EMAIL CELIA RAMSAY AT, or call 510-995-6615



April 8, Saturday: Libby McLaren and Robin Flower perform at the Freight and Salvage, 8:00pm (Celia will perform backup vocals)

April 15, Saturday: Fortunate Strangers at The Monkey House Theater from 7:30 - 10:00pm



April 22, Saturday; Sebastopol Contra Dance 8:00 - 10:30pm

May 6, Saturday; Nevada City Dance 8:00 - 11:00pm

May 13, Saturday; San Rafael Contra Dance, 8:00 - 11:00pm

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

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



Yikes! This month's newsletter almost got past me, for all sorts of busy reasons, all of them good! What I want you to think about first, is coming to Fortunate Strangers' Auburn House Concert show this coming weekend, Sunday, September 25. It's time to contact our wonderful hosts, Sharon and Jaya Carl (either by email or by calling 530-­885­-4292) to reserve your seats! Please join us for an intimate concert where you'll be so close you can hear us breathe, ask us questions and sing along with us! Because it's a school night, the show will be at 7:00pm, and the suggested donation is $20. We'll do one lusciously long set, so you can get your money's worth and still be home in time for a good sleep, refreshed and ready for work on Monday!

Next up, we also have a firm time when you can come hear us in Reno: 11:00am on Sunday, October 2, at the Reno Celtic Festival. We'll be on a big stage for that one, at the Bartley Ranch Regional Park in south Reno. There'll be other fine bands, playing, too, and the whole event looks to be a lot of fun with dancers, pipe bands, falconers, trinkets to purchase, and caber tosses and stone putting for athletic entertainment! Be sure to come up and say hello after our show! 

We still have to do the photography and graphic design for the cover, but Carmony: Learn to Sing Harmony While You Drive is in the can! We're on schedule for a late fall release! We'll keep you all updated, but if you're already on my list of folks who want copies, I'll be sure to notify you when we have it ready. If you're not already on my list, but want your own special email announcement of the arrival of Carmony, shoot me an email at IT IS REALLY WONDERFUL! And I'll have a really funny story for you in my next newsletter about cars.


Periodically, I get hired to call private dances and they are a lot of fun, so I'm just mentioning this in case you've wondered about doing that for an event of yours; I can even hire the band for you. Here, you can see me calling a dance for the Westwind Community Barn in Los Altos Hills. This photo is at the beginning, when there were only a few small children who got up to join me, but after a while their recalcitrant parents joined in. That's a funny thing, isn't it? So many people think they can't dance, but once they've tried doing a family dance or a contra dance, they are so consistently surprised at how easy and how much fun it is, they often tell me they wish they'd tried it sooner. The kids know--if you can walk, you can dance. 


What A Lark!

What an amazing summer. Lark Camp was everything I'd hoped it would be and then some. My
workshop, Get Your Voice Out of the Closet, was very well attended, and I got excellent feedback from students who seemed to feel my class was valuable for them. New this year, there were two additional singing sessions held in the morning: Appalachian tunes led by Rachel Goodman & Steve Coulter, and Sharon Carl and Jeremy Friedenthal also hosted a wonderful song circle. Clearly, more people are looking for opportunities to sing! You can imagine how happy that makes me!

Every year, I look forward to hearing the songs people bring to camp to share, so the two evening song sessions that Shay Black leads are a must for me.

Danny Carnahan's Songwriting workshop got the creative juices flowing and I have several new songs in the pipeline. It was wonderful to see old friends and many new faces. I found the late afternoon Swedish/Nordic music class for all instruments led by Aryeh Frankfurter on his nyckelharpa (you MUST listen to this link!) to be the most entrancing thing to hear just before the cocktail hour. I wish I could convey the magic of being among redwoods with nothing but music, dance & friends.

