Feb. 11 2009 12:00 AM

Song leader looks forward to applying glue at singing fest


For Ed Trickett, it all started on a school bus. The weeklong drive from his home in Washington to summer camp in New Mexico was all he needed to realize his connection with folk music as a kid. “The buses would always break down and something unanticipated would happen to us, and we needed to band together,” Trickett said during a recent interview. “The camp itself was a very cohesive place. Music was the glue that held a lot of things together.”

Music is also the glue behind the Mid-Winter Singing Festival’s many years of success.

The seventh annual community sing, which is expected to draw about 400 people to the Hannah Community Center this weekend, is the first for folk artists Trickett and Christine Lavin, who will join returning song leader Mark Dvorak on Saturday night. Friday’s program is led by Lavin, Joel Mabus, and Frank Youngman. Trickett said he is pleased to be part of an event that represents everything he loves about the genre. “This kind of occasion is all about the spirit that has made folk music so attractive to me over the decades,” he said. “That kind of setting creates a wonderful kind of community, and it puts people on the same page in terms of the topics, emotions and issues people face. There’s a nice sense of all of us being in it together.”

Sally Potter, founder and music director of the Mid- Winter Singing Festival, said when looking for new song leaders, the most important thing to think about is, ”Do they get people singing?” “Youve got to get people who love songs for the value of the song, and youve got to get people who can song lead, because theyre not performing,” she said. “Theyre song leading. Theyre not trying to be louder or better than anybody. Theyre just the leader.”

Trickett said he loves events like this, which don’t require ability, just a passion for music. “There’s something very moving about the human voice, especially when a lot of people are singing together,” he said.

A psychology professor at the University of Illinois by day and renowned folk artist by night, Trickett said his jobs overlap in many ways. “I’m a community psychologist,” he said. “I’m interested in, and spend time understanding, how immigrants and refugee kids adjust to being in the United States and how public schools affect the life chances of those refugee kids. A part of that business involves understanding people who come from different circumstances and folk songs are filled with that stuff.”

Trickett said the songs he will lead at the festival are a mix of well-known classics and songs that embody his initial connection with folk music. However, lyric books will be provided to ensure everyone can sing-along.

- Stephanie Goldberg

Mid-Winter Singing Festival

Feb. 6 & 7 8 p.m. Friday 7 p.m. Saturday Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road, East Lansing $10-$15 Tickets available at Elderly Instruments, Archives Books and East Lansing Food Co-op www.singingfestival.com