Friday, April 11, 2014

Time to sing again in Springdale, April 13th...

The buds on the dogwood right outside my office window are just starting to peek out of their winter shell and white clouds of dogwoods with soon follow the yellow daffodils or jonquils, whichever you prefer. That means it's time to sing again in the General Store on the grounds of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale at 118 W. Johnson Ave on Sunday, April 13th. The singing starts at 1:30 P.M. There are several very important reasons I hope we have a good turn out on Sunday afternoon:

1.  This Sunday is also the day that the Shiloh Singers of NW Arkansas were invited to sing at Culpepper Assisted Living Center in Springdale. Just as we did last year, we'll start at the General Store, warm up the vocal cords and then gather up the boxes of songbooks and caravan out to the Culpepper Center. The center is only a short distance away, easy to find (I'll have a few maps.) and even easier if you follow someone who was there last year. When we've finished singing, the group can adjourn to a nearby Denny's to rest our vocal cords with coffee or hot chocolate and whatever your doctor allows you to eat for desserts. It's also a very nice break in the routine for those who reside in the center!

2.  We also need to talk about the plans for the Northwest Arkansas Sacred Harp Singing Convention scheduled for Saturday, May 3rd, from 9:30 A.M. until 3:00 P.M. in the Parish Hall of the St. Johns Episcopal Church, 707 W. Central Ave., in Harrison, Arkansas. The "dinner on the grounds" will be a pot luck covered dish lunch served in the Parish Hall at noon. Dan Brittain, who lives in Harrison is coordinating the event and we need to get an idea of what people want to bring for lunch. I always vote for plenty of desserts but we need to have a good variety of veggies and other food groups. I can also vouch for the quality of the cooking in NWA. This is a full day of singing and a good time to learn more about Sacred Harp singing. Also keep in mind that this is more of a regional event with singers from MO, OK, and other parts of Arkansas who have attended in the past. With any luck at all and good weather, we hope to have a good turn out for our annual spring convention. Obtain Convention Flyer.

3.  Several days ago, I received an email from a group who have been talking about organizing and sponsoring a shape note/Sacred Harp singing in the Little Rock area. I forwarded the email to Dan and several others in the Shiloh group as well as singers in central and southern Arkansas or from surrounding states who have much more experience than I do in these types of things. I'm sure there may be opportunities to work together that would increase the visibility of Sacred Harp singing in the state and help all of the small groups who wish to promote Sacred Harp in their own communities as an enjoyable way to support a traditional way of singing. It's something that deserves some talking time on the April schedule. Representatives of the group have also been invited to the singing convention in Harrison to observe, sing or just meet some of the people who might be able to assist their effort.

4. Bob and Gina Cauley sent a note that their family attended a Sacred Harp singing in Colorado Springs during March and that Colorado Springs will host an all day singing on April 26, 2014 if you are traveling in the area. Katy and I certainly enjoyed singing with the Colorado Springs group several years ago. Bob also mentioned he had found a source for "I [heart] Sacred Harp" button if we want to make those available to NWA singers. We'll find time to talk about the pins somewhere in the schedule too.

5. For singers who might be interested in attending an adult or youth FaSoLa Camp in Alabama or the European Sacred Harp Tour with both the UK and Poland Conventions and Camp FaSoLa Europe, this is the 2014 schedule:
Adult Camp FaSoLa:
        Sun, Jun 8 /4pm - Thu, Jun 12 /8am  Camp McDowell—
        Double Springs, AL 
Youth Camp FaSoLa:
        Mon, Jun 30 /3pm - Fri, Jul 4 /9am  Camp Lee—Anniston, AL
Camp FaSoLa Europe:
        Mon, Sep 22 /3pm - Fri, Sep 26 /9am  Wichrowe Wzgórze—
        Chmielno, Poland
Obtain Camp FaSoLa Application

Sacred Harp UK Convention, Camp FaSoLa Europe and Poland Convention 
        Sep 18 - Sep 30, 2014
Obtain Tour Brochure and separate Tour Enrollment Form

Pictures: Singing in Two States During March

Click on any picture for a larger version.
St. John's United Church of Christ in Pinckney Township, north of Washington, Missouri, site of the 29th Annual Missouri State Sacred Harp Convention on March 8th and 9th.