There was one supreme tragedy; Bulgarian music instructor, Vassil Bebelekov, died on the secondday of camp - on his 56th birthday. He'd recently had heart surgery and suffered a cardiac arrest while napping between workshops. It made every one of us acutely feel our own mortality and none could pass another withoutstopping to hug. Vassil was a master at playing gaida, a Bulgarian bagpipe made from the entireskin of a goat or sheep; watch the video to hear the sound of this haunting instrument as he accompanies his wife, Maria, at the Drone Magic Festival of Bagpipes. I did not know Vassil personally, but his music followed you around camp. We took some small comfort in thinking that if you could choose how and where to go, dying in your sleep while camping amidst redwood trees surrounded by music you love would be a pretty good choice. 


We only have a few more things to fix before Carmony recording studio medicine cabinet we put on our editing/mixing hats for Carmony: Learn to Sing Harmony While You Drive. We have to plan our album cover, and organize notes and written material, but we're hopeful we're on schedule for a late fall release! Most of all, we are feeling very proud of our work at creating three sets of lessons that are different from each other, but are logical stair steps of progress for singers who are new to harmony singing. Now we're toying with the idea of leading workshops together. Interested? 


Fortunate Strangers, my wonderful Celtic band with Kathy and Joe Bly, will be performing at the Reno Celtic Festival on Sunday, October 2. I'll be in Grass Valley for the KVMR Celtic Festival on Saturday, October 1, to join the song circle that day, and will be calling a Contra dance that night in Nevada City, so I will probably eat my breakfast while I drive to Reno on Sunday morning! If you're in Reno, be sure to look (or listen?) for us. We're also very much looking forward to performing at Sharon and Jaya Carl's house on Sunday, September 25 in Auburn! 7:00pm, $20 and you'll need to make a reservation by calling 530-885-4292 or emailing We'll see YOU there!


I Got Ahead of Myself!

Sorry! I know exactly how I did that. Several folks told me they get inundated with newsletters and email at the beginning/end of each month, so I thought I'd be ultra-cool and send mine the third or fourth Saturday of each month. But the trouble is, it looks weird to send out a newsletter titled "August Newsletter" when it's still July. I mean, it might be useful information FOR the month of August, but it was written and sent in July! So this is officially July 2016's Second 2016 newsletter, and this little hiccup should straighten things out. Henceforth the newsletter title will reflect the month in which it's written! 
Libby and I are scripting the third level of Carmony: Learn to Sing Harmony While You Drive, the icing on the two-layer cake. Level One takes you through basic explanations and the opportunity to sing two simple rounds and three songs, so you can practice alone . . . only you'd actually be singing with Libby and me. Level Two is similar, but utilizes one round and two songs that are slightly more challenging. Level Three will be more descriptive and will demonstrate ideas on how to find your own harmonies, rather than following ours. I'm thinking that we might have it all finished in the fall. 
I'll be teaching my week-long class called "Get Your Voice Out Of The Closet" at Lark Camp. I'll be in Camp One at 4:30 at the north end of the Dance Hall. As you know, I'm very much looking forward to Lark Camp and if you are amongst the lucky ones who plan to be there, I'm hoping to lure you into a Carmony preview.  I duplicated copies of the Level One lessons to bring with me. Now these are not the final deal--truly
Lark buddies singing! Photo by Dana Dubinsky
this is preview material, as it only is Level One and it hasn't been fully mixed or mastered, so they'll be a little funky compared with the polished gem Libby and I expect to be able to present in the finished version. But several people have asked for copies ASAP, so I had these made up as an exclusive Lark special preview. If you buy this one for $10, I'll credit that $10 toward the purchase of the finished two-CD set when we have it available, but meanwhile, you'll have something to work with for the remainder of the summer! This is a special Lark Camp deal, only. The rest of you will want to wait for the real deal!




Expect the Unexpected!

You just never know what will happen! This past month I was asked to call a one-hour contra dance for Ritual Coffee Roasters' eleventh birthday, and Richard Mandel with his guitar, Corwin Zekley with fiddle in hand, and I, gamely did our thing for a big barista birthday bash. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was fun, and wandering around Folsom Street in SF at night is quite a scene, with loads of people headed for all the various clubs. At the event, Richard, Corwin and I were competing with a mechanical bull in the spacious and FULL Folsom Street Foundry event venue. 

