Back in about ’91 I spent a week at the Country Dance and Song Society’s English and American Week at Pinewoods Camp. Tim Radford, then leader of the Adderbury Morris Men, was there teaching Adderbury dances. At the time I was on the Bassett Street Hounds in Syracuse and we were doing some Adderbury, so this was a pretty big deal for me. Never mind that the Adderbury Morris Men are not a traditional team; they started up about 1975, at which point there’d been no morris dancing in the village for close to a hundred years, other than a brief-lived revival team around the 1920s or so that did Headington dances (!). But they did go back to the collected source material to develop their own interpretation of the tradition, and they’ve created a number of new dances in the style.
At the time I thought it’d be nice to see the Adderbury Morris Men dancing, but it seemed kind of unlikely — Tim said they only performed a couple of times a year. I did write Tim in 1995 when Heather and I were getting ready for our honeymoon in England, but it turned out he was going to be in America at the time. Later on Tim moved to the US.
Well, I did see the Adderbury Morris Men dance last night. In Syracuse! Apparently they’re a more active team now than they were in ’91, and to celebrate their 30th anniversary they came over to attend the Marlboro Morris Ale in Vermont over the holiday weekend. Monday they drove to Syracuse to be guests of Thornden Morris for a night. We also were joined by a side of dancers from the Bassett Street Hounds (now a border team), some of whom had been in Michigan that morning, having gone to the Midwest Ale there. We danced and had a picnic dinner at Onondaga Lake Park, and then retired to The Retreat in Liverpool for beer, singing, and music playing.
It was great seeing them and their interpretation of what I regard as a seriously underrated morris repertoire. They even invited us — and a few befuddled spectators — to join them in their last dance of the night, “Shepherd’s Away”. They must have been inspiring, because I thought the Hounds and Thornden were dancing exceptionally well too.