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Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her

Related threads:
Seek recording: H. Schneyer-Somber,Sacred,& Silly (9)
Where can I hear Helen Schneyer? (19)
Happy! – Jan 10 (Lovelace / Schneyer) (4)
Obit: Helen Schneyer, (1921-2005) (82)


GaryD 06 Feb 00 - 08:49 PM
Susan A-R 06 Feb 00 - 08:54 PM
GaryD 06 Feb 00 - 08:57 PM
Sandy Paton 06 Feb 00 - 10:18 PM
KathWestra 07 Feb 00 - 12:24 PM
Joan 07 Feb 00 - 04:25 PM
Jeri 07 Feb 00 - 04:50 PM
kendall 07 Feb 00 - 07:23 PM
Susan A-R 07 Feb 00 - 09:01 PM
Joan 07 Feb 00 - 09:59 PM
Rick Fielding 07 Feb 00 - 10:53 PM
GaryD 08 Feb 00 - 12:25 AM
Barbara 08 Feb 00 - 12:36 AM
catspaw49 08 Feb 00 - 12:47 AM
kendall 08 Feb 00 - 08:39 AM
Joan 08 Feb 00 - 12:23 PM
Joan 08 Feb 00 - 12:25 PM
Sandy Paton 08 Feb 00 - 12:29 PM
Joan 08 Feb 00 - 12:31 PM
Barbara 08 Feb 00 - 12:37 PM
kendall 08 Feb 00 - 01:19 PM
Art Thieme 08 Feb 00 - 09:08 PM
Marymac90 08 Feb 00 - 11:22 PM
Fortunato 09 Feb 00 - 10:40 AM
kendall 09 Feb 00 - 10:53 AM
GaryD 09 Feb 00 - 06:52 PM
Songster Bob 10 Feb 00 - 12:17 AM
Fortunato 10 Feb 00 - 08:53 AM
Hollowfox 10 Feb 00 - 02:38 PM
kendall 10 Feb 00 - 03:40 PM
Joan 10 Feb 00 - 09:15 PM
KathWestra 18 Feb 00 - 03:48 PM
Sandy Paton 18 Feb 00 - 06:38 PM
Bev and Jerry 19 Feb 00 - 01:37 AM
GUEST,GaryD 02 Mar 00 - 11:22 PM
jeffp 03 Mar 00 - 09:43 AM
KathWestra 03 Mar 00 - 11:25 AM
Mark Cohen 04 Mar 00 - 12:39 AM
GUEST,GaryD 23 Mar 00 - 11:52 PM
Sandy Paton 24 Mar 00 - 12:16 AM
kendall 24 Mar 00 - 08:23 AM
Fortunato 24 Mar 00 - 08:40 AM
KathWestra 24 Mar 00 - 05:35 PM
mmb 30 Oct 02 - 12:16 AM
Sandy Paton 30 Oct 02 - 02:04 AM
cetmst 30 Oct 02 - 07:25 AM
dick greenhaus 30 Oct 02 - 11:09 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 30 Oct 02 - 05:23 PM
kendall 30 Oct 02 - 07:38 PM
Nancy King 30 Oct 02 - 08:20 PM
Bill D 30 Oct 02 - 08:35 PM
Nancy King 30 Oct 02 - 08:46 PM
mmb 30 Oct 02 - 11:09 PM
Nancy King 31 Oct 02 - 11:03 AM
KathWestra 31 Oct 02 - 03:01 PM
mmb 31 Oct 02 - 08:29 PM
Bill D 28 Jun 03 - 01:25 PM
Stewart 28 Jun 03 - 04:15 PM
harpgirl 17 Jul 05 - 09:05 PM
dick greenhaus 17 Jul 05 - 11:02 PM
kendall 18 Jul 05 - 01:04 PM
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Subject: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: GaryD
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 08:49 PM

