Celia Ramsay

Vocalist, Dance Caller, Songwriter, Teacher

Sixty Years and Still Learning New Tricks!

I am writing this on my birthday, and hoo-boy, it's a big 'un! Today I turn 60, and there's definitely some creaky-crunchy stuff going on, but hey - I'm glad to be on the planet, and I know that I'm in good company!

 Bill Downs, Celia, Stan Dye and Vern Flock

Bill Downs, Celia, Stan Dye and Vern Flock

Birthdays with a zero in the one's place tend to provide cause for reflection. As you can see from this photo of me when I was sixTEEN years old, I've been singing for a long time, but there was a sizable gap in my musical life from about 26 till after I had kids. In fact, I was singing to our daughter when Kent admitted he'd never heard me sing before. I was content to sing lullabies for a while because kids and a fledgling business made it hard to indulge any musical desires. But one night, Kent nudged me to go to an open mic, and it was there that I met Stan Dye and Vern Flock, who asked me to sing in their Bluegrass band with Bill Downs in Napa. I was about 35 years old, then. I had quite an awakening of old yearnings to sing and perform, and those guys helped me bcome confident enough to do that. I honestly think if it weren't for them and some nudging from dance pal, Carlo Calabi, I wouldn't have had the nerve to start calling dances, let alone get in front of a microphone to sing again.

Anyway, I'm here to tell you that not only does life continue to present beauty and challenges, but with four CD projects in five years (with number five under way) I continue to learn more about music and dance, teaching and performing, and all along the way I am building beautiful friendships. There's so much here to play with - and I'm glad to be in the game with all of you!

SPEAKING OF PERFORMANCES

You may still be in a position to join Fortunate Strangers at the Moneky House on Saturday, April 15, at 7:30pm, and the suggested donation is $20. Just come to 1638 University Avenue (near Sacramento) in Berkeley - doors will open at 7:00pm. I'm pretty sure we'll have space for you, but if you want to be sure, you can buy a ticket!

WHY LEARN TO DANCE?

I've been so excited about singing gigs lately, that aside from a recent mention of Family Dances, I've given short shrift to Contra Dance. And having worked as a caller for fifteen years, I feel I should do better. So: why might you want to elarn to danc? There's a veritable laundry list of answers! First the physical reasons: dancing increases stamina, coordination, balance, exercises your heart, releases endorphins, and helps you sleep. There are emotional reasons: dancing creates and maintains community, builds individual confidence, and provides sheer pleasure in freedom of movement. And finally, there are the social reasons: you get to hang out with people, you cooperate with humor, you learn compassion for other dancers and how to be fair & kind to yourself, and you have fun. Oh, and there's this, too (watch the video):

The Place the Songs Come From

My travel-hungry husband has us planning our next trip abroad, and I voted for a trip to Scotland! "Where in Scotland?" said he, and I replied, "To the places where the songs come from!"

YEARS AGO, we needed to Get Out of Dodge, so Kent, the kids, and I went on a Laura Ingalls Wilder "literary pilgrimage". We'd read all of her books backwards and forwards, and thought it would be interesting to visit the places where Laura had lived. That trip still ranks among our favorites, because we saw places we'd never have reason to visit otherwise - and they were rewarding and fascinating!

SO MY BIG IDEA

for this trip, is to visit places in northeast Scotland that are named in the songs I love to sing, and record video of me singing the songs in each of them. This "song itinerary" will definitely bring us to small, un-touristed (and hopefully interesting) locations, but I'm excited that I will get to explore the places the songs come from.

SIXTEEN SOULS SANG SIX SONGS SWEETLY

What a wonderful workshop we had on March 4th! Libby McLaren and I had a blast and by all reports, everyone else did, too! Some people have asked us to next do a more advanced workshop, so we'll work on making that happen. We have to do some schedule work to find out when we can do the next one, but likely it will be in early summer. Folks at the workshop who'd already bought a copy of Carmony reported that they love it! You can find ordering information below. 

SPEAKING OF COOL SINGING, Libby and her partner in life and music, Robin Flower, have a show coming up at the Freight and Salvage.It's on Saturday, April 8, and you won't want to miss it, because Robin and Libby have a wonderful, joyous energy when they perform that just makes you smile. Oh, and I'll be there singing backup harmonies along with Mary Ford and Danny Carnahan, and with Peter Maund on percussion, and Jan Martinelli on bass.

FORTUNATE STRANGERS PLAYED TO A FULL HOUSE!

Wow! Our Carson City gig was delightfully full and commensurately fun. (It also has netted us a sweet gig at the Nevada Governor's Mansion in November! More about that when I have more to tell.) Filling the Brewery Arts Center was no small thing, because on the day before the concert there was serious flooding in the Carson Valley. But that didn't keep anyone away and folks heartily joined in on our sing-alongs. Joe's voice was in fine form and he was great on flute and whistles, and Kathy's rock solid guitar playing kept everything tied together with a bow. Honestly, the unsung guitarists of the world deserve a major shout-out. They provide unfailing rhythm when they aren't shining on lead parts, and for the vocalists and other instruments, they're the bedrock of the band. Our Kathy is all of that for us, and it's a tall job!

NEXT UP, FORTUNATE STRANGERS is set to perform at Berkeley's own Monkey House on Saturday, April 15.Look for a separate reminder, closer to the date, for details!