A Program of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
More than 180 digital assets from the Virginia Folklife Program can be viewed online thanks to a new partnership with the Google Cultural Institute. By partnering with cultural institutions worldwide, Google is making important cultural materials easily accessible to a large audience and digitally preserving the materials for future generations. The Virginia Folklife Program’s Eastern Virginia Gospel exhibit was launched for Black History Month along with those from an impressive array of other exhibitions focusing on African American history, arts, and culture. The Virginia Folklife’s exhibit joins nearly eighty others created by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Studio Museum in Harlem, The King Center, and many others.
The Virginia Folklife Program’s virtual exhibit entitled Eastern Virginia Gospel connects viewers worldwide with some of the Commonwealth’s most unique gospel treasures in just a few clicks. Key elements of the exhibit include:
National Heritage Fellows The Paschall Brothers’ legacy explored through twenty years of photographs and recordings featuring never-before-seen concert footage of the Tidewater quartet.
Selections from the late “Gospel Queen of Richmond” Maggie Ingram’s family audio archive, including “I Come to the Garden,” a unique recording that strays from the better-known and more raucous gospel tunes of Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes.
“Put Me Down Easy: The Charlie McClendon Story,” a 30-minute documentary feature exploring racial relations in the Tidewater region of Virginia through R&B music of the 1960s.
In the exhibit, rare recordings such as those from the archives of the late evangelist Rev. Maggie Ingram are paired with a family history by Richmond-based journalist Don Harrison and photo and video assets from the Virginia Folklife Program archive. “Maggie is a national treasure, not just in her interpretations of gospel standards and spirituals, but also in her own compositions. She’s one of the great writers of gospel music,” said Jon Lohman, Virginia State Folklorist and director of the Virginia Folklife Program. “Through Maggie’s story and others, this exhibit will shed light on the largely unknown significance of Richmond, Hampton Roads, and Norfolk to the development of the gospel music tradition. The Google Cultural Institute’s recognition of these individuals as great American artists is an exciting opportunity and invitation for further exploration.”
Schedule and Special Guests Announced for Apprenticeship Showcase
The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase at James Monroe’s Highland on May 7 from 12:00 to 5:00pm will for the first time host two stages to feature the master artists and apprentices. The performance stage will highlight the work of teams of musicians while the crafts area stage will give the material culture artists an opportunity to speak about their work. The showcase will end with a square dance called by the master callers Ellen and Eugene Ratcliffe and their apprentice Hannah Johnson.
Performance Stage Schedule
12:00pm: Cabin Creek Boys and special guests
12:45: Opening remarks by Jon Lohman, state folklorist and director of the Virginia Folklife Program
1:00: Sephardic ballads with Susan Gaeta and Gina Sobel
1:20: Hindustani Khyal Singing with Humayun Khan and Ved Sheth
1:40: Fiddle and bluegrass singing with Scott Freeman, Linda Lay, and Kitty Amaral
2:10: Appalachian singing with Linda Kay Justice and Helen White
2:30: Bluegrass mandolin with Herschel Sizemore and Mike Walker
2:50: Recognition of crafters and food purveyors
3:00: Songwriters David and Mason Via
3:20: Fiddling with Nate Leath, Eli Wildman, and guests
3:40: Persian classical music with Nader Majd and Ali Analouei
4:00: Oyster shucking contest with Clementine Macon Boyd and Deborah Pratt
4:30: Square Dance called by Ellen and Eugene Ratcliffe, with music by Hannah Johnson and participating old-time artists
Crafts Area Schedule
12:30pm: Decoy carving with Grayson Chesser, P.G. Ross, Mark Ross, Drew Sturgis, and Andy Dunton
1:00: Soul food cooking with Tina Ingram-Murphy and Cheryl Maroney Beaver
1:30: Banjo making with Greg Galbreath and Peter Keller
2:00: Spinning and weaving with Evelyn Lahman and Dr. Michael Gilley
2:30: Paper sculpture with Mama-Girl and David Rogers
3:00: Cambodian costume making with Sochietah Ung, Matthew Regan, and Lena Ouk
3:30: Logsmithing with Gary and Tommy Horton
4:15: Bolivian mesa ceremony with Julia Garcia and Marcela Alejandra Ardaya Barron
The Showcase will open with music from the Cabin Creek Boys, who play old-time “hillbilly” music from the mountains of southwest Virginia and northwest North Carolina They perform regularly at area fiddlers’ conventions, festivals, square dances, and other community events. Led by multi-instrumentalist husband and wife duo Chris and Erika Testerman, the band also includes Jackson Cunningham on guitar, Trish Kilby Fore on banjo, and Jerry Steinberg on bass. Both Jackson Cunningham and Chris Testerman have previously participated in the in the Apprenticeship Program: Jackson was a beekeeping apprentice to Jim King and Chris learned how to make dulcimers and other instruments from Walter Messick. Both are now excellent instrument makers in their own right, and both learned many of their skills from the late Audrey Hash Ham, a fiddle maker who was in the first ever class of Virginia Folklife master artists. Jackson specializes in archtop guitars and Chris mostly makes fiddles. Trish Fore’s husband, Kevin Fore, is also an excellent maker of clawhammer banjos.
What’s Cooking? Food makes the Showcase special
What makes the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase special? The unique stories of the food purveyors who participate in this annual event. This year’s Showcaseon Sunday, May 7 at James Monroe’s Highland from 12:00 to 5:00pm will feature several master artists demonstrating their skills plus a special guest serving up delicious eats for the public to enjoy.
