David's Blog

Thanks to the Arts Council

Here 'tis, as I step boldly into cutting-edge 1990s technology—no RSS feed, no Twitter account, no Facebook, but a website, long in coming. When I retired from teaching, I thought, "Well, now I'll have some extra time. I can probably get a website up and running by the fall." That was more than eight years ago.

Friends had been telling me for ages, "You need to have a website."


"You need one to get more calling gigs."

"I don't know if I want more than I have right now. The calendar's pretty full already."

"Well, people need to be able to find you."

"Seems like people who want to reach me are able to do so just fine without one." (And so on... best not to attempt in print an approximation of my attempts at a thick accent as I slipped ever more deeply and cheerfully into my role as a North Country curmudgeon.)

You need to know that we don't have a telephone machine or a microwave, and the one television screen in the house can be used only for playing movies on DVD.

 I purchased my first cell phone last fall (a $9.99 TracFone), made something like three calls with it and received none, possibly because just three people had the number. I noticed the other day that the phone had run out of days, and I doubt I'll renew. I might look into one of those plans where you pay $1 for days on which you actually use a phone; I figure that I can live with $5-$10 in phone charges a year for times when I'm on the road and want to keep up with travel arrangements and contact with home.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm a total techno-Luddite. Sheila can attest to the amount of time I spend online with e-mails and working on other projects, and I do my video work with top-of-the-line editing software. Rather, it's a simple case of choosing the technology that helps me do what I want to do.

So, why a website, and why now? The impetus for this came from my state arts agency, which offered up an Artist Entrepreneurial Grant. The guidelines specifically mentioned support for creating websites, so it seemed like the right opportunity. My proposal was accepted, and I hereby offer up deep appreciation to altthe New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Without their support, you wouldn't be reading this. I've been involved with the NH Arts Council for many years, including the time in 1999 when some 150 of us were asked to represent the state at the Smithsonian Folk Festival in DC, an extraordinary experience. The NHSCA has a beautiful website on the folklife of the state and another illustrating different examples of traditional arts in New Hampshire, which open with a lovely photograph of Bob McQuillen, the well-known contra dance musician and tunesmith from Peterborough, NH. I'll leave aside for now any commentary on the national scene, but I know that our state agency has been battered by a continuing series of budget cuts, and we're glad they're still there. In our small state, as everywhere, the arts play a vital role in people's lives, and the NH Arts Council provides vital support.

That may answer the "why now?" question, but doesn't illuminate the question of why I decided to do this at all. My friends were right, on one score; I hope this does make it easier for folks to find me if they're searching. It also gives people who know me in one —"Oh, he's a contra dance caller"—learn about the my other caller sides, and I hope the various dance and video pages give interested readers a better idea of those many interests there.

As I sketched out what I wanted on these pages, I realized that it's more about trying to put into one coherent place a lot of disparate pieces that center on my love of traditional music and dance and the community of folks with whom I share that interest. I included a lot of articles in the Essays section, reflections and rants that I've shared over time with fellow enthusiasts on several different listservs, thoughts that others might find worth pondering. I also liked the idea of using this site to provide an easy-to-use calendar of my own upcoming events (in the column at the left) and of local dance events, something that dancers in our area has been missing.

As for this Blog... I expect it will be focused on matters related to dance but we'll just have to see what emerges. Thanks for reading and for visiting the site. Stop by again.

David Millstone, Dance Caller

Lebanon, NH


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