The tall wooden church, with its soaring steeple was built in the 1870's and sits together with working farms near the banks of the Missouri River.

The new gavel-covered parking lot was quickly filled and later parking spaces stretched down a small grass covered road toward the church cemetery which is located on a small mound west of the church.

A good turnout was enjoyed both days with some sitting in the balcony. All the parts, treble, alto, tenor and bass were very well represented. Singers in the alto section were sitting on the organ bench and additional chairs were needed.
All age groups were represented at the Missouri State Sacred Harp Convention:

Young and old...

Experienced and new song leaders...

And all the singers in between...

Thanks to the St. Louis Shaped Note Singers for hosting such a well-organized event and a special thanks to all the cooks who made Saturday's lunch and evening social as well as Sunday's lunch such a treat!

Arkansas' Historic Washington State Park hosted the 46th annual Jonquil Festival, which ran from Friday through Sunday.March 7th through 9th.

The Festival fills the park grounds with displays, food and activities for all ages. Booth space was available in the old school gym for a variety of crafts and informational displays.
The Sunday afternoon singing was conducted in the historic Washington United Methodist Church. Photo Credit: Historic Washington State Park

Singers from the church and the surrounding Washington area were joined by a number of singers from the East Texas Convention, led by Robert Vaughn. The Shiloh Sacred Harp Singers from NW Arkansas had four singers in attendance.
Rev. Keenan Williams, pastor of Washington UMC, leading the group with the assistance on one of his young parishioners. Sacred Harp singing is for people who love to sing no matter what their age. Thanks for all the hospitality at the festival and singing and best wishes for your efforts to expand Sacred Harp singing in Central and Southern Arkansas.

And one more thing... The table several of us use at AQ Chicken House in Springdale always seems to have room for an extra chair for anyone who wishes to join us around noon for chicken and dumplings or one of the other fine chicken dishes on the menu. We've already mentioned Denny's post singing. Ya'll come to Springdale on Sunday afternoon and we can all enjoy singing together. Hope to see you there.

Monday, March 10, 2014

March Singing Opportunity - Historic Washington State Park

Old Washington Methodist
March Singing Update: Another opportunity to sing in Arkansas in the month of March, particularly for those singers in Central and Southern Arkansas. .

Dan Brittain received the an email Friday afternoon, March 7th, from Robert Vaughn in Mount Enterprise, TX with the final details of a demonstration singing that will be conducted in the historic Washington Methodist Church on the grounds of Washington State Park in Washington, AR on Sunday afternoon, March 16th, the last day of the park's annual Jonquil Festival. Washington and the state park are about 30 miles from Texarkana and 10 miles off and north of Interstate 30. For those in central and southern part of the state, this provides a wonderful opportunity to meet and sing with singers from Texas and others interested in shape note singing. The details were:
We will sing at the Washington Methodist Church in the historic Washington State Park in Washington, Arkansas. Singing will begin at 3:30 p.m. and go until 5:30 p.m. The park superintendent expects about 20 people who are not familiar with Sacred Harp. Any help from Sacred Harp singers will be appreciated. Because of this number of people, I will be making copies to hand out at the singing. Songs will be from both the red (Denson) and blue (Cooper) books -- so bring
Information on the park and church can be found here:
  Park Website:
  Phone: (870) 983-2684
  Church Website:

Several of the above links can provide information about the park and church including maps. This will be during the 46th annual Jonquil Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday. More information at:

If you couldn't make it to the Missouri State Sacred Harp Singing Convention, this would be a good way to loosen up the vocal cords for our next regular singing in Springdale on the 13th of April. Hope to see you in Washington or singing with the Shiloh Singers in Springdale next month.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A couple of quick updates for March...

First, don't forget that our local March 9th singing in Springdale is recessed to allow as many as can to attend the Missouri State Sacred Harp Singing Convention near Washington, MO on Saturday and Sunday, March 8th and 9th. The Missouri Convention draws singers from Minnesota to Georgia and is a good way to get over any symptoms of "cabin fever" accumulated over the past few months. Links to convention details, maps, motel lists, etc. are available in the sidebar's Calendar section.

The next regular singing with the Shiloh Singers will be from 1:30 to 4:00 P.M. on April 13, 2014 in the General Store at the Shiloh Museum, 118 W. Johnson Avenue, Springdale, AR.