Joey Mirabile of Joey’s Hotdogs
2016-2017 Master Artist
Those familiar with Joey’s Hot Dogs, in Richmond’s West End, know these dogs are the pinnacle of what is one of America’s iconic foods. Joey’s father, Tony, started serving hot dogs at age fourteen at the start of World War II in 1939, when he worked for Bacali’s Hot Dogs in Norfolk. Known to many as “The Hot Dog Boy,” Tony sold hot dogs to celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., when they came to perform and stay at Virginia Beach’s first resort hotel, the Cavalier Inn. His mother, Geri, had worked at the soda fountain at the nearby People’s Drug Store. Tony and Geri married in 1950, and in 1962, Geri opened Tony’s Hot Dogs in Norfolk. Initially, she also served hamburgers and root beer floats, but when Tony took over running the business a couple of years later, he scaled back to just hot dogs with mustard, onions, and chili—no ketchup or chips allowed. In 1969, they opened a second store in Virginia Beach, which soon became a prominent fixture in the Beach’s culinary landscape. Joey carries on the tradition, using the same chili recipe his dad served back in the 1930s. Joey has worked with his apprentice Logan Caine, but can’t decide whether he will share the secret family chili recipe. Joey and Logan will both be serving up these delicious dogs at the Showcase.
Chef Ida MaMusu of Richmond’s Africanne on Main
In 1980, Ida MaMusu fled war-torn Monrovia, Liberia, and came to the United States. Her grandmother, Ida Williams, was originally from Reston, Virginia, and went to Liberia as part of the American Colonization Society, a movement sending freed slaves back to Africa. Under her grandmother’s tutelage, Ida learned the art of cooking. When Ida MaMusu fled the war, she had no choice but to leave her entire family behind. She arrived in Richmond in 1986 and worked for the next decade to bring her two children and parents to the United States. After opening Braids of Africa on Broad Street in 1996, Ida found herself not only doing hair, but cooking meals for her customers. Inspired, she opened her first restaurant space next door in 1998, eventually moving to a smaller, better-located space on Main Street. Ida’s grandmother always told her that the things she learned from her were not hers to keep—that she must pass them on to keep her memory alive. In 2002, Ida started Chef MaMusu’s Cultural Cooking School to pass her knowledge on to young girls. Chef MaMusu will be cooking up some of her vegetarian specialties at the Showcase.
What began—according to local legend—as a communal meal prepared for a hunting expedition in Brunswick County on the banks of the Nottoway River in 1828, has since become a time-honored regional tradition. The cooking of Brunswick Stew is now a staple at community gatherings, a source of local pride, the focus of spirited competition, and a true Virginia culinary art. Recipes for stews, which are prepared to feed hundreds of people from one pot, are guarded vigilantly. Stew chefs traditionally apprenticed with “stewmasters,” a title that takes years to attain. John D. Clary began helping to prepare Brunswick stew in 1973 and eventually ascended to the level of stewmaster in 1988. John has been an avid participant in the “Stew Wars” with Brunswick, Georgia, which also asserts a claim to the stew’s origin. His crew has won numerous cook-offs in Brunswick County over the years. With his fellow stewmasters Lonnie Moore and the late Phil Batchelor, he has mentored dozens of apprentices over the years, including members of the Proclamation Stew Crew: Chiles Cridlin, P.L. Baisey, Bobby Swain, Terry Swecker, Richard Bailey, John Norton, Quinton Nottingham, and Bimbo Coles, among many others. They will cook any size stew, anywhere, for anyone, as long as it doesn’t interfere with a Virginia Tech football game. For the Showcase, they will prepare 500 quarts for sale for the public to enjoy on site or take home.
Frances Davis – Fried Apple Pies
2008-2009 Master Artist
Known as “Fried Apple Pies,” “Dried Apple Pies,” or even “Fried Dried Apple Pies,” these locally made pies seem to have a ubiquitous presence throughout Southwest Virginia, appearing on the counters and shelves of country stores, gas stations, and community festivals. The defining characteristic of the pie is its intense flavor, accomplished through the use of dried apples rehydrated through a long simmering process with brown sugar. While each community likely stakes a claim for one of its local pie makers, Frances Davis of Rocky Mount takes the title as the ultimate “Fried Apple Pie Lady.” Her delicious fried-dough pies have been featured at festivals around the state. Frances was one of six children born to a sharecropping family. She learned to cook from her mother, and by the age of twelve was responsible for cooking for her entire family, as well as caring for other children too young to go to the fields. “I had to get up each morning around four, get the fire started to heat the house, and then be sure to have three full meals ready when the grownups came in from the field. Honestly, I didn’t really have a life as a child, because I had a big responsibility.” This responsibility led Frances to become one of the most respected and creative home chefs in the region and one of the most popular participants of Folklife festivals around the state.
Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd – oyster shucking
2008-2009 Master Artist
For communities on Virginia’s Northern Neck from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, the oyster fishery was perhaps the largest and most influential industry. Men and women employed in the fishery worked in a variety of jobs, from boat cook, captain, and crew to working in shore-based scow gangs or as shuckers. Shucking, in particular, provided many employment opportunities for African Americans throughout the Chesapeake Region. Though the oyster industry has experienced a dramatic decline since the mid-1990s, the art of shucking has continued as a highly competitive sport. Sisters Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd, whose parents met while working in one of the many small oyster houses that once dotted the Northern Neck coastline, are two of the top shuckers in the world, capable of opening two dozen oysters in less than three minutes. They have alternated in winning the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Championship for the past few years in St. Mary’s City, Maryland, as well as at the Virginia State Championships held each year in Urbanna, Virginia. The two sisters have battled it out in five epic contests on the Virginia Folklife Stage at the Richmond Folk Festival, and annually at our Virginia Folklife Showcase. At the Showcase, Deborah and Clementine will demonstrate how to shuck a “pretty” oyster, and will provide a taste of some delicious Rappahannock oysters.
