Event Calendar

OSCAR NIGHT: BABY CECIL AND OSCAR AT ELMER’S!
Sunday, February 28, 8:00 p.m.

That’s right, the oh-so-white-but-working-on-a-rock-solid-image-change Oscars are this Sunday, and we are making a big deal out of it! The Ashfield Film Fest Committee is proudly sponsoring the 2016 Oscar Party at Elmer’s!
Dress up (if you want to but if you don’t want to you can come in your pajamas) and enjoy a fun-filled evening at the new Elmer’s Bar, with the real live Oscars on TWO real live TVs! One in the bar and one in the restaurant!

We will start at 8pm for the last part of the red carpet walk and the actual show starts at 8:30. Come early to fill out your Oscar ballot. (This is a real ballot, printed up and everything!) This is important, because there will be prizes! Whoever predicts the most winners walks home with a big ol’ gift basket, worth money. There will be a slightly smaller basket for the second-best guesser, and then one for best dressed person as well! So get your prom gown and top hat out of the cleaners and come on over! (Do not let the fear of not being well-dressed keep you at home. Wear what you like, but dress up if you want to win valuable prizes!)

We will be serving lots of Gretchen-made desserts, coffee, tea and drinks made out of alcohol! (We’ll have some bar snacks but due to the later-ness of the house we will serve desserts instead of dinner.)

On the menu:
Boston Cream Pie
Maple Crème Brulee
Vanilla Cake with a Buttercream Frosting
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Banana Cream Pie
Chocolate Cheesecake

Members of the Ashfield Film Festival Committee will be there to talk about upcoming events – this is a big deal! Big as the Ashfield Film Festival!

Prizes for those who know their Academy Awards
And a prize for best dressed!

 

 

 

Tea with Demons, games of transformation: Book reading and signing
by legendary playwright Jean-Claude van Itallie,
director of Shantigar Foundation for healing/meditation/theatre in Rowe, MA

Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 2:00 PM
Elmer’s Store, Ashfield

Jean-Claude wrote the highly acclaimed 1966 Off-Broadway trilogy America Hurrah with its larger-than-life caricatures of 1960s America rocked by the Vietnam War. His many other plays include The Serpent and Tibetan Book of the Dead.

With his book, Tea with Demons, games of transformation Jean-Claude masters a new genre. Tea with Demons includes some memoir, 49 daily games for the reader’s gradual, interior self-development, over 50 color photographs, and art and cover by Veronique Bryant. Marcia Gagliardi of Haley’s in Athol, MA is the editor/publisher.

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Paint Night
Saturday, February 27th

The Sanderson Academy PTO and Elmer’s Store are hosting a Paint Nite event on February 27th at 7pm to raise money for field trips, enrichment projects, and events at the school – and you’re invited! At Paint Nite, a master artist will give us step-by-step instructions to create a work of art – while we socialize and enjoy refreshments at Elmer’s! With raffle prizes: a Yankee Candle Gift Basket, 2 passes to Berkshire East, a Country Pie Gift Certificate and a MO’s Fudge Gift Certificate and more!
Paint Nite will donate a portion of ticket sales to the Sanderson Academy PTO. Please register now at: thttps://paintnite.com/events/1042479.html

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NIGHT of LOVE & CHOCOLATE!
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Enjoy a lovely dinner at Elmer’s and then you go across the street to the Inn for
ALL THE CHOCOLATE IN THE WHOLE WORLD
That you can POSSIBLY EAT!
And then you go home very, very happy and full of chocolate and love!

$35 for dinner (Prime Rib!) all the extras and that much chocolate. One night only.

Soup: Soup Du’jour

Salad: Elmer’s Arugula Salad with Caramelized Walnuts, Red Wine Marinated Cranberries, Red Onion, Feta Cheese and Croutons. Sweet Sherry Dressing.

Appetizer: Wild Mushroom Strudel with Mixed Greens and Marsala Cream Sauce.

Entree: Slow Herb Roasted Prime Rib with Creamy Mashed Potato, Sauteed Garlic Spinach and Au Jus.

Entree: Pan Seared Scallops with Crispy Corn and Polenta Cake and Sweet Potato Puree. Served with a Curry Lime Reduction.

And THEN there’s the chocolate part! Ready? Gretchen is outdoing herself, which is hard to do because she frequently outdoes herself. But here’s what she’s outdoing herself on for that night:

Chocolate Mousse cake
Chocolate Oblivion flourless torte (Gluten free)
Chocolate Fudge cake
Black Forest Cake with whipped cream and cherries
German Chocolate Bars
Chocolate Coffee Truffles
Peanut Butter Truffles
Chocolate Cheese Cake
Chocolate Pothole Cake
Cream Puffs
Chocolate Haystacks
Chocolate Peanut Clusters
Peppermint Patties (mint in dark chocolate)

 

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Ashfield’s 251st year celebratory New Years Day Potluck
11:00 am – 2:00 pm on Friday, January 1st at our Town Hall – open to all Ashfield Residents.
Coffee, Tea and Place Settings Provided
Bring your Favorite Dish or Pick up some Chips and Dip
Come on Down and We’ll All have a Great Time with our Friends and Neighbors.