I am interested in information about an artist named Helen Schneyer..Heard her on Minnesota Public Radio & the Prairie Home Companion.. looking for words to one of her songs "Please Mr Conductor.." She sings other topical & Gospel songs like Beulah Land...anybody out there know her? beside lyrics, I'd like to know more about her. Any input would be great.. thanks..Gary


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Susan A-R
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 08:54 PM

Helen's now from my neck of the woods (Vermont) and she is a wonderful lady, and knows the most amazing range of songs, from dozens of old mining balads and ancient balads (Sheath and Kinfe, that sort of thing) to things now being written, such as DavidDobson's I was Right, I was Wrong All Along (anyone who knows that would earn my undying grattitude by sending me the lyrids, or perhaps I'll call Helen meself.) Folks like Wally MacNow and Sandy Paton and Joan Sprung who occasionally post here know more than I do, but she is one neat lady, and still singing and doing great stuff.

Susan A-R


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: GaryD
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 08:57 PM

Great..thanks, Susan.. Still want to hear more.. I do love her unique style & resonant voice....


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 10:18 PM

Helen has one self-produced CD and two cassettes available from Folk-Legacy. Look at the "index" of our web site Click here for FOLK-LEGACY. Hope that works, I'm a cyber-klutz.

Helen hails from Buffalo, originally. Became the hostess with the mostest of the Washington, DC, folk scene while working as a psychiatric social worker and counselor. Her powerful voice (and profound love of traditional folksongs as well as Victorian "hideobilia") enables her to handle a wide range of material -- from sea shanties to ballads to black gospel hymns. She's one hellova gal!

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: KathWestra
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 12:24 PM

I got to know Helen at the Pick'n and Sing'n Gather'n's "Gottagetgone" weekend at Fox Hollow (Petersburg, NY) in the early 70s, where she was one of the featured performers. When I first moved to the WAshington, DC, area in February 1976, I lived in Helen Schneyer's back bedroom in Kensington, Md., for about nine months. It was a wonderful time, musically and personally. Helen has remained a fast friend since, although I don't see her nearly as often as I like since she "retired" to Plainfield, Vermont, a dozen years ago. She is both a musical and a personal role model -- the person I'd like to be when I'M 79. Yup, she's 79 years young. Sings all over the place. Throws great parties. Travels. Sings wonderfully. Wears cool clothes and about sixteen pounds of Navajo turquoise and silver jewelry wherever she goes. Oh, and did I mention she sings? I had the pleasure of accompanying her (cello & vocals) on her latest CD, "Somber, Sacred, and Silly," and singing on choruses of her second Folk-Legacy recording. Helen is a true inspiration, and if you don't have all three recordings, you should order them from Sandy. And if you ever get a chance to hear Helen live, don't miss it. She is a powerful musical presence whose passionate singing never fails to move me. Kathy


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Joan
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 04:25 PM

I live about 10 minutes from Helen, and can heartily ditto all the stuff that Kathy and Susan and Sandy wrote above. I've just started up my printer and intend to copy this thread on paper and give it to Helen, since she and I and Barbara Carns will be traveling to Maine together on Friday. She doesn't do computers, but can read hard copy quite nicely for one her age, and when it's expedient to behave like a Golden Ager, can dodder pathetically at will. Amazing! Joan


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 04:50 PM

Kath, you and I must have been at the same Gottagetgone (or was it a Gottagetaway?) because that's where I first heard Helen Schneyer. (She blew me away.) I bought "Somber, Sacred and Silly" a while ago, and was listening to it on the way to the Fri night session last week. I managed to learn the baby-pinching song on the drive. (Be afraid...)