Tina Ingram-Murphy and Cheryl Maroney Beaver
Soul Food Cooking apprenticeship: 2017-2018
Christina “Tina” Ingram-Murphy is the youngest daughter of the late Richmond gospel legend Elder Maggie Ingram. Born July 4, 1930, on Mulholland’s Plantation in Coffee County, Georgia, Maggie began playing the piano and singing at an early age, and developed a great love for the church and the ministry of the Gospel. In 1961 Maggie moved her family to Richmond, where she formed the group Sister Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes with Tina and her other four children. The Ingramettes performed for more than 50 years, becoming Richmond’s premiere gospel group. As a single mom, Maggie had very few resources and often struggled to keep her family afloat. “You know how you hear about those people who say they were poor and didn’t know they were poor?” Maggie’s eldest daughter Almeta likes to ask. “Well, we knew we were poor.” Almeta remembers how Maggie managed to prepare delicious meals for her children by stretching the most sparse and inexpensive of ingredients, even feeding many more than just her own family. The Ingrams are still known for their remarkable community work, providing meals for the homeless, shut-ins, and anyone in need of a healthy meal in and around the Richmond region. The Folklife Program had a taste of the their culinary prowess at the 2016 Richmond Folk Festival, where the Ingramettes prepared more than 500 meals for festival patrons, with Tina running the show.
Tina retired from singing with the Ingramettes to care for her family and ailing husband, which gave her more time to hone her culinary skills. She regularly consulted with Maggie to learn certain dishes, and learned from elder women at her church. Over time Tina became a master of what many call “Soul Food,” the tasty and resourceful home-cooking style associated with African Americans in the South. While drawing heavily from tradition, Tina also makes healthy adjustments to her recipes. Her favorite dishes include candied carrots, purple cabbage, strawberry-banana pudding, southern cornbread, garlic mashed potatoes, turkey, meatloaf, baked spaghetti, and collard greens. Tina will share family kitchen lore with daughter Cheryl Maroney Beaver, a current Ingramette who has participated as a Master Artist in gospel singing in the 2014 Apprenticeship Program.
We thank our sponsors:
Virginia Folklife Program Announces Apprenticeship Class of 2017–2018
The Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) announces the 2017-2018 class of Master Artists in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. Master Artists are selected through a competitive process in all forms of Virginia’s expressive cultures. The ten new teams join more than one hundred pairs of masters and apprentices who have taken part in the Apprenticeship Program since its inception in 2002.
“Through this unique program, we work with incredibly accomplished musicians and craftspeople who are dedicated to passing along vitally important art forms to future generations,” said Jon Lohman, State Folklorist and director of the Virginia Folklife Program. “Participants in this year’s showcase exemplify the remarkable range and diversity of folk traditions in Virginia.”
Introducing the 2017–2018 Master Folk Artists and their apprentices:
Master candy maker Gene Williams of Chesapeake and apprentice Lee Bagley
Master spinner and weaver Evelyn Lahman of Wythe County and apprentice Dr. Terence Michael Gilley
Master of logsmithing Gary Horton of Carroll County and apprentice Tommy Horton
Master Sephardic ballad singer Susan Gaeta of Fairfax County and apprentice Gina Sobel
Master of soul food cooking Christine Ingram-Murphy of Henrico County and apprentice Cheryl Maroney-Beaver
Master of Bolivian mesa ceremonies and rituals Julia Garcia of Arlington and apprentice Marcela Alejandra Ardaya Barron
Master banjo maker Greg Galbreath of Giles County and apprentice Peter Keller
Master fiddler Nate Leath of Rockingham County and apprentices Eli and Aila Wildman
Returning Master decoy carver Grayson Chesser of Accomack County and apprentices Drew Sturgis, P.G. Ross, Mark Ross, and Andy Dunton
Returning Master of classical Iranian and Persian music Nader Majd of Fairfax County and apprentice Ali Reza Analouei
Celebrating the completion of the 2016–2017 Master Folk Artists and their apprentices:
Master songwriter David Via of Patrick County and apprentice Mason Via
Master papier-mâché sculptor “Mama Girl” Onley of Accomack County and apprentice David Rogers
Master bluegrass fiddler and mandolinist Scott Freeman of Grayson County and master of bluegrass singing Linda Lay of Bristol and apprentice Kitty Amaral
Master Cambodian costume maker Sochietah Ung of Washington, D.C., and apprentices Matthew R. Regan and Lena Ouk
Masters square dance callers Eugene and Ellen Ratcliffe of Highland County and apprentice Hannah Johnson
Master old time duet singer Linda Kay Justice of Wythe County and apprentice Helen White
Master of Hindustani vocal traditions Humayun Khan of Fairfax county and apprentice Ved Sheth
Master of traditional photographic methods Richard Pippin of Staunton and apprentices Melissa Jones and Zoe Bearinger
Master hotdog purveyor Joey Mirabile of Richmond and apprentice Logan Caine
Returning Master bluegrass mandolin player and composer Herschel Sizemore of Roanoke and apprentice Mike Walker
The VirginiaFolklife Apprenticeship Program pairs experienced Master Artists with gifted apprentices for one-on-one, nine-month learning experiences, ensuring that art forms are passed on in ways that are conscious of history and faithful to tradition. More than workshops or lessons, apprenticeship learning takes place in the art forms’ traditional contexts, calling upon the complete engagement of the senses and contextualizing the practices within the larger cultural landscape.
