Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Slim Harrison - Sunnyland Music: Save the Barn!

Save the Barn!

SAVE THE BARN at Sugartree Farm is the name of our new venture here in the Catoctin Mountains.  We have a 100 year old Western Maryland Bank Barn on the farm and it is in urgent need of repair.  

The barn has hosted many events including Weddings, Concerts, Reunions, Maryland School for the Deaf, Head Start & Housing Authority Field Trips and numerous Barn Dances.  It has been home to cows, horses, sheep, pigs, chickens and barn cats.  It's a great place to dance & sing, swing on the rope swings, jump in the hay & jump the broom!  We have had honored guests from over 20 different countries as well as local folks & city folks!  

Some years ago, the barn was lifted off the foundation by a Twister!  This caused water to leak into the foundation and eventually the foundation collapsed.  We have made several attempts to stabilize the building but it needs a whole new foundation to keep it from falling down!

We have started the "SAVE THE BARN" project to raise funds for the renovation of the barn.  Volunteers are needed for grant writing, event planning, promoting the project and hands-on renovation work.  We are in the process of setting up a not-for-profit foundation that can receive donations and would be glad to talk to anyone that might be able to contribute funding, materials &/or labor to SAVE THE BARN!

Please contact Brenda & Slim Harrison at 301-271-7928 or for more information or to donate/volunteer! 

Thanks a bunch!

Slim & Brenda

Sunnyland Band at Maple Fest - March 16, 2011

Maple Syrup Festival at Cunningham Falls State Park – Sweet and Sappy

Posted on March 16, 2011 by Elaine Jean

Day Trip Destination: Thurmont, Maryland

Buckets catch sap the old-fashioned way at the Cunningham Falls Maple Syrup Festival. All photos by Paul Jean.

While people tend to think of Vermont and New Hampshire as the maple syrup states, Maryland, Pennsylvania and even Virginia celebrate the transformation of the sap of the sugar maple tree into America’s favorite pancake topper. Step aside, Mrs. Butterworth; this is the real deal.

It’s maple sugaring season, and there’s still time to get in on the fun. On Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21, Cunningham Falls State Park invites you to their 41st Annual Maple Syrup Festival in the William Houck Area off Route 77 in Thurmont. See a demonstration of the traditional maple syrup making process, eat a stack of pancakes slathered with sweet goodness, and let the kids enjoy a bit of fresh air.

This trip has something for everyone and is perfect for young families, scouting packs and multi-generational groups. Demonstrations take place every hour on the hour around a cast iron kettle over a wood-stoked fire. It doesn’t seem to matter how damp or cold the day is when you’re full of pancakes and standing here.

The steamy cauldron produces maple syrup magic after a day of stirring and tending.

The steaming cauldron is put on at 8:30 in the morning, and it takes all day for park staff to work their magic. The demonstration includes a ranger’s talk on the evolution of the process and a bit of consumer education, as well as local lore and legend about the discovery of maple sugar as a food product.

Kids are encouraged to pick up and examine wooden spouts and to ask and answer questions – guides are informative and interactive and keep it simple so most age groups can understand. But that’s not to say that adults won’t learn something, too.

Breakfast is served in the rustic stone lodge that is the park’s concession building, with its long dining tables for making new friends and fire pit in the center for central heating. Pancakes are offered with sausage and Maryland-made maple syrup for under $5, and coffee is a buck. The smell of a campfire and the nostalgic feelings it evokes are free.

Products from S&S Maple Camp in Corriganville – one of Maryland’s largest producers of maple syrup – are available for purchase. Stop by the stand located near the demonstration area for a free shot, and taste their U S Grade A Medium Amber. Syrup is sold by the half-pint, pint, quart and half-gallon, and bags of maple sugar and candies are also available.

A volunteer stokes the fire, so maple sap can cook down to our favorite pancake topper.

Several heated tents offer shelter from unpredictable March weather, with more fun inside. Kids can join Slim Harrison’s Sunnyland Band and play along with him on spoons, jugs, washboards, skiffle boards, limber jacks, wash tub bass and Pennsylvania Dutch stumpf-fiddles. Best of all, they can become a card-carrying member of the band.