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: kendall
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 07:23 PM

Helen can also match wits with me..I love her dearly, but, dont tell her. It puts her off her game.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Susan A-R
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 09:01 PM

Ok Joan, so when can yo9u, Barbara, Wally, Berta, Helen and Ben get together to sing?? I'll do the food. (and volunteer Wally's house again?:>) )

Susan A-R


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Joan
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 09:59 PM

Susan, Yes. So many songs and not enough singing. Joan


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 10:53 PM

Helen is another one of those superb artists I might never have become familiar with, had I not met Sandy and Caroline.(Joan is another..I learned a song from one of her albums half an hour after hearing it)

I'm not sure whether it's the vocal quality itself, or the sheer emotion behind it but there have been VERY few singers I've heard who could be actually frightening in their intensity. I really don't have the words to describe this feeling but be assured I mean it in an extremely positive way. Others that affected me in the same way that Helen did: John Herald, Alfred Karnes, (on "Called to the foreign field") Mavis Staples (live, but not on record) and Bob Dylan. (on his first album only)

I truly regret that I've never seen her in person.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: GaryD
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 12:25 AM

Wow..I've GOT to get those recordings.. you've piqued my curiousity!... Thanks.. Gary


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Barbara
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 12:36 AM

I remember her from a Getaway back in the seventies. She has this presence, statuesque, white hair piled high(then, anyway) and the wonderful voice you hear and she takes no guff from anyone, so they all bring her samples to test out the theory. I recall the guys who sang behind her (Jonathan and..?)baahing when she sang "Feed my Sheep" and singing "fried liver" for "wide river" in One more River to Cross.
I also recall Gordon Bok, Anne Mayo Muir and Ed Trickett singing in concert a song -- Yarrow -- that they learned from her and introducing it by saying, "We're going to do this song that we learned from Helen, and we'd do it like her, but there are only three of us."
That kind of gives you the flavor.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: catspaw49
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 12:47 AM

Wonderful thread folks...and Barbara, that IS the best comment anyone has written here. It really speaks volumes, no pun intended.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: kendall
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 08:39 AM

I will also be at that gathering in Maine this weekend, and, I can hardly wait to see all three of you, Barbara, Joan and Helen. It will be great fun from Helens opening insult.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Joan
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 12:23 PM

Ken...This is beginning to sound like war, with both sides primed and loaded for elephant. Since Helen will have read your comment about the opening volley of insults, I'm sure she'll have her ammunition ready and her powder dry. I, for one, will keep clear of the battlefield and cheer from the sidelines. Joan


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Joan
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 12:25 PM

Ken...This is beginning to sound like war, with both sides primed and loaded for elephant. Since Helen will have read your comment about the opening volley of insults, I'm sure she'll have her ammunition ready and her powder dry. I, for one, will keep clear of the battlefield and sit quietly in the spectator section. Joan


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 12:29 PM

Play fair, Joan. You gotta cheer for both sides, but watch out for the flying mashed potatoes. Helen's a killer with a loaded spoon, I'm told. Have fun!

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Joan
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 12:31 PM

Oops...somehow my post post went through twice twice. Joan


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Barbara
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 12:37 PM

And alas, Maine is just a bit too far from my home in Oregon for me to pop over for the weekend, kendall. Send me a tape. (grin)
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: kendall
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 01:19 PM

If all wars were fought the way Helen and I go at it, there would be no tombstones.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 09:08 PM

...so why, when I close my eyes, are we all in that old church in Hartford---and then I blink and it's Camp Friedman??

I can almost hear it, kids!

Love,

Art


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Marymac90
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 11:22 PM

Did anybody mention the way Helen has with Victorian schmaltz, like "Heaven will Protect the working Girl" and "She's more to be pitied than Censured"? I love that stuff almost as much as I love what she does with gospel, like "Beulah Land", "Are you Washed in the Blood?", and "Sheep, sheep, do you know the road?"

Ahhh, the frustration.... I can sing about as LOUD as she does, if only I could sing about 25% as WELL as she does...

Mary McCaffrey


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Fortunato
Date: 09 Feb 00 - 10:40 AM

Please bring my greetings to Helen, those of you who will be seeing her. Please ask her this question for me:

"What's in your nose?" And give her a gentle, friendly pinch.