On Sunday, May 7, from 12:00 to 5:00 PM, the Virginia Folklife Program at VFH will partner with James Monroe’s Highland to host the Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase at the home of James Monroe. Now in its fourteenth year, the showcase is a FREE, family-friendly event that celebrates the traditional music, crafts, and foodways of Virginia, introducing the public to the Master Artists and apprentices who keep the traditions alive. This year’s audience will enjoy more than ten live musical performances and a dazzling display of engaging demonstrations. Special guests include the Cabin Creek Boys, one of Southwest Virginia’s finest old-time bands, among many others. Featured foods include real Brunswick stew, African cuisine from Chef Ida MaMusu of Richmond, fried apple pies, and oysters shucked by world champion oyster shucking sisters, Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd.
We thank our sponsors:
Remembering Nan Perdue
Nancy Martin-Perdue, a former scholar-in-residence at the University of Virginia, died Feb. 14. She devoted much of her adult life supporting and researching folklore in its many forms with her husband Charles L. Perdue. Nan was an avid gardener, researcher, and genealogist. She found connections between nearly everyone she met based on their surname.
Chuck and Nan married in 1954 and were devoted to each other during their 56 years of marriage. He died in 2010, also on Feb. 14.
As a scholar-in-residence in UVA’s Anthropology Department, she worked with Chuck during his 36 years on the faculty there. They advised and mentored hundreds of UVA students. Together they edited “Talk About Trouble: A New Deal Portrait of Virginians in the Great Depression,” published in 1996, and for almost 20 years they researched the displacement of residents from the area where the Shenandoah National Park was established.
The Perdues received a research grant and then had a residency at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, in 1984 and 1988, respectively, to work on the topic of the New Deal and folk culture in Virginia. As officers of the Virginia Folklore Society, Chuck and Nan worked with the Virginia Foundation of the Humanities to establish the Virginia Folklife Program in 1989.
“Many of us will remember when Chuck and Nan proposed and championed creating the Virginia Folklife Program at VFH, one of their many legacies, as well as unique contributions to the Virginia Foundation,” Director Rob Vaughan said. “It transformed us.” Their work has enriched the commonwealth, he added.
“Talk About Trouble” won the National Oral History Association Award for best book on oral history in 1997, and the Perdues were honored by the Virginia General Assembly for the work in 1998. The book consists of life histories recorded by members of the Virginia Writers’ Project, which they discovered hidden in the Virginia State Archives, and as far away as the University of Pennsylvania Library.
Chuck and Nan shared a lifelong interest in music and singing, performing in area coffeehouses beginning in Berkeley, California and continuing when they moved to Fairfax, Virginia in 1960. They were active in the folk revival scene, performed in concerts and folk festivals, and helped found the Folklore Society of Greater Washington in 1964. They also revitalized the Virginia Folklore Society, for which Nan served as the president and the first webmaster.
In her own words from the Anthropology Department website, Nan said: “My concerns with issues affecting women, social class and power differences, history and the politics of culture, are themselves reflections of my own personal history and experiences. As the first woman in my family to graduate from college, I am obliged to a score of aunts and female relatives on both sides for their dreams and insistent encouragement. However, the primary source of my ethnographic and historical imagination was my paternal grandmother (1857-1953), who grew up on the northern Texas frontier amidst conflicts with both Comanches and the Confederacy in the Civil War. These factors contributed to my abiding interest in the processes by which groups are marginalized, how reputations and identities are shaped, and how stereotypes arise in the context of social change and cultural conflict.”
At UVA, they created folklore archives now housed in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library and named in honor of their two late sons: the Kevin Barry and Kelly Scott Perdue Archive of Traditional Culture, a collection of textual, audio, and visual materials related primarily to the folk culture of Virginia. Along with faculty and student papers, and manuscripts from the Virginia Writers’ Project, the Perdue archive also includes 300 33-1/3 rpm records of early Anglo-American and African-American music, the A. K. Davis collection of field-recorded Virginia music, and 65 original field-recorded tapes of African-American secular and church music recorded in Rappahannock-Culpeper County, Virginia, 1966-1972.
Surviving family members include a son, Martin Clay Perdue and Susan Holbrook Perdue of Palmyra, Virginia and daughters, Emily Stoddard and Sarah Martin Perdue; a son, Marc Charles Perdue and Molly Pickral of Charlottesville, Virginia and son, Nicholas James; Anne Elizabeth Bromley of Crozet, Virginia and daughters, Kathryn Bromley and Theresa Russell Perdue; a daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Anne Steel Perdue of Albemarle County, Virginia and sons, Benjamin Tipton and Daniel Walton Perdue and wife Lauren.
Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at Preddy Funeral Home Chapel in Madison conducted by Donnie Hughes. The interment will be private.
The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 10 until 11 a.m. Saturday, February 18, 2017, one hour before the service. In lieu of flowers, donations made be made to: Alzheimer’s Association, Central and Western Virginia Chapter, 1160 Pepsi Place, Suite 306, Charlottesville, VA 22901
Light the Candles with Flory Jagoda’s internationally loved Hanukkah anthem: “Ocho Kandelikas”
As the holidays enter full swing, Christmas songs—ranging from the insipid to the sublime—become a seemingly ubiquitous presence in our lives. Largely buried in a sonic avalanche of sleigh bells, silent nights, and old St. Nick’s, however, is the infinitely smaller repertoire of Hanukkah songs. Though lesser-known than many of its Christmas counterparts, one song written by our beloved friend and National Heritage Fellow Flory Jagoda has resonated with audiences across the globe, making “Ocho Kandelikas,” Ladino for “Eight Candles,” essentially the world’s foremost Hanukkah anthem. While many mistakenly assume that it is a traditional song that has endured generations, Flory actually wrote “Ocho Kandelikas” in 1983. The song, reminiscent of a children’s counting song, is sung in Ladino, as Flory channels her memories of the excitement of Hanukkah from her childhood.
