EMAIL CELIA RAMSAY AT, or call 707-337-0498



July 29 - August 5; Lark Camp! Celia will teach her Get Your Voice Out of the Closet workshop



June 24, Saturday; Evening Dance at Middletown Civil War Reenactment: Battles at the Mansion

July 21, Friday; Santa Rosa Contra Dance 8:00 - 11:00pm

July 22, Saturday; Palo Alto Contra Dance 8:00 - 11:00pm

August 25, Friday; Santa Cruz Contra Dance 7:00 - 10:00pm

September 2, Saturday; Nevada City Dance 8:00 - 11:00pm

October 14, Saturday; Reno Contra Dance 7:30 - 10:30


From Scotland Returned!

HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN, JIGGEDY-JOG I'm always happy to come home, but in typical human fashion, as soon as I'm back and secure in knowing all I hold dear is intact, I wish I could beam myself back. Kent and I both agreed that this was not the last trip to Scotland for us. Some highlights included visiting Rosslyn Chapel (think DaVinci Code), the Falkirk Wheel (an ingenious mechanical lock for moving barges to an uphill river-course), The Verdant Works (jute mill/museum in Dundee), Fyvie Castle in Turiff (more below), Rothiemurchus Estate (beautiful trails in the Cairngorms - and a funicular up the mountain!) and of course, several distilleries!

Early in the trip, we had a lovely lunchtime visit with Jim & Susie Malcolm, and Susie prepared trout that Jim had caught in the River Tay--SO GOOD! Now if you don't know of Jim Malcolm, acquaint yourself! He's one of my favorite singers and songwriters, and he performs in this area early each year. In fact, here's an insider's tip: he'll be at the Freight & Salvage on Thursday, February 1, 2018. You'll want to put THAT on your calendar.

THE GENESIS OF FAVORITE SONGS You'll remember the focus of my trip was to record songs in the place they originated from. I've started work on editing the videos of the songs we recorded, and while they'll be kind of home-grown in quality, they will provide a sort of song ancestry. In most cases, we were able to find a place that felt legitmately connected to each song. I did a fair bit of research on where to go; to the left, you can see me at the grave of Agnes Smith, also known as Mill o' Tifty's Annie in an oft-sung ballad that I first heard sung by Jean Redpath. We also visited Fyvie Castle, where lived the laird of that time, Alexander Seton, who figures sympathetically in the story. The song chronicles the secret love between Lord Fyvie's trumpeter, Andrew Lammie, and bonnie Annie, how her father hears of the romance, and it all ends badly: Annie is killed by her angry brother when he throws her against the half-door and breaks her back. Annie's death was in January of 1673!

I have long postulated that many old ballads are based on actual events that become lost or distorted as the folk-process carries them forward from their origin. Many of those ballads, long-lived when shared by generations at the fireside, are quite traceable, although how long the relics and sources of information can survive is anybody's guess. And perhaps it doesn't matter, anymore than knowing precisely who you hailed from in the 1100's can matter beyond being something interesting. A song exists as long as anyone will sing it; in some cases that is a long life indeed.

LARK IS LOOMING! I'll be teaching my class entitled Get Your voice Out of the Closet at Lark Camp, again. But my class is not the only reason to go. Click on that link in the previous sentence to find out HOW MANY CLASSES THERE ARE! You should maybe come, eh? July 28 to August 5, 2017--there's room for you! 


Scotland Sojourn

BY THE TIME YOU GET TO READ THIS . . . we'll be there! In Scotland! (Sorry! Making a Glen Campbell By the Time I Get to Phoenix reference is a bit of a reach - especially since the Campbells were from the west!) Husband-Kent and I will be in Scotland to film myself as I chase down the sites where my favorite songs originate. Why am I doing this? Partly as a framework for visiting places that are not strictly on the well-worn tourist path, but mostly to satisfy my deep curiosity to see the places where these songs - that sort of possess me - come from. 

I've spent quite a bit of time visiting Scotland before, but this time we'll tour the northeast. We're very much looking forward to a visit with Jim and Susie Malcolm in Perth and I'm hoping they will help me review my "game plan" and point out any major flaws. Then from Dundee, we can drive out to places like Blairgowrie, Pitlochry, and Noran Water. From there, we'll move in an anti- clockwise direction up around through Aberdeen and Elgin, looping back to the River Spey, because ...DISTILLERIES ARE IN SPEYSIDE! We'll also head west to see Glasgow and visit Alloway - Robert Burns' birthplace. In each place, I'll make some videos of me singing in situ. I'm not sure what will come from this videographic documentation - perhaps a demo video to show what I'd like to offer as a

class on the origins of these songs in the future? More things to share with you in newsletters? Much will be revealed - to me, as well as you! 