Slim’s folk music tells of lost dogs, rainy days and the jugland boogie, but make no mistake: He’s a talented artist sharing a significant slice of Americana with our kids.

And that is, after all, what this day really is all about.

Slim Harrison may look like a one-man band, but he enlists a little help from his friends.

When you go …
■Demonstrations are held every hour from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
■Breakfast is served from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
■Admission is a recommended donation of $2 per person.
■Pancake breakfast with sausage is under $5; beverages are available for purchase.
■Cash only, no credit cards or checks will be accepted.
■Pets are prohibited in the tents, dining and demo areas and are best left at home.
■A sign language interpreter is scheduled for Sunday.
■Proceeds go to the Friends of Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks.


Slim Harrison Rocks Rockburn Elementary!

"Exploring the Roots of American Folk Music" Two Week Residency Program

“Shave and a haircut, two bits!” The gang all sang and played along with Slim Harrison the past two weeks at Rockburn Elementary School as he worked with and presented American Folk Music to Kindergarten through 5th grade children. Each child participated in both a Music and Folk dance class during the 8 days that Slim presented his Exploration of American Folk Music Residency. The Rockburn PTA and a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council-Artists in Residence Program made this possible. The children at Rockburn were introduced to instruments such as the Limberjack, Harmonica, Bead drum (Gao), Appalachian and Hammered Dulcimers, Banjo, Fiddle, Whimmy-diddle, Washboards, Spoons, Stump-fiddle, Jaw Harp and so much more. The Residency concluded with an All-School Hoedown on Monday night, Oct 27, in the Gym at Rockburn where the children danced with their parents and played their homemade instruments as part of the Sunnyland Band.

Thank you,

Eileen Bottamiller
Vocal Music teacher

The Barnstormers and RockCandy Cloggers - August 29, 2008

Press Release: The Barnstormers & the Rock Candy Cloggers

Slim Harrison and Tom Jolin teamed up as “The Barnstormers” over 28 years ago to perform traditional, old timey, American folk music. Previous performances include the Smithsonian Institute and for former Vice President and Nobel Prize recipient, Al Gore. In 2006 they performed at the Viljandi Folk Music Festival in Estonia. The Frederick Post said, “known for their high energy performances and versatility on many instruments, they are real crowd pleasers.” Dulcimer Players News called them “international favorites”…adding, “this is good homemade music designed to set your feet to tapping.”

They are joined on stage by the “Rock Candy Cloggers”, with whom they have been collaborating since 2005. Slim plays the fiddle, banjo, guitar, mountain dulcimer, harmonica, jaws harp and sings. He is also a sought after traditional dance caller. Tom plays the hammer dulcimer, banjo, button accordion, guitar, harmonica, bowed psaltery and sings. Candy plays the string bass, concertina and jaws harp. Rock Howland plays the fiddle. Both Candy and Rock are award winning cloggers that dazzle audiences with amazing footwork.

They perform for all kinds of venues including schools, folk festivals, and history events. In 2007 they performed for the prestigious Bethlehem Musikfest, the 67th New York Remembrance Day Ball and did a one day residency at Marshall Elementary. In 2008 they completed an extremely successful residency at Saint Francis Xavier School in Gettysburg. Their 2008 schedule includes performances at Germany’s 10th Moelln Festival and the Rudolstadt Folk Festival, Germany’s largest world music festival. They will also be performing at several German schools. Other events include York Patriot Days and Carlisle Summer Concert Series.

Slim Harrison is Wolf Trap Master Artist, performing residencies for the Wolf Trap Institute since 1983. He is a master of the claw hammer banjo and award winning dance fiddler. He is a renowned square dance caller and a regular caller for McDaniel College’s Common Ground on the Hill Festival. He is a previous Howard County Arts Council Outstanding Artist of the Year and a 2005 nominee for the State of Maryland Art Educator of the Year. He has conducted numerous artist in residence programs for the state of Maryland for over 25 years.

Tom Jolin has been performing for 35 years and making instruments for 30 years. The talented hammer dulcimer player travels thoughout the Pennsylvania region with thrilling performances. The January 2008 issue of Celebrate Gettysburg magazine titled a feature story about him: “The Gift…. Bringing Happiness to People Through Music.” He is a rostered presenter for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and a sought after artist in residence in schools through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He was the Adams County Arts Council, Arts for a Lifetime Speaker in 2007. In 2007 he also performed for Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Millennium Awards Ceremony.

