Article Details

Jerry Reed April 17, 2004

 

 

Bob Brundage – OK, hi again. This is Bob Brundage and today is the 17th of April, 2004 and today we’re having the great pleasure of talking to Jerry Reed from Florida. As you all know Jerry is currently the Executive Secretary of Callerlab and happens to be here in Albuquerque for a dance last night and another one tonight. He and his wife, Del are enjoying our beautiful Albuquerque weather – overcast today but be that as it may. So Jerry, we have a lot to talk about – we want to talk about Callerlab, we want to talk ARTS but for the time being why don’t we start as I usually do by talking about your background. Why don’t you let us know where you were born and brought up and –

 

Jerry Reed – OK, Let’s see. I was born in November of ‘42 in Carnie, Nebraska, just about in the middle of the state. We lived in a small little town along the Union Pacific Railroad. I joined the Navy when I was about 20 years old and retired from the Navy after 21 years then went to work for Lockheed in California – actually I hired on in Austin, Texas – Lockheed Missiles In Space. From there I actually moved to California – lived about 4 years there, 3 years I guess and then moved to Florida to continue working with Lockheed and retired from Lockheed in, must have been December of 1999. I had already been selected as Assistant Executive Director of Callerlab and George White passed away in June of ’99. The plan was that I would take over as Executive Director at the 2000 Callerlab convention but unfortunately, George passed away in June of 1999 so I became the Executive Director at that time. Of course I was still working full time at Lockheed. So, Georgie and Dar Johnson and the rest of the home office staff in Rochester really pulled the weight through that year until December when I retired and then we opened an office in Florida.

 

BB – Oh yes, OK. So what about some of your early experiences – did you come from a musical family?

 

JR – No, no not really. I did a little bit of singing in high school – I was a member of the boys glee club and the mixed chorus but no great aspirations there. Mostly I was involved with sports. It was a small, little town and a small, little school so we only had like 33 people in my graduating class so it was small – a small Nebraska town but no big musical background at all.

 

BB – OK. So what was your introduction to square dancing?

 

JR – Actually I was stationed in the Navy in the Philippines in the early 60’s and got involved with square dancing at that time – learned to square dance and left the Philippines – must have been about 1964. Actually, because of my job and everything I dropped out of square dancing until about the mid 1970’s and then got interesting in taking a class again – got involved and became intrigued with the calling end of it and then went back to the Philippines in ’76. There was a small square dance club there and got interested and actually started calling in 1978.

 

BB – I see. Well, that was my next question – your introduction to calling.

 

JR – Right. Like I say, I was in the Philippines as all of or most of the overseas areas are isolated areas and the caller that was there learned to call while he was there so he wasn't’ a whole lot of help to me but there was a Philippino gentleman, Chuck Carlos who had been calling about 20 years. I got together with him and he was really able to help me a lot as far as appreciating the music and staying on time with the music and the beat of the music and pitch and then key and all that kind of stuff.

 

BB – OK. Then who were some of your mentors along the way outside of this Mr. Carlos?

 

JR – Well actually I wrote to Jim Mayo while I was in the process of trying to learn how to call and I explained my situation and asked Jim for any guidance that he might be able to give me. He wrote back a very informative letter and gave me some pointers of getting started and I still have that letter framed on my wall in my office because it meant so much to me. Jim to this day still uses that story in his caller’s schools about this fellow that wrote to him from the  Philippines and asking, ”Here I am in the Philippines and how do I learn to call?” It took Jim a long time to figure out how to answer this letter. So, I also got ahold of Bill Peter’s book – “The Other Side of the Mic” – I actually had a copy of Jay King’s book but it was so complicated that I did not understand – I got through about the first chapter and that was all I was able to make.

