Yesterday, Harry & I set off bright and early for our show in Gorham NY.
It was sponsored by Young Audiences of Rochester in conjunction with the Gorham Historical Society at the Gorham Library.
We pulled into this quaint old village and the library was actually in an old church building. There was a side building of the "Gorham Post Office" which was on the grounds as well and the basement of the building is filled with a wonderful museum! I wish I'd of had the time to really check out this museum with all the trinkets, old Victorian dresses and oddment inside!
But we had a show to put together!
And so did everyone else there. Evidently, the school and historical society were working together to bring the "valley" kids in with the "village" kids and mingle them with the "home schooled" kids all in one setting! I think this was a great inclusive idea! I think the kids are all going to be together in one building in the years to come, so I think this was some sort of "acclimating" ice breaker for them all.
What was also wonderful, was that the members of the historical society all dressed in garb of the day, just as we were going to do! There were soldiers and ladies and farmers! It was great to see people playing and having fun with living history!
I had made a new fabric landscape backdrop over the winter, 10' x 12' and we got to work putting up the trees and trusses to hang it. We also attached 2 new purchases, ones that I am very proud to have in my teaching arsenal: A 34 star Union flag (the one that was at the start of the Civil War) and the Confederate Navy Jack.
It was amusing to me, that an older gentleman (named George, I found out) all dressed in Union infantry uniform came up to us after we had hung the flags. He looked at the Confederate flag and said, "I have to admire your guts to hang that" with a wicked grin. We laughed and said, "this is an equal opportunity teaching session" :)
We also told him that we played a Civil War re-enactment recently and a Union fellow was happily playing his harmonica with us along with the song "When Johnny comes marching home" but when the Confederate boys asked us to play "Dixie" he walked off with a huff. We laughed about that too. Grudges go deep, even nearly 150 years later!
We got all set and into our garb and we looked perfect for it. They say that 99% of the job is just showing up ready to go.
The kids all came in and the President of the Historical Society introduced us. He prefaced the joining of all the kids and also said that "while today would be entertaining, that is not the focus. The focus today is to EDUCATE" and with that he introduced us and we got going.
It was a really fun show! We did some political pieces (Lincoln's campaign song) balanced with "Dixie" (you have to represent both sides... :) and also some songs about slavery: "Year of Jubilo" (the "PC" version) and "Jimmy Crack Corn" and several Stephen Foster pieces, including "Beautiful Dreamer" which is so lovely and almost lost nowadays. It's important to me to bring some of these old songs forward.
We also played a medley of sing alongs and the kids and the older folks all had a great time singing along while I played my mandolin. Harry actually premiered his fiddle this day (oh, I've been begging him for so long to get it back out again!) and we did "Suwannee River" (or "Old Folks at Home" which is actually the state song of Florida now, did you know that?) We also taught them the chorus to "Goober Peas" and let them know that the Confederate soldiers didn't have much to eat so they ate a LOT of peanuts. It's a catchy song and the kids were THRILLED with it! It was fun to get everyone singing!
We also squeezed in a portion on NYS history and I brought out my "Limber Jack" dancing man. I sang and had the dolly dance and Harry accompanied me on the guitar. (I asked Harry later, "how did they like it? I was busy watching my dolly and keeping him dancing", and he said, "it was great! Every eye, young and old were craning their necks to watch him!") That's some good old time fun there!
The 40 minutes went waaaay too quickly. I cut verses out and tried to finish in time. Which I did...on the button!
I would love to be able to do a longer version of this show. There are other songs we could put in ("Jesse James", "Little Sadie & East Virginia" and even "Caroline"...) and I'd also lengthen all the songs in the set out to be their proper length. Maybe some day....but until then, I decided to give the kids a "taste" of several songs and get through lots of material and teach them as much as we could in the time we had.
The kids then were dismissed and went off into small groups where the historical society members told tales, showed them artifacts, answered questions and let them experience the days of old.
We drove off happy with having done a good job on our part....but with "Goober Peas" still ringing in our heads. :)
This is not our version, but here's a link to the song to get it stuck in your head too :)
Click here to hear the song!