Blog & Newsletter
Sacramento and Reno Contra Dances
We'll be playing as the Local Honey Band for the Sacramento Contra Dance!
So, dance up a storm with us at Coloma Community Center.
Then it's off to Reno Contra Dance on June 23rd! Join the fun! Contra dancing is energetic and a way cool way to meet people!
Sacramento Dancers: A free newcomer's orientation is at 7:30, great for people new to contra dancing, or with some experience, or rusty with their dance moves. Experienced dancers are welcome to come help the newcomers learn. The dance is 8:00PM to 11:00PM, and costs $10 adults, $8 college students with ID, $5 high school students with ID, $25 maximum for families. There is a potluck snack at break, so please bring something to share. The dances get progressively more complicated as the evening goes on, so coming early will get you the experience and skills before the later dances. Coloma Community Center is at 4623 T Street in Sacramento.
Sure was fun leading Tuneville music sessions
for Brewery Arts Center
Musicians, thanks for playing with us!
Tom and Mary Kay lead Tuneville musicians on the BAC Patio
Thanks to Dana Freund for the great photos of Tuneville Sessions! You may notice that several iconic luminaries of traditional, Celtic and classical music appear in these photos of Tuneville!
What a big crowd dancing! Sacramento Contra Dance featuring Local Honey Band Tom and Mary Kay Aufrance and Bob Kastelic with Caller Lynn Ackerson
Here's Local Honey Band: fiddler Bob Kastelic, Tom Aufrance on mandolin and guitar, and Mary Kay Aufrance on her super electronic accordion! We always throw in a little duet singing for the waltz! The Caller is Lynn Ackerson.
For those wondering about our other local honey adventures...
The bees have been busy all summer, making honey. The hive is bountiful and Minnie has been experimenting with a queen breeding! Early in the spring, when it looked as if the hive might be in need of a new queen, Minnie tried an experiment in queen rearing!
First she put some of the frames with brood (that's beekeeper talk for larva and soon to be baby bees) in a separate little box of their own, with attending bees in the box to nurture the baby bees. After a few weeks, "queen cups" started popping up in the wax, where the bees were preparing little bee beds for new queens! The bees built about 10 queen cups and of course, little pre-queen bees emerged.
Beekeeper lore says that what happened at this point would be that the pre-queens engage in diplomacy and deceit until just one queen emerges victoriously. So, after the bees seemed content with their new order, Minnie put them all back into the big hive where all the bees have been happily-ever-after making honey - and more honey bees, too!
Minnie's reflections on her queen rearing adventure? "Luckily the bees know what to do!"
She saved a collection of queen cups and it's sitting on her computer monitor. The variation in color and construction is interesting...
You can find Garryowen
Thanks to all who came out to the June contra dance! We joined up with Kenny Davis and Leslie Mink on piano and fiddle, and called ourselves Fish Tacos Beans and Rice, and a good time was had by all!
And as always, a Big Thanks to
all who came out for St. P's Day...
Know Your Irish Music on St. Patrick's Day
by Mary Kay Aufrance of Gairin Music
With St. Patrick's Day fast approaching, it's time to brush up on your knowledge of Irish music! Here's a lighthearted approach to Irish Musicology from the Carson City Irish American Music Duo of Gairin Music.
Everybody knows that a "jig" is a lively dance that originated in Ireland, and most folks associate the "jig" with cute mop headed girls bouncing up and down in their colorful costumes. As the girls seem to defy gravity with their legs bounding and arms straight at their sides, they dance in something called "triple time," which is sort of like a waltz gone wild! This is a style of dancing that originated among ordinary people, not the royal courts, since the royals were too busy being stately to have such fun leaping and bounding. And, when the dance is done, "the jig is up."
Without knowing it, many St. Patrick's Day revelers define this dance as they "stagger, lurch, or sway, as if from drunkenness" and hopefully allow their designated driver to do the driving instead of the reeling! This is one dance that was named for the way observers thought it actually looked. In Middle English, the meaning of the word was "to whirl about." How can you tell a jig from a reel? If you tap your foot to the music, you will notice that you are tapping in groups of 4 at at time. Reel has 4 letters in it. So that's how to remember a reel had groups of 4 foot taps and a jig has groups of 3. Confused yet? The Irish Gaelic word for that is "bunoscionn."
All sailors on wooden ships became expert hornpipe dancers, because they were actually required to participate in dancing as their only form of exercise during long sea voyages. Many a sailor would rather dance the hornpipe rather than walk the plank, which was their only alternative according to seaman lore! So, the hornpipe originated as a men's dance, and each man did his best improvisation of a sailor trying to stay afoot while the ship was rolling and lurching in the waves. Also, the instrument used to play a hornpipe was exactly that: a pipe made out of an animal horn. The Irish weren't the only people to play the hornpipe, and the hornpipe instrument was popular among Welsh, Basque, Scottish, Russian and other folks, too.
Everybody knows that a pub song is what you sing along to when you're in the bar and the Celtic band plays on St. Patrick's Day! However, to be truly knowledgeable of St. Patrick's Day musicology, one must know that a "pub" (not to be confused with "public housing") originated as a small local drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Especially in small villages, a pub was the focal point of the community, and one expert writing for Wikipedia asserts that there are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom alone! The pub owner is known as the "landlord" and the patrons who enjoy each other's company and spirits there are the "regulars." And, that's no blarney!
