Category Archives: outta town
Chattanooga is a great city! Julie, Crissy, and I left Brasstown one Saturday in January and followed the Ocoee River west through TN and ended up in Chattanooga – our super-fun destination for a Julie b-day celebration! Chattanooga is just two hours west of Murphy. Upon arrival, we went to the south side of the city to check into our lodging – a fantastic upscale hostel called the Crash Pad. Julie’s friend, Dan owns the Crash Pad, so we got the grand tour and first class treatment. The Crash Pad caters to outdoors adventurers especially rock climbers so there were young hotties in abundance on the premises.
After getting settled in we headed over the Champy’s an eatery dedicated to sipping 40z and fried chicken. Amazingly enough we read the local paper and found out there was a squaredance in the basement of a local bar – what are the chances of that?! Te Claw had booked the night and Jennifer (who I met at Dare to Be Square in Riner) was calling. The band was from Vermont and the were called something like the Apocalyptians or something like that. They wore animal skin hats and drove in an ambulance. The dance was such a treat!
After the dance we headed over to a fancy schmancy cocktail bar called the Easy Bistro. It was in the old Coca Cola Bottling Factory building. I had a $12 cocktail called the billionaire which had bourbon and absinthe among other things. It was yummy, but left me hankering for a sidecar, which I might call the Cory Marie signature drink… if you don’t count the Shirley Temple.
The next day we had a decadent brunch at the Knitting Factory and then took a wonderful walk to the Coolidge Park Carousel, across the pedestrian bridge, to the art museum and around downtown. Chattanooga has a 1/4 mile pedestrian bridge crossing the river… It’s the width of a car bridge. So many folks were out and about on Sunday on the bridge. I thought it was very cool city planning to allocate the space for pedestrians. The bridge ended at the art museum – Chattanooga has a lot of great public art. By the Crash Pad, there were murals everywhere. It is also a city with great graphic design sensibilities – many businesses had beautiful logos!
All in all Chattanooga is alright by me. I loved it and Julie and Crissy were great tour guides! I can’t wait to spend more time there!
I was looking through old drafts and I found this unpublished gem from Spring 2011. My mom visited me and we went on a road trip to Charleston and Savannah. We spent a day outside of Charleston touring a plantation called Middleton. Nice memories & we got some great shots…
I just uploaded my Ireland photos to my Flickr account. Check out my July 2012 Ireland set!
One of our stops on the Carolina Coast was Pinckney Island, a wild bird refuge within a network of barrier islands outside of Charleston in Beaufort County. The only island open to people is Pinckney and there is a long trail that winds through the coastal marshland and forest. Mom and I had a lovely walk and saw lots of birds and 100s of tiny crabs. We had a nice picnic and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery.
After the kitschy seaside experience of Myrtle beach, Mom and I hit the road in search of some old southern charm, history, and most importantly Spanish moss. We high-tailed it down the Carolina coast, first stop: Charleston!
The city of Charleston was gorgeous and fancy with old buildings, tons of wrought iron and big oak trees. Mom and I walked around the town and had a nice dinner at a decadent little restaurant with a patio courtyard. Both Charleston and Savannah reminded me of New Orleans, without the dirt, vomit, and nightlife.
How decadent it was to have a whole store dedicated to selling honey:
This park below is on the waterfront and you can see Ft. Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War (aka “the War of Northern Aggression”) occurred.
Our first stop outside of Charleston was a charming historic town was the town of Beaufort, SC. Beaufort is the second-oldest city in South Carolina; Charleston being the first. Beaufort was a small, sleepy town with wonderful oak lined streets, with a little bit of a tropical feeling.
Back in April, Erin Crabb (of work study session 1) met me in Riner, Virginia for a Dare To Be Square (DTBSQ) weekend. The workshops and dances were held at a beautiful farm with a dance barn; everyone camped out by the pond. It was exciting and thrilling driving to a new state, to a new place, to people I had never met, to dance old time square dances. The DTBSQ community is amazing!
Dare To Be Square is a community of people across the nation who want to preserve old time square dancing. Anyone who has the passion to organize a DTBSQ event can; events have taken place in both the South and the Pacific Northwest. Veteran caller, Phil Jamison wrote an article in the late 80s for the Old Time Herald that explains the sentiment behind Dare To Be Square and has inspired this movement. The folk school has a DTBSQ event scheduled in November.