It was fun watching folks do the Virginia Reel while juggling their cocktails! Allemand right? Drink goes to the left hand. Allemand left, switch drink to right hand. Two hand turn? Um . . . well, more cooperation required with dance partner!
I'M A PROUD SISTER: My brother, who is a classical music composer as well as a professional photographer (with a day-job at MIT), has been commissioned to write an organ work for the Montrèal Organ Festival. Organ jokes aside, this is a very big deal, as they sought him out and have asked him to write the opening work for a recital by Christian Lane at the Maison Symphonique to premiere July 5, 2017. Kent and I are planning to attend; must make a note to self to brush up on my poor-ish French skills!

LOVELY HOUSE CONCERT: Small but mighty was our audience for Fortunate Strangers' house concert, but of course we were in competition with Memorial Day vacations and Warriors' game #6, so we were pleased with the turnout. We had a good time; there was both laughter and tears at songs we performed, we all enjoyed our guest performer, Holly Sternberg on fiddle, and our audience sang along with us on several songs. Our next concert will be in September in Auburn - part of the Auburn House Concerts series hosted by Sharon and Jaya Carl.

NO BAD TRACKS: My pal, Steve Baughman just released a new album entitled O'er Quiet Lands Suspended. It is solo clawhammer banjo(s) with some vocals, and not only are the songs & tunes captivating, the different banjo voices that Steve presents are rich and varied, and sometimes you can't fathom what ethereal instrument you are listening to. Plus there's a reimagined version of the Cruel Sister Child ballad, that in my mind makes it worth owning the CD artifact; this album gets my "no bad tracks" rating! 

UPCOMING CONCERTS: August 14, Sunday: Dave Nachmanoff will be performing at the Freight & Salvage and I'm to be one of several guests. This will be a matineé - save the date and watch for more info in my next newsletter!

September 25, Sunday: Fortunate Strangers to perform at Auburn House Concerts; details soon!


Reserve Seats for Fortunate Strangers in Berkeley!

Joe, Kathy and I are gearing up for our second concert, this time at my digs in North Berkeley on Saturday, May 28 and as I write this, we've only got fifteen seats left, so it's time to reserve yours! You can do that by emailing me or calling 510­-995-­6615 (be sure to leave me a voicemail if I don't pick up!) Fortunate Strangers is an unpretentious, delightful little band, and we offer a program of Scottish and Irish traditional folk songs and instrumentals. Kathy plays guitar, Joe sings, plays whistles and flutes, and I sing and play bodhran and I'll bring out the shruti box. (You'll have to come hear us to find out what that is!) This show will start at 8:00pm, doors open at 7:30pm and the suggested donation is $20. Since it will be a Saturday night, you can make a lovely evening of it with all the nearby restaurants, here in Gourmet Ghetto. 

Things are perking along (they sure ain't parking) and I'm beginning to turn my thoughts to cover design. Libby and I have some ideas about the cover photo and it might involve one of these steering wheels (there are three stacked on this chair, waiting for an audition!) But exactly how we'll do that is still on the drawing board. Creative thoughts are tumbling at a mile a minute, including one we got from our wonderful engineer, Derek Bianchi, who suggested we come up with a "bumper". That's a film term that's not about cars, but is sort of a car-metaphor for the intro and "outro" jingles that precede and end your favorite TV sitcom. So, we wrote and have recorded our own audio bumper, and if you go to this link, you can hear it

We've almost finished our Level Two lessons, and LOVE how it's turning out. I really think you'll find the CD helpful, and we think all three levels, comprised in a two-CD set, will be ready in the fall sometime. I'll probably bring some Level One CDs with me to Lark Camp to sell to any students in my "Get Your Voice Out of the Closet" workshop. Uh . . . you are coming to Lark Camp, aren't you?