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"Old Folks Concert" poster

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The "Old Folks Concert" was a fundraising show put together in February and March of 1891 to purchase a motor for the organ of the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Although the show was led by one of the professional troupes that conducted Old Folks concerts throughout the country, the chorus and a few of the principle singers were locally recruited. Most of the local singers' costumes came from their own family's heirlooms, detailed in a newspaper account as "crinolines, balloon sleeves, baby waists, powdered puffs?ruffled shirts, knickerbockers, knee-buckles and shoe-buckles, wigs with queues, [and] cocked hats." The songs were from the early 19th century or earlier, and ranged from "I'm the King o'er the Land and the Sea" to "The Old Man's Head is Bald." The climax was the appearance of "George and Martha Washington," two local children dressed as the famous couple. The hall was reported to have been crowded and the concert grossed more than three hundred dollars. The idea of an "Old Folks" concert, one that mixed older music, slapstick, costumes and some history was created by "Father" Robert H. Kemp (1820-1897) of Massachusetts, who gave his first Old Folks style concert in December, 1855. The image of the older woman in the bonnet in the center of this poster was something of a trademark for the group.


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