Newport String Project presents: “Swing yer partner!”
One way to kick up fun for the whole family is with an old-time barn dance. And that’s just what’s happening Sunday afternoon, November 22 from 2 to 4, at the Boys and Girls Club on Church Street.
Fiddle champ EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks and the Rusty Pickup String Band will provide the authentic hoedown music for this free event. And master dance caller Jim Hicks is coming all the way from Illinois to lead the dances.
This get-together is presented by the Newport String Project, in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County and Common Fence Music. A highlight of the afternoon will be a performance by the young fiddlers and violists from the Newport String Project.
Sunday’s dance will mark the third appearance in Newport for this lively band and caller, and each previous time the hall was packed with families having a toe-tapping good time.
The dance caller, Jim Hicks, explains that his job is to teach each dance so that everyone knows what to do before the music starts.
“When you pair music with simple family-friendly dances,” says Hicks, “it’s a formula for a whole lot of merriment.”
Hicks adds that most of the dances he teaches are traditional. They harken back to America’s pioneer days when families would end a week of chores and farmwork by gathering with neighbors at a homemade hoedown.
Fiddler Holmes-Hicks grew up playing for barn dances in the Midwest. “There’s nothing like an old-timey dance to bring people together,” says Holmes-Hicks, co-director of the Newport String Project.
“I love to watch the dancers respond with their feet and their energy when I strike up a lively tune,” Hicks says. “This music has been passed down through generations of fiddlers with just that intent–to inspire a roomful of people of all ages to join a fun activity that everyone can do, no matter the age or experience.”