Previous FARM Award Recipients
2019 Folk Tradition in the Midwest Lifetime Achievement Awardee – Susan Bertram
FARM was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic and heart-felt nominations we received for the Lifetime Achievement Award this year. In the case of multiple nominations it is up to the FARM board to chose the recipient. The nomination letters and testimonials for Susan Bertram were hard to deny. Read for yourself why we are delighted to be honoring her at FARM this year.
I am nominating Susan(Seglund)Bertram for the 2019 Folk Tradition in the Midwest Lifetime Award.
Susan is a founding member of the Hiawatha Music Co-op, a non- profit organization born in 1979 with the sole purpose of presenting, promoting, and preserving traditional music. Over the past 41 years, many founding members have moved away or have found other life tasks to attend to. Many Board members have come and gone. Susan is the sole founding member and regular Board Member who has been consistently present and dedicated to the Co-op since 1979. It is with this history in mind, that I send her story to your nominating committee for consideration of this great award.
In the late 1970’s a group of young folks attended the Wheatland Music Festival. Upon returning to the Upper Peninsula, these folks decided to start their own Festival in the Upper Peninsula. As most of them lived in Alger County in the Hiawatha National forest, the Hiawatha Music Co-op was named. These extraordinary young people negotiated non-profit paperwork, insurance, fundraising, bookings and the first Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival took place in 1979. Last year, we celebrated our 40th Festival!
Susan has been active as a Board member on twenty-six of our 41 Board of Directors. She has served as president, vice president or treasurer on nineteen Boards. She remained active as a mother of 3 young children during years that she was not on the Board. Susan has kept the music going. Her dedication to the Co-op and its mission is undeniable. There is not another person who is more responsible for the success of Hiawatha than Susan.
Susan is also one of the key committee members on our Concert & Event Committee. Hiawatha is more than a Festival. We also have music, performance, dance, and youth education events throughout the year. Most recently in 2015, Susan designed a monthly concert series that is held once a month at the local brewery, called Hiawatha On TAAP (traditional acoustic art performance), designing our annual Yooper Uke Week, and many other events that Hiawatha puts on during the year.
Susan has served as our Festival Token Coordinator for 41 years, in addition to serving on the Festival Committee. She co-chaired our 40th Festival Celebration Committee last year.
This is a thumbnail sketch of the significance of Susan Bertram’s contribution to the success and livelihood of the Hiawatha Music Co-op. I am hopeful that her contribution might be worthy of this award! I would be happy to provide additional details if necessary.
Susan Divine, Executive Director
Reference Letter #1
The greatest hope one can have for their family and friends is that our memories live on through them, are carried out by them, and are handed through their own family and friends. That our shared values, turned life lessons, can inform and transform the younger and future generations. Legacy.
I write this letter today as the President of the Board of Directors, a musician, a mother of two, and a legacy of Hiawatha Music Co-op. I didn’t think about what this truly meant until today. It felt normal to play folk, bluegrass, and blues on Saturday morning while our children played. It felt natural bring them to a festival I have attended since birth with my parents and brother and sister. It was instinctual to join the thousands of volunteers and serve on the board of directors. But none of it would have been so visceral, had it not been for Susan Bertram, my mother.
As I sit here, I cannot even grasp the words that describe how proud I am of what she has left for my children and their generations to come. Susan Bertram is the beacon of light that continually burns for traditional music, the Hiawatha Music Co-op, and the Hiawatha Music Festival.
In 2018, Hiawatha Music Co-op held its 40th annual traditional music festival. A genre of music that elsewhere, has continued to die out. Oral storytelling, contras and dances, and songs without sheets of music that can be played and handed down to hungry ears at festivals like Hiawatha Music Festival. Preservation of traditional music has become her life’s work.
To hold dedicated and tireless individuals to any company, no less a volunteer based non-profit, is a feat of its own. Susan has made it possible to forge partnerships to keep the arts alive in the Upper Peninsula. She made the brand well known for fostering the education, promotion, and preservation of traditional music, arts, and dance; the staples of the Hiawatha Music Co-op mission and vision. She was instrumental in moving the Co-op into 501c3 status, building a membership, moving the festival to larger venues and more accessible locations for families and the community, introducing intimate settings for musicians and attendees to interact, and over 40 years offering hundreds of opportunities for family friendly traditional music and arts events to further promote the mission of Hiawatha Music Co-op. The reach and breadth of Hiawatha Music Co-op thrives because of her tireless dedication to forming alliances.