*****

Elmer’s closes on Thursday, December 24 at 2:00pm and will be closed on Friday, December 25th in honor of the Christmas holiday. We will reopen on Saturday, December 26 at 8:00am for breakfast.

*****

 

Solstice Dinner at Elmer’s prior to the outdoor festivities starting at 7:00pm. Then return to Elmer’s for more celebrating at 8:00pm. We hope to have our bar open for this event!

*****

Sunday, December 20th, Pete Sandker, a self-taught watercolorist, will have a showing at Elmer’s 3:00-5:00pm. Pete will be at Elmer’s to meet people and talk about his work. Find out where he gets the patience to do all of that detailed work! And buy an original! Or at least a print!

*****

Crafted in the Village
This year again, on December 5th and 6th Ashfield will be hosting the town-wide craft festival we do every year with open studios, craft booths at both churches, the Christmas Tree farms open and more!
Plus – this just in: Chris Rawlings has agreed to be Santa Claus! And that, you know, will be very entertaining, regardless of how old you are! If you are interested in having a booth or an open studio (or have other ideas regarding participation, e-mail me at Nan@ElmersStore.com.

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“Drawing – Fun, Loose and Free – Anyone can do it!”
with artist Robert Masla

Artist Robert Masla is coming back to Elmer’s on November 19th to teach drawing to anyone who would like to learn it.
Explore the depths of your individual artistry and uncover your creative signature with professional artist Robert Masla. Don’t think you can draw?…or haven’t done it since you where a kid? Maybe you draw all the time but are looking for fresh inspiration? Perhaps you are a painter that doesn’t “draw enough”. Experience Masla’s award winning teaching style as you join him in a fast, crazy, playful, nurturing and supportive environment where exploration is encouraged and there are no mistakes. Masla created this fun and exhilarating 2.5 -3 hr. workshop using non-traditional and innovative approaches, experimentations and “art games” as well as some new approaches to traditional drawing techniques. Discover the magic of mark making, connect with your intuitive individuality and ignite your imagination. You will learn all about value, line, shape, edges, contours, texture, modulation, chiaroscuro, sfumato, etc. and all those fancy art terms and techniques that professional artists use… without even realizing it!!! The result is you will produce a wonderful drawing and gain tools and knowledge to take home with you to continue drawing with confidence – and have fun doing it!

(Dress for mess, … or bring an apron, – no prior art experience necessary, but if you have some, it probably won’t get in the way.)
The price for the class is $35 and it starts at 6:30 on Thursday, November 19th.
Space is limited so register today at Elmer’s!

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Saturday is of course Halloween!
And a lot goes on this day:

FIRST!

I (Nan) will continue my annual tradition of
Face Painting at Elmer’s
Beginning at 2pm.
That is free and a good time is generally had by all.
No child is too young or too old to have their face painted.

SECOND!
We have the annual
Rag Shag Parade
that begins at 6pm in front of Neighbors
And then turns into basic Trick-or-Treating after that.

DURING WHICH
Elmer’s will be hosting our traditional night of
Halloween Grown-Folks Hang Out
with pumpkin soup, locally-grown beef stew and drinks, beginning at 5pm.

And then, this year there will be a
Post Parade Halloween Dance
for Kids aged 9 – 14
At Town Hall
From 7:30-9pm
With music by DJ Zoe
Playing a mix of dance music and classic Halloween songs
$5 at the door

Any parents who would like to attend in the form of a chaperone would be quite welcome! Just write back to me here.

And then everyone has to go home for the day.

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This weekend is Ashfield’s Fall Festival!

And we got stuff for YOU – including a new, expanded, prettier, better Beer and Wine Garden! Read ahead:

Number One!
We open at Seven Ay-em just for alla y’all who are up early, setting up your booths, and we serve breakfast until 11am.
We will have our usual shorter breakfast menu on Fall Festival weekend:
Pancakes
Breakfast Sandwiches
Breakfast Burritos

Number TWO!
We will have our outdoor booth set up to begin selling food at 11 ay-em:
Crawfish Pasta (and bay-BEE! You ain’t had no crawfish pasta in life until you’ve had French-trained Chef Paul’s crawfish pasta!)
Pulled Pork Po-boys on an AnnaBread baguette
Smoked Ribs
Various drinks

Number THREE!
We have moved the Beer and Wine Garden across the street to the backyard of the inn, which sits along Main Street. And just to make sure you don’t go home hungry, we have chicken and andouille Gumbo – made by Jack the bonafide New Orleanian cook who has been up working with us all late-summer.

Number FOUR!
And otherwise we will have our regular Inside-Elmer’s Counter open as usual for coffees, hot chocolates, hot (and cold) ciders, hot and cold teas, lattes and the usual like, along with Gretchen’s array of cookies, brownies and other desserts.

Number Five!
Let us, or really, others at our establishment, entertain you with first of, Allen Gabriel and his world of magic. If you saw him at the show we did recently with the up-and-coming performers you know that Allen is gifted, funny, really good at his illusions and great fun all around. He will be there for most of Saturday and Sunday.