 

BB – Laughs – I did the same thing. How about caller’s schools? Did you ever make ever get them –

 

JR – Yeah, well while I was in the Philippines I applied to Sets In Order for a scholarship to Bob Osgood, He gave me a scholarship so when I returned to the states in 1981 I went to his school with Jim Mayo and Bill Peters in Tipton, Georgia – it was a week long school and very informative – had a very good time there – learned a lot.

 

BB – Right. Well, one of the questions I’ve been asking is, “What do you find appealing about calling?”

 

JR – Many, many things. When I first started I was intrigued – I like mathematics and I equated calling to mathematics. You start with zero and you do some adds and subtractions, some multiplies and divides and then you come back to zero and everybody is back home with their original partners. So that’s really what got me intrigued in the beginning. But, over the years I have rally come to appreciate the teaching of new dancers and the experience that bringing dancing to new folks is really a rewarding experience. To see the changes in people as they come to class and then as they begin to learn to dance. It’s really a rewarding experience.

 

BB – With your busy schedule do you have any time for teaching now?

 

JR – Yes. In fact we’ve got a class scheduled to start the 1st weekend in May when we get back which is about 2 or 3 weeks from now. We’re really looking forward to that.

 

BB – I’m sure. Well, (coughs) excuse me, how about other caller’s associations?

 

JR – Let’s see, I’ve moved around a lot having been in the Navy – I’ve moved about 5 or 6 times so I’ve been involved with several of the caller’s associations. Initially I was involved with the caller’s association in the Philippines. Then back to Virginia – got involved with the Tidewater Area, Norfolk Area Caller’s Association. Also the Capital Area Caller’s Association in Austin, Texas when I moved there. Then back to Florida and I was involved with the Central Florida Caller’s Association. Of course a member of the Florida Caller’s Association and of course Callerlab also.

 

BB – Of course, they have a big festival there in Florida

 

JR – Yeah, they do. There’s the State Festival, that’s the one I’m involved with. There’s the Sunshine Festival which is a paid staff that’s  not really part of the Florida Caller’s Association activity but the state convention each year is sponsored by the 3 organizations – the dancer’s association, the Florida Caller’s Association and then the round dancers.

 

BB – Well, that’s great. How about National conventions?

 

JR – I was involved with the sounding of – I think I was called Vice-Chairman of something or other, Sound I believe it was, working with John and Linda Saunders on the National Convention that was in Orlando several years ago. Other than that only involved as far as calling at the Nationals and, of course now with Callerlab we have a vendor booth and are part of the Showcase of Ideas. We attend all of the National Conventions.

 

BB – Have you made any recordings at all Jerry?

 

JR – Yeah, I was fortunate enough to get hooked up with Dick Waibel and Buckskin and Rawhide Records. I recorded about 3 songs I guess so far. I did country Roads – the John Denver song which is very popular – I think Dick has told me that they’ve had to repress it a couple of times. Santa Domingo I’ve done and then I did a Patsy Cline     song – my very first one. I just recently completed a singalong – a John Denver Country Roads singalong. It’s not been released yet – I’m hoping – maybe Dick is waiting to release it for the National Convention.

 

BB – That’s great. Well I know your connection – your service to Callerlab – you’re responsible for writing quite a bit outside of that have you done any composing?

 

JR – Yeah. Before I got into the Executive Director business at Callerlab I did quite a bit of writing as far as articles for Direction, articles in National Convention, articles in our national magazine, AmericanSquareDancing and also the local Florida publication, Bow and Swing – I’ve written quite a few articles for them also.

 

BB – Right. That’s quite a popular magazine.

 

JR – I’m quite proud of my involvement with the Standard Applications Documents that were produced by Calleralab and also the Choreographic Guidelines which is – it’s kind of a training manual – not

kind of, it is a training manual for newer callers and people who are involved with training callers. We tried to write it in such a way that it wasn’t overly technical so the new caller could understand what was being written and to help the new callers get started – like I say – callers who are helping callers get started.

