Thursday, September 8, 2016

Getting set for our September and October Singings...

First of all, the Shiloh Singers of NWA will be gathering for their monthly singing this Sunday afternoon, September 11, 2016 from 1:30 until 4:00 P.M. in the General Store on the grounds of the Shiloh Museum in Springdale. The forecast is for clear and sunny with a high of 80 degrees. It looks like a good late summer afternoon to drive over to Springdale and enjoy the mountains, the singing and the fellowship of spending an afternoon with friends.

As usual, there will be a table at A-Q Chicken House for those who wish to arrive around noon and enjoy a wholesome chicken dinner and more time to catch up on the news among friends. Just ask for the Shiloh Singers when you arrive and they'll point you in the right direction.

We had a wonderful singing in Springdale on August 8th with both Dan Brittain and Bill Caldwell to pitch and several new visitors and occasional singers. It felt like we sang more songs than usual just having a good time using the Denson book in the first half and the Missouri and Cooper books in the second session after the break.

Photo: Syd shared this picture of Arkansas and Oklahoma singers at the 149th Annual East Texas Convention in Henderson on August 8, 2016.

Please keep Mona Vice in your prayers. Mona is in rehab after falling and surgery to repair a previous knee replacement damaged in the fall. She may be in rehab for some time since the doctors don't want Mona to put any weight on the right leg for a while. If you're in the area, she's at Walnut Grove Rehab, 1393 Don Tyson Road, Springdale. We visited after Sunday singing and she seemed to enjoy the visit and working in therapy sessions morning and afternoon to regain mobility. I'm sure she would enjoy a card or a visit if you're in the area.

Last month we discussed a marvelous opportunity for Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri singers to join together at the George M. Murrell Home Historic Site on Sunday, October 9th as part of their celebration of the site's agricultural and historical significance to Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation. The official address for GPS drivers is 19479 East Murrell Home Road, Park Hill, OK 74451 which is just south of Tahlequah. Detailed directions are available on the Murrell Historic Site visitor's page. You can also learn more about the importance of the Murrell Home Historic Site in a multimedia presentation, "Seeds of History," the first online issue of Crossroads, produced by the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The whole event planned at the historic site covers Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 7-9. The Sunday schedule includes the usual planned displays, vendors, tours of the historic home and other activities but also starts with an outdoor church service at 10:00 A.M. and followed by a group singing of both Cherokee and English hymns at 11:00 A.M. After a short break for a quick lunch and time to arrange folding chairs into a hollow square, the Sacred Harp singers could then start after lunch and conduct an outdoor singing from about 12:00 P.M. We plan to bring our loaner books and invite spectators to sing along if they wished. We'll be singing in an open area in the trees east of the mansion. You may want to bring your hats and bonnets if the sun is bright.

Photo: George M. Murrell Home Historic Site in Park Hill, OK, a Greek Revival-style plantation house Murrell called "Hunter's Home."

Since the Shiloh Singers normally sing on the 2nd Sunday of each month except in March, we'll post a note on the door of the General Store, the website and hopefully in the local papers that we'll be singing at the Murrell Historic Site in October. The thinking is that we will have a small folding table where all three regional Sacred Harp singing groups can have information about their singings and provide a sign-up sheet where people can request more information or get on each group's local newsletter list. So part of our mission, beside just exposing Sacred Harp singing to a new audience, is to invite anyone in the audience to learn more and attend one of the local singings in their area.

We also talked last month about the annual NW Arkansas Fall Singing and pot-luck lunch scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, 9:30 A.M. - 3:00 P.M. in the Northwest Technical Institute Student Center, 709 South Old Missouri Road, south of the rodeo grounds and across the road from the Springdale airport. As usual, I'll post a map on the webpage in October but it should be easy to find from all directions. The Student Center is adjacent to the parking on the SW corner of the campus. First of all, our thanks to Alexis Walker and NWTI for helping us find such a nice facility with plenty of parking. Everybody seemed to know more about the NWTI campus than I did and spoke positively about the using the student center for the Fall singing. I discovered that the Northwest Technical Institute is one of two career and technical education schools in Arkansas and has been in operation for nearly thirty-nine years.  We'll be singing from the Denson book and Missouri Harmony. Please mark your calendar.