Dare To Be Square is what directly led me to the John C. Campbell Folk School. I went to Dare To Be Square: West! in Seattle back in December 2009. Bob Dalsemer (the folk school’s Coordinator of Music and Dance Programs) was one of the guest callers and main teacher of the event. I saw in his bio that he taught at the folk school, investigated the school, was amazed, and when I asked him about it, he encouraged me to apply for work study. And voila! Here I am! Thanks Bob for the recommendation!
Driving from Galax to Riner was so gorgeous. The sun was setting and the farms and hills were pastoral with golden light and billowy clouds. I arrived at the farm right as it was getting dark and immediately ran into Erin eating hummus and carrots in the parking lot. After our joyous initial reunion, we set up our tent by the pond and went to the dance barn where the first dance was kicking off.
The old red barn had been decorated with white lights, wreaths, and sweeping gauzy fabric; it was transformed into the perfect spring dance barn. The square dance was so wonderful, the music was jumping and the dances were so frenetic and fun! We danced from 9AM until the wee hours of the morning. There were campfires, jams, sing-a-longs, pot lucks, hammocks, good brew, clogging, and the great people. Good times!
The official callers of the weekend were Phil Jamison, Michael Ismerio, and Will Mentor. They took turns running the day time workshops and calling the evening dances. On Saturday evening we all had a sit down discussion about square dance history which evolved into a discussion about the difference between “dance communities” and “community dances.” This really struck a chord with me.
The difference is that community dances are for a community, inclusive of everyone regardless of whether or not you know how to dance. The dances are simple and fun and the night is as much about socializing as it is about dancing. It’s about bringing a community together and could even be thought of as community organizing.
Dance communities are communities that require attendees to know dances or moves; the dances might be intimidating to most newbies. These folks come together for the dancing and it can be more advanced and exclusive. The dancing brings them together, not the fact that they are part of a non-dance community.
The improv tribal bellydance community I belong to is definitely a dance community. There is a secret language that you must learn to be able to dance as a group with others. It is exclusive and troupes are like clubs. (BTW, I am referring to exclusive in the sense that you have to learn how to do the moves in order to join in, not exclusive in the sense that people are excluded based on anything other than basic knowledge. The bellydance community is of course very accepting of all types of people).
I was once talking to Amy Sigil of Unmata about square dancing. She asked me if I was ever interested in writing a formated dance vocabulary, like ITS, for square dancing. It hit me like a ton of bricks because there already exists a formated vocabulary for square dancing (Callerlab) and that is exactly what I don’t want to do.
I don’t want to have exclusive dances where you have to take classes and learn the moves to be able to go to the dances. I want to have square dances where anyone can walk in the door and dance to live music. It’s interesting that the very thing I love about belly dance, is what I dislike about square dancing. My different needs are met by the different groups. It might also have to do with the fact that belly dance is mostly performative and square dance is a social dance. As a caller, I love to bring folks together who would never normally dance. Even if it is just holding hands and walking around in a circle; to me, this is ultimately success! Connecting people in a basic face-to-face way is what thrills me about square dancing.
Here are two videos I took. This one is from Friday night. Micheal Ismerio is calling an Appalachian style scatter dance:
Here is Phil Jamison calling “Birdie in the Cage” during a workshop. Since this DTBSQ weekend I have called both this dance and the scatter dance:
Thanks to all the organizers, musicians, dancers, hosts, callers, and teachers of DTBSQ! It was truly a magical event!
In mid-April, my mom came to visit me in North Carolina. Her bestie Barbara has a house near Chapel Hill, so I met my mom at the Raleigh airport and we spent two lovely weeks together. The first week we stayed at Barbara’s house and then we took a trip out to the coast to see Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Savannah and everything in between. I love my mom so much, she is the raddest mom and so fun to travel with!
Here are some photos of us at Myrtle Beach:
Myrtle Beach is seaside resort town for people to come vacation. There are so many golf courses and beach front seaside high rise hotels. It has a little bit of a Vegas vibe, meets Coney Island, meets Venice Beach. There are a lot of pawn shops and seaside crab shacks. On a side note, Myrtle Beach is also the home of the dance the Shag.