Cheers, Fortunato


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: kendall
Date: 09 Feb 00 - 10:53 AM

thats a good way to end it all. Someone else..not me.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: GaryD
Date: 09 Feb 00 - 06:52 PM

I'm sort of stunned by your response.. from what you've written, I'd give my eye teeth (or at least my molars) to see her in person.. By the way, I thought I was at least not a biblical illiterate, but I'm unfamiliar with "Beulah Land"..any enlightenment? ...Gary


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Songster Bob
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 12:17 AM

Let's see.... where to start? Dropping in on Helen -- which we did regularly, at all hours -- meant getting immediately involved in whatever was going on, whether it was a meal, a song session, or house-cleaning. She had a dog, Nigel, a Springer spaniel with the wettest dewlaps in captivity, and a penchant for getting into interesting predicaments. DC-area folkies mostly considered her and her house a refuge, a place that felt like home, but with a no-nonsense mama, for sure.

The songs, the visiting folkies, the intense interest in the lore, the instruments (though Helen only plays piano, she tolerated just about everything musical, with certain local exceptions). I think it was the "Young Tradition," or maybe John and Tony, who started annotating their songs as being "HSSK #29," as in "Helen Schneyer's Soup Kitchen #29," as if she were a contemporary of Child.

The singers doing the bleating on "Feed My Sheep" (mentioned above) were most likely Johnathan Eberhardt and Andy Wallace, with possibly Mike Rivers as well. The song about "Beulah Land" is "Dwelling in Beulah Land," from her Folk Legacy LP.

I wish she still lived "down here," and also wish it weren't so far to go to visit her.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Fortunato
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 08:53 AM

Imagine a house where you could hear the Watersons and Mike Seeger and Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard and God knows who else all in one night while drinking a glass of Peter the Giant's strange brews. Bruce Hutton playing on the porch looking like a fugitive from 1935 and and Helen's daughter, Riki, and I clogging to his old time tunes. They were halcyon days, and no mistake.

Thanks for the memories. Fortunato


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Hollowfox
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 02:38 PM

You all forgot to mention how she's the only human on Earth who can attend a camping festival (it's spelled Gottagetgon, by the way), or an outdoor festival famous for rain and mud, dressed entirely in white. I think she simply forbade the mud to come near her. Two telephone stories: (1) Legend has it that someone called her in the middle of the night (when she lived in Washington). She groggily answered the phone, and somebody said, "Helen, can you give us an "A"?" She automatically took out a tuning fork, tapped it and touched it to the phone to transmit the tone. "Gee, thanks." then they hung up without identifying themselves. (2) I know this one is true. Before I met her,I was booking the Gottagetgon. I lived in Albany NY at the time. I wanted to book someone who was staying with her at the time, so I called her house. (Keep in mind that this happened in winter, after a large snowstorm) When she answered the phone, I identified myself as calling from Albany, NY and she immediately interrupted "My God, are you all right?!?" The mere facts that she had no idea who I was, didn't even know my name, and that she was some few hundred miles away were irrelevant. I love the folk community. Anybody that sees her, tell her I said "Hi". Mary (Linebaugh) Hermance


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: kendall
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 03:40 PM

This lady has more guts than a fiddle string factory. I cant imagine anyone else who would dare sneak up on Gordon Bok while he was asleep, and drop a snowball down inside his nightshirt.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Joan
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 09:15 PM

Tomorrow morning as I'm driving to Maine through the weather that's predicted to fall on us, Helen gets to read all these comments. I told her about this thread on the phone, casually mentioning Kendall's challenge, and she's sharpening her barbs. (Of course, Barb will be with us--Carns, that is. She's sharp already). Gary, I'm sure you've perceived by now that Helen is not only a great singer, but a Personality with pizzaz and style. Now that you've got a glimpse of her through the eyes of old friends and admirers of her music, do find a way to listen to her sing. Joan


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: KathWestra
Date: 18 Feb 00 - 03:48 PM

Mary Linebaugh Hermance -- Send me a personal message and tell me where the heck you are now. Last I heard, it was Ohio.