At Noon on Saturday we have a performance by Double Edge Theatre, outside in the front at Elmer’s. I have no idea what they are going to do, but have you ever been in the area of a Double Edge Performance when you haven’t been well-entertained? I don’t think so. From out front at Elmer’s they will move on to the Beer Garden across the street, so that no matter where you are, you will not miss them.

Here is the performance Schedule for the stage on the Common this weekend:

Saturday
11:15am. Kalliope Jones

1:15pm. Ashfield Community Band

3pm. The Morris Dancers!

Sunday
10:30am. The Tobias LaMontagne Trio

11:00am. Mohawk Trail Regional High School Music Students

12:00pm. Lui Collins

1:15pm. West County Jazz

2:30pm. Tess Burdick and Friend

3:45pm Blues with Perry Howart

It’s supposed to be beautiful weather all weekend, so come out and come in! And sit outside in our beer garden and enjoy some gumbo, a beverage and pass a good time!

 

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CONCERT: A Night of Up and Coming People to Watch, Saturday, September 26th, 8:00pm

  • Allen Gabriel: quite an accomplished magician for his age (High School Senior) will b entertaining during dinner with his magic.
  • Felexis Jinx: An all-girl band of about 12 – 13 years of age singing their song
  • Kick-Ass Chicks
    Their song debuted in the Ashfield Film Festival last Saturday night and was really good! So I asked them to join us as the evening’s opener. They are involved in a weekend workshop at the IMA that night so they will come in, do their song and go back to work!
  • The Tobias Lamontagne Trio
    Tobias just won the top prize for best film at the Ashfield Film Festival on Saturday, along with the audience-favorite award for his new film “The List.” At 15 he is well on his way to being a top-notch musician, singer-songwriter and film maker.
  • The Khalif Neville Trio
    At 19, Khalif is following in his Uncle Art Neville’s footsteps on keyboards and his father Charles Neville’s tradition of cool, warm (both of those terms work together in this genre of) jazz. He also has a hip hop career in his other life but Saturday night, he and his trio will warm the place up with Jazz – both original and modern jazz standards.
  • Kalliope Jones
    An all-girl group whose ages range from 14 – 16 years, but who have already made a huge name for themselves, first, locally (originally as “Belle Amie”) and now, nationally.

All from this area, all on their ways to the bigtime.
Saturday, September 26th
Dinner will begin at 5pm at Elmer’s
The concert will begin at 8pm.
Tickets $8
Call for tickets and for dinner reservations at
Elmer’s 626-4003
All of these people are very young and very good and very much worth watching. This is going to be a great night of up and coming music!

Hilltown Folk Rock Dance!
Sunday, September 27th at 3:00 pm
at Ashfield Town Hall

A performance including 25 dancers, ages four to seventy-something, dancing to recordings by local musicians Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem, the contradance band Elixir, The Nields, and Ray Lamontagne.

Featuring: Nina Coler, Nancy Parland, Amy Murray, Jane Wagener, Amy Klippenstein, Polly Byers, Maryellen Abbatiello, Trisha Aurigemma, Hetty Startup, Amar Abbatiello, Zach Arfa, Kai Delorenzo, Allen Gabriel, Rosalie Kinsey, Mary Monohon, Lilly Wells, Nellie Boyd-Owens, Lily Kulp, Charlie, Ainsley, Sonya, and Ursula, Gus Ganley, and Manfred Gabriel in his big solo.

Performance at 3:00,
followed by refreshments and open dance floor with a playlist arranged by Master of Ceremonies Allen Gabriel.
For more information contact Christina Gabriel at Ringsing@gmail.com.

Donations for Ashfield Community Hall and Hilltown Folk Rock Dance gratefully accepted

After the dance, beginning at 5pm, we will serve dinner.

And here is the happy little Sunday evening menu:

Enchiladas: Chicken or beef with beans and rice $12

Local Burger 9.25
Add swiss or or cheddar for $1, and it comes with side salad

Homemade Black Bean Burger 8
Add swiss or or cheddar for $1, and it comes with side salad

Two Soups of the Day 5

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Thursday of this week 8/27/15 at Elmer’s we have a big, fun thing happening!  FOR FREE!

It’s a video being shot of Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem!
But really it’s a FREE concert!  Yes friends, I said FREE

It starts at 6:00 pm on Elmer’s front porch (but come a little early) and will be a free, whole concert! And you’ll be in it as a crowd member!

Come one, come alla y’all on Thursday night at 6pm!  A great time is guaranteed!

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This week is the Cummington Fair, August 27, 28, 29 & 30. 
And Elmer’s will have our booth there again this year!

We will be serving our famous and very good (famous because it’s so good):

  • Pulled Pork
  • Ribs
  • Cole Slaw
  • Baked Beans
  • Strawberry Lemonade

Best food at the fair!

http://www.cummingtonfair.com/

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Pauline Productions’ Summer Play 4000 Miles
by Amy Herzog
plays at First Congregational Church of Ashfield July 22-August 1

Eat at Elmer’s, on Friday, July 31, then head on over to the play.