In 2013, the Hiawatha Music Co-op almost lost their most dedicated and passionate volunteer and I almost lost my mother. She was flown to a hospital 8 hours away and stayed for 3 months where I prepared to say goodbye more than once. After surviving a very extreme and rare autoimmune disease, Susan was determined to persevere as if nothing happened and to carry on at festival that year. In true Susan fashion, she refused to let anyone know how sick she was. She didn’t want recognition that year for her dedication or a celebration of any kind. She refused to take a step back from her Hiawatha duties. She wanted to just experience life, her children, and her grandchildren at festival.
To think that I had almost lost that moment where I could tell her how proud I am of her and what she has gifted to us and the entire U.P. grieves me. I cannot let that moment slip by where she doesn’t know how proud I am of her and what she has done for this organization, traditional music preservation, the arts, and her family.
As a Legacy of one of the founders of Hiawatha Music Co-op, the youngest President to serve on the board of directors, Membership committee Chair, a 35 year attendee of the Hiawatha Music Festival, and her daughter, I implore you to help me honor my mother, Susan Bertram, with the Folk Alliance Region Midwest Lifetime Award.
Together in music,
Katrina Keough (Bertram)
Reference Letter #2
I have known Susan Bertram for over 40 years. I met her when I moved to the Upper Peninsula in 1976. I know her as a friend, neighbor and co-volunteer with the Hiawatha Music Coop. Susan and I were both founding members of Hiawatha in 1978 and have both stayed active with the organization since. In July 2018 we celebrated the 40th Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival in Marquette, Michigan. Susan was a key contributor to this anniversary festival, organizing and chairing the “40th Festival Celebration Committee”. I can’t document this, but I sincerely believe that over the course of the past 40 years, she has volunteered for just about every position available.
I moved away from the UP in 2001 and limited my involvement to running the main stage during the festival. Meanwhile Susan has been a driving force of the organization. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors and has graced the Board as President and a member off and on since the beginning. She has developed many programs that are central to Hiawatha’s core programming. Reading the criteria for this award, I am surprised we had never nominated her before!
I don’t know if you are familiar with Hiawatha, so let me expound. In the fall of 1978 about a dozen or so folks gathered in Deerton Michigan, determined to hold a traditional music festival inspired by the Wheatland Festival in Remus, Michigan. This small festival (under 4,000 attendees) resides in Marquette’s Tourist Park on the North side of Marquette. The pristine site has a campground, a swimming lake and plenty of trees for shade. Hiawatha runs four stages, a dance tent, children’s area, teen tent and is one of the finest traditional music family festivals in the country. Early on we were written up in “Sing Out” magazine for our unique, all volunteer festival. In 1984 Hiawatha received one of the largest grants from the Michigan Sesquicentennial Committee and in 1992 we were recognized by Concerned Citizens for the Arts in Michigan and received the “Governor’s Outstanding Arts Organization Award” from governor John Engler and a $10,000 grant from the Dayton/Hudson Foundation.
But Hiawatha is more than just its annual festival. From the beginning Hiawatha has provided a plethora of programming to promote traditional music in the central Upper Peninsula. This has included programs in Sr. Centers, the Marquette Prison, area schools as well as a student chapter at Northern Michigan University. Today concerts are held monthly and Hiawatha has brought in a variety of artists in residence to provide a variety of programming. I might also mention that for the past 5 years Blackrocks Brewery, a local Marquette brewery, has produced a special Hiawatha craft beer featuring the festival’s logo on the can. I doubt many traditional music non-profit organizations have similar bragging rights.
While the Upper Peninsula has been referred to as the redheaded stepchild of Michigan, Hiawatha embodies the spirit of the UP and become one of the premier traditional music organizations in the country and Susan has been a major contributor since the beginning. She continues to work tirelessly to make Hiawatha the best fest in the Midwest!
Thank you for considering Susan for your outstanding award.
With Unconditional Positive Regard
Tom Dummer, Past Board Member,Bubbaville, Inc.
6208 SW 32nd Ave
Portland, OR 97239
2019 Lantern Bearer Awardee
– Joan Hellman
Joan Hellmann was also nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award. The FARM board felt she was an excellent recipient of the Lantern Bearer Awards.