The fact that we'll have a singing school on Friday evening, Oct. 21st, before the NWA Fall Singing may encourage people who want to take an opportunity to learn even more. So yes, this is also an opportunity for all three groups to reach out to potential singers in their area.

October is shaping up to be a big month with plenty of opportunities to sing and share our Sacred Harp tradition. Hope to see you on Sunday and hope you can some of the special singing events in October!

UPDATED 9/9/16 -  Antique Agriculture Festival graphic added.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

August 14th Singing and Planning for September and October

The National Weather Service has predicted an almost cool 81 degrees for Sunday afternoon and we'll still bring an extra fan to keep all the Shiloh Singers, guests and visitors cool and comfortable at our August 10th singing from 1:30 to 4:00.  I hope we have a good turnout. A couple of our regular song leaders are in route to Henderson, Texas for the 149th East Texas Convention so we'll need a good turn out to fill any gaps in the ranks.

Photo: We had two special visitors at July's singing from Alaska! Campbell Longworth, from Fairbanks, and Nolan Lind, from Anchorage, stopped by for a visit and joined right into the singing.

Alexis Walker was back leading from the tenor section.  think everyone was very pleased with the turnout and we certainly hope anyone from Alaska to Florida, or any place between, will feel welcome to visit any of our events in the General Store at the Shiloh Museum or on the road.

It's been a hectic few weeks down here on "The Rock Pile" in Mountainburg.  Katy was tired from moving rocks again as she finished her landscaping improvements down by the road and my hand finally stopped shaking after writing the check to pay for some of the other improvements this spring and summer. I'm not sure if the new foot bridge, rock walkway and the finished structure looks more like a wishing well or a Shinto shrine. But it looks very nice and given a few seasons for plants to grow around it, will be a nice addition. Whether answered prayer or a good healthy wish, Gail Cowart is out of the hospital and rehab this week and he's gaining strength back with each passing day. He didn't think he would be up to making the trip to Springdale this Sunday but it won't take long if that former Army Ranger continues to follow his therapist's directions and work on his exercises.

Please bookmark this webpage and check the Calendar section for events in September and October. There's a singing in Louisiana that may interest the singers in southern Arkansas on Sept. 3rd, there's the annual Columbia, MO, Singing on Saturday, Oct. 8rd, we'll need to post changes about moving our 2nd Sunday in October singing to the Murrell Home State Park in Park Hill, OK, on October 9th, and Alexis has found us a new venue for the October NWA Fall Singing in Springdale on Oct. 22nd. There's even more news, but I'm already past the deadline for getting the newsletter out. We'll post any further updates between now and the next newsletter on this webpage as they occur or as we've experienced this month, as soon as time permits.

Don't forget the early Sunday arrivals in Springdale are invited to share a table at AQ's Chicken House just a few blocks from the Shiloh Museum starting around 12 noon. Desserts are optional after the singings at a local Denny's near the Interstate. Just follow the local singers or ask one of the regulars at the singing.

On behalf of all the Shiloh Singers, we hope to see you on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Full Weekend of Singing in July...

This July update is a little earlier than usual to include the latest information about the Annual Shape Note Gathering at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View.

Photo: Dan Brittain helps two young singers learn more about shape notes during the 2015 Shape Note Gathering.

Click this link for Ozark Folk Center Shape Note Gathering Schedule - July 7-9, 2016.

Click this link for Map to Ozark Folk Center Shape Note Gathering – July 7-8, 2016 and Traditional Singing - July 9, 2016

I've been traveling for the last couple of weeks, but I can add without hesitation that those who attended last year's gathering and singing learned about different forms of shape note singing and thoroughly enjoy the Saturday singing in the old Mountain View School auditorium.

