Thursday, December 26, 2013

Join Jim and Maggi at First Night Hartford 2013-14!

Two Shows at the Old State House, Main Street, Hartford
6:25 and 7:20 pm

"Wintertide at Year's Birth: Songs and Stories of the Season"
Drawn from a variety of styles and with historical/folklore narrative
For info:

Feel free to download or save this flyer:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Trimmed the tree while watching "Mary Poppins" and "Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol"... having a Baby Boomer nostalgia-fest.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Today, being the Winter Solstice, is the day we remove the fall decor, drape the house in winter finery, and set up the Yule tree! Huzzah!

Meet Mr. HollyHead, with his crown of holly and ivy.
He only lasted a day, since we have had 50 degrees or more temps the last two days...but we loved him anyway, and now the snowmelt joins the earth to nourish springtime growth. Not a bad legacy!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Jim and Maggi's Holiday Concerts continue: "A Victorian Christmas with Dickens" Sat. Dec. 14, 1 pm, Danvers, MA

Jim and Maggi's Holiday Concerts continue: "A Victorian Christmas with Dickens" Sat. Dec. 14, 1 pm, Danvers, MA

"A Victorian Christmas with Dickens,"  Jim Dalton and Maggi Smith-Dalton perform an illustrated concert of Victorian music with excerpts from the Christmas stories of Charles Dickens, 1 pm, Dec. 14, 2013, at the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers, hosted by the Dickens Fellowship North of Boston. 


You are invited to participate on Dec. 14, 2013, 1 p.m., at the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers, 15 Sylvan St., Danvers, Mass., ( when the Dickens Fellowship North of Boston will host a special, family-friendly musical/historical program,  "A Victorian Christmas with Dickens," presented by musicians and historians Jim Dalton and Maggi Smith-Dalton.

This illustrated Victorian Christmas music program, featuring excerpts from Dickens' various Christmas stories, will use period American and British music. Songs and instrumentals will be performed live by the husband-and-wife team, in costume, and with period-appropriate instruments and style.

Members of the Dickens fellowship will also lead games and dances at special points in the program. Families are encouraged to attend in Victorian costume. 


Previous audiences found the Daltons to be "engaging, scholarly, delightful, warm, intelligent, flexible, humorous, talented, versatile, enthusiastic, personable, joyful".."Simply put, Jim and Maggi Dalton are a national treasure." The couple specializes in American 19th- and 20th-century music, history, and culture from parlor and stage, performed in historically-informed style. Their programs feature period and period-appropriate instruments. 

The Daltons have toured nationwide and have been featured often on commercial and NPR public radio, on television and in major-market newspapers and magazines.

Praised as "extraordinarily versatile," their performances feature repertoire drawn from the Middle Ages to contemporary music; and popular traditions including blues, jazz and Tin Pan Alley/Great American Songbook programs.

Honored by several state arts agencies, the Daltons have released four recordings and compose and perform original material. They designed a full spectrum of programs which they have performed throughout the United States, appearing at nationally-known historic sites such as Colonial Williamsburg; at colleges, in concert series, at festivals, at historical societies, for organizations of every description. More information may be found on their Website:

As artists-in-residence at various community and educational centers, they have presented series which address American history and various other topics in the humanities, using music as the core of each session. Jim Dalton is on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory. Maggi Smith-Dalton has published two books of regional history, and wrote a weekly column on Salem history for the Boston Globe from 2010-2012.

Jim Dalton and Maggi Smith-Dalton are founders and directors of the American History and Music Project, and the Salem History Society, both  of which are administered by the Institute for Music, History, and Cultural Traditions, a 501c3 Nonprofit Cultural, Educational, & Scholarly Organization.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hope to see you tomorrow in Cheshire, Ct. at our Concert! Cheshire Public Library, Main Street, Cheshire,  4 pm free and open to the public


Buy two for the price of one if you purchase our recordings at one of our concerts

Buy two for $15.00 ($10 each otherwise) if you purchase from us by mail before December 31, 2013

Please send your check or money order to:
Singing String Music
203 Washington St. #263
Salem MA 01970
we'll pay the postage and handling!

*You can also find our recordings online through ITunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and Barnes and Noble...and other online stores (their regular prices apply)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jim and Maggi's Holiday Concerts...YOU are invited!

