Keepin’ Tabs December 2017

Jack Ferguson, Ed

Next Gathering: Will be in Fellowship Hall on December 2nd.

Attention All: Remember, because this is our December potluck we don’t schedule the regular instrumental circles. All will be back in January.

Happy Holidays to everyone! It’s time for our December Potluck in Fellowship Hall at University Presbyterian, hosted this year by Sharon Hall. If you would like to help with set-up, please come at 5:00 pm to help set-up tables, chairs, as well as other logistical details and final touches. Arrival time is 6:00 pm. Dinner and celebration will begin at 6:30 pm.

Fellowship Hall is next to our usual digs in Lawnridge Hall. There is no charge for guests, so invite your friends and remind them to bring instruments and a dish to pass!

Plates, napkins, flatware, cups, and beverages to fill them will all be provided. Please bring a dish to pass that is fully cooked, ready to serve and enough to serve eight. There is a kitchen with refrigerator and a microwave, and many outlets for crock-pots and such. Feel free to bring a table-sized holiday decoration to enliven the atmosphere.

If you can, bring your food in a disposable dish. That makes cleaning up easier. After the meal, please take your dish and any utensils so that the kitchen helpers can join the festivities with the rest of us. Thanks!


Food Category Suggestions: Last names beginning with:

  • A through E: Main Dish – Casseroles, meatballs, chicken, ham, turkey, cheese/deli/sandwich plates, lasagna, etc. 
  • F through L: Sides – Potatoes, pastas, fruit, dips, cheese & crackers, jello, veggies, baked beans, rolls & butter, relishes, etc.
  • M thru Z: Dessert – This category requires no definition – of course if your last name falls within another designation, feel free to bring an additional dessert. Nobody will complain.


Song Swap Theme: The Holidays


A Note from the Prez: Well, with lots of great tips from Barb Barton behind us on finding wild food that’s all around us, I hope everybody was out there gatherin’ up tasty morsels to add to Thanksgiving dinner. Not only did we learn how to feed ourselves physically, we also fed the sprit with a splendid Song Swap providing happiness and joy to all, with our wide variety of tunes, well sung and played. One of our best in a long time!

And speaking of food … I’m looking forward to some scrumptious eats at our December Pot Luck Gathering. Particulars to be found elsewhere in this K. T.

Now we turn to Tin whistle news: Thanks to everyone who volunteered to make it another fine event.

Lots of good music and, I understand a little over 160 paid attendance. Not quite up to last year’s numbers, but a good showing, nonetheless.

I believe we’re still looking for a solid hand raised to be our Corresponding Secretary to help with some of the communication tasks. Let us know if you would like to be considered for the position.

Dec. Song Swap Theme:  The Holidays

Jan.  Song Swap Theme:  Intentions and Promises


Board Meetings are a Big Time: Our next scheduled meeting is at Jack and Theresa Erickson’s on Jan.21st.


Where the Creek Flows: Dedicated to PCFS members’ events.

Live! From the Living Room Acoustic Showcase has concluded the fall season and will be doing one show in January with an acapella ladies quartet called Lorelei on the 19th, stay tuned and plan to join us.

Dave Falk hosts unplugged acoustic music at The Goldfish Tea room at 117 4th St. in downtown Royal Oak between Main and Washington every Tuesday night from 7:00 to 9:00.


Ridin’ Drag: This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for July. Most of you know I call my banjo July, and the reasons I’m thankful for it are numerous. One of them is that July takes to being in “Sawmill” tuning. That means the banjo likes it, and as November advances, nights chill and winters moon is on the rise, July and I enjoy playing around in “Sawmill” as Clarence Ashley called it.

A more musical name for the tuning is G modal, but to tell you the truth, if you couldn’t play a single note, it is so cool to say you’re in “Sawmill.” What is it? Standard G tuning for a banjo is gDGBD. Make the B a C and you have sawmill, gDGCD.  A couple of tunes this tuning is used for are, “Rain and Snow,” and “Shady Grove.” If you are feeling low and need a blessing, find a video of Joel Mabus playing “Cluck Old Hen.” That’s some sawmill for ya’. Watch it eight or ten times, but if you do, beware, it’s contagious, you’ll want to do it too. That’s where the true blessing comes to fruition, Joel tells you how, in a manner of speaking.

Of course, you’ll need a banjo. I prefer a five string open back style that doesn’t require you to own a forklift to move it around. My rule is, “if your banjo is too heavy to carry in the garden, your banjo is too heavy.” Despite all of the YouTube tutorials, a book wouldn’t hurt. “Clawhammer Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus” by Wayne Erbsen is hard to beat. I bought that one because I qualified. Do what the book says, real s l o w.

Don’t worry about not being able to play a note, you’ll be playing plenty soon enough. Invest your winter evenings learning the claw –ham- mer stroke and before spring is here, maybe before Starry Night for a Ramble in February, you’ll be playing the phrases to “Cluck Old Hen” yourself. If chords are a concern, relax, in sawmill there aren’t any. Just another reason I’m thankful for July and “Sawmill” tuning.





Jack D. Ferguson, Editor


Fine Print: The Keepin’ Tabs (KT) is the monthly newsletter for, by, and about the Paint Creek Folklore Society. Paint Creek Folklore Society is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, a center for The Country Dance and Song Society of America (CDSS), a member of the North American Folk Alliance, and a supporter of folklore, folksong and folkdance societies, groups and individuals whose interest is in the preservation of and education in traditional music and dance. To submit corrections, articles, gigs, or other information for publication, please contact Jack Ferguson, Editor, at ; deadline for the next issue is the 15th.

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