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Postscripts: Mourning the day the music died at the Stonington Farmers Market | Guest Columns

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For those who frequent the historic Stonington Farmers Market on Saturday mornings to shop, chat, showcase dogs and all three, especially when the market is in Stonington during the winter months. Now that I’ve moved inside the cavernous Velvet Mill, I’ve had two senses for a long time. The touchstones patrons welcomed as they stepped into the market’s fringes: the sweet smell of freshly popped flavored popcorn from the stalls, which are actually on the outskirts of the market, giving the market a country feel for a decade. Fiddle and banjo music brought to you.

no more.

The music got quieter as this winter season began.

The decision was made by the Stonington Village Improvement Association, which oversees the market. The music of Mystic’s Craig Edwards and AJ Hocking has been a part of music for so long that it seems questionable to me why.

Beth Black, co-chair of SVIA’s Farmers Market Commission, had to say the following in response to my email about what I called the music ban:

“The decision not to continue with music for the indoor market was not taken lightly. “We have received feedback from multiple vendors that using traditional music indoors (in our current space) creates unacceptable levels of noise and makes it difficult to interact with customers. Some of our customers have found that the music makes it difficult to converse with vendors and friends.

“Many customers enjoy the music, but there is certainly a difference between a customer being in the space for 15 minutes and a vendor being in the space for more than three hours. With some private companies working there, it’s getting busier and noisier, and we need to make the space safe and welcoming for our vendors. We will reconsider our decision and may introduce alternative music that is softer and easier to listen to for three hours.”

I replied that neither the musicians nor I could understand why the music was being silenced right now, and told her the phrase, “We need to make the space safe and welcoming for vendors.”

she replied:

“This is not about cancellation culture, but rather to meet the needs of our vendors and customers. SVIA management has considered feedback from vendors and customers and made the decision to withhold music at this time. Again, we are not trying to please everyone.”

I’ve been a regular at both the indoor and outdoor markets (since 1997) for many years, and rely on sitting around the vendors and listening to Edwards and Hocking folk music. Now Unmistakably acoustic, it offers discreet, fun music and, best of all, it’s not as discordant as the bustling hustle and bustle of a Saturday morning market.

A well-known local musician with a long association with Mystic Seaport and the annual Sea Music Festival he conducted, Edwards holds a degree in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, and he is one of the traditional musicians in whom he performs. I have actively discussed the origins of the song with market patrons. .

Here is his reaction to what happened afterwards:

“First off, we’ve been playing almost regularly since at least April 2013, 10 years. We’ve been attending the indoor market every week since September 2014, so the last 8 years. No. The instruments are fiddle and banjo, which are distinct but not particularly loud.The music we play has its roots in the music of rural farming communities and has been passed down through generations. It’s the social music we’ve listened to and danced to over the years, and we feel part of a community that loves and supports the Stonington Farmers Market.

“One of our great joys is seeing the reaction of young children to our music. , often danced happily in bursts.Older folks would stop by and tell us how our music reminded them of the early days.People often ask about instruments, but over the years Many have taken fiddle and banjo lessons over the years, and people make their approval clear through generous tips.If our music really makes people uneasy, they put money in the case?

“In the space currently occupied by the market, the farmers whose booths are closest to the indoor spots we have been to over the last few years are all passionate about our music and we have had a warm relationship with them over the years. We have regular customers who stop and listen and thank us week after week, and if there are other sources of noise (especially if the business is playing recorded music) they are certainly mine It would collide with our music and create a harsh acoustic environment.The proper response from SVIA would be to point out that we are playing live acoustic music for the pleasure of our customers and criticize us. rather than demanding that they refrain from playing recorded music during the opening hours of the market.”

Yes, I gave Edwards a lot of space in this piece. I am prejudiced. I want my music back.

Stephen Throsberg lives in Stonington.he may reach [email protected].

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