Sunday, April 17, 2011


This weekend I attended the NEFFA Festival, also known as the New England Folk Festival.  I love the music, the dancing, and the many friends I see there each year.  In the early 1990's when I moved back to New England, attending NEFFA became a spring ritual.

I've often wondered whether my parents attended NEFFA. They loved to square dance, and very possibly may have attended square dances at NEFFA.  I don't recall any mention of "Neffa" during my childhood, but perhaps the acronym N.E.F.F.A. for the New England Folk Festival Association wasn't used as a word back then.  I do recall frequent mention of favorite square dance callers  (e.g., Ralph Page, Ted Sannella) and musicians (Joe Perkins and his orchestra). The names Angie Taylor, Connie Taylor, and Marianne Taylor were also mentioned.  In the 1960's I attended a few dance classes taught by Marianne.

Nancy and Angie
On Saturday I met Nancy Lob and discovered that she had attended the same square dances in Salem that I had attended as a child.  Her husband Walter Lob --another name I recognize-- played fiddle for Ralph Page for 20 years. I told her I recalled seeing a photo* of her husband.  Nancy said he's now 92 and playing viola weekly in a chamber music group.

When I mentioned my parents as "Nick and Cut Nichols," she instantly recognized the names.  "You are the daughter of Nick and Cut Nichols?!?" she exclaimed with much excitement.    She immediately introduced me to Angela Taylor, who was sitting at a nearby vending table, selling hand-sewn items.

Meeting Angie was quite a treat. She is a member of the 2011 Festival Committee, and has helped with every Festival for 67 years!   Angie definitely recognized my parents' nicknames. She didn't know if they had attended NEFFA festivals, but knew them.  As we talked, some of Angie's family stopped by.  I have known and danced with her nieces and some of her grandnieces and nephews, but had not met the legendary Angie until now.  For more about Angela Taylor and her history with NEFFA, read this 2002 newsletter article (pdf): Lifetime award to Angela Taylor
Nancy and Andy (Angie Taylor's niece, daughter of Marianne Taylor)
Dancing to "Marianne Taylor's Favorite Dances" April 2011

NEFFA history:
"The History of the New England Folk Festival 1944-1994" published by NEFFA during for its 50th Anniversary Festival.   See  text online.

*Looking for the photo of Walter, I discovered that I had already posted it in this blog last year, when I wrote about music lessons.


Katley said...

I went to NEFFA once, many years ago, when the festival was held at the Natick High School. I enjoyed it very much, especially the Balkan events. I had no idea the festival had been in existence since before I was born :)
Unfortunately I haven't been able to make it there since. Maybe next year.

Sandy said...

My cousin Stuart Brewster just called in response to this blog entry. He remembers Angie Taylor. He danced at the old YWCA in Boston, with Ralph Page calling. Later he danced in Cambridge with Ted Sannella. He and his brothers David and Dudley Brewster went every Friday to the dance in Cambridge. Dud went to NEFFA, but Stuart never did.
Stuart remembers dancing in Rockport in the summer: getting hot dancing, then swimming afterwards in the COLD water.