And by the way, glad to see you on the 'Cat! Mary, along with Tom and Terri Theyson, befriended me in Albany around the same time I met Helen at the Gottagetgon. Mary was one of the steadfast regulars of the Eighth Step Coffeehouse, notorious book hound, and a bright light in my memories of those days. Among her other accomplishments, she taught me to use chopsticks.

By the way, Mary, Helen has always claimed that she got as dirty at Fox Hollow as the rest of us -- that wearing white in the mud just made her LOOK cleaner.

Kathy Westra


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 18 Feb 00 - 06:38 PM

C'mon, guys. She wore white just to accentuate her virginal appearance!

Caroline once played a cut from Helen's first Folk-Legacy recording, a shanty like "Roll the Woodpile Down," for a visiting newbie. "Tell me what you think of this artist," she suggested. "Well," came the reply, "First of all, I think he's black." Sandy


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Subject: Lyr Add: PLEASE MISTER CONDUCTOR^^
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 19 Feb 00 - 01:37 AM

Here are the lyrics to "Please Mister Conductor". It was recorded by Vernon Dalhart (Victor) and Ernest Stoneman (Okeh) in 1925 and by Bradley Kincaid (Melotone) in 1931. It was written by J. Fred Helf and E.P. Moran and Copyrighted in 1898 by Howley, Haviland & Co. We learned it from Ray and Ina Patterson at the 1979 San Diego Folk Festival.

Although it's correct name is "Please Mister Conductor", we've always called it "Lighting Express" and so do a lot of other people.

Don't read these lyrics unless you have a box of Kleenex handy!

LIGHTNING EXPRESS

1. The Lightning Express from the depot so grand had just pulled out on its way
All the passengers who were on board seemed to be happy and gay
Except a young lad in a seat by himself reading a letter he had
'Twas plain to be seen from the tears in his eyes that the contents of it made him sad

2. The stern old conductor he passed through the car taking tickets from everyone there
Finally reached the little boy's side and gruffly demanded his fare
"I have no ticket", the little boy said, "But I'll pay you back some day"
"I'll have to put you off next station", he said but he stopped when he heard the boy say

chorus:

"Please, mister conductor, don't put me off of your train
For the best friend I have in this whole wide world is waiting for me in vain
Expected to die any moment and may not live through the day
I want to bid mother goodbye, sir, before God takes her away"

3. As mother was ailing before I left home and needed a doctor's care
I came to the city employment to seek but could not find any work there
This morning a letter from sister arrived, come home mother's dying did say
And that is the reason I'm anxious to ride though I haven't the money to pay

chorus

4. A little girl in a seat close by said, "To put that boy off is a shame."
So taking his hat a collection she made and soon paid his way on the train
"I'm obliged to you miss for your kindness to me", "Your welcome, I'm sure, never fear"
Each time the conductor passed through the car these words seemed to ring in his ear

chorus

We think Helen didn't do the third verse as it's rather obscure. We just learned it from Faith Petric about a month ago and its addition makes the story much more complete.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: GUEST,GaryD
Date: 02 Mar 00 - 11:22 PM

Wow...Thank you guys immensely for the great tribute to your friend and entertainer.. I sure wish I had a chance to meet up with her..but I don't suppose she get's up Central MN Way.. Also, It's been a long time since I checked in here at the Cat..I've got to take a little more time for myself to visit with you all.. Thanks Again...Gary


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: jeffp
Date: 03 Mar 00 - 09:43 AM

Helen will be teaching at Vocal Week at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, W.Va. this summer. She will be teaching two classes - Ballads and Broadsides, and Gospel from the 1800s and 1900s. Augusta has a web site at www.augustaheritage.com. BTW, I was really surprised to see this thread when it came up because I went to school with Helen's daughter Riki. I didn't know her well, but she was an unforgettable presence.