For those Shiloh Singers who cannot attend the Mountain View events, the Shiloh Singers will be at their usual General Store for the July Singing at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History on Sunday, July 10, 2016 from 1:30 until 4:00 P.M. Visitors and children are always welcome.

Likewise, the optional pre singing table at AQ's Chicken House in Springdale at 12:00 and post singing "Desserts at Denny's" will be observed so we can visit and enjoy the fellowship of friends.

All in all, the 2nd weekend of July looks like it will be a busy one, but there will be plenty of good singing for everyone who can attend. Looking forward to seeing you at one or both of the events.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Shiloh Singers June Newsletter and a few audio and video links...

The second half of May and the first part of June have been hectic with teachers and students both ready for the end of the school year. I've been retired for almost 20 years and I'm still ready for summer vacation each June. However, I hope you won't take a "summer vacation" from Sacred Harp singing. The Shiloh Singers will host its regular monthly singing on June 12, 2016 in the General Store at the Shiloh Museum. I may bring an extra fan to circulate the cool air a little better and we'll have the usual bottled water on the welcome table. The extra curricular activities - lunch at Springdale's AQ Chicken House and desserts at Denny's close to I-49 will both be optional activities if you can come early around noon or stay a little later. We never have enough time to visit with only a short break in the middle of our 1:30 to 4:00 P.M. singings. And somehow, singers always have plenty of news from family and friends to share. I hope you can make the trip and sing with us this month.

Part of the good news is that Syd Caldwell isn't going to Disneyland this summer, Syd's going to Poland!! ...where he'll attend the singing school and make new friends in Europe. We sometimes think of Syd being the Shiloh Singer's goodwill ambassador to the several states on both sides of the Mississippi River but he'll have some stamps in his passport that not everyone gets to see. Syd, we're proud of you and know you're excited about the trip. Bon Voyage.

We need to get caught up on several audio and video items:
First, we have an audio segment spotted and forwarded by Frank Christel while recording at the Missouri Convention. Singers always talk about how we enjoy having children and young people at our singings and conventions. Jim Herr put things in perspective about youngsters getting starting singing at an early age. The .m4a file is a little larger to make audio as clear as possible. It sounded pretty clear when I wore my hearing aids, but it was recorded in front of a large audience of singers. Link to audio file at:

Next, we have three short videos recorded at the All-Day Singing in the Washington United Methodist Church in Washington, AR on May 14th and the "Old Folks Singing" at Ebenezer UMC on May 15th. The Washington singing is an effort to expand and grow an annual singing in South Central Arkansas. Thanks to Robert Vaughn, who brought books and a number of singers from East Texas to help with all four sides of the square and Keenan Williams and his congregation who provided the "historic wooden church" with wood floors and high ceilings that make a wonderful place to sing traditional sacred music. The NWA visitors were glad we made the trip and hope to return next year. See:

The second video was recorded at Ebenezer UMC's "131st Old Folks Singing" which is the church's reunion day, dinner on the ground, and a time for remembering family and friends who made Tull, AR a viable rural community in the 1800's and keep it viable in the 21st century. I wish every church in our country had such a community celebration each year. I told a friend I hope I could do justice to the Ebenezer singing in only 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Thanks to the Tull community for the hospitality that we received as visitors and we hope we can visit again. See:

When the several Sacred Harp singers were asked to lead a song, Dan Brittain never misses the opportunity to demonstrate how churches sang before pianos and organs could be freighted across miles of poor roads. Traditional songs are pitched and then the singers first sang their notes instead of the words to help them learn the tune. Then the words were added to complete the song. We hope the video helps explain why singing the notes and then the words helped early singers learn to read music and the confidence to sing with such enthusiasm. See:

We're running a little long on text and short on time, so I hope you get at idea or two from the audio and video files and that traditional shape note singing is available in Arkansas and surrounding states if you want to learn more. Hope to see you in the Country Store on Sunday.