Students, Faculty Join to Celebrate Traditional Folk Music

June 06, 2014

The Prairie Fireflies performing at Barn Dance

by Ashley Wolfgang '14

A new music group on the Knox College campus has been bringing together students and faculty to celebrate their love for traditional folk music and dance.

The group traces its beginnings to Professor Jon Wagner's first-year preceptorial class, Ancestral Journeys, during Fall Term 2013, explains first-year student McLeod Sumner. "Somehow it came up that we both had an interest in traditional music, and one day when we had a class trip to Green Oaks (biological field station) we took our instruments along and jammed along with a few other people."

Soon after, Wagner expressed interest in putting together a musical group that would play at barn dances and various other events. Soon, Assistant Professor of Anthropology William Hope on guitar, Josh Hosmer-Quint '13 on mandolin, Ryan Paulus '14 on bass, Maebh Sutton '17 on flute and whistle,Martha Brown '17 at the Barn Dance and Robin Delaquess '17 on accordion were all on board as "The Prairie Fireflies." (Photo above: The Prairie Fireflies play. Photo at right: Martha Brown '17 at a barn dance. Photo below: Members of the Knox Community come together for traditional dance.) 

"The main goal of our group is to hold barn dances," says Sumner.

"They're a lot of fun for everyone involved and they generate an infectious energy. A personal value of mine, and reason for doing these dances, is that I want music to be as participatory as possible -- music is the most fun for me when lots of people take part."

"Often music these days is a crowd listening to one person or a band onstage, but with barn dances there is no ‘crowd' because everybody is involved, either playing or dancing," Sumner adds. "I have such an interest in traditional music in large part because it's dance-based."

The group gets together regularly to practice traditional tunes.

The group also performed at the Green Oaks barn dance at the end of Spring Term 2014, and hopes to host more dances throughout the next academic year.

"When you get down to it, music is about people coming together to share a good time," explains Sumner. "We want to bring that to the Knox campus and have as many people participate as possible."

Members of the Knox Community come together for traditional dance.