jeffp


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: KathWestra
Date: 03 Mar 00 - 11:25 AM

Riki, too, is an extraordinary singer (not to mention painter, jewelry maker, fiddle player...). Helen's son Josh, who lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., is a fine singer as well -- just had his first solo opera role in The Marriage of Figaro in January.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 04 Mar 00 - 12:39 AM

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread. I don't know Helen, but now I feel like I do. This is one of those threads that should be pointed to when people wonder what the Mudcat is all about, or complain about it.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: GUEST,GaryD
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 11:52 PM

I Heartily agree..give my regards to her.. I'm am awestruck by what you all said by her.. Tell her I'll be getting those recordings..keep others coming.. Thanks, Gary (P.S...sorry it took so long for me to get back..just got to upgrade this dinosaur machine...)


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 12:16 AM

Everyone should note that Helen will be at the Champlain Valley Festival this year.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: kendall
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 08:23 AM

She who must not be missed.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Fortunato
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 08:40 AM

It's a pity we can't get Helen on line here at Mudcat, Kathy Westra, Sandy Paton, et al. If we could get her involved then all that wonderful knowledge and spirit would flow outward through the 'cat. Imagine. I don't suppose she'd be interested?

Fortunato/Chance


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: KathWestra
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 05:35 PM

It would be great -- but she doesn't have a computer. Joan Sprung has shared this thread with Helen, however, and she was most touched by all the reminiscences.

Chance,I'm going to try to book Helen for an FSGW monthly program next season, having gotten conned er um I mean nominated into running (unopposed)for program chair for the coming year. Deja vu all over again. So at least all of us lucky 'Catters in the D.C. area can get to hear her again. Also, the Champlain Valley festival (see its own thread) is a terrific weekend -- worth going for Helen and lots of other great folks. Kathy


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: mmb
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 12:16 AM

'Scuse me, but I'd like to revive this thread for a very special reason. During the hours this past summer while so many of us held our breath as rescue workers drilled their way to those trapped miners, I promised myself no more procrastinating on a promise I made myself years ago, called Helen, and flew north for a long weekend of collecting some of the mining songs, hymns, and nonsense stuff that she's never recorded.
    When she asked why I wanted to do it, I responded that while I may not have a long future of singing ahead, my 27-year-old daughter recently blew me away doing one of Helen's spirituals, and is really coming into her own as an a capella song leader. So, thought I, if I could tape Helen and pass the songs along to my daughter, it would carry the music to a nuther whole generation.
    So we had an absolutely fantastic weekend, and the tapes I brought back are replete with her comments, as well as her singing (and occasional piano), and the frequent milling about of her very friendly dog and four cats! One of the highlights was Sunday brunch with a group of Helen's friends who've also settled in the area, including Norman Kennedy.
    And as far as her owning a computer, when I asked if she had an email address, she responded, "I don't even own a typewriter!" She is a real gem!


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 02:04 AM

Brief commercial insert here. We'll have Helen's two Folk-Legacy recordings available as "custom CDs" in a couple of weeks. Getting the master discs done right now. Sorry it has taken us so long to acquire the technology, but better late than never,as my grandma used to say.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: cetmst
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 07:25 AM

Sandy - your Folk-Legacy catalogue is near the top of my Bookmarks.
I have Helen Schneyer's 1974 and 1981 LP's and the 1992 Straight Arrow cassette 'Sacred, Somber and Silly'. Look forward to updating to CD's. Her renditions are more emotionally stirring than anyone else in my collection.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 11:09 AM

Well, "Sacred, Somber and Silly" )which I've heard referred to as "Scared, Sober and Silly" is available on CD. From CAMSCO, of course.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 05:23 PM

This summer the whole Well Tempered String Band was at Augusta during Vocal Week and took Helen's class (think it was called Songs of the Victorian Era) and were treated to 90 minutes of Helen singing, reminscing, and teaching us some of her songs (like Beulah Land!) in harmony, with her piano accompaniment. It was WONDERFUL!!!!!