WHEN: Thurs*-Sat., July 30-Aug 1 8pm

WHAT: Pauline Productions’ 4000 Miles, by Amy Herzog (award winning play)
Direcsted by Toby Vera Bercovici
Starring Jeannine Haas (AEA), Theo Gabriel, Linda Tardiff, Mia Kang

TICKETS: BrownPaperTickets.com Adult: $22, Student-$15 (under 21).
At door tickets cost $3 more, cash or check, except Discount nights)
*Discount nights: Wed July 22 and Thurs July 30 all tickets $18 however you buy them.

WHERE: First Congregational Church, Ashfield
429 Main St. (Route 116)

*Thursday night: $18 no matter how you buy your tickets.

Leo (Theo Gabriel) a new-style lefty, has just completed a 4000 Mile bicycle trip and arrives unannounced
at his old-style lefty grandmother’s (Jeannine Haas) Greenwich Village Apartment. It was a rough ride and, in a word, he is lost. Over the next few weeks, the manner in which their intimacy grows and heals is the heart of this award winning play.

Winner of three 2012 Obie Awards including Best New American Play!
Nominated for a 2013 Pulitzer Prize!

*********

 

Cantrip in Concert
CD Release
“The Crossing”
Ashfield Community Hall
Friday, July 24th 7:30PM

​Click to buy tickets from www.brownpapertickets.com
Ticket Prices:
Adults: $15 in advance, $17 at the door.
Children (13 & under): $7, $8 at the door
Children 5 under in laps: Free
Advance Tickets available at these locations:
Elmer’s Store, Ashfield, MA
World Eye Books, Greenfield, MA
Broadside Books, Northampton, MA
On the web : www.brownpapertickets.com

Come eat dinner with us and then go to the concert!

Cantrip are (Editor’s note: Since there are three guys but one band, I go for Cantrip IS) Scottish traditional musicians that has been stunning audiences on several sides of the Atlantic since the end of the last century with its driving blend of fiddle, pipes and guitar. The name is an Old Scots word meaning a charm, magic spell or piece of mischief and it aptly describes the unexpected twists and turns in their musical arrangements likewise the compelling potency of their musicianship. In its aspect of mischief it also nicely sums up the character and sense of humour of most, if not all, of the constituent members. Portions of those who constitute the band also wish it to be known that the average speed of a cheetah at full run can exceed 55mph.

The band consists of:

Jon Bews: A veteran of the fiddle, having started at age four, Jon came to Scots music from a classical education by way of Goth rock. But it didn’t take long for him to entrench himself in the world and carve a name for himself as a fiddler. A prizewinning graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 1994, he has performed and recorded with such diverse artists as Malinky, James Yorkston, Mikel Urdangarin, Ranarim, Deaf Mutes and Samling. In addition to Cantrip, he currently plays with renowned Edinburgh ceilidh band Callanish and critically acclaimed indie rock quintet The Last Battle. Jon is also widely recognised as a composer and arranger. His string arrangements have been sought out by Ewan MacPherson and Fribo and his tunes have won high acclaim across the board. Jon moved to the Scottish Borders in 2003 where he spent two years as Traditional and World Music Development Worker for Scottish Borders Council. He stayed there because the view is nice and only moved back to Edinburgh because the shops are open later.

Dan Houghton: Dan was born in Ghana, but was transported to Scotland shortly thereafter, where he was surrounded by the indigenous music. He began his career with the whistle at age seven and started playing bagpipes in the early nineties, proceeding to win the Scottish Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society Open Borderpipes and New Composition events (multiple times), as well as the Maitre de Cornemuse at St. Chartier. Over the years he increased his versatility as a multi-instrumentalist, becoming an accomplished player on the flute, bouzouki and DADGAD guitar. In 2010, with the help of many friends (including Jon Bews), Dan released his first solo recording entitled “The Long March Home”. He is an instructor at the Vermont Institute of Celtic Arts, and in addition to Cantrip can be heard as a member of Parcel of Rogues, Prydien and Salsa Celtica. Outside of music Dan holds a BSc Hons I degree in Applied Mathematics and Geophysics from the University of Otago and an MLitt degree in Gaelic Literature and Language from the University of Edinburgh.

Eric McDonald: As a US native, Eric found his way to traditional music through the rich local music scene in Boston. He studied at Berklee College of Music under world renowned musicians such as guitarist/mandolinist John McGann and cellist Eugene Friesen. He is established as one of New England’s premier accompanists in many styles. Known for his tasteful approach and quick ear, he can be heard on recordings by many artists such as Cape Breton and Scottish fiddlers Katie McNally and Brendan Carey Block. His string pieces have been performed by orchestras in the US and Canada, and his work as a music director for Boston theatre company Actor’s Shakespeare Project has been praised by major critics from publications such as the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to Cantrip he performs with Scottish lowland piper Will Woodson, master fiddler Ryan McKasson and the contemporary string trio the Knockbox Stringband. As an instructor, Eric is on staff at the Club Passim School of Music and teaches during the summer at Maine Fiddle Camp, a mecca of traditional music in Northern New England.