St. Patrick's Day in the United States
Although not a legal holiday anywhere in the United States, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated everywhere on March 17th. It's become a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture, including prominent displays, "wearing of the green," feasting and consumption of alcohol (especially green beer), religious observances, and parades. The holiday has been celebrated all over North America since before the American Revolution. Of course it honors St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, whose contributions were great and included overcoming his own slavery at the hands of "Niall of the Nine Hostages," introducing Catholicism to Ireland, the use of the Shamrock to explain theology, and some say he even ran the snakes out of Ireland.
About the author: Mary Kay Aufrance is a singer songwriter whose music is licensed through BMI. She performs Irish music with her husband Tom as Gairin Celtic Music. The two have 4 CDs and a book of Irish Music to their credit, available on Amazon, iTunes and other websites. Tom and Mary Kay have been singing and playing Irish music for decades, after outcasting themselves from their usual Renaissance festival circuit when Mary Kay took up the accordion (which was not invented until hundreds of years after the Renaissance). Now, they perform in local establishments, at county fairs and for traditional Celtic and American Folk Music societies.
means "a little bit o' laughter, like a chuckle." So, is it
any wonder that Laughology
Thanks Again to Our Sponsors!
CD sponsorship auctions were a success! We are adding custom photos and credits
to our new CD Cowboy Boots and Golden Slippers for our sponsors, to be released
~ Suzie Orr Giguere of Canada ~
Sponsored Tune: Saddle The Pony
for horsewoman friend Peggy
"Peggy Lallement and her horse Splash can be found enjoying the trails of either California's South Lake Tahoe area or Nevada's Carson Valley. Peg has owned and ridden horses for most of her life and believes that the awesome view of the Sierra Nevada outside her windows is incomplete without a horse in it."
Now printed an
article about our
Celtic Music was tagged at
Fire on the Mountain Beltane Festival
Virginia City, NV
Gairin with Willie Puchert, President of the Sons and Daughters of Erin
Visiting with Willie at the SADOE tent at the festival today on C Street!
to all who came out to our big Down Home Christmas show! Three
Celtic funnies we're passing along Funny
With friend and Reno Celtic organizer Willie Puchert, "Erin go Bragh" Here's a wee bit o' interesting Irish history for ya! Erin
go Bragh is an anglicisation of the Irish phrase Éirinn
go Brách, in which Éirinn
refers to Éire or Ireland. We're
sure you knew that already! But, did you also know that that the English version
was probably taken out of context, from the Irish Go
bhfanad in Éirinn go brách ("May I stay in Ireland for ever") or
Go bhfillead go hÉirinn go brách
("May go back to Ireland for ever"). So, there you have your healtfelt expression
of the Ireland Forever State of Mind. A
Tune for You: Country
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
to you. These arrived from our dear friend
"At an Irish wedding, the priest shouted out, "Now All Men, go stand next to the one in life who has made your life worth living! -- The bartender was nearly crushed by the crowd!"
The Best Scotch Whiskey Ad Ever
Hardly History: Scots at Hadrian's Wall
President of the Sons and Daughters of Erin.
Irish Traditions & History
I just recorded this for our students at an upcoming workshop. Hope you like it too! This waltz is very common in the Appalachian tradition, but it has no author or credits! You can find it in the The Fiddler's Fakebook where there's nary a credit! Strange, eh? By the way if you're looking for another great place to find the music and history of tunes and songs in the Scottish Irish and Appalachian tradition, check out TheSession.org
to all who came out to our big Down Home Christmas show!
Celtic funnies we're passing along
With friend and Reno Celtic organizer Willie Puchert,
"Erin go Bragh"
Here's a wee bit o' interesting Irish history for ya! Erin go Bragh is an anglicisation of the Irish phrase Éirinn go Brách, in which Éirinn refers to Éire or Ireland. We're sure you knew that already! But, did you also know that that the English version was probably taken out of context, from the Irish Go bhfanad in Éirinn go brách ("May I stay in Ireland for ever") or Go bhfillead go hÉirinn go brách ("May go back to Ireland for ever"). So, there you have your healtfelt expression of the Ireland Forever State of Mind.
Tune for You: Country
How the Irish Saved Civilization
Even though some of the reviewers on Amazon didn't like this book all that much, mainly because they said it was too America centric, you'll have to decide for yourself. We have read it and recommend this book!
We agree with Chris Niccolls on Amazon who said, "Cahill's book was a top seller when it came out around 15 years ago. It's a great story that explains how Ireland's political, geographical, and religious tradition of isolation allowed it to preserve the great academic works of Roman culture. This knowledge, locked away in remote Abbey's and Monasteries, helped to kick start civilization when Ireland rejoined the world at the turn of the millennium. Something that benefited all European civilizations. This is a great story that is beautifully told."
Decide for yourself! Find the book on Amazon: How the Irish Saved Civilization (Hinges of History)
Happy Holidays from Tom and Mary Kay Music!
hope you enjoy our newest song & video
"I Can See Christmas"
3 Free Music Scores and Midi Downloads
Enjoy playing music written by Mary Kay. For the sheet music, you can download the .pdf file. If you'd like to hear the tune, you can download the .mid file, too.
Charissa drew us while Robin danced a jig at the Carson Rendezvous!
We cherish this artwork, our friends and all the fun memories!