at least one of the high (?) points was her describing a concert where she was singing Washed in the Blood (one of my favorite songs, but I learned it from DaCosta Woltz) and came to the verse "Throw aside these garments that are stained with sin" and was bombarded by underwear. . . and I said "I WAS THERE! Indian Neck 1970" and we grinned at each other. . . she said "Will you give me a certificate saying I'm telling the truth when I tell this story??!!"

sorry about all the punctuation but one tends to use lots of exclamation points when talking about Helen.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: kendall
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 07:38 PM

I've heard many renditions of Lonesome Robin, but, Helen does it like no other. It even brought me to tears. Get that CD folks, you wont be sorry.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Nancy King
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 08:20 PM

mmb, I hope you'll share your recordings and research with us!

Jonathan Eberhart (who called her "Duchess") and Andy Wallace, in addition to singing incorrect rhyming words in Helen's ear, also used to make up stories about phrases in the songs. One in particular I recall referred to the song "The Shoofly," and the line about "since they condemned the old slope at the furnace…" and involved a sad and outrageously politically incorrect tale about an elderly Chinese gentleman. The fact that Helen could share the jokes, and still sing the songs as powerfully as ever says a lot about what a remarkable performer she is.

We longtime Folklore Society of Greater Washington types are fortunate to have known Helen for many years. I think all of us have been influenced by her. After the Sunday evening concert at this year's FSGW Getaway, I was talking with some folks about how well FSGW audiences sing along, and how we are quite well known for that among performers who want good audience participation (and some who don't). Dick Rodgers leaned over and said, "Ma Schneyer used to beat us."

It's true, you know. We learned from the best.

Cheers, Nancy


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 08:35 PM

Ma Schenyer was a treasure....her rendition of "Moonlight" (Gonna layyyyyy, this body down!) sends chills up my spine....and then she'd do some bouncy little gospel number and allow us to breathe again.

She was one of the first FSGW people I met...(serving sandwiches to performers at the National Folk Festival about 1974-5)..and she treated me as if I had been there forever. I was fortunate to know her..


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Nancy King
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 08:46 PM

Bill, she still IS a treasure!


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: mmb
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 11:09 PM

It is so heartwarming to see so many others still singing Helen's praises, both literally and figuratively!

Kendall, I think it was during Fox Hollow '75 that one of the a capella workshops was held just sitting in a circle in the meadow. I had just learned Lonesome Robin that year and sang it during the workshop. My mother had passed away that same year, and the line "You're wonderin' what Marian's found to do that's better than comin' to see you . . ." was especially powerful for me. Imagine my feeling to look across the circle as I finished and see Helen in tears!

Pete, I think that garment-tossing was at least a couple years later than '70. I wasn't introduced to the Eighth Step until 71-72, and from thence to Fox Hollow and Indian Neck. I was one of the co-conspirators who cooked up that whole scheme. And Helen still talks about being pelted with our "garments that (were) stainedd with sin" !

Nancy, I'll check with Helen about sharing the actual tapes. My little recorder is far from professional, and she may not be comfortable with indiscriminate distribution.

Not Helen-related, Speaking of areas where people do and don't sing along: Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen make a stop in my part of FL every winter (wise folk, they!). A couple years ago, two Albany-area friends were sailing down the Gulf Coast and happened to hit the area at the same time as Steve and Cindy's performance. The three of us surprised them by sitting right up front at their concert, and did our usual PSG-style singing-along . . . to the frowns and turned heads of audience members who had paid to hear the performers, thank you very much! After the break, when one of the other paying customers asked us to please tone down our enthusiasm, we restrained ourselves, which was immensely frustrating - - and distracting.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Nancy King
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 11:03 AM

mmb, sorry, I didn't really mean to suggest "indiscriminaate distribution" of your tapes. It's just some of the songs may not have been on her albums, and it would be a shame if they were lost! I hope your daughter gets to hear Helen in person if she hasn't already.

