A venture back into history takes two entirely different turns this month. The Calhoun County Historical Society offers a program on the current projects of the Piedmont Historical Society, while the Knox Concert Series is bringing Dublin Irish Dance to the Anniston Performing Arts Center on March 15.

The projects keeping members of the Piedmont Historical Society busy these days are the preservation of an 1888 Victorian-style house and a display space for the town’s artifacts.

Dan Freeman, president of the group, will give an update on the society’s progress on March 13 at 5:20 p.m. in the Ayers Room of the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County. There is a meet-and-greet mixer at 5 p.m. The Calhoun County society invites everyone to come.

When the Roberts House was slated for demolition in 2015, the Piedmont society raised $55,000 to pay to relocate it and buy the property where it would be located, according to an article in the Piedmont Journal.

Besides the goal of replacing the porches and other improvements, the society’s members began collecting donated items for the home’s interior to possibly turn it into a museum. Making it into a bed-and-breakfast has also been mentioned.

The house was named for Ruby Roberts, the last person to live in the house. The Roberts family has a long record of service to Piedmont. Items relating to the family will find an important place in the rooms, Piedmont society members have said.

‘Stepping Out’ the theme of Irish dance performance

A step dance, for which Irish dancers are known, is defined as the rapid movement of the feet and lower legs while the rest of the body remains rigid. It is similar to clogging.

Step dancing is only one element of Ireland’s rich legacy we will learn about when the Dublin Irish Dance troupe performs at the Anniston Performing Arts Center on March 15 at 7:30 p.m., presented by the Knox Concert Series.

Individual tickets are available by calling Mandi King at 256-235-2553 or online at knoxconcertseries.org. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $50 for reserved seating.

The company’s performance features a traditional Irish band, a vocalist and dancers who will bring a little bit of Ireland to Anniston with a great bit of passion for their traditions.

LornaLee and Ed Sellers of Jacksonville visited Ireland recently and recommend it as a travel destination — especially because of the people there. “Music is a big part of their life,” LornaLee said. “Families and friends gather at night to hear music, read poems and have fun. They are joyful and good-humored, that’s their nature. But they are keenly attuned to their history.”

According to the Sellerses, the Irish are proud of their identity and like to share it. “They love a good story and to tell a good story,” LornaLee said. According to this couple, the audience will probably feel like welcomed guests at this gathering of the Irish, as the Sellerses did when LornaLee took out her fiddle and joined the musicians.

Irish dance tunes include music for reels (often accompanied by fiddle), polkas, marches, waltzes and jigs (a fast dance in triple time).

Today in America and Ireland, the music is played in concert settings. Celtic Woman has taken the stage for Knox in 2012 and 2015. (The Celts were the original inhabitants of Ireland and Wales.) Five Irish Tenors was a Knox attraction in 2016, as was Spirit of the Dance in 2005.

The ensemble we will see this month is composed of world championship Irish step dancers, according to Knox. The choreographer, Anthony Fallon, is the former principal dancer of Riverdance, the Irish extravaganza that significantly increased the popularity of Irish cultural expression.

The Irish arrived in the United States in the mid-1800s to escape the effects of the Irish potato famine. The music by master fiddlers, pipers, flutists and accordionists fit well into the American lifestyle, but the language and other cultural aspects did not. Irish immigration increased and decreased through the years, and demand for Irish traditional music wavered as well, according to “American Musical Traditions” edited by Jeff Todd Titon and Bob Carlin.

However, a renewal of interest began in the 1960s, especially with Irish ballads by the Irish-born Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. The Irish Musicians Associations, an organized effort to promote Irish players, was effective both in Ireland and in our country.

Music held Irish immigrants together after their arrival in America. As we will see at the concert, it is still a driving force today.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.

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