Second, regarding the Missouri weather, Syd received a note from Paul Figura, one of the Convention planners. Paul wrote:

... I am happy to give you an "all clear" for both here in the St. Louis area and some 60 miles West of us, at the Convention location
Yes, we did have some sleet yesterday morning, topped by a thin layer of snow.  But the good news is that the highways and roads are clear now and the ground is already showing through, both here and at Pinckney.  What white stuff is on the ground should be long gone before this weekend.  The highs are forecast to be above freezing starting tomorrow, with clear skies.  The highs for Friday, Saturday and Sunday should be around 50º F.
So - come on down, up, or over.  We will be honored to have you with us.
I have no doubt that Paul knows much more about Missouri weather than anyone else I know, but I wrote another member of the Arkansas contingent that I still plan to arrive at the church early on Saturday and Sunday and seek the high ground in the parking lot. It's an old Infantry habit from a long time ago and half a world away.

Hope to see all the Arkansas singers who can attend the convention on Saturday and Sunday and looking forward to April's flowers decorating the grounds of the Shiloh Museum on April 13th when we can all get together and sing together again.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February Singing and Remembering Groundhod Day...

First of all, the regular Sunday, February 9, 2014, singing is still scheduled for 1:30 until 4:00 P.M. in the General Store on the grounds of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. Visitors are always welcome and we'll even loan them a book and they can sing along or just tap their foot and enjoy the music.

Photo: January 12th Singing in the Shiloh Museum General Store.

We had a great turnout of singers and visitors in January and Dan Brittain once again covered some of the basics of shape note singing for the visitors. Several of the visitors went home with new songbooks and I think it's safe to say that we all enjoyed a pleasant afternoon of singing the old hymns. I sincerely hope that everyone had a good time. So it's time to send out a reminder about the February event.

This is also a good time to remind everyone that the Shiloh Singers will be in recess in March to allow (encourage?) as many singers as possible to attend the Missouri State Sacred Harp Singing Convention at St. John's United Church of Christ near Washington, Missouri on March 8th and 9th. The two-day event, sponsored by the St. Louis Shape Note Singers, draws singers from Alabama to Wisconsin and is certainly a premier event. We'll talk more about sharing a ride on Sunday. The Saint Louis group recommends making room reservations as early as possible. Click on the links below for more detailed information in the St. Louis flyer, motel info and map.
Missouri State Singing Convention Flyer
Google map & Motel Information

Two boxes of the new 2013 & 2014 edition of Sacred Harp Singings have arrived. Each annual edition contains the previous year's minutes and the current year's directory of where to find local and regional singings  The books will be available at the February singing.

I'm also reminded of "Groundhog Day," the 1993 movie, where Bill Murray, the TV weatherman, finds himself living the same day over and over again? Writing a monthly newsletter is a little like the time warp depicted in the movie. And much like the weatherman, once again we're confronted with conflicting weather forecasts. This year, Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter.

Groundhog family (Credit: Bob Hines, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

I also read that somewhere in Arkansas, a groundhog emerged while still blinking his eyes and trying to go back to sleep. He or she didn't actually see their shadow. Thus the groundhog joined the ever optimistic local Chamber of Commerce members in hoping for an early spring.

I hope all the Arkansas groundhogs stay warm toward the end of this week. Accuweather is predicting partly sunny conditions on Friday, possible snow on Saturday, and sunshine on Sunday with the temperatures in the 30's. The local forecasters on KFSM believe it will snow on Friday, clearing with a 30% possibility of snow on Saturday, and turn partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid to low 30's. Our best advice is for everyone to watch their favorite news and weather program on Saturday. If the roads get so bad that it's difficult to pick up the key to the general store, we'll post a 2nd weather update so please check this website for the latest information.

One more thing:  The usual invitations for chicken and dumplings at AQ's Chicken House in Springdale around noon and hot chocolate at the Springdale Denny's after the singing are extended. Both sessions are intended to allow more time to visit and talk about singing and sometimes each others grandchildren.

So we'll pray for good weather and hope the to see you and everyone at the February 9th singing.

"A researcher with a thermometer knows what the temperature is; a researcher with two thermometers is confused." - Old Science Teacher
BR NOTE - The same applies to groundhogs and weather reports.