Written by Anne Ierardi
Circle by the Sea makes music on Sandy Neck
…we can know reality only by being in community with it … the leader becomes better able to open spaces in which people feel invited to create communities of mutual support.
The orange sun is setting; the full moon is waxing, a bonfire glows red on the beach, the wind is blowing as the tide comes ever closer to a large circle of people. There are women, men, children enjoying each other, the warmth of the fire pit, the sounds of the wind and sea. For 34 years, this monthly summer circle has met at Sandy Neck Beach. Originally called “PM by the Sea,” it was sponsored by People Meet, Inc., with Avis Strong Parke.
About ten years ago, Leona Bombaci, a longtime participant, assumed leadership and a new name, “Circle by the Sea,” continuing the rich tradition of bringing people together to sing, dance, play music, tell stories, toast marshmallows, and have a good time in the midst of the natural world.
Circles by the Sea meet around the time of the full moon from June through September. Bombaci explained to me the usual format: June and September focus on “friends of Circle by the Sea,” an open talent participatory evening with music and stories and a drum circle. July and August host invited musicians, storytellers, dancers.
Last month I joined the circle, happy to be on the beach for the first time this summer – why do I wait so long, I wondered. Dawna and Leona created a warm and enlivening atmosphere, opening spaces with their music and welcome.
There were a few other smaller groups of people sitting around bonfires in this designated area of Sandy Neck. Singer, songwriter, music teacher Dawna Hammers, a longtime regular performer, returned from Vermont, where she now makes her home. She played some familiar folk tunes on her guitar including “Both Sides Now” as well as many songs she composed. “Come to the Table” invites a community spirit as we all sang along (You can learn more about her and her music at www.dawnahammers.com.) Dawna dedicated a song, “Women are the Weavers of the World,” to Leona and Avis, who 25 years ago became her “spiritual mothers.”
On Aug. 30, the circle will feature another favorite performer: Jackson Gillman. Known as the “Stand-Up Chameleon” for bringing many characters to life through his talents in mime, acting, singing and storytelling, he’s a well-known performer from Onset who appears at schools, libraries, conferences, and festivals. For many years he has presented workshops at the New England Storytelling Conference (www.jacksongillman.com).
Also performing in August is the Paul, Ben & Jerry Show with “songs of the sea” Using acoustic instruments including a washtub bass to sing whaling and sea songs, they represent three generations. Paul is father of Ben, who is 17; Jerry is the elder of the group.
If you are looking for a place to unwind in a camp-like atmosphere by the beautiful sea, with good entertainment and a family fun vibe, put Sept. 20 on your calendar.
Circle by the Sea is a family event for all ages. $5 donation is requested. Next circles: Sept. 20, 7 to 10:30pm. Bring beach chairs, a piece of firewood, a non-alcoholic beverage, chair, blanket, drums and other instruments. Sandy Neck