 

BB – Well, that’s great. Well with your vast experience and interesting life in square dancing do you have any regrets? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

 

JR – No, not really. I look back on all the tens of thousands of miles that I put in driving to dances back and forth. I remember I was in Norfolk, Virginia I called for 4 clubs. Two of them were on the Eastern Shore so, 1 of them was 100 miles from Virginia Beach and the other was 75 miles one way and I can remember back only maybe 2 or 3 times driving home from one of those dances saying, “What the heck am I doing driving 200 miles to call a dance?” That was only a couple times - all the rest of the time was – it has been a very rewarding experience.

 

BB – Right. I had the same type experience. I lived in south- western Connecticut and I had 2 clubs in Massachusetts and it was the same thing – about 100 miles each way. Traveling up there 3 times a week – well, a little serious question before we get into Callerlab, “Where do you think square dancing has been and where do you think it might be going?”

 

JR – Well, that’s really a tough question because as we all are aware in 2004 the talk is that square dancing is on the way down and in many areas it is. We have gotten a lot of reports though of places where square dancing is in fact growing - people in the classes are increasing.

Places that are using the multi-cycle program or the multi-start program as many people refer to it are having success and those clubs are growing. I’ve tried to take a look at the numbers over the years and Jim Mayo had done a wonderful history of square dancing.  He talks about the loss of dancers and it appears to me and I don’t know – I don’t have any facts or figures to back this up – but it appears that the dropout rate has not changed. In the days when we got 15 or 20 squares for a class we would have a 25% dropout fairly regularly and then another 25%. We didn’t notice it as much because we started with a much bigger number. These days if we start with 3 squares and we lose half of them it’s a dramatic change. We do notice it more. I feel that there is a lot of work to do to bring square dancing to the non- dancers. The dynamics, not the dynamics of the activity but the dynamics of society has changed so much over the last 20 or 30 years that the things that we used to do to get people into square dancing just don’t work any more. In those days, the 60’s and early 70’s – your experience has been the same I’m sure where you just put up a flyer and talk to people and you open the door for your class and you’ve got 5 or 10 squares of people that show up. But these days the dynamics of the family has changed so much, the dynamics of social time, recreation time, computers, video games, multi-screen theatres - everything has really changed so much that in order to get our message to the non-dancers that the activity is full of social benefits and physical benefits and health benefits – to get that message to the non dancer and then to convince them that this is an activity that they should try – that’s our big challenge right now.

 

BB – Right. What’s your opinion on – a lot of folks are thinking that we’ve made square dancing too complicated?

 

JR – I think – when I got involved with square dancing it was 1978 when I started calling – of course, Callerlab had been around for about 4 years at that time – there was a lot of talk about that time about All Position Dancing and Dance By Definition and I was isolated from that for the 1st couple of years because I was in the Philippines.  I was away from the main body of square dancing. So, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of that but what I read and heard and talked to other people my understanding is that that was true – there were some callers who would revel in the fact that they could break down the floor and that they could come up with choreography that was very, very difficult and that the dancers would have trouble dancing. But I’ve seen over the past 5 years for sure, perhaps even longer than that is that - Callerlab at least – most of the members I would hope are moving away from that attitude – that we need to make square dancing complicated and moving toward the idea that we need to make square dancing less complicated, more fun, bring smooth dancing and enjoyment to the dancers rather than the challenge.

 

BB – Right. Well, I’m sure you’re familiar with the fact that contra dance people seem to be drawing good crowds, etc. – what’s your thoughts along that line?

 

JR – I’ve attended some of those and I’ve noticed that contra dancers are able to draw people who come to the dance – they might come to the dance and, for the first half hour go through a series of introductions and then when the main part of the dance begins then they’re able to dance along. There are certainly fewer figures used. The beauty of contra dancing is that the dancers are able to move to the music and certainly accomplished contra dancers are able to move to the music and the flow and the ebb of the music. I think it’s a less complex dance – it’s also less structured than Modern Western Square Dancing.

