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Keep music in your life, friends!

What is it about music that binds us to time and place? Woodstock, for example. Here it is, 50 years after an event that called together musicians and their audiences to live, breathe, revel and wallow in music and other things for four days. We all remembered that historic event in August, 1969. - "I was stuck in the traffic jam," ... "I was in grade school, but I remember hearing about it." (Personally I preoccupied with changing diapers and washing baby bottles.)

Recently I participated with a folk band I belong to, Just Plain Folk, or JPF, in the fourth concert of a series held at the Yarmouth New Church. Organized by Ellen Adamson, Jo Brisbane and Joan Kirchner, the programs included songs and poetry linked to periods of American history, ranging from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to the Roaring 20s. This recent program dealt with "Revival and Reform." It focused on a period from around 1830 to the early 20th century when Americans worked for social and economic change through temperance, the women's vote, and unionization.

Learning the songs was torture. So wordy! so many verses! So many tunes and lyrics that sounded unfamiliar or trite to the 21st century ear. Until you listened. The first song "Father's a Drunkard and Mother Is Dead," initially had us folkies snickering, discreetly of course. But when soprano Joan Kirchner explained that the song described a child's experience of depravation and hardship, the words and her pure ringing voice, touched us deeply, as did the relevance to today, for the hardship of children's lives is visible on nightly newscasts.

We folkies get to sing songs with passion and historical perspective like "I Am an Abolitionist." I think we did justice to it. "The March of the Women," and "Daughters of Freedom " were written nearly 100 years ago. They may have been familiar to my grandmother, Helen Moore Palmer, an extremely bright and diversely talented woman who didn't have the right to vote until she was in her 30s. Both songs, clarion calls to women to speak out and claim the power of voice and voting rights, are as applicable today as then.

"Daughters of freedom, the truth marches on,

Yield not the battle, till ye have won

Heed not the scorner, day by day

Clouds of oppression roll away!"

Years ago, another folk group and I sang a little song I always felt summed up a great truth of human life. Quite short, and sung starkly as a round without accompaniment, it reminds us:

All things shall perish

From under the sky

Music alone shall live,

Music alone shall live,

Music alone shall live,

Never to die.

So keep music in your life, friends! Thanks #ricksharpRick Sharp, organizer of "Sandstock with #sandwichartsalliance, and #elizabethmoisan Liz Moisan (JPF) for doing your part! ... And don't miss "The Roaring Twenties," the next performance in the "Americana" series at the Yarmouth New Church, September 15, Sunday, at 5:00 p.m.

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