The most striking thing I noticed about Myrtle beach was the numerous epic miniature golf courses. I spotted at least 15 of these wonderfully over-the-top family fun centers all themed differently with hugh dramatic waterfalls, volcanos, and life-sized props. Some themes included: Bermuda Triangle (pictured below), dinosaurs, pirates, and Atlantis. They were all so impressive in a Las Vegas hotel facade kind of way. I wish I had taken more photos, but I was driving at the time.
I also spotted a huge amount of Malibu Dream Girl swimwear. My former workplace sells mainly to Florida and the East Coast, so I had never seen seaside shops with all our swimwear. It was neat to see design I created in massive amounts on the walls.
More updates coming from the mom/daughter adventure in following entries….
I am alive; thanks to Candice for the booty kick and the realization that I am long overdue for an update.
So, since you last heard from me, I have assumed my host position at the John C. Campbell Folk School. At this point, I am more than halfway through my term and it has been an INCREDIBLE life changing experience. The host position is a scholarship job where I live and work at the folk school as an RA of sorts with the exchange of getting to take a class every single week.
The work study position I had in the winter was only a nine week program where I worked on a team of five people and we did mainly gardening and maintenance projects. The work studies work 6 weeks and get to take 3 week long classes. The work study scholarship is either working 9-5 OR going to class like a regular student the other weeks. The host position is like working full time and going to school full time, hence being WAY more busy all the time (hence my absence from the digital world); you are on call all the time. It’s exhausting, but the experience is really invaluable because I get to take so many classes.
The host job is a four month position and there are always 2 hosts. As of 2 weeks ago, I am senior host and Rebecca Gallo of Hyde Park, New York is my junior co-host. When I was junior host, the lovely Ms. Leah Dolgoy of Montreal (see photos below) was my co-host for two months. The terms overlap so one host can always train the incoming junior host.
Enough technical talk…. so classes! (besides getting your own room) the classes are the BEST part of being a host. I have taken thus far:
Beginning Blacksmithing with Paul Garret
Ladderback Chairmaking with Lyle Wheeler
Lighting in Blacksmithing with Greg Price
Chasing Tools and Toolmaking in Blacksmithing with Bill Robertson
Dance Calling with Bob Dalsemer
Beginning Fiddle with Cathy Grant
Quilt Making with Audrey Hiers
Chair Caning with Gwen and Jared Chafin
Mountain Dulcimer Building with John Huron
Medicinal Herbs with Cathy Merckens
Spoon Carving with Frank Boyd
Forge Building with Bob Alexander
Pictorial Woodburning with Debbie Pompano
As if I wasn’t already randomly skilled in many random things, I am totally upping the ante here at the folk school. Next week I am taking basket weaving. I love it.
I miss playing music with Leah! She and I would always jam together during random spots throughout the day when we had a moment. We also had many clandestine meetings in areas of the campus where late night music could not be heard by sleeping ears. As you can she in the photo, she plays autoharp and I of course play clawhammer banjo.
She tunes we would play most often included:
“Bury Me Beneath the Willow”
“The Marching Jaybird”
“Say Darlin” Say”
“My Long Journey Home”
“Virginia Bootlegger Song”
Remember that scene in Mary Poppins where they all jump into Bert’s chalk painting and turn into countryside dandies frolicking about, ending in a horse race? Well, I was hoping that the Kentucky Derby would be a little like that, but from the Infield perspective, Mary Poppins was nowhere to be found.
I loved the experience, the fashion was great, as were the mint juleps, but being in the Infield at the Kentucky Derby is like being lost in a sea of frat boys dressed as dandies and sorority girls dressed as Designing Women… and everyone is getting wasted. You can barely see the racetrack at all and everything is Disneyland prices. I enjoyed seeing all the hats and crazy outfits, but if I were gonna do the Derby again, I would most certainly find a richie rich to get me a nice seat in the grandstands to actually be able to see the horse races.
Animal Kingdom was this year’s winner. My horse pick, Comma to the Top, didn’t place, so I was happy that I spent all my betting money on over-priced liquor. All in all it was quite an adventure and crazy intense experience. The fashion and people watching was incredible. I posted a separate blog about the candid shots of Derby goers.
I enjoyed reading Hunter S. Thompson’s essay about the Derby, although there was far less vomit involved in my experience. I recommend reading it before you go to the Derby.
Next pour moi? Nascar, perhaps?