A longtime friend and participant in many activities of the Virginia Folklife Program, Flory Jagoda was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, a member of the Sephardic Jewish community. When the Sephardic Jews were forced into exile from Spain and Portugal in the 15th century, many settled in other Mediterranean countries but preserved their native language, called Ladino. Flory has devoted her life to the preservation of Sephardic music and culture, carrying on the songs she learned from her “nona” (grandmother).
Versions of “Ocho Kandelikas” span nations and musical genres, sung by everyone from children’s choirs to European rock bands. Erran Baron Cohen, brother of of Ali G and Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen, included “Ocho Kandelikas” on his Songs in the Key of Hanukkah album in 2008 (crediting it as “traditional” rather than a Flory Jagoda composition).
This holiday season, you can support the enduring work and legacy of Flory Jagoda through our Flory Jagoda Sephardic Music Fund. The Fund supports scholarship and the continuation and celebration of Sephardic music, language, and culture.
What makes the Richmond Folk Festival so special? Spoiler: It’s YOU
Photo highlights from the 2016 Virginia Folklife Area at the Richmond Folk Festival
Another Richmond Folk Festival is in the books, and once again, the Virginia Folklife Program joined with our partners at Venture Richmond, the National Council for the Traditional Arts, Union Bank and Trust, and hundreds of other supporters and volunteers to bring an incredibly diverse community together. This free event presented a plethora of traditional arts in the most relatable way. At the Folk Festival the arts are not out of reach, or out of touch – they’re accessible to everyone, and the sense of community there is palpable.
Some years the weather is kind. This year, not so much. But over 12 years Richmond has proven itself to be an incredibly strong audience who will come out, rain or shine. This year Saturday was perhaps the wettest on record and, yet, we still hosted 125,000 people over three days.
Here are a few of our favorite photos from the Virginia Folklife Area, where home cooks demonstrated foodway traditions from across the Commonwealth and amazing musicians performed on stage:
Making Barbacoa with Luz Lopez
By Violeta Palchik
In the town of Morocoy, where Luz Lopez was raised, there is a large plaza where people go to relax at the end of the day. Several women in town have stalls set up in the plaza to sell food and snacks to these evening crowds, and Luz’s mother, Victoria Lopez, was one of them, specializing in dishes from her northern hometown of Michoacán. Victoria and her family had moved to southern Morocoy as part of a government initiative to populate the region. Most of the residents come from different areas of Mexico and have made Morocoy a crossroads of regional Mexican foods and traditions.
Luz, like other daughters of the plaza cooks, learned her mother’s recipes as she helped to prepare them. The first task she learned to master was the preparation of the chiles and removal of their seeds. Together, Luz and her mother would make tamales, enchiladas, tacos dorados, tacos al pastor, and morisqueta, among other dishes. One of her mother’s classic dishes was menudo, a spicy tripe stew. Upon moving to Morocoy, Victoria started referring to it by the southern name of mondongo and added a bright red condiment from the south called achiote to the broth. The addition of achiote became her trade secret and gained her praise and recognition from the other Michoacán cooks who were unfamiliar with it.
In addition to preparation of the daily evening refreshments, many of the plaza cooks were hired to cater the food for large gatherings and festivities. Barbacoa, a pit-cooked beef dish which is the origin of the word “barbecue,” is among the favored celebratory meals from Michoacán. In towns where barbacoa is consumed, there are usually a few residents known for their mastery of its preparation. Their skill lies not only in making great food but also in directing the whole town to execute this meal. Luz assisted her mother in creating countless barbacoas for their town.
Making a barbacoa requires first marinating the meat overnight in a blend of chilis and spices. A large hole is then dug into the ground and heated. The meat, usually from a cow or goat, is wrapped in maguey leaves and placed inside the hole, buried, and cooked for many hours. Maguey is a plant from the agave family that lends a particular flavor to the meat, as well as trapping moisture to create a steaming effect. The resulting meat is tender and juicy, falling apart as you place it inside a tortilla. It is generally served with diced onions, cilantro, salsa (guacamole, chile picante, salsa verde, or salsa roja), lime, and sometimes rice and beans.
When Luz moved to Virginia she rekindled a Morocoy romance and married her childhood sweetheart, Artemio Reyes. For Luz’s wedding in Virginia her family and friends prepared the barbacoa from a whole cow they purchased for the occasion. Throughout the weeklong festivities numerous hands chipped in to separate the different cuts under the guidance of her sister who, like many people from their hometown, is capable of butchering an entire cow. Cuts were used to make enchiladas, cecinas, milanesas, and other meals for the large crowd gathered in preparation for the wedding.
Luz’s favorite way to make barbacoa is with the head of a cow. This preparation demands a laborious deep cleaning of the whole head and tongue before marinating and cooking. It is a process she goes through about twice a year for the holidays. Sometimes the head has too much bone and not enough meat, so she adds other cuts. The tongue, she says, is usually the meatiest part of the head. The eyes and brains are coveted by some aficionados and avoided by others. Sourcing cow heads in Virginia has not always been easy, but she found a meat packer that would almost give them away due to lack of demand. These days, their popularity has increased and the heads are available for purchase, although at a higher price.
In Virginia, Luz cooks her barbacoa in a vaporera, a type of steam pot. A modern take on the preparation of barbacoa, it is a technique often used in Mexico. The meat is placed inside the steam pot and slowly cooked in the oven, recreating the more laboriously-achieved effect of tender, fall-apart meat. It’s a technique she is teaching to her daughters, Princey and Vanessa, who are learning to help her in the kitchen. They have already mastered the preparation of chiles and tortillas. Luz often asks her children and husband to contribute to the composition of meals by making the tortillas. She explains that fresh tortillas are essential to Mexican cuisine: “with homemade tortillas even the simplest combinations are delicious.”
