Adderbury Morris - The America Tour

May 26th. to June 4th 2005


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A personal account by Stephen Wass, the views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not represent the views of the team as a whole or any other individual.

Thursday May 26th. After meeting up at the Bell, in Adderbury the group: , Pete North, Stephen Wass, June Street, Mike Radford, Nigel Bennett, Colin Street, David Gunby, Tim Laughton, Ian Harris, Steve Priest, Keith Norton, Mike Cherry and Dave Moore were taken by coach the roundabout way to Heathrow where they met up with Verna Wass, returning from Normandy, London based Jon Eastmond and Paul Chesterman with his wife Pauline and daughter Hannah. Arriving at Boston Logan Airport we were met by Tim Radford and the party was complete. Following a long wet wait at the airport a shuttle bus eventually took us to the Holiday Inn out on McClellen Highway staffed by some of the rudest people in North America. There was a lengthy wait at the bar for a drink but few lingered long before bedtime.

Friday May 27th. After a rather scrappy breakfast the drivers departed in search of our fleet of Avis hire cars and then after a conference on routes we left Boston to get onto route 2 heading west. Getting clear of Boston and its suburbs took some time but we had a lengthy lunch break at the wonderful chipmunk haunted Old Mill of 1761 in Westminster. Onwards via a rendezvous at Erving and a pot holed trek over Grace Mountain until we arrived at Marlboro College about 8 miles west of Brattleboro. This was an idyllic spot with the while clapboarded accommodation strewn around a wooded hillside. It did not take long for the team to to move in then move on to the bar where teams were beginning to gather for the famous Marlboro Ale.

Saturday May 28th. After a fabulous breakfast and a generally leisurely start the team assembled to process from the dining hall to the car park, the first of what seemed to be a series of curiously aimless processions, but there you are. Once down at the car park there was a programme of show dances and massed morris. Our spot was towards the end of the stand and we performed Lollipop Man with Dave Moore playing, this was rapidly followed by Shepherd’s Away, a slightly cheeky move but then any one of our dances was almost always half the length of anyone else’s!

An excellent picnic lunch was laid on to be enjoyed in the sunshine while Adderbury and Marlboro battled it out for the ‘Aunt Sally World Championship’ something of a misnomer perhaps and the match seemed to run down to a rather inconclusive finish as the call came to move on to the afternoon tours.

We were teamed up with Marlboro Morris and Loafer’s Glory, a North West Clog Morris team from Ashville, North Carolina. Our tour was a bit of a ramble from an old people’s home to a rather run down shopping mall to a bank car park next to a church, with few spectators on a close and humid afternoon.

There was something lacking, perhaps our American cousins expect something rather different from touring. Things picked up a little when we arrived the Mole’s Eye Cafe, a slightly subterranean bar where beer was drunk and songs sung merrily. There was some difficulty prizing everyone out of the bar for another procession up and down a hundred yard length of Elliot Street where again there was a long wait before we wowed the crowd with our rendition of Happy Man.

Afterwards we were invited by Thames Valley International to join them at the Hilltop Grill where vast quantities of barbecued chicken and beans was made available before we all returned to the college, some to the bar and some to the contra dancing.

Sunday May 29th. A damp start and we were touring again, today in a fleet of splendidly yellow school buses. This time we were sharing the tour with the Commonwealth Morris men and Marlboro Morris and Sword and began in a deserted parking lot somewhere in the village of Putney.

We pursued this lonely activity for around an hour until the rain stopped then drove on out of town to the pub stop at McClimints where we enjoyed some singing and a rather hurried lunch. We were running a little late and so dashed on to dance in the middle of a pretty little village called Dummerstown where a band of massed pipe and tabor players joined Dave Moore on Beaux of London City.

The final spot where we were reunited with the other touring teams was at the rear of the courthouse in Newfane. This time after the obligatory procession we were early in the running order with our performance of Lads a Bunchem followed by Shepherds Away. While the other teams danced there was time to sit in the sunshine and enjoy the spectacle, pose for a team photograph, admire the picture postcard village and even sample a little Oregan Chai at the village store.

Back at the college we filed into the dining hall for a feast only a few marks short of magnificent which was followed by a series of clever skits which included a typically haphazard performance by those members of the team who dabbled in rapper. After that things seemed to be winding down a bit, so we did an impromptu workshop on Happy Man and then got some English country dancing going back in the hall which went on into the early hours thanks to a group of young fiddlers who gradually took over with their own selection of contra dances.