Join musicians and historians Jim Dalton and Maggi Smith-Dalton  December 8, 2013, at 4 p.m. when the Cheshire Public Library, 104 Main Street, Cheshire, Ct. hosts their special musical/historical concert program  "300 Years of Christmastide in America." The family-friendly program is free and open to the public.

"300 Years of Christmastide in America" is a musical/historical journey across the United States, geographically, historically, AND stylistically.     

The Daltons will present music from America's past interspersed with poignant, amusing, or surprising anecdotes, most of them collected from primary sources.

More concerts coming up! Dec 14 2013  "A Victorian Christmas with Dickens," Danvers, MA and New Year's Eve: First Night Hartford (at Old State House)  We'll send you an invite for those too!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Voting tomorrow, of course. Reading some of the ploys and arguments for or against local candidates, I am sorry to see the kind of appeals that some are making. Ageism, sexism, perceived class vs. perceived's all there. I make a conscious and determined effort to vote with my brain, not with my emotions, prejudices, or from arrogance. I wish I could say the same for others.
Happy to say will be performing several times in our beloved Connecticut in the holiday season, and seeing the New Year arrive with Hartford friends! More to come, but for now...we are really happy about our lineup for the next few months, well into 2014~!
A History of Spiritualism and the Occult in Salem: The Rise of Witch CityA History of Spiritualism and the Occult in Salem: The Rise of Witch City by Maggi Smith-Dalton
5 of 5 stars

Will Broaddus, Salem News wrote: "In 'A History of Spiritualism and the Occult in Salem,' musician and historian Maggi Smith-Dalton examines the career of this movement in a local context.

Her book …  is in some ways an intellectual history of Salem in the 19th century....a really interesting focuses so much about American and local culture at that point in time... fascinating.

All the information is well marshaled and presented...And who would have guessed spiritualism was an element in Hawthorne and Sophia's relationship…"

(used with permission)

Smith-Dalton, a historian and writer, considers the history of spiritualism and the occult in Salem, Massachusetts. She describes occult aspects earlier in the region's history, such as mesmerism, religious sects, and Mormonism, then Salem just before the Civil War through the end of the nineteenth century. She provides the historical and social context for the city, including its link to witchcraft, and tells of key individuals, such as Emanuel Swedenborg, Franz Anton Mesmer, Andrew Jackson Davis, Charles Wentworth Upham, Charles Henry Foster, Allen Putnam, Joseph Gilbert Waters, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and other psychics, healers, and clairvoyants. (Annotation ©2013 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I loved you with all my soul before we ever met, and ever since, and 30 years ago we took each others' hands and dedicated our life journey together. Happy Anniversary to my incomparable husband, Jim Dalton.

Monday, October 7, 2013

begin quoted material

Even Richard Hofstadter Would Be Amazed by Tea Party Extremism

- See more at:
"Back in the 1950s and 1960s, when new forms of right-wing extremism began to make an impact in American life, historian Richard Hofstadter published essays that drew attention to the “symbolic aspect of politics.” Hofstadter acted in the fashion of an amateur psychologist, attempting to make sense of “non-rational” factors. His judgments about the mentality of leaders and followers on the right, based on emerging social science research of the time, were highly speculative. Nevertheless, some of his observations still excite interest. Historians and pundits often refer to Hofstadter’s ideas about the “paranoid style.” Much-overlooked, however, is a sub-theme in Hofstadter’s writing. That discussion focused on the emergence of “fundamentalism” in American politics. Individuals who seek a broader understanding of the present political standoff in Washington may find Hofstadter’s judgments thought-provoking...."

- See more at:

Listening to the news lately, for some reason I feel a compulsion to re-read "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Working on two books and an article and media music projects and new websites....and deciding to read through all of our several thousand books once more each.

See you in 2020.

Friday, October 4, 2013

It saddens me to observe how tribal and exclusionary even well-educated people, who loudly proclaim they are inclusive, are. I used to try to change that, I used to have good faith they mean what they say. I find the older I get the quicker I just shrug and keep my own counsel and go my own way after giving it a chance. No use describing color to the willfully blind, or trying to sing harmony to the tone-deaf.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Awesome Beethoven piano concert by John O'Conor Monday night, made sweeter by being shared with my darling, Jim Dalton. At the Boston Conservatory ... our home and a shining example for the world that "Without music, life would be a mistake.”