Today in Morocoy, many of the daughters of earlier plaza cooks continue to run the daily food stalls. Luz wants to begin writing down all of the recipes she learned from her mother to ensure that they are passed down to Princey and Vanessa, since preserving the foodways of her youth is an important way to teach her daughters about their Mexican heritage.
Tasty Licks: Virginia’s food traditions at the 2016 Richmond Folk Festival
The Virginia Folklife Program at the 2016 Richmond Folk Festival will present “Tasty Licks: Virginia’s food traditions.” This free festival takes place October 7 through 9 in downtown Richmond along the banks of the James River.
The popular expression “you are what you eat” is often meant to be interpreted literally, but this saying holds true in the greater cultural sense as well, as it is often through our food that we consciously and unconsciously express to ourselves and others our most deeply felt sense of who we are. The foods we eat not only sustain our bodies, but our communities and cultures as well. In this way our foodways operate much like our other forms of folklife—our music, our stories, our crafts, and our celebrations and rituals. Much like these other cultural traditions, the foods we prepare and eat connect us with our own sense of communal belonging and identity, be it ethnic, regional, occupational, or familial. Our food has forever been central to our most cherished occasions, and our dinner tables remain the sites of our deepest connections, communication, and fellowship. Foodways also play a critical role in how we experience ways of life different from our own. Virginia, like much of America, is a remarkably diverse place, and it often is through the sharing of foods that we, in the most tactile sense, get a taste of each other’s culture.
The 2016 Virginia Folklife Area will showcase the diverse foodways of Virginia, and present some of its greatest practitioners. Our focus will not be on professional chefs and restaurateurs, but rather those “home cooks” who are revered in their own communities. Throughout the weekend, we will be hosting cooking demonstrations that speak to the remarkable diversity of the Commonwealth, showcasing foodways both old and new to Virginia—from fried apple pies of the Blue Ridge to crab soup of Tangier Island, from Mexican barbacoa to Filipino chicken adobo. Audiences will get to learn family-held recipes, share in closely-guarded kitchen secrets, and yes, taste the results. The cooking demonstrators are:
Mary Stuart and Andy Parks and Chuck and Robin Pruitt – Tangier Island Cooking (Tangier, Virginia)
Tangier, Virginia, a small island of just more than one square mile in the Chesapeake Bay, is one of the most unique communities in the country. Once a summer refuge for the Pocomoke Indians, humans have long been drawn to Tangier and the neighboring islands for their natural beauty and rich bounties of the Bay, particularly soft crabs and oysters. Crabbing and oyster fishing have fed and sustained the island’s residents for centuries, and still remain a critically important occupation and way of life. MORE»
Luz Lopez – Mexican Cooking Traditions (Earlysville, Virginia) Luz Maria Lopez was born in the small town of Morocoy, in the state of Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula after her parents moved there from Michoacán. Her mother was a prodigious cook, and Luz grew up learning the many traditional dishes of the region, including cochinita pibil, tamales de hoja de platano, and panuchos, as well as dishes from her mother’s home state of Michoacán in the west of Mexico. MORE»
Beyhan Cagri Trock – Sephardic Cooking Traditions (Bethesda, Maryland)
The Washington, D.C., area is home to a small but vibrant Sephardic community of about 12,000 people. Like other Sephardic Jews, they are descended from Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, and their culture incorporates Spanish, North African, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern customs. The D.C. area’s first Sephardic Jews arrived from Turkey and Greece in 1914. A larger wave immigrated in the years immediately following World War II. Among these was National Heritage Fellow Flory Jagoda, who brought with her generations’ worth of Sephardi songs as well as the cultural traditions of the Balkan region. She not only maintains a unique linguistic and musical heritage, she builds on it by composing and arranging new Sephardic songs. Sephardic tradition is more than music, however. The Sephardi maintain a longstanding tradition of distinctive foodways. MORE»
Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd – Oyster Shucking (Jamaica and Urbanna, Virginia) For communities on Virginia’s Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, the oyster fishery was perhaps the largest and most influential industry from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. Men and women employed by the industry worked a variety of jobs, from boat cook, captain, and crew, to shore-based scow gangs and shuckers. Shucking in particular provided many employment opportunities for African Americans throughout the Chesapeake region. MORE»
Randy Bush and the Red, White, and Blue Stew Crew – Brunswick stew (Richmond, Virginia) What began, according to area legend, as a communal meal prepared for a hunting expedition on the banks of the Nottoway River in 1828, the cooking of Brunswick Stew has evolved into a time-honored tradition—a staple at community gatherings, a source of regional pride, the focus of spirited competition, and a true Virginia culinary art. MORE»
Frances Davis – fried dried apple pies (Rocky Mount, Virginia) Known as “Fried Apple Pies,” “Dried Apple Pies,” or even “Fried Dried Apple Pies,” these locally made pies seem to have a ubiquitous presence throughout Southwest Virginia, appearing on the counters and shelves of country stores, gas stations, and community festivals. The defining characteristic of the pie is its intense flavor, accomplished through the use of dried apples rehydrated through a long simmering process with brown sugar. MORE»
Clyde Jenkins – heirloom apples and apple grafting (Stanley, Virginia)
Before the last half of the twentieth century, a wide variety of apples were grown regionally, with apple types grown according to the varying soil, weather, and habitat conditions across the United States. The advent of a national market, driven by the development and consolidation of supermarket chains, has reduced the number of available apple varieties to a dozen or so that keep well, respond well to extensive spray programs, and have an attractive and uniform outer skin. Much of the flavor that our ancestors cherished in apples has been sacrificed. The old regional varieties have become difficult, if not impossible, to find—and some have disappeared entirely. Clyde Jenkins grew up in an old homestead in the Shenandoah Mountains in Page County. MORE»