Cheers, Nancy


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: KathWestra
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 03:01 PM

Well, Helen called just this morning, and she's in fine fettle, enthusiastic (at nearly 82) about singing with daughter Riki (an incredible artist-painter as well as singer) and son Josh (who has become an opera singer, among other accomplishments), planning dinner/singing parties at her home in Vermont, and making (lovingly)rude remarks about Kendall and other friends.

My first glimpse of Helen was at a very rainy Fox Hollow weekend in upstate New York. She was wearing one of her "uniforms" of pure white -- flowing skirt, elegant blouse -- accented with 47 pounds of silver and turquose jewelry. I commented to her that I couldn't believe how elegant and clean she looked next to the muddy, grubby rest of us. She replied that she was just as dirty as anyone, but that wearing white made her LOOK cleaner. I thought at the time that this was an approach worth trying.

I was permanently changed (for the good, by the way) by spending 9 months as a resident of Helen's upstairs back room when I first came to DC in February of 1976. The music was wonderful--I'll never forget the monthly singarounds anchored by the powerful singing of Helen, Riki, Andy Wallace, and Jonathan Eberhart. The humorous incidents will keep me smiling for a lifetime (like the time John Cage called repeatedly to ask her to perform in his special bicentennial composition and Helen simply wouldn't believe that he had really called -- thought we were playing a joke on her. Once she finally called him back, she ended up performing with him and major symphony orchestras all over the U.S. and Europe). And many folks I first met in Helen's livingroom when they came through that summer for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival are now dear friends (Roy Harris, the first of that parade, is in DC this week and we were reminiscing about Helen just last night).

Helen has always been my role model -- for grabbing life and living it to the fullest, for showing what it's like to sing from the heart, for showing that one can get older with great panache and humor, and for being a steadfast friend to her friends. We're all lucky to have her in our world. Kathy


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: mmb
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 08:29 PM

Thanks, Nancy.
    Turns out my reservations about "indiscriminate distribution" were very much at odds with Helen's personal philosophy of keeping the music alive! I know because I just got off the phone with her.
    She and I have agreed that when I've cataloged the tapes I will post the list, and will indicate those I am permitted to send to those who request them. The exceptions will be songs she has already recorded, so as not to violate any copyright agreements, and a few that she has not recorded, but does not own the rights to record, and therefore does not want them distributed. I hope this makes sense.
    BIG CAVEAT: The recording was done on an itsy-bitsy Panasonic walkman-type recorder with an internal microphone. It used to produce fairly acceptable recordings, but there is a lot of "noise" on these tapes. I've managed to listen through it, but it may be torture for anyone else with half an ear to listen to.   I was telling this to Helen, and in her incredible humility, she said "I wouldn't want to pass along a bad recording of a song." I hastened to reassure her that any criticism would be of my recorder's sound quality, and not the quality of her singing.
    She was delighted to know that this thread is re-activated, and I told her I will print the thread from my first posting and send it off to her tomorrow. So if anyone sees this tonight and wants to add a note directly to Helen, or email your friends to do so, here's your chance! I will print at approximately 8:30 AM so it goes out before Noon, and she should have it by Tuesday. Right (Write) On!!!


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Bill D
Date: 28 Jun 03 - 01:25 PM

...so?...what has transpired with this? Enquiring (and greedy) minds want to know..


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: Stewart
Date: 28 Jun 03 - 04:15 PM

Thanks for re-activating this interesting thread. I enjoyed listening to her years ago on Garrison Keilor's PHC. As Garrison used to say... "When Helen sings a song, it stays sung!"

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: harpgirl
Date: 17 Jul 05 - 09:05 PM


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 17 Jul 05 - 11:02 PM

She left big, empty shoes.


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Subject: RE: Help: Helen Schneyer!..Tell me about her
From: kendall
Date: 18 Jul 05 - 01:04 PM

I told a couple of stories about Helen on the obit thread for anyone interested.


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