Rock Howland and Candy Ranlet teamed up as the Rock Candy Cloggers in 1994. They are each winners of individual clogging competitions, including the National Clog and Hoedown Council East Coast Championships and Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention. They teach clogging at their own studios and also at Common Ground on the Hill Festival. They performed at the Kennedy Center and are regulars for the Washington Folk Festival and National Sheep and Wool Festival.

The Barnstormers performances in Rudolstadt and Moelln are partially supported by “PennPAT”: Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, a program developed and funded by the Heinz Endowments, the William Penn Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in the USA.

"Hollifield Students Get Folky" Hollofield Elementary Residency - February 9, 2007


April 9, 2003

"Grab your whammydiddle, jaws harp, and limberjack, and do-si-do your partner!"

That’s exactly what the students at Hollifield Station Elementary did during the weeks of January 27-February 7. Slim Harrison, renowned musician, educator, and storyteller, took the students on an exploration of the roots of American Folk music and dance.

This two-week residency was sponsored by the PTA and partially funded by the Howard County Arts Council through a grant from Howard County, the Maryland State Arts Council, and Nordstrom.

On his first morning, Mr. Harrison introduced a variety of traditional American folk instruments. The origin and cultural history of each instrument was briefly discussed and then the instrument was used to play a song. Towards the end of the morning, students were invited to come on stage and play in a jug band with the many instruments Mr. Harrison had brought to the school.

During the rest of the week, students took part in an instrument workshop during regular music classes. Each student was given a chance to play a variety of instruments including the Jug, Wash-Tub Bass, Washboard, and Spoons. At the end of the workshop, Mr. Harrison fiddled some classic tunes accompanied by the students in a “Jug Band.”

Mr. Harrison also explained how to make instruments out of recycled junk and encouraged students to make their own instruments at home.

During the second week, Mr. Harrison conducted dance workshops with the students during P.E. classes. Each grade learned a different traditional country dance. Students were excited to learn their dance so they could perform it at the end of the week for their fellow students. Mr. Harrison accompanied the dance sessions with his fiddle and other instruments.

On the last day of the residency, students were to take part in an authenic Hoedown with Mr. Harrison “calling the tunes.” Although the snowstorm caused the schools to close that day, Mr. Harrison will return on June 6 for the event. Each grade will demonstrate their country dance to their fellow students. Music will be provided by the Sunnyland Band made up of students playing their own homemade instruments.

Hope to see you at the Hoedown!

PICTURED: Hollifield Students play limberjacks on stage with Slim Harrison.

St John's Lane Elementary Residency - November 15, 2004

"Exploring the Roots of American Folk Music & Dance"

Have you ever played a stumpf fiddle or washtub bass? How about the spoons or limberjack? The students of St. John’s Lane Elementary School (SJLES) have been playing music with all of these instruments while learning about American Folk Culture with Mr. Slim Harrison. Mr. Harrison spent two weeks as an Artist-in-Education Resident at SJLES teaching about the musical instruments and the folk dance traditions that are part of American Folk Culture. This residency was funded by the SJLES PTA and a grant from the Howard County Arts Council, through a grant from Howard County, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Columbia Foundation, the Washington Post and Target.

During the folk music workshops, the students were given the opportunity to play ten different instruments. Mr. Harrison taught the students about the background of each instrument and how to play them, but it was up to the student to stay on the beat while playing traditional folk songs. Mr. Harrison also encouraged the students to make their own musical instruments by recycling household items to play in the Sunnyland Band.

The folk dance workshops introduced students to the basics of square dancing and traditional line dancing and circle dancing from do-si-do to promenade. Each grade learned a different folk dance to perform at the hoedowns that were held at the conclusion of the residency. The family hoedown was held on Friday evening, November 14. The students demonstrated the dances to the audience and then went out to ask a family member or friend to join them on the dance floor. Mr. Harrison called the dances and the Sunnyland Band, Mr. Harrison together with close to 100 SJLES students who brought their own homemade instruments, provided the music. It was a fun-filled evening, and an appropriate ending to a two-week program that will not be soon forgotten.

RSS feed