Website: http://www.cantrip-music.com/

 

Palate & Paint – Watercolor Night Masla Fine Art Studios
with artist
Robert Masla at Elmers’ Store
396 Main Street, Ashfield, MA
Thursday, July 23, 6:30 -9pm, $35 includes art materials!
Enjoy drinks & snacks from Elmers’ Restaurant as you create your own watercolor on canvas!

Space is Limited, Buy Tickets: Elmers, (413) 628 – 4003

Join the party in this stimulating, non-threatening and nurturing atmosphere where both absolute beginners and advanced artists alike will have fun and experience growth and the adventure of new possibilities. Experience the excitement and fun of spontaneous creation – painting in a whole new way with watercolor on watercolor canvas in this unique paint along demo with the expert guidance of artist Robert Masla!
Witness and experience the freedom of painting on Fredrix Watercolor Canvas as Masla leads you through exploration, play, experimentation, learning and fun.
Have no fear as in this class there are no mistakes, only new possibilities opened by this new medium, opportunities for growth, learning and change. Paint along with Masla as he assists you in easily grasping both simple techniques for watercolor painting as well as advanced concepts. As you paint in this informal mood you will also be learning traditional techniques and concepts, such as: creating shapes through negative painting, the use of values and sfumato, (the “smokey blend,” made famous by Leonardo da Vinci) to depict depth through “atmospheric perspective”, mixing color and much more.
Masla generously shares with you over 35 years of professional experience in his friendly and award wining teaching style. He demonstrates the unique properties, qualities and advantages of this relatively new support for watercolor as together you create a spontaneous watercolor painting using a variety of techniques.
You will also be introduced to other approaches to watercolor, that up to this point were the domain of oil painting. The end result is not just a wonderful 2.5+ hours spent playing with paint, but you will go home with a wealth of new knowledge, experience and techniques along with a wonderful watercolor on canvas painting, ready to frame!

Visit Robert Masla Fine Art at: http://www.maslafineart.com/

*****

Pauline Productions’ Summer Play 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog
plays at First Congregational Church of Ashfield July 22-August 1

Eat at Elmer’s, then come on over.

WHEN: Wed*-Sat, July 22-25 8pm
Thurs*-Sat., July 30-Aug 1 8pm

WHAT: Pauline Productions’ 4000 Miles, by Amy Herzog (award winning play)
Directed by Toby Vera Bercovici
Starring Jeannine Haas (AEA), Theo Gabriel, Linda Tardiff, Mia Kang

TICKETS: BrownPaperTickets.com Adult: $22, Student-$15 (under 21).
At door tickets cost $3 more, cash or check, except Discount nights)
*Discount nights: Wed July 22 and Thurs July 30 all tickets $18 however you buy them.

WHERE: First Congregational Church, Ashfield
429 Main St. (Route 116)

Leo (Theo Gabriel) a new-style lefty, has just completed a 4000 Mile bicycle trip and arrives unannounced at his old-style lefty grandmother’s (Jeannine Haas) Greenwich Village Apartment. It was a rough ride and, in a word, he is lost. Over the next few weeks, the manner in which their intimacy grows and heals is the heart of this award winning play.

Winner of three 2012 Obie Awards including Best New American Play!
Nominated for a 2013 Pulitzer Prize!

*************************************************************

Palate & Paint – Watercolor Night
with artist Robert Masla at Elmers’ Store
Thursday, July 23, 6:30 -9pm, $35 includes art materials!
Enjoy drinks & snacks from Elmers’ Restaurant as you create your own watercolor on canvas!

Space is Limited, Buy Tickets:
Elmers (413) 628 – 4003

Join the party in this stimulating, non-threatening and nurturing atmosphere where both absolute beginners and advanced artists alike will have fun and experience growth and the adventure of new possibilities. Experience the excitement and fun of spontaneous creation – painting in a whole new way with watercolor on watercolor canvas in this unique paint along demo with the expert guidance of artist Robert Masla!
Witness and experience the freedom of painting on Fredrix Watercolor Canvas as Masla leads you through exploration, play, experimentation, learning and fun.
Have no fear as in this class there are no mistakes, only new possibilities opened by this new medium, opportunities for growth, learning and change. Paint along with Masla as he assists you in easily grasping both simple techniques for watercolor painting as well as advanced concepts. As you paint in this informal mood you will also be learning traditional techniques and concepts, such as: creating shapes through negative painting, the use of values and sfumato, (the “smokey blend,” made famous by Leonardo da Vinci) to depict depth through “atmospheric perspective”, mixing color and much more.
Masla generously shares with you over 35 years of professional experience in his friendly and award wining teaching style. He demonstrates the unique properties, qualities and advantages of this relatively new support for watercolor as together you create a spontaneous watercolor painting using a variety of techniques.
You will also be introduced to other approaches to watercolor, that up to this point were the domain of oil painting. The end result is not just a wonderful 2.5+ hours spent playing with paint, but you will go home with a wealth of new knowledge, experience and techniques along with a wonderful watercolor on canvas painting, ready to frame!