(the renovated hall is WONDERFUL, can't wait to sing in it this spring during our own annual concert).

Uh oh. Jim Dalton came home and surprised me dancing to a Journey song. True love is when he smiled and kisses me anyway (grin). I am not known for my dancing.

Yesterday was enjoying various wonderful traditional mainstream classical selections followed by Emerson Lake & Palmer, Led Zepplin, Aerosmith...with dollops in between from Kronos Quartet and The Section Quartet ... I had a mosaic-y listening afternoon fer-shure.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall-of-the-leaf time. In love. Working in my office after a bit of gardening with the door open, breezes in the trees outside, Dvorak Serenade Op 22 counterpoint to the chirps and songs of birds, the sun spilling gold through greens-and-browns-and reds..

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sometimes I wonder....

Sometimes I wonder if having a strong and robust ethical code in this ethically-vacillating and relentlessly narcissistic world will eventually mean I'll need to find a nice mountaintop (overlooking the sea, I hope) to which I may retreat...making music to the rhythm of the sea-waves and painting the color of the whispering wind.

Monday, September 23, 2013

asongbird's double life

Working on two books at once just now and writing songs again in between...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Off to discuss "Zealot" at our nonfiction book club soon. Interesting book, very well-written, but not really anything new. The theories he presents are old ones. Several books on our shelves basically say the same thing. Going to pick up his mentors' books after this.
Trying out the new ITunes Radio. Some bizarro things ended up in our 60s British Invasion channel, but the LA Rock Scene 60s and 70s had some delicious surprises, live versions of familiar songs that were really interesting. Contemporary Classical also had some "Huh?" selections in it.

Still love Pandora, though, which served us up some really cool stuff too.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Life is good

Beautiful day; setting up a new gig, walk with my honey, cutting up credit card offers, reading, music, great lunch, cooked half by Jim, half by me. Life is good.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Jim and Maggi's Gratitude Box, nine months later. We have a lot to be grateful for!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Working in the garden, reorganizing a workroom, writing, practicing, (but prob no singing today!--I pushed the envelope a bit this weekend)

when you are sick...

stupid, or sane?

Friday, September 13, 2013

We will be singing in the chorus for this concert! Join us!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The deeper we sound, the further down into the lower world of the past we probe and press, the more do we find that the earliest foundations of humanity, its history and culture, reveal themselves unfathomable.--Thomas Mann

Thursday, August 29, 2013

NEW POSTING OF NEW ARTICLE! Click this to read, "Tea, Strawberries, and Spirits"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 • 11:05 AM
Tea, Strawberries, and Spirits

posted by Maggi Smith-Dalton

"The religious movement known as "Spiritualism" permeated nineteenth-century life, growing so rapidly that, by 1869, Emma Hardinge [Britten](1823–1899), historian of the first two decades of the religion, estimated that there were eleven million Spiritualists “on the American continent” alone. Estimates made by various publications concluded that perhaps nearly half the population believed in some aspect of Spiritualism, which, briefly, is the belief that the spirits of the dead can communicate with the living.

Boston, a hotspot for Spiritualism, boasted what was one of the most important and widely circulated periodicals. The Banner of Light, founded in 1857, had a national audience. It published weekly lists of Spiritualist lectures and meetings, along with literary works, chitchat, editorials, and listings of mediums and lecturers...."

Go to the site, please, to read the whole article.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Songbird celebrates "I Have A Dream" Day!

Happy "I Have A Dream" Day!

Let's not forget that MLK's "I have a dream" speech burst forth at the urging of a SINGER, Mahalia Jackson, and I have always considered his speech to be a form of call-and-response to HER singing earlier in the program, which she prompted by reminding him of "the dream."