Here’s what Chuck Mitchell has to say about Joan.
“Joan Hellmann is a quiet, unassuming operative, the quintessential positive force. She. Gets. Things. Done. She has been a presence @ FARM since Christ was a corporal, which is even before I arrived. My direct connection with her FARM work is the Traditional Room, which ticks along like a conductor’s watch, producing an old time, golden musical glow and tasty snacks.”
Joan has been active in folk music and dance as a volunteer, dancer, and organizer since shortly after she moved to an apartment two blocks from The (old) Ark. She began volunteering there, and has remained involved (and within walking distance) to this day. In 1979, she was one of the founders of AACTMAD (Ann Arbor Community for Traditional Music and Dance), and served on the board for a couple of dozen years, including serving terms as both president and treasurer. Now she helps organize one of the monthly contra dances, and the annual Dancing in the Streets. She rarely meets a dance organizing committee she doesn’t want to join, including Michigan Dance Heritage Fall Weekend (since 1990) and CDSS Dance, Music, and Spice Camp (2015 -2018). She served on the board of the Country Dance and Song Society 1997-2003.
One of the most enjoyable volunteer activities has been FARM. Joan was at the table at the Folk Alliance Conference in Chicago in 1991, when FARM was initially conceived. She went home with the seed money donations and served as treasurer and registrar for several years. Since then, she has missed only one or two of the annual gatherings. Currently, she enjoys hosting a showcase room featuring traditional music.
It surprises Joan that her social life revolves around dancing, which she did not enjoy in high school. However, she discovered that contra, Scottish country, and English country dancing offer great traditional tunes and the sense of community that is common in folk circles. Though not a performer at heart, Joan has been known to participate in demonstrations of Scottish country and 1860’s contra dances. She loves that she can find groups to dance with throughout the US and around the world. In her other life, long ago, she was a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Michigan – Flint.
Joan wants to thank the Midnight Special for introducing her to folk music, and The Ark for traditionalizing her tastes.
2018 Folk Tradition in the Midwest Lifetime Achievement Awardees -DAVE & LINDA SIGLIN
Dave & Linda Siglin
Best known for his role as Program Director at one the country’s most venerable folk clubs, The Ark in Ann Arbor, Dave was a musician & folksinger first. Raised in Detroit until college brought him to Ann Arbor, where he found himself a gig at a small ‘house concert’ located at 1421 Hill St (the original Ark). It wasn’t long after that when he was offered the job of resident managers. Dave, Linda along with newborn, Anya moved in and the rest, as they say is history. You can read much more about the Ark and Dave & Linda’s role in its history at siglinmusicpreservationfund.org.
The Ark’s current managing director Marianne James has called the Siglins “the heartbeat of The Ark for 40 years” and said “We should all be so lucky if our life’s work could mean so much to so many people.“
Currently, The Ark—Ann Arbor’s premier listening room—hosts over three hundred shows a year in a comfortable four hundred seat space situated in the heart of one of America’s great university towns. 316 S. Main Street became the Ark’s permanent home as of December 2012 when it was purchased as a condominium. What’s truly remarkable about this unlikely success story is that none of it would be possible if not for the dedication and perseverance of a young married couple by the names of David and Linda Siglin.
David and Linda met as college students in the mid 1960s. Just before that, David tried his hand as a folksinger in California for a year before returning to do graduate work in theatre. Linda, inspired by her dad’s love of theatre and musicals, found herself in the same department at Eastern Michigan University. They met, they were engaged, and they were married within eight weeks.
The Ark, at that time, was located in a big blue house on Hill Street in Ann Arbor. It was created and supported by a partnership of four area churches as a kind of coffee house ministry in 1965. On January 1, 1969, they hired David and Linda, now with baby Anya in tow, to manage the place for $4,000 a year and a place to stay. They took the job as a temporary situation to get David through graduate school. This “temporary” situation ended with David’s retirement from the Ark in 2008.
In those thirty-nine years, David and Linda Siglin cultivated a community around a coffee house that was always struggling for survival. They inspired an army of volunteers, dedicated and willing to work—for free—to keep the dream of this musical, magical place alive. David and Linda nurtured hundreds of performers to grow and be their best in order to be worthy of that stage. They built audiences for local and touring musicians who went on to become household names in the world of folk and roots music. They also inspired dozens of dedicated organizers and fundraisers to help The Ark change locations twice before finding its current, permanent home on Main Street.
