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NGI Recipient: Abraham Joyner-Meyers

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre, Folk Arts Center of New England - Labor Day Weekend (2017)

When I headed down from Boston on the train to Pinewoods for the first time, I was immensely excited. I looked forward to the magic world in a forest that I had been told about so often; to a weekend spent playing and dancing a in a bubble of folk culture. I expected to learn exciting tunes, new dances, and join a new community of folkies.

While all of those things happened (the tunes I learned in afternoon workshops have become staples of my repertoire, and I still impulsively practice my rapper step while waiting in line) it was what I didn’t expect that has stayed with me the most in these following months.

I started the week with a variety of interests. I was a fiddler, a Morris dancer, and an occasional contra dancer. While I had played violin for dancers, I thought of that style of playing as wholly different from the fiddle I practiced and performed solo. I saw overlaps between my home Morris side and local contras, but they seemed like fully distinct communities.

By the end of the week, I had learned better. I saw during Labor Day Weekend at Pinewoods the uniting power of this community of music and dance. Fiddle playing, Morris and contra became a continuous image of the folk community, a way of communicating and connecting with other people. Not only were individuals excited by each of these and other traditions, but the disciplines themselves seemed to fuse. Pinewoods showed me that I could become a better fiddler by learning from a dancer or singer, not just from another instrumentalist.

I was part of, for a single weekend, a living example of what I was learning in my Folklore and Mythology class at college: a community where music and dance are not just skills or forms of entertainment, but a language to bring people together.

So, thank you, Pinewoods, for a wonderful weekend and a lifetime of inspiration.