 

BB – Very true. Well, you have a good friend up in Denver, Cal Campbell who along with Bob Howell and Ken – he lives here in Albuquerque – the name escapes me now – wrote a nice book about, “Dancing For Busy People”. Do you see any hope for that type of program? It’s sort of like your Community Dance Program. 

 

JR – It is. When the Community Dance Program was first introduced it was a set of about 25 moves. The idea at the time was that this program of less moves – a fewer number of moves would be introduced and could be taught – 25 moves could be taught in probably less than 10 lessons. That concept never did really catch on. There was a lot of effort put into it. I know Cal, Calvin Campbell put a lot of effort into trying to get it to work as did other callers throughout the country and it just didn’t work the way they had anticipated or hoped that it would. The emphasis on that whole program, that CDP program, the Community Dance Program has shifted from a program of a certain number of lessons – a certain number of moves into more of the square dance party atmosphere where we introduce square dancing or have square dance parties  – sometimes for people who have never danced at all – and introduced them to Modern Western Square Dancing as well as circle dances or line dances or mixers and just have a party of it. That seems to be the focus now of the CDP Committee which had actually changed it’s name now to the Committee For Community Dance. ‘Dancing For busy People’ is really along those lines also – line dances, circle dances, mixers and simple square dances.

 

BB – Triples

 

JR – Yes. Triples – all those – lines and contras – they include contras. A master at that is Greg Anderson of course out of Colorado Springs and Mike Seastrom also does a very good job.

 

BB – Right, right. I know Cal has been running, prior to the Callerlab Convention his special thing on One Night Stands, etc. Do you have any comments on that?

 

JR – Yes, it’s been a very successful program – we call it the Beginner Party Dance Leaders Seminar and it is run on the Saturday and Sunday prior to the Callerlab convention.  The focus of that seminar is to introduce callers and partners to the idea of running square dance parties and again with the same focus as the Committee For Community Dance – contras and lines and mixers and square dances – simple square dances and that’s been very successful. I think this year in Reno we had – I think Cal said – just over 50 people altogether so it’s been a very successful program.

 

BB – Do you foresee, as some people do – I keep reading on our traditional square dance computer program – some people are thinking we’re going to wind up to be 2 different programs really – modern western and the traditional type of thing that you’re talking about.

 

JR – I wouldn’t be surprised – I wouldn’t be surprised if that were to happen. I know there are a lot of Callerlab members and other callers also who concentrate almost exclusively and almost all of their performance is almost exclusively are square dance parties. They don’t call for a - what we might call a modern western square dance club but they do the square dance parties. Callerlab over the last 3 or 4 years has really come to realize the value of those callers and we’ve tried to implement more of that into our convention and into out writing because we recognize the value of that – of those callers and the service that they provide to the overall activity.

 

BB – That’s great. I’m really happy to hear that. My sentiments have been that this is the coming thing for square dancing in the future even as an introductory program which – and I’m afraid that the square dance people – the square dance club people might be taking people away from that kind of a program but that’s a natural – that’s the natural progression of things so – so be it.

 

JR – It could very well be that – we find that many times the people who attend the square dance party might only attend once a year at a special event or perhaps twice a year. A certain percentage of those will become involved with or more interested in learning more and become involved with the regular square dance club. One of the interesting things that we discovered – the Callerlab Foundation a couple of years ago ran a series of focus groups surveys among non-dancers and ex-dancers. We also ran an internet survey of 1800 participants through a professional marketing company and one of the interesting things from that internet survey was that the people who had been involved or exposed to square dancing as an adult had a very favorable view of the activity so – how that was interpreted as is that the people who go to those square dance parties and the parties that Calvin is providing information about – the Beginner Party Leaders Seminar come away from that experience with a very positive view of square dancing. At some time in the future, if they are approached at a time in their life when they’re looking for an activity such as square dancing and if we can present it in such a way – an effective way to them they may very well become involved with what we call a Modern Western Square Dance Club.