 

 

Ashfield 250 Schedule

 

 

From someone who happened to be in Elmer’s when the Freedom Singers came for dinner and gave an impromptu short concert:

I read some of what you wrote about them in your email. I met them yesterday, talked a little with them. It wasn’t until they started singing their significance–not sure if that makes sense–I got goose bumps & thought holy crap, the bravery, the things they endured, the message they brought everywhere they went. I’m having trouble finding the right words…they made the images I’ve seen in books or old black & white tv news clips or radio news real, touchable. Not that I ever thought those images were false, I know it was/is real–hearing them sing, listening to the words of their songs, watching them interact with each other, (Freedom Singer member) Emory talking about what it was like–made it all true to life.   I think I sound corny & I’m struggling with my words but it felt powerful. I’m so glad I got to meet them.

For tickets call Elmer’s Store at (413) 628-4003

June 13, 2015

8pm

at Ashfield’s Town Hall

 

The Freedom Singers

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2014

The original singing group of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee;  a group which grew out of the Civil Rights Movement.  In the 1960s The Freedom Singers traveled around the country telling people what was going on back home in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.  All seven members of the group are in their late 60s and 70s; one is white, the rest are black and they have the history, the stories and the songs.  This is living history and we are very excited about it. 

 

The SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) Freedom Singers was originally formed out of the civil rights movement in Albany Ga. at the end of 1962.  It was their mission to raise money for SNCC by performing songs of the civil rights movement, but they also served to carry the message of the movement and educate young northerners on the events of the movement, and organize people to get involved themselves. Media coverage was intermittent and never really told of the conditions that Black people lived under, nor did it inform the rest of the country about what was being done to help achieve equality for all. Through the songs the story was told and the passion for freedom was transmitted to the rest of the country in an unforgettable way.  They toured and performed all over the United States until other commitments forced the group to disband by the end of 1963.

 

All of the members of the group were SNCC field secretaries, working in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and other southern states to organize Black communities. By the early 1960s the main thrust was to get African Americans registered to vote.

 

For some of you younger people who may not be aware of things like this, two of the most important points about this group and this concert are these:

 

  • Black people in this country could not vote until 1965.  They could not use the same restrooms that white people did, they could not ride in the front of a city bus or train.  They had very, very few rights at all in the very country they were born and raised in.
  • This very group of people that we have coming to Ashfield was traveling around the country working on this important cause, not because they just thought it was a good thing to do – these people were working for their OWN rights.  The songs they were singing, the issues they were talking about to the audiences they performed for affected themselves, not others far away.

 

This concert is living history.

 

The group was re-formed in 1964. 1n 1965 they were joined by their first and only white member, Bill Perlman. This group of six, Cordell Reagon, Charles and Carver (Chico) Neblett and Matthew and Marshall Jones remained together for almost two years until the end of 1966 when the SNCC organization, under the leadership of Stokley Carmichael became an all-Black organization. Mr. Carmichael felt that the organization should be an all-Black organization and dismissed all of the white members at that time.  Changes in SNCC’s leadership in 1966 and this turn towards black separatism restricted the ability of the group to find audiences. By the end of 1966 the group had disbanded.  

 

In the ensuing years from 1967 through the present day, various combinations of the group have performed at a variety of functions including SNCC reunions, celebrations of important moments of the Movement like the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer, and even a performance at the White House for Barak Obama.

 

Now a concert of the SNCC Freedom Singers is planned for June 13 at the town hall in Ashfield. Original members Charles Neblett and Rutha Harris will be joined by later members Emory Harris, Marshall Jones, Bettie Mae Fikes and Bill Perlman for a full concert of songs of the movement. 

 

I talked to Mr. Perlman, asking how he, a New York white kid got to be a guitarist for the Freedom Singers and here’s what he told me:

 

My parents were very politically active. My mother was a staff member in the early 1960s, and through her I met many of the SNCC staff. Shortly after I turned 18, I was approached by James Foreman who had heard me play guitar at a SNCC fund raiser. He told me that the SNCC Freedom Singers were looking for a guitarist, and asked if I would be interested. I was, and after meeting with a couple of members of the group, joined them in the spring of 1965. I was the first and only white member that the group has ever had.  We performed together for almost two years until the group broke up at the time that whites were asked to leave SNCC, which then became an all-African American organization.

 

This concert will be fascinating.  You don’t want to miss it. Listen to this:

 

https://youtu.be/TsziXdKfOsE

 

Tickets are $20 for adults, $12 for children 12 and under 

 

And of course, to celebrate the occasion we will be serving dinner that night at Elmer’s, beginning at 5pm.  Please call us at (413) 628-4003 for dinner reservations.

Here’s our menu:

Anna Baguette   6

Fresh baked baguette served with rich and creamy Goat Rising Chevre and Kalamata olives.