Monday May 30th. So that was it the ale was all over, a great weekend with as friendly a group of people as you could wish to meet. We had been impressed by the standard of dancing and particularly by the energy and enthusiasm of many of the young dancers but the whole approach to the public performance of morris seemed a little strange to us, hesitant, apologetic almost and practically alcohol free! After breakfast we said our goodbyes. Paul and his family were travelling east while the rest of us headed west. We cut through the Green Mountain National Forest to Bennington the on via Saratoga Springs and Amsterdam to Interstate 90 which we followed to the outskirts of Syracuse where we all met up on Waldorf Parkway at the home of Kate Woodle of Thornden Morris, our hosts for the evening.

They had planned a wonderful picnic for us on the sunny shore of Lake Onondaga where we ate, drank and danced as the sun went down. We finished the evening off by driving round the corner to a bar for pitchers of beer before dispersing to the homes of our hosts to bed down for the night.

Tuesday May 31st. We all met up at Nancy’s place for another brilliant breakfast before saying thanks and making fond farewells as we hit the trail so to speak for Le Roy. We arrived at David and Kate Walsh’s house on East Main Street in time for a little nibble of late lunch before getting changed and driving back into Rochester to meet with Snowbelt Morris, a small, in numbers, not stature, team, with loads of enthusiasm.

We danced first at the foot of skyscrapers in Washington Square before seeking out a quiet spot next to the Rundel Memorial Library then we headed for the big time with a lengthy walk across town to the Frontier Field Baseball Park. The bemused spectators lining up to buy their tickets for the game were treated to a fine display of Cotswold morris dancing that needed some explaining.

We were invited in to the game but a walk out along the Pont de Rennes to view the High Falls and wild turkeys and woodchucks beckoned followed by drinks and mountains of food at the Bru Bar, an enormously pleasant end to our tour.

Wednesday June 1st. This was scheduled as a day off for the team which saw most people heading for Niagara to thoroughly immerse themselves in the tourist experience and get wet. Verna and I headed for the historic buildings of the Genesee Country Village which we partially explored, what a terrific venue to dance at should we ever return. The evening saw us all assemble for a barbecue courtesy of our hosts, an event marked by good food and loads to drink, furniture assembly and late night outdoor torch lit Bingo, what else?

Thursday June 2nd. The team had always said they were keen to see rattlesnakes and indians. the former seemed in short supply but we spent a fascinating morning at the Ganondagon state Park which marked the site of a Seneca township destroyed by the French in 1687. Not being French the native Americans who ran the site were quite charming to us as we explored the reconstructed long house and shopped for keepsakes.

Folks dispersed again before meeting up that evening at Milestones: restaurant, music room and bar, where Fairport Convention were due to play. They were a little late in arriving but after setting up Chris Leslie came out to join us and played for several dances, the others: Rik Sanders and Simon Nichol also popped out to say hello, Dave Pegg having absented himself earlier in their tour. It was great to meet up and we all filed into the venue for the concert.

The promoters who clearly had not seen anything quite like us before were bowled over and invited us to dance again inside for the audience during the interval. A truly memorable night rounded off in Le Roy by much late night drinking and singing... of a kind.

Friday June 3rd. Time to say goodbye to David and Kate with many thanks for their kindness, tolerance and lavish hospitality then it was heads down for the long drive back eastwards to Boston.

We met on the outskirts of the city at Kimball Farm Ice Cream Factory, a popular Friday evening meeting place for ice cream addicts. Joining us were our generous hosts for the evening; Pinewoods Morris and the ever astonishing Orien Sword.

We danced turn and turn about for over a hour before driving to a community hall on the outskirts of a village called Acton for an out sized Chinese take away and beer. Later that night we dispersed to the families who were looking after us, some to bed, others onto further adventures not to be recorded here.

...... and that was it, Saturday saw us sight seeing round Boston and then gathering ourselves together to get on the conveyor belt which would eventually see us delivered safe and sound outside the Bell at 10.30 on Sunday morning, phew.
Millions and millions of thanks to all those who played host to us and helped us on our way, to Colin for an astonishing feat of organisation, to Keith for keeping it all together, to Tim Radford for being a fool and to the whole party for making the trip simply terrific.