 

BB – Well, do you see any future for the open dance like the contra dance people do where anybody can drop in anytime?

 

JR – We’ve really talked about that and I’ve really thought about that and it appears from an economical standpoint that for a center program to be viable – by viable I mean just in order to meet the bills that would be required because you have hall rental – even if the caller does not take any pay at all you’ve always got hall rental and you’ve got equipment to pay for and the licensing and all those things that cost money. I’ve tried to look at this and, of course I have no facts or figures but in order for such a program to exist viably I would estimate that you would have to have a base of probably about 400 people who would come on some kind of a regular basis. That regular basis – I had not expected it to be more than once a month or perhaps once every other month. If such a program were able to be established, you know every Saturday night or every other Saturday night there’s this dance and just come and enjoy.  It appears that you would really have to have a very large space of people because they are not all going to come at the same time. Some will come, like I say once every other month or perhaps once every 4 months.

 

BB – That’s interesting and certainly warrants a lot of additional thought because we’re all interested in keeping the activity going on some basis or other.

 

JR – One other point on that - I’m not really sure how the traditional groups are able to do what they do. I know that the live music is a big part many times and that certainly is a draw. It’s my understanding and I’m not sure if it’s true, you would know more about it but that it’s mostly word of mouth that it spreads. I’ve seen some flyers around. I know that these traditional dance parties are much more popular in some area than they are in other areas. I have heard that in Gainesville, Florida – I’m not sure how often – whether it’s once a month or twice a week or once every other week or something – I’m not really sure how often it is but this particular dance leader is able to gather like 100 people or more at each event. It’s a college town and there are some college folks that do come and I don’t know enough about how their – I know they’re not organized much at all – one group to the other but I’ve seen some flyers and it’s really a good thing to that that can happen.

 

BB – Well, We have an active traditional group here in Albuquerque and they meet twice a month here and the same organization sponsors it in Santa Fe on the opposite 2 weeks of the month on Friday nights. They charge a little bit more. They charge $6.00 per person and with a half hour of free lesson ahead of time. They have live music all the time and I believe the musicians very often are low paid or are not paid at all. So, many musicians come and just sit in and are not expected to be paid. I’m not sure what the pay for the callers might be but they turn out a big crowd twice a month here and I assume the same up in Santa Fe.

JR – Now, is it like the same – would it be repeat people who would come back or is it mostly new people or –

 

BB – OK. Well, the tape shut itself off automatically or unexpectedly so we lost part of our conversation but we’re going to continue now and turn – we’re sort of overlapping some things we want to talk with Jerry about anyway and let’s get back and concentrate more on Callerlab and a little later to talk more about ARTS. So, tell us a little about the founding of Calleralb – I’ve seen quite a bit of written material which is very comprehensive and I think your reference will be helpful on this tape.

 

JR – OK. Actually my knowledge of the beginnings of Callerlab are pale when compared to the written word that you have gotten already from DOSAD.com and other sources. It’s my understanding that this was Bob Osgood’s brain child. He recognized that we were a very fragmented organization – not organization but a very fragmented activity with callers all over the country with no cooperation – each caller doing their own thing and just a really a disjointed activity. He recognized the there was a lot of large talent out there that had a lot to offer - could offer to other callers and to the activity and it was his hope to bring those people together and to form an organization that could share ideas and share their resources. He gathered a small group of people and began talking and eventually grew into Callerlab.

 

BB – Well, many of those former people were Ed Gilmore and Bruce Johnson, Lee Helsel and a few people like that. Then he concentrated on the Hall of Fame people which had already started to be established by that time. So then as time went along a unique way was by invitation only at first and then after a year or maybe 2 each one of those members were allowed to invite one more person which doubled it and after that it kind of expanded after that. 