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! It's likely you're reading this after the fact, but as a mother, I want to wish all a Happy Mother's Day! If you are a mother, you share the experiences of both delight and fear that this job carries with it. If you are not a mother, you have undoubtedly had one, and the role of being a child carries its own comforts and anxieties over the course of your life with your parents. I am grateful to have two amazing, smart, beautifully different people to call my children. Also, one cannot be a mother without the father who helped you, erm, get into that condition, and I am very lucky to have my Kent, father of Calvaleigh and Webster. 

WHY MORE DANCE? In my previous newsletter, I gave some reasons why you might consider learning to dance and provided a video of how live music can make it irresistible. I know many people worry that they can't learn to dance, but I bet, once you try it--AND do it more than once (because as with all things, learning something new requires practice!) you'll be able to shut down that little judge on your shoulder. It's one of the reasons I like Contra Dance; if you just shut out that voice of judgement, you find it's actually easy to do. And at all Contra Dances, there is a lesson for beginners, then each individual dance is taught. Even if you don't remember what you just learned, the teacher (caller) calls out the figures to help you along till it's clear the dancers are comfortably on track! Watch the video - you'll see!


Sixty Years and Still Learning New Tricks!

I am writing this on my birthday, and hoo-boy, it's a big 'un! Today I turn 60, and there's definitely some creaky-crunchy stuff going on, but hey - I'm glad to be on the planet, and I know that I'm in good company!

Birthdays with a zero in the one's place tend to provide cause for reflection. As you can see from this photo of me when I was sixTEEN years old, I've been singing for a long time, but there was a sizable gap in my musical life from about 26 till after I had kids. In fact, I was singing to our daughter when Kent admitted he'd never heard me sing before. I was content to sing lullabies for a while because kids and a fledgling business made it hard to indulge any musical desires. But one night, Kent nudged me to go to an open mic, and it was there that I met Stan Dye and Vern Flock, who asked me to sing in their Bluegrass band with Bill Downs in Napa. I was about 35 years old, then. I had quite an awakening of old yearnings to sing and perform, and those guys helped me bcome confident enough to do that. I honestly think if it weren't for them and some nudging from dance pal, Carlo Calabi, I wouldn't have had the nerve to start calling dances, let alone get in front of a microphone to sing again.

Anyway, I'm here to tell you that not only does life continue to present beauty and challenges, but with four CD projects in five years (with number five under way) I continue to learn more about music and dance, teaching and performing, and all along the way I am building beautiful friendships. There's so much here to play with - and I'm glad to be in the game with all of you!


You may still be in a position to join Fortunate Strangers at the Moneky House on Saturday, April 15, at 7:30pm, and the suggested donation is $20. Just come to 1638 University Avenue (near Sacramento) in Berkeley - doors will open at 7:00pm. I'm pretty sure we'll have space for you, but if you want to be sure, you can buy a ticket!


I've been so excited about singing gigs lately, that aside from a recent mention of Family Dances, I've given short shrift to Contra Dance. And having worked as a caller for fifteen years, I feel I should do better. So: why might you want to elarn to danc? There's a veritable laundry list of answers! First the physical reasons: dancing increases stamina, coordination, balance, exercises your heart, releases endorphins, and helps you sleep. There are emotional reasons: dancing creates and maintains community, builds individual confidence, and provides sheer pleasure in freedom of movement. And finally, there are the social reasons: you get to hang out with people, you cooperate with humor, you learn compassion for other dancers and how to be fair & kind to yourself, and you have fun. Oh, and there's this, too (watch the video):


The Place the Songs Come From

My travel-hungry husband has us planning our next trip abroad, and I voted for a trip to Scotland! "Where in Scotland?" said he, and I replied, "To the places where the songs come from!"
YEARS AGO, we needed to Get Out of Dodge, so Kent, the kids, and I went on a Laura Ingalls Wilder "literary pilgrimage". We'd read all of her books backwards and forwards, and thought it would be interesting to visit the places where Laura had lived. That trip still ranks among our favorites, because we saw places we'd never have reason to visit otherwise - and they were rewarding and fascinating!
SO MY BIG IDEA for this trip, is to visit places in northeast Scotland that are named in the songs I love to sing, and record video of me singing the songs in each of them. This "song itinerary" will definitely bring us to small, un-touristed (and hopefully interesting) locations, but I'm excited that I will get to explore the places the songs come from.