Chef Ida MaMusu – African Vegetarian Traditions (Richmond, Virginia)
In 1980, Ida MaMusu fled war-torn Monrovia, Liberia, and came to the United States. Her grandmother, Ida Williams, was originally from Reston, Virginia, and went to Liberia as part of the American Colonization Society, a movement sending freed slaves back to Africa. Under her grandmother’s tutelage, Ida learned the art of cooking, sometimes without even going near the kitchen. MORE»
Barb Gillespie – Bread Baker (Floyd, Virginia)
The so-called “Republic of Floyd” is a welcoming and inspiring place for some of Virginia’s most visionary artists, but few embody the creative passion of longtime resident Barb Gillespie. For more than a decade, Barb served as “Director of Ambiance” at FloydFest, employing her skills of creative landscaping, set design, and lighting. It’s a title we have been honored to bestow upon her at the Virginia Folklife Area at the Richmond Folk Festival. Barb is alternately a sculptor, a batik artist, a painter, a belly dancer, a massage therapist, a singer-songwriter, and a gifted baker. She first learned the art of baking from her parents who participated in the natural foods movement of the early 1970s. She has been baking bread in Floyd since 2001, supplying local restaurants and farmers markets throughout Southwest Virginia. She opened the much loved “Grateful Bread Bakery” in 2011, showcasing her old-world-style sour bread and other baked masterpieces of her imagination. MORE»
Philippine Cultural Center – Filipino food and dances (Virginia Beach, Virginia) Approximately one million Filipinos have immigrated to the United States since the 1950s, initially to the west coast. In 2010, more than 90,000 Filipinos were living in Virginia, some 40,000 of them in Hampton Roads, with other strong communities in metro-Richmond and Northern Virginia. Today, Filipinos are the second-largest Asian population in the Commonwealth; and Hampton Roads is home to the largest Filipino community east of the Mississippi. The Virginia Folklife Area will showcase numerous Filipino traditions including dance, costumes, and food. MORE»
And what goes better with a great meal than incredible music? The Virginia Folklife Stage will be serving up our usual buffet of musical delicacies and “tasty licks,” much of which will draw from the same communities as our foodway demonstrations—“perfect pairings” if you will, providing a feast for all the senses. Virginia Folklife Stage performers will be:
Cora Harvey Armstrong – gospel (Richmond, Virginia) Faith is at the center of Cora Harvey Armstrong’s 50-year career in gospel music. She was born and raised in the tiny Newtown community of King and Queen County, Virginia. Her family members were dedicated church attendees, and deeply spiritual. Armstrong remembers being enthralled by church music at an early age; she surprised her family and congregation with her ability to play piano by ear at the age of five. Her parents decided to enroll her in piano lessons, where she learned to read music. She soon joined her sisters Clara and Virginia with their mother for the family’s singing group, The Harvey Family. MORE»
Dori Freeman – Appalachian singer-songwriter (Galax, Virginia) Dori Freeman is a remarkably gifted 24-year-old singer and songwriter from Grayson County, on the musically-rich Crooked Road. Dori comes from a family rooted in art and tradition. Her grandfather on her mom’s side, Willard Gayheart, is a locally-loved artist and guitar player; her paternal grandfather was an award winning flat-foot dancer and musician, and her father, Scott Freeman, is a multi-instrumentalist and music instructor. While her style is eclectic, the influence of her Appalachian upbringing is at the core of her music—heard especially in the lulling mountain drawl of her voice. She sings with striking clarity, delivering each song carefully and earnestly. She released her self-titled album in February to much critical acclaim. Rolling Stone named her one of “10 new country artists you need to know” and in July called her self-titled album one of the “25 best country and Americana albums of 2016 so far.” MORE»
Shadowgrass – bluegrass (Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina) Traditional music styles are sometimes lost on young audiences, but this has certainly not been true of bluegrass and old time music, where the youngest players are now performing with unprecedented artistry. Participation in youth instrument contests across southern Appalachia is at an all-time high, and young players are making the grownups pretty nervous in the adult categories as well. Last summer, then 11-year-old Presley Barker won the adult guitar competition at the annual Galax Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention. Presley has joined forces with four other young local musicians to form Shadowgrass, one of the most thrilling bluegrass bands to emerge in recent memory. MORE»
Sherman Holmes – soul and gospel (Saluda, Virginia) The year 2015 marked the end of an amazing journey for the Holmes Brothers, a group with humble beginnings on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula who performed a joyous and moving blend of blues, gospel, soul, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and country for more than 50 years. Sadly, 2015 saw the passing of both Wendell Holmes and Popsy Dixon, ending the Holmes Brothers’ remarkable run. Despite these devastating losses, Sherman has remained dedicated to carrying on his musical career, collaborating with a range of blues artists, and forming the Sherman Holmes Project with Brooks Long and harmonica legend Phil Wiggins. MORE»
Unique Sound of the Mountains – Larry Sigmon and Martha Spencer (Callaway and Whitetop, Virginia) Larry Sigmon was born in Callaway, Virginia, in 1947. His father, Lewis Eldridge Sigmon, was a locally beloved banjo and fiddle player. Larry taught himself harmonica as a child, and then moved to guitar, learning to play by backing up his father. When he took up the banjo at fifteen, it became his main instrument, and he developed a signature hard-driving, rhythmic style. Since the passing of his longtime performing partner Barbara Poole in 2008, Larry Sigmon had been performing rarely until old-time musician and advocate Martha Spencer arrived to interview him for her online documentary project, Mountain Music Magazine. Martha encouraged Larry to play some tunes, joining him on bass and playing Barbara’s signature spirited double-slap style. The two took to each other immediately, and the “Unique Sound” was reborn. MORE»