 

JR – I think – when I first became involved, of course I learned to call in the Philippines in ’78 – I came back in ’81 to the states and I was – at that time it was still an invitation only activity. I think that – I believe that each member was allowed to invite 3 people – I think - I’m not exactly what the numbers were but you had to be calling at least 3 years and you could get invited and I was invited and did attend the – my first convention was in 1985 in Philadelphia. Hank Butler invited me and we drove up there and shared a room and it was just a wonderful experience to sit there in the audience and see these giants of the activity that I had been reading about for years and to actually meet the people was a great thrill.

 

BB – I remember my first Callerlab convention – I forget when it was but I believe Jon Jones might have been the chairman at the time. He made the comment, he said, “Did you ever stop and think with all these hundreds of callers here that if a bomb dropped on this hotel at the moment how long it would take for the activity to regenerate?” He said, “About a week”.

 

Both laugh

 

JR – Yeah, that’s true. Sometimes we kind of over estimate our own importance. It’s really been a great experience. One of the things about the Callerlab convention is that, as anyone who has ever attended one knows that it’s not just a gathering of callers it’s a gathering of ideas and the interest sessions that we try to provide a tremendous amount of training and information. Over the past 3 or 4 years we’ve begun to concentrate more and more on the square dance party activity – the one night stands – we used to call one night stands and now square dance parties. Just to meet people from all over the world is a very unique opportunity.

 

BB – Do you feel that we’ve spent too much time at Callerlab talking about choreography in the past?

 

JR – In the past I think that – it’s hard to say whether or not it was too much. I think – at my very first convention at that time I still remember at that time we were talking about the Plus Program and which calls should be on there – I remember attending sessions about the timing – trying to work out the timing and the definitions was a big thing at that time and what was going to be on each list. In the early days it was important to discuss those issues and to set those standards that have now been set and have been in place for a couple of decades. At that time - we talked before about how around that time there were callers who thought that choreography was supposed to be   difficult. If a call could be danced from a particular position that the dancers should be able to do it from that position and if they can’t they should go somewhere else. That attitude has gone. In those days most of the interest sessions had to do with that kind of choreography and how to create that complex choreography. In those days I think that that was the attitude at the time. It has certainly changed now and our attitude now is different but not difficult and creative choreography that is not difficult – that is entertaining and is danceable.

 

BB – That’s interesting. I know you’ve, over the years, in fact  more recently perhaps have gotten into things like the wives program, the caller’s wife or spouse program and various things like that. Do you have any thoughts along that line about how these programs have developed?

 

JR – Yeah, we really – I believe that the involvement of the  partners sessions and that part of the Callerlab convention program actually started before I became involved as Assistant Executive Director and involved more closely with the organization. The partners now have a Partner’s Committee and all partners are invited to join that committee. This year at the Callerlab convention we had 6 different time slots – session times for the partners. There were committee meetings, there were interest sessions – we had partner informals to give the partners a chance to just meet and talk about things that are of concern to the partners.  So, over the past 4 or 5 years certainly the concentration of interest sessions and help that we want to provide to the partners has certainly increased. We are always looking for more help in that regard.

BB – Well you’ve also had very extensive programs on financing, accounting as well as equipment. Maybe you can tell a little bit more about some of the alternative things that –

 

JR – Yeah. At each convention we do have choreography

sessions – I mean that's what we do so we’ll have choreography sessions – we have Advanced and Challenge sessions – we have Mainstream sessions – Plus sessions. But we also are starting to concentrate more on other aspects of calling. We have a session this year as we did last year on teaching tips so that we can gather information about how various callers teach various calls to try to provide each caller – the members – an alternative way to teach things. We also have had a very popular program on digital music – what digital music is – what equipment is available – the software, the computers. We have also had voice sessions that concentrate on how to improve the voice or how to take care of your voice.

 

BB – They’ve going on for some time.