Bread Plate   10

Fresh baked baguette served with a selection of Goat Rising Chevre, cheddar, and Gouda cheeses and Kalamata olives.

with salami   13

Soup: Cream of Tomato with House-made Croutons. 4-6

Salad: Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Caramelized Onion, Walnut, Cucumber over Mixed Greens with a Sweet Balsamic Dressing. 8

Appetizer: Clam and Corn Fritters with a Maple Chipotle Aioli and Tartar Sauce.  8

Entree: Blackened Catfish with Sweet Potato Puree, Sauteed Spinach and Red Bean Sauce. 16

Entree: Sauteed Chicken and Farfalle Pasta: With Onion, Tomato, Spinach and Mushroom, Served with Pesto Cream Sauce and Grana Padano Cheese. 15

Local Burger   9.25

Steady Lane grass-fed burger on a Gretchen-made bun served with salad and chips.

Cheeseburger: choice of Cheddar, Swiss or Gouda  add $1

 Black Bean Burger   8

Our own, home-made vegetarian Black Bean Burger with onions, pepper and tomato sauce with which to hold it together . . .

CheeseBlackBeanBurger:  choice of Cheddar, Swiss or Gouda add $1

 

Here’s the article about them in the Recorder last Saturday:

Freedom worth singing for: Freedom Singers coming to Ashfield June 13

Story by Richie Davis

Friday, June 5, 2015
(Published in print: Saturday, June 6, 2015)

Long before Bill Perlman was an Ashfield firefighter and selectman, a Franklin County commissioner or a member of the regional Council of Governments, he was one of the Freedom Singers.

At 18 — 10 years after he learned to play guitar — he was asked by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to become part of the group that lent their voices to the Civil Rights movement at rallies, in concerts and fundraisers throughout the South and beyond. And they just kept on singing.

“A lot of people have the view that the Civil Rights movement was in the 1960s, and that was it, that it solved all the problems and went away,” says Perlman, who will bring The Freedom Singers to Ashfield Town Hall for a rare concert appearance Saturday, June 13, at 7 p.m. “But the Civil Rights movement started in 1619, when the first slaves came, and not only is it still going on, it’s also still needed.”

The 68-year-old retired electrical engineer, the youngest member of the otherwise all-black group that formed in 1962, decided to stage the concert to make a definitive, live recording of the group — a back-burner idea that’s been simmering for years but is becoming more important as members grow grayer.

“Were losing ‘movement’ veterans daily,” says the stocky, white-haired Perlman, who also sports a white handlebar mustache and was wearing wide black suspenders over a red chamois shirt during a recent interview.

Acting on a request from Elmer’s Store owner Nan Parati, he has arranged for the five singers who’ll be joining him to speak to Mohawk Trail Regional School students about the historic era. “To be able to talk to people who were there gives a perspective that’s almost impossible to get any other way.”

Joining him in concert will be Rutha Mae Harris and Chuck Neblett, who were part of the original, Georgia-bred Freedom Singers, along with Bernice Johnson Reagon and her future husband, Cordell Reagon. Also there will be Rutha Mae’s brother, Everett Harris, who traveled with the group in 1964 and 1965, as well as Marshall Jones and Bettie Mae Fikes. Some of the performers now live as far away as California.

“A lot of them have been in and out,” said Perlman of the group, which included the late Cordell Reagon, Neblett and his brother, Chico, who’s since died, plus Jones, whose then-member brother Matthew has also died. “Chuck was the one who’s been kind of steady all along and there were probably six or eight people who were in and out over the course of time.”

Perlman grew up in New York surrounded by “very, very progressive, radical, politically active people,” including a mother who had joined the SNCC staff two years before he did, a father who’d been a labor organizer in the 1930s and an uncle who was a civil-rights lawyer. “When people ask how I got involved in the Civil Rights movement, I say, ‘I went into the family business.’ Involving myself in things like that certainly wasn’t a rebellion.”

SNCC Executive Secretary James Forman invited him to be one of the Freedom Singer after hearing Perlman as a last-minute substitute playing his Martin 00-21 guitar at a 1965 fundraising event. The teen had recently dropped out after a month of community college in Brooklyn.

“I wasn’t doing much, so I joined,” Perlman says.

The group’s members were paid a $10 weekly wage as SNCC staffers. Their main role was to raise money for the organization, singing “Which Side Are You On,” “We Shall Overcome” and other songs on Northern college campuses like Yale, Brandeis and Mount Holyoke, as well as in large concert halls and house parties in Boston, New York, Chicago and elsewhere around the North, including a 28-day tour of eastern Canada.

Its goal was also “to carry the message up North, letting people know what going on down there, telling the story in song, with comments from the stage, and talking to people,” Perlman said.

In rallies in Southern churches, the singers tried to boost morale and bring people together.

“There was a spiritual kind of feeling to it,” he said. “A lot of the stuff we did came directly out of gospel church music, but there was a folk influence.”

That upset some people, like writer LeRoi Jones, Perlman remembers hearing, because the Freedom Singers’ earlier a cappella sound had been replaced with guitar accompaniment. And Bernice Johnson Reagon, who went on to form the a cappella singing group Sweet Honey in the Rock, also wasn’t happy with the new sound.