"Then A. Philip Randolph, the 74-year-old initiator of the march, who had secured an executive order on nondiscrimination in defense-industry employment and contracts by pressuring President Franklin D. Roosevelt with a threat of a march on Washington in 1941, introduced the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. She sang two spirituals, “I Been ’Buked and I Been Scorned” and “How I Got Over.” King was seated nearby, clapping his hands on his knees and calling out to her as she sang. Roger Mudd, covering the event for CBS News, said after the first song: “Mahalia Jackson. And all the speeches in the world couldn’t have brought the response that just came from the hymns she sang. Miss Mahalia Jackson.” Then, after a speech by Rabbi Joachim Prinz, from the American Jewish Congress, it was King’s turn to speak.

King read from his prepared text for most of his speech, which relied on the Bible, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence — just as President John F. Kennedy had a few months earlier, when he called for civil rights legislation in a nationally televised address: “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.”

As King neared the end, he came to a sentence that wasn’t quite right. He had planned to introduce his conclusion with a call to “go back to our communities as members of the international association for the advancement of creative dissatisfaction.” He skipped that, read a few more lines, and then improvised: “Go back to Mississippi; go back to Alabama; go back to South Carolina; go back to Georgia; go back to Louisiana; go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.”

Nearby, off to one side, Mahalia Jackson shouted: “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” King looked out over the crowd. As he later explained in an interview, “all of a sudden this thing came to me that I have used — I’d used many times before, that thing about ‘I have a dream’ — and I just felt that I wanted to use it here.” He said, “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” And he was off, delivering some of the most beloved lines in American history, a speech that he never intended to give and that some of the other civil rights leaders believed no one but the marchers would ever remember..."

quoted from: The New York Times, Opinion Page

Op-Ed Contributor
Mahalia Jackson, and King’s Improvisation
Published: August 27, 2013

Hear Mahalia at:
"Mahalia Jackson Mlk Washington march"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What a lovely night we had last night. After checking out who's going to be at the new Boston Book Festival at a Cambridge gathering, we walked across the bridge back to Boston... Went over to Fanueil Hall something to eat, walked around the plaza, listened to some music....

Then walked across to the North End.... Down to the harbor, near the Aquarium. Just walked and hung out by the harbor.... looking at the boats and the lights on the water, and airplanes flying up into the night...back through the gardens near the Greenway...all kind of spur of the moment. Romantic, actually, just walking, talking, wandering, holding hands...

Friday, August 9, 2013

I transplanted lots of plants today in the rain, and applied bloom-boosting fertilizer too. Too much nitrogen in our soil, I think; we have a lot of glorious leafage but not as many prolific bloomers this year. Our garden is alive with singing birds (a visit from a hairy woodpecker today gave me a thrill, we're getting quite a variety these days). I love love love rain. Waiting for Jim to build me my long awaited raised bed for the front of the house, the only spot which gets lots and lots of sun ... can't wait!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why I Love Nature: Today's Reason

"Fact of the Day: sunflower

Sunflower heads consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base. The large petals around the edge of a sunflower head are individual ray flowers which do not develop into seed. A sunflower is ready to harvest when the back portion of the head turns brown. Floating rafts of sunflowers were used to clean up water contaminated by the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the former Soviet Union. The roots of the sunflower plants removed 95% of the radioactivity in the water by pulling contaminants out of the water."


Saturday July 27, 2013: On This Day

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ray Begovich: How I Found Rare Footage of FDR in a Wheelchair | History News Network

Ray Begovich: How I Found Rare Footage of FDR in a Wheelchair | History News Network


When the whole world looks in and at, not out....

Surely one of the more horrifying developments in modern society. We already have a nation of people who only look at their devices and not at each other.

Now we face the prospect of EVERYTHING filtered and mediated by a device. Talk about self-absorption!

Google Glass....

Gray Matter
Is Google Glass Dangerous?

A solution for an ethical person observing non-ethical behavior run rampant?

I have a pet peeve about certain behaviors that is slowly growing into a personal ethical firestorm of disgust...but cannot post about since I have already seen the backlash from simply, quietly commenting about such things to folks I think (thought) of as friends. So I will merely observe and perhaps I will make the folks I see behaving this way characters in my book...getting their just rewards, perhaps? As Bob Ross used to say, "it's your world...paint it the way you want it " ;-D

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Storyboarding in the Night

So, starting a new book is always a daunting thing. I've started my third book, but it's a total departure for me. Well, maybe not so total; I have written short stories and even won a writing contest with my first and only submission to such things. (Someday I'll tell you about that...)

