The Festival begins on the evening of Friday, August 19 with the opening ceremony followed by an Irish country-dance on Veterans’ Way. The dance will feature a live band with fiddle, guitar and concertina. Everyone is welcome. There will be a caller to teach the dances so no experience is necessary and people don’t even need to bring a partner. On Saturday and Sunday there will be music from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on two stages – one on Veterans Square and one in front of the museum.
The person traveling the farthest to share his music is Bob Webb from Phippsburg in Maine. We are thrilled to have him on the program with his wide-ranging musical talents and expertise. Bob is an internationally acclaimed presenter of Appalachian banjo tunes and ballads, songs of the Pacific Northwest and music of the 19th century sailors. His music ranges from mountain banjo breakdowns to unaccompanied ballads; from fingerstyle guitar to the country blues to sea songs with big choruses. During 40 years of performance Bob has shared the stage with Doc Watson, Elizabeth Cotton, Mike Seeger, Gordon Bok, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Mamadou Diabaté. He learned some of his guitar technique from and occasionally accompanied the legendary Mississippi bluesman Sam Chatmon (1897-1983). Much of his maritime artistry came directly from the “last shantyman”, Stan Hugill (1906-92), the final sailor from the age of merchant sail to publicly present the songs he learned at sea.
Princeton is surrounded by ranches so it is only appropriate that there be cowboy poetry at the festival. Cowboy poetry has a long and valued tradition. After a day of herding cattle in the heat and the dust, cowboys gathered around the campfire at night. Shifts of one or two of them would do night watch with the herd. It was not uncommon for a night-herding cowboy to play harmonica or to sing to the herd to keep them calm. The music also acted as a sort of “sound wall” that masked the sound of coyotes, wolves or any sudden noises that might spook the cattle. The cowboys around the fire drank coffee, shared stories or recited poetry. The poems were about their work and their lives, making fun of workmates or recounting some harrowing or humorous event.
The cowboy poetry at the festival will actually be cowgirl poetry by Princeton’s own Lyn Melnechenko who will be appearing at the festival for the third year in a row. Lyn has had stories and poems published in such magazines as Reader’s Digest, Western Horseman and America’s Horse and is a three-time winner at the Kamloops Cowboy Poetry Festival. Lyn’s books of poetry and drawings called Cowgirls Cuss Too and Truth, Lies and a Whole Bunch of Bullsh*t will be on sale at the festival.
The festival is free because it’s run entirely by volunteers and the performers are donating their talents. To find out more visit the Festival’s webblog at princetonfestival.org or give Jon and Rika a call at 250-295-6010.