“I remember hearing that LeRoi Jones was objecting strenuously that I was laying down the rhythm for this group when we were doing a concert at church in Harlem,” Perlman says. Yet Matthew Jones, who also played guitar and was a university-trained musician, “had expanded the group’s musical vocabulary beyond gospel-sounding stuff. He wrote a lot songs that were closer to folk than to gospel.”

At one point, he even recalls the group drifting in to performance of a Phil Ochs song and even to The Beatles’ “Yesterday.”

Unlike song leaders, who specifically led rallies and marches, “The Freedom Singers were performers, entertainers. We came up with interesting, complex harmonies. That was very different than getting hundreds of people singing.”

For that reason, some in SNCC thought the group “thought too much of ourselves.”

And as SNCC under Stokely Carmichael’s leadership began seeing nonviolence as less a way of life and more a tactic that had served its purpose by 1967, and with the “black power” slogan alienating more moderate members, the Freedom Singers broke up as a group.

They stayed in touch, Perlman says, “but for a lot of years, didn’t do anything.”

That changed with a 1994 performance in Mississippi and subsequent, periodic reunion appearances, with a 2001 concert at Stanford University in California resulting in a recording that Perlman played for Parati at Elmer’s one day.

That’s what led him to decide it was worth it to bankroll production of a concert in the town hall, which has a capacity of 350.

Getting the entire group together is “a very rare happening,” says Perlman, even though members will appear at periodic events like the 50 year anniversary of SNCC or of Freedom Summer in Jackson, Miss., at Selma Ala.’s commemorations of the Edmund Pettus Bridge crossing by voting rights activists in 1965, or at Tennessee’s Freedom School annual teacher trainings.

“To hear her talk about that incident was just amazing,” recalls Perlman, who also heard countless other first-person accounts of the era’s battle for civil rights from SNCC workers — one of them recovering from a gunshot wound — when they returned from the South to the organization’s New York offices.

“It was shocking and it gave you real reason to do what you were doing. Meeting someone who had registered to vote and then went home to find he’d just been evicted from his dirt-floor shack where his family had lived for years because the landlord was so intent on making sure this voting thing didn’t go forward,” Perlman remembers. “They were sharecroppers and as soon as they expressed interest in this, they were gone. SNCC had to set up tent cities for people who’d been evicted. Here were people who were willing to give up everything for this right to vote. They had put up with the degradation of their entire lives. It was heard to comprehend, but you could see it down there.”

And he got a taste of the discrimination himself, at restaurants where he was refused service because he was part of an integrated group.

Even worse, “There are people out there who want to kill you, make no bones about it,” Perlman remembers. As a participant in the 1966 James Meredith march from Memphis to Jackson, Miss. he was sent by car to fetch water to relieve the intense heat for marchers. He got the OK from the black sharecroppers to refill some water jugs, but then was shot at by the angry white landowner.

“We got out of there,” says Perlman, also recalling being beaten up by a state trooper in Philadelphia, Miss. during SNCC’s voting-rights campaign. 
“We were living in giant tents and things had gotten quiet, so the press left. So the police closed in and fired tear gas into tents, and people ran out and a lot of us got clubbed. And we got chased by a couple of pickup-loads of yahoos,” he remembers. “There’s a kind fear you experience that in some ways makes you immune from feeling that kind of fear again. You’ve been inoculated. It just solidified in my mind that what I was doing was necessary.”

Those couple of intense years of Perlman working for SNCC ring out when the Freedom Singers perform songs like “The Buses are Coming,” “Governor Wallace” and “Mississippi River,” which was about the other civil-rights worker bodies pulled from the river in 1965 when police were searching for the missing Freedom Summer activists Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Cheney, who’d been murdered.

For Perlman returned to the North and was immediately drafted for the Vietnam War after informing the Selective Service that he was employed by SNCC — he then got deferred. The anguish of his work down South came in 1968, while singing solo at a civil rights rally at New York University Someone walked on stage and handed him a note to read to the crowd, telling them the Rev. Martin Luther King — someone he’d met several times — had just been assassinated.

“It was one of the most emotional moments I had … extraordinary,” recalls Perlman, who expects the Ashfield concert will be different from the kinds of civil rights-hardened crowds the Freedom Singers has been used to sharing its songs and stories with over the past few decades.

“This will be more of an arms-length audience than we’ve played with in a long time,” he says. “The vast majority of people around here have had no experience with the movement in the South, and with this music, so it’s going to be interesting.”

The ’60s civil-rights struggle for which the Freedom Singers provided part of the soundtrack, beginning with lunch-counter protests and buses and moving on to voting rights, had a dramatic impact, Perlman says. “But there’s a core of problems that haven’t been touched.”

“The old problems haven’t gone away entirely and new ones are here,” he added, citing attempts by some states to reverse the gains of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the recent spate of police killings of young black men.

“Now you realize it wasn’t enough of a goal,” he says. “and, you hadn’t changed as many hearts as you’d hoped.”

Senior reporter Richie Davis has worked at The Recorder for more than 35 years. He can be reached at rdavis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 269.

 

For Elmer’s Events, you can call us at (413) 628-4003 for tickets, reservations and information.  Note:  Tickets are NOT available via this website.  Please call the above number to get tickets.