This time, I'm trying my hand at longer fiction. During our creative retreat last year, I drew up an entire outline for a fictional book. Needless to say, almost a year later, my outline is almost totally scrapped. Writing fiction is difficult, since the usual structures I have in place for writing history are almost non-applicable.

So far, I think I have worked out a good idea but the structure is still eluding me somewhat. I think what I need to do, perhaps, is storyboard it, as if it was a film project. So far I've got...the opening, establishing shot done.....


......NOW WHAT?

What is a Historian? Discuss...

There was a discussion (well, there are ALWAYS discussions!) about the role of, function of, definition of a Historian on LinkedIn recently.

Here's my take...

Historians endlessly and continuously evaluate the context of past events, guarding against presentism . They must have thorough professional training in the tools of the trade, ie. research techniques and a broad knowledge of the scholarship that has been done. Without the training, you cannot properly evaluate the research you gather. Period.

Historians must utilize, stringently, the indispensable striving towards objectivity which historical perspective can afford, and which demands an understanding of the "large picture". It is having this larger picture in mind which contributes to the body of knowledge.

Finally, a true historian must adhere to high standards of personal honesty, integrity, and emotional and intellectual courage, reporting results of research wherever the research leads and what is revealed, irregardless of their own familial, personal, political, or economic loyalties.

A historian ALSO publishes these evaluations for the benefit of, discussion and study by, the community of scholars --- hopefully, of the public as well. The best history has work to do in the world.

"History buffs," antique collectors/antiquarians, tour guides, folks doing their own genealogy, etc. etc. are NOT historians, despite what they may believe about their hobbies...although those activities may LEAD, eventually, to becoming a trained, professional historian.

Well, whaddya think?

The MFA and the Songbird

The MFA...(she breathes a sigh of contentment).

If there is a more luscious place in the Boston area in which to spend an "art day" with your one-and-only, I simply don't know it. I go to "Art in Bloom" every year if I can....

Jim and I also recently visited and viewed the exhibit on Samurai warriors....ok, Seriously now, Are these guys available for hire to help me walk through some of the scariest parts of Boston at night... Or in Salem anytime anytime during October?

Betcha THEY could get people who stand smoking under the NO SMOKING SIGNS to stop it...quick!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Welcome to my world...

What I think this blog will be...and I'm probably gonna change it anyway.😉

So...this will be a personal blog, as opposed to our professional website at or at our nonprofit's website I'll probably talk about my books, our recordings, concerts, programs etc....after all that is very much what I am about , but largely this will be a blog with some short essays, some of my artwork maybe... or whatever the heck strikes me as interesting.

You can see what I'm about, professionally, all over the web but here we can simply talk about ... well, just about stuff. I'm interested in a lot of things, and not all THAT interested in myself per se, so let's see where this take us, shall we?

I've been happily married to the wonderful, blazingly talented Jim Dalton for three decades as of 2013. Our adventures are many, and our friends say I should write about them, so probably I shall...stay tuned for that.

Ok. So finally I've started. If you share my interests join me and I'd like to hear your thoughts too.

My interests? uh oh. Get ready....

This is a mix of my professional experiences and my multiple curiosities.

  • music
  • singing
  • public history
  • editing, writing
  • education
  • ritual
  • early childhood education
  • gardening
  • neurobiology, developmental biology
  • philosophy
  • folklore, 
  • the nonprofit world, 
  • art history, 
  • American history, 
  • public speaking, 
  • creative arts, 
  • performing arts, 
  • scholarly research, 
  • storytelling, 
  • guitar, harp, piano, 
  • voiceover, 
  • painting, calligraphy,
  • performances of all kinds, 
  • theater performance, acting, 
  • historical programming, 
  • college teaching, K-12 teaching, adult education, 
  • Apple computers and technology/technology in general
  • local history, 
  • copy editing, 
  • social media, 
  • art, 
  • lecturing, 
  • language arts, 
  • museum education, 
  • entertainment, 
  • arts advocacy, newspapers, magazines, 
  • education of kids with challenges (especially autism), 
  • mask making, 
  • current events, progressive politics, 
  • comparative religion 
  • social justice 
  • more!
Share any of these interests? Share with me!