The Legendary Ingramettes – gospel (Richmond, Virginia) For more than five decades, Evangelist Maggie Ingram & the Ingramettes brought their music and ministry to congregations in the Tidewater and Piedmont. For evangelist “Mama” Maggie Ingram, who sadly passed away on June 23, 2015, music was always a family affair, and three generations were represented in the group. Their commanding, spirit-filled performances demonstrated the extraordinary depth of talent in American gospel music. The group is one of Virginia’s premier gospel ensembles. The family continues on spreading Maggie’s joy, ministry, and music. Now led by Maggie’s daughter Reverend Almeta Ingram-Miller and her granddaughter Cheryl Maroney Beaver, we simply would not have a year on the Virginia Folklife Stage without a performance by the Ingramettes. MORE»
David and Mason Via – bluegrass/singer-songwriters (Patrick Springs, Virginia) Songwriter and performer David Via, of Stuart, Virginia, started singing in church at age three and playing guitar at age twelve. During his long career, David has performed with Tony Rice, Curtis Burch, and Ronnie Bowman, among others, but he is best known as a songwriter. He has penned numerous chart-topping songs for artists including Ronnie Bowman, Dede Wyland, and Larry Keel. David’s son Mason is a stunningly gifted young singer and songwriter. Mason has received critical acclaim for his debut recording Up, Up, Up, which is comprised entirely of original compositions. MORE»
The Hurdle Brothers with Reverend Tarrence Paschall – Tidewater gospel (Portsmouth, Virginia) Brothers Wilbert, Robert, and Melvin, and Wilbert’s son Dyrell Hurdle individually boast gospel careers that span decades, with each brother singing separately in numerous groups, including the Gospel Harmonaires, the Royal Lights, the Gospel Kings, and the Norfolkaires. They joined together to form the Hurdle Brothers in 2000 when a friend and pastor of Sixth Street Baptist Church in Suffolk was in need of a group for their Men’s Day on short notice. They have been singing with their band ever since, playing at churches and festivals across the South, and performing original arrangements of traditional songs and Wilbert’s own compositions. MORE»
Trio Sefardi – Sephardic folk songs (Northern Virginia) Trio Sefardi is inspired by a passion for Sephardic music, playing with La Rondinella, the Western Wind, and National Heritage Fellow Flory Jagoda. When the Sephardic Jews were forced into exile from Spain and Portugal in the late fifteenth century, many settled in other Mediterranean countries but preserved their native language, Ladino, and their oral culture. Flory Jagoda has been recognized as a critically important carrier of this unique musical heritage and also as a composer and arranger of new Sephardic songs. Jagoda has taught her music to many, and in 2002 apprenticed gifted singer Susan Gaeta of Burke, Virginia, through the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. While Gaeta still performs with Jagoda regularly, in 2010 GAeta formed her own group, Trio Sefardi, with multi-instrumentalists Howard Bass and Tina Chancey. The group combines a respect for Sephardic tradition with a creative approach to arranging and scoring, bringing the vibrant past into the living present. MORE»
Reverend Frank Newsome – old regular Baptist a cappella gospel (Haysi, Virginia) An elder in the Old Regular Baptist Church, Frank Newsome is a master practitioner of lined-out hymn singing, one of the oldest musical traditions in Virginia. Newsome was born in 1942 in Pike County, Kentucky, where his father worked as a coal miner. One of twenty-two children, Newsome attended Old Regular Baptist Church services as a child with his mother. He settled in Virginia at about the age of twenty and worked in the coal mines. MORE»
Humayun Khan – Hindustani singing (Annandale, Virginia) Indian classical music has evolved over the centuries, and its many diverse forms reflect the great diversity of the subcontinent of India. Hindustani classical music is traditionally practice-oriented, and learned without formal notation, through the traditional “guru-shishya” or teacher-student tradition. Khyal is a modern genre of Hindustani classical singing in North India. Originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, Humayun Khan’s family moved to the Washington, D.C., area following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. He began studying Indian classical music in 1990, learning from many of the great masters both here and abroad. Humayun is known for outstanding performances as a vocalist and harmonium player, and has spent the past ten years mastering his unique style, blending Persian poetry with Indian classical ragas. MORE»
Harold Mitchell – Emcee Extraordinaire (Galax, Virginia)
If you have attended the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention in the last 40 years, you will recognize the familiar voice of Galax native Harold Mitchell. Always impeccably dressed and sporting a white cowboy hat, Harold has served as the instrument-contest emcee at Galax since 1972. Even before he began emceeing, Harold’s voice was familiar to locals as the regular deejay at WHHV Radio in neighboring Hillsville, where he spun the records of Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and other founding fathers of bluegrass. He has emceed countless musical performances in and around Galax ever since introducing his first artist, the great Charlie Monroe, some 50 years ago. Harold remains the gold standard of emcees against which all others are judged, and we welcome him back to the Richmond Folk Festival. MORE»
The Virginia Folklife Stage and Folklife Area is sponsored by Union Bank & Trust.
About The Richmond Folk Festival The Richmond Folk Festival is one of Virginia’s largest events, drawing visitors from all over the country to downtown Richmond’s historic riverfront. The Festival is a FREE three day event that got its start as the National Folk Festival, held in Richmond from 2005- 2007. In the tradition of the “National,” the Richmond Folk Festival features excellent performing groups representing a diverse array of cultural traditions on seven stages. The festival includes continuous music and dance performances, a Virginia Folklife Area featuring ongoing demonstrations, an interactive Family Area produced by the Children’s Museum of Richmond, a folk art marketplace, regional and ethnic foods, festival merchandise and more. More information is available at www.richmondfolkfestival.org.
Ingramettes at Kennedy Center on Millennium Stage
Couldn’t make it to DC to see the Ingramettes perform at the Kennedy Center? Enjoy the video of their performance.