FARM is proud to celebrate David and Linda Siglin with an award that illuminates a lifetime of work that has enriched and enhanced generations of folk music fans and performers in Michigan, in the Midwest, and beyond.
2018 Lantern Bearer Awardee
– CHUCK MITCHELL
Chuck grew up near Detroit Michigan, sang in the folk clubs in the 60’s and married a gal named Joni. In his one-man show, Mitchell combines seasoned skills as an actor, singer and guitarist with a broad and sophisticated selection of material. Mitchell’s credits include A Prairie Home Companion and repertory theater in the US and the UK. He has played Harold Hill in The Music Man, Woody in Woody Guthrie’s American Song, and Stephen Foster in Mr. Foster & Mr. Twain.
Chuck Mitchell grew up in farm country north of Detroit, and he thought of becoming a forest ranger like Aldo Leopold. Instead, he got a degree in English and drama. After a brief time pursuing but not capturing an acting career in New York, Mitchell was drafted. He learned to drive a tank and use an assortment of weapons. Then he spent a peaceful year in Korea as a reporter for Stars & Stripes and as a hoofer in musical comedy reviews, entertaining the troops.
Back in Detroit, Mitchell became a writer for the Great Cities Project, a public school experiment bankrolled by the Ford Foundation to find better ways to educate “culturally deprived” children. A program called Head Start was one.
Mitchell started singing in Detroit folk clubs and saloons in 1962. In Toronto, on his first out of town gig, he met a boney blonde songwriter named Joni Anderson, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They married, and as a duo Chuck and Joni Mitchell played the coffeehouse circuit and gin rummy, until she was 115,463 points ahead. They got divorced in 1968.
The folk clubs faded, and Mitchell moved on to college and arts council residencies. He lived in Coconut Grove, Santa Monica, and Greeley. In the eighties, he wandered back to the Heartland, and settled in a tall brick house overlooking the Mississippi, built by a riverboat captain in 1879.
Mitchell’s credits include A Prairie Home Companion and repertory theater in the US and the UK. He has played Harold Hill in The Music Man, Woody in Woody Guthrie’s American Song, and Stephen Foster in Mr. Foster & Mr. Twain. Oh, and Carl Sandburg.
His one man cabaret folk show combines his skills as an actor, singer and guitarist. He sings songs by G. Clark, F. Eaglesmith, C. Mitchell, B. J. Shaver, M. P. Smith, and C. Wheeler, and cabaret songs by Brecht and Weil — “Mack the Knife” and “Bilbao” — and whimsical songs by Flanders & Swann — “The Gnu” and “The Hippopotamus”. He roves the room singing “Freeborn Man” by Ewan McColl. He weaves poetry by Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot and G.M. Hopkins into his shows. Oh, and Carl Sandburg.
A renaissance man? Well, he’s old enough.
Look for Chuck’s songs on iTunes and CDBaby. On YouTube, enter “Chuck Mitchell Sings”.
“Is it Mitchell speaking, or some other poet? It is no small feat either to engage the customers in a sing along and walk off stage and up the steps to the balcony and leave them all singing to themselves.” (Detroit Free Press)
Past recipients of the Folk Tradition in the Midwest Lifetime Award include:
Dave & Linda Siglin (2018), Dave Moore (2017) Sally Potter (2016), Ann & Will Schmid (2015), Eric Peltoniemi (2014), Jim Blum (2013), Cathy Barton and Dave Para (2012), Bob Blackman (2011), Maggie Ferguson (2009), David Tamulevich (2008), Juel Ulven (2007), Margaret Nelson (2006), Dave Humphreys (2005), Glen & Judi Morningstar (2004), Stan Werbin (2003), Rich Warren (2002), Larry Bruner (2001), Art Thieme (2000)
Past recipients of the Lantern Bearer Award include:
Chuck Mitchell (2018), Andy Cohen (2017), Sue Kessell (2016), Matt Watroba (2015), Mark Dvorak (2013), Andrew Calhoun (2012), Lou & Peter Berryman (2011), Susan Urban and Phil Cooper (2009), Chris McIntosh & Alvin McGovern (2008), Joel Mabus (2006)