 What a wonderful workshop we had on March 4th! Libby McLaren and I had a blast and by all reports, everyone else did, too! Some people have asked us to next do a more advanced workshop, so we'll work on making that happen. We have to do some schedule work to find out when we can do the next one, but likely it will be in early summer. Folks at the workshop who'd already bought a copy of Carmony reported that they love it! You can find ordering information below. 

SPEAKING OF COOL SINGING, Libby and her partner in life and music, Robin Flower, have a show coming up at the Freight and Salvage.It's on Saturday, April 8, and you won't want to miss it, because Robin and Libby have a wonderful, joyous energy when they perform that just makes you smile. Oh, and I'll be there singing backup harmonies along with Mary Ford and Danny Carnahan, and with Peter Maund on percussion, and Jan Martinelli on bass.


Wow! Our Carson City gig was delightfully full and commensurately fun. (It also has netted us a sweet gig at the Nevada Governor's Mansion in November! More about that when I have more to tell.) Filling the Brewery Arts Center was no small thing, because on the day before the concert there was serious flooding in the Carson Valley. But that didn't keep anyone away and folks heartily joined in on our sing-alongs. Joe's voice was in fine form and he was great on flute and whistles, and Kathy's rock solid guitar playing kept everything tied together with a bow. Honestly, the unsung guitarists of the world deserve a major shout-out. They provide unfailing rhythm when they aren't shining on lead parts, and for the vocalists and other instruments, they're the bedrock of the band. Our Kathy is all of that for us, and it's a tall job!
NEXT UP, FORTUNATE STRANGERS is set to perform at Berkeley's own Monkey House on Saturday, April 15.Look for a separate reminder, closer to the date, for details!




Carson City Coming Up!

Kathy, Joe, and I will take Fortunate Strangers to the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City, NV on Saturday, February 11 at 7:30pm - and I hope you'll come! There'll be opportunities to join us singing, and we promise to provide plenty of songs about love in all its various permutations! Find out how one clever maid avoids a pirate's unwanted attentions, or hear about the lad who kisses his lass through a window - and encounters some unexpected difficulties. With songs of love lost and love found, this show is perfect for sharing with your Valentine! 


I'm at it again - back in the studio with a new recording project. I don't have a name for it yet, but this time it will be ALL original songs. While many of my songs have been jazzy, others are not easily classified, so expect an eclectic mix of styles and instrumentation. With so many talented music buddies, I hope the result will be sort of a musical variety show. Also, you may remember that I've been taking piano lessons for the last four years, so I'm trying to lay down a couple of my own piano tracks. It's kind of scary for all manner of reasons, the biggest of which is our old friend, Self Doubt: is it good enough? Well, I'm taking a deep breath and hoping I play well enough to include it on the album. Above is a little video clip I made of my most recent studio date. I have lots of work ahead, but it's work I love to do. It'll probably take at least a year to finish, so stay tuned for updates! 


Speaking of work I love to do, I'm delighted to report that the March 4 Harmony Singing Workshop sold out very quickly, which I take as a sign that everyone wants to sing more! Libby McLaren and I will look for opportunities to offer the workshop again, soon, but be sure to check my report of how it went in the March newsletter, so you can decide if the next one might be for you! And folks that bought their copy of Carmony are reporting back that they love it! You can find ordering information below. 


It feels like a resurgence! Family dances are coming back, and I couldn't be happier. Kudos to Sola Grantham for organizing a wonderful family dance in Belmont on January 29, where I called for preschool­age children and their parents with 80 pairs of feet in attendance. Craig Johnson, Paul Kostka and Clara Stefanov­Wagner was our band du jour and we even sat down and sang a song ­ as you can see in the picture. I felt it went VERY well and it was fun for everyone. I'll be doing an annual school dance at Sunridge School in Sebastopol with Jon Berger and Charlie Hancock playing in early March ­ that's a private event, but it will be my third year calling for them. There will also be a family dance in Sebastopol on Saturday, March 25 from 5 ­ 6:30pm at Wischemann Hall for kids of all ages.

I'm so happy that these dance opportunities exist for young children. They learn coordination and patterns, healthy social behavior, self­confidence, and the sheer joy of movement. It's my favorite way of having fun!