 

JR – Very long time. Aden Hopkin has been able to attend I think probably about 20 conventions or something like that. We also have sessions on the beginner party seminars. We had session this year – some of the other sessions - I’m trying to think what we had – the RPM Program – the Recruit, Promote and Maintain – we have Teaching in Schools or Calling in Schools session this year. We have Calling For Handicapable groups this year. We had How to Prompt Contra and Traditional Dancing and we plan next year to expand that into 2 sessions.  One would be an introduction to contra and traditional music and then another session which would actually be a critique session where a caller would – who wants to learn to prompt contra would actually practice and then be critiqued on the technique and how that person might be able to improve. We have sessions on Multi Cycle Program and, of course all of our committee meetings. The amount of convention time these days devoted strictly to choreography has been greatly reduced certainly compared to 10 years ago.

 

BB – You also do after-party things.

 

JR – Yep.  We have an actual after-party on Sunday

afternoon – Sunday evening and that’s always a good fun time to get little tidbits to take home. We have also during the convention at least a couple of dances. We have a Contra/Traditional dance on Sunday afternoon. We have Community Dance Program and then some type or other of regular square dance sometime during the convention also.

 

BB – Banquets?

 

JR – Yes, lot’s of banquets – Award banquets – 6 meals. During the Award Banquet we present the Milestone if there is one and the Chairman’s Award if there is one – the Foundation Award – 25 year Certificates to the people who have been calling for at least 25 years and the 50 year Certificate for the people who have been calling at least 50 years.

 

BB – Right. I don’t think I ever got one.

 

JR – Oh my. Both laugh.

 

BB – Well let’s talk a little more about ARTS. You tell me this is the Alliance

 

JR – ARTS is the Alliance for Round, Traditional and Square Dance. It’s an alliance of many – I should say most of the national organizations. I’ll try to run down who those are. We have Callerlab and we have Roundalab and Contralab and the American Caller’s Association, the NEC and the USDA, the United Square Dancers of America, USDA West, the NEC, the National Executive Committee for the National Square Dance Convention. We have the Singles, we have the Campers and we have the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs and we now have the Universal Round Dance Council. Let’s see that 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 – I must have redoubled up there because we have - there’s 11 organizations altogether.

 

BB – I’m surprised the Overseas Dancers are not part of it.

 

JR – That’s an interesting point. I’m trying to think whether they’re not –

 

BB – Al Stevens must have been there at the caller’s –

 

JR – Actually Al missed the convention so right now we’re really concentrating on the North America area to get things started. There is – we have approached the Canadian Square and Round Dance Society and there are other organizations who are interested in becoming affiliated. One of the things that the governing body didn’t want to do was to become so large that nothing could get done. Like I say, right now there are 11 organizations who are the governing body. The ARTS is open to membership - individual membership for a donation of $50.00 in any one year – individual members can become individual members and associations for a donation of $100.00 can become associate members. We’ve gotten several donations from several organizations. There are fund-raising dances that are being held – there was one in San Diego that brought on about $500.00 and another one is planned – I believe it’s later this month or next month in Birmingham to raise money also. The main purpose of the alliance is to bring all of these various organizations together to come up with ideas of how to spread the word to get more people involved in all of the dance activity and that includes contra/traditional, the round dance activity and, of course the square dancing. When we talk about square dancing – small letter square dancing – we try to make it clear that it includes all of the related activities – the contra/traditional, the rounds, even lines and circle dances and mixers and all of the related activities.

 

BB – How about folk dances?

 

JR – That too, that too. We tried to involve – we want to try to include all of that under one umbrella. One of the concerns is that trying to find an organization that represents the folk activity has not been an easy chore because they’re just not organized, you know each individual does their own thing, which is great. Their not being organized is part of their appeal because they are not overly organized – they don’t have to worry about who’s going to be President, who’s going to be Chairman – there’s none of that political stuff it’s just get together and dance.

 

BB – Now, is ARTS in conflict with the Callerlab Foundation?

 

JR – Not really. The goals of ARTS are very similar to what the Callerlab Foundation has been trying to do for the past 10 or15, 20 – for as long as the Foundation has been in existence. The reason the Foundation did these things was because there was no other organization which was doing them and we recognized – the Callerlab Board of Governors recognized that this is work that needed to be done. The Callerlab Foundation was formed and began doing that work like the Song and Dance Brochure, grants, really grants to other organizations who really needed grant money to help spread the word of square dancing.

 

BB – And you brought film too –

 

JR – Yes, we got videos – they ran the focus group survey – the Foundation also did the internet survey so they got the couch potato TV ads which the Foundation did. If, in fact the ARTS goes forward as we hope that it will and become a viable organization that can in fact take on some of those things that the Callerlab Foundation has done in the past it appears that the Callerlab Foundation emphasis will come back to caller training and that kind of thing. We do administer a caller training - actually a caller and dancer training education fund and the Callerlab Foundation administers that. So that would be more of what we would do.

 

BB – I follow you. Well, that’s all very interesting. I certainly wish ARTS a great success. They’re really relatively new.

 

JR – Yes. It was just in the past 5 months that it has been incorporated – ARTS was incorporated in North Carolina – we’ve applied for 501 C3 IRS tax exempt, tax deductible status. One of the things that we recognize early on from the focus groups and our marketing research presented to us by Jim Hensley was that we are a very fractured activity. There are so many different organizations – each kind of doing their own little thing which many of the goals and the goals of those activities of the various organizations was really the same to improve square dancing. One of Jim’s goals or things that he thought we should do was to bring those organizations together and we are able to do that through the ARTS. To see the cooperation among the organizations is really an amazing thing.

 

BB – Right. Well, that’s really interesting and I’m very happy that we got this information down because in addition I’ll be talking to – what’s his name?

 

JR – Jim Mazko. He’s the current chairman.

 

BB – OK. I plan to interview him very shortly. Well Jerry, I want to thank you very much for taking the time today – this morning to sit down with me and bring all these thoughts to bear.

 

JR – Fantastic.

 

BB – You’ve been very articulate in a lot of points that I am happy to have recorded so –

 

JR – I really appreciate your interest too Bob on just doing this project. I know it has been a massive, massive project to not only to do the interviews but then to transcribe everything. Some of those interviews I know that the total collection is going to be something that future dancers are going to really appreciate.

 

BB – Well, I think I have somewhere around 120 – 25 interviews so far. They are not all transcribed. Lately I have been transcribing each one as I go along. Originally I had some help through the computer - through the email from people on the trad list and on the caller’s list and various people undertook to make the transcriptions for me. We wound up with many different formats –

 

JR – Alright, that’s always a problem.

 

BB – So. I hope you enjoy your stay here in Albuquerque. You had a nice dance last night and I hope you have another good one tonight.

 

JR – We’re certainly looking forward to it.

 

BB – OK. If I get back to Florida soon I’ll give you a jingle. 

 

JR – Stop in and see us for sure.

 

BB – Thank you very much Jerry.

 

JR – Thanks Bob.

 

END OF TAPE – END OF INTERVIEW

 

Bob’s additional commentary –

 

From the previous conversation it’s really easy to tell that Jerry Reed is very erudite not only in his own backgrounds but in the history and goals of Callerlab. As we chatted after the tape was shut off I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to make mention of one function that took place at the recently completed Callerlab Convention up in Reno. That is, a tribute to bob Osgood. This tribute was complete with many, many pictures, sound bites of Bob calling and others calling on his Sets In Order record label and there was sort of a eulogy presented by Jim Mayo. Many of our young and newer callers probably didn’t even know who Bob Osgood is or was. He was certainly responsible for the initial formation of Callerlab in the first place. He edited and published Sets In Order Magazine, the first international square dance magazine and was instrumental in many, many other activities. Our square dancing certainly owes a debt of gratitude to our good friend Bob Osgood.            

  

 

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Written By: Bob Brundage
Date Posted: 1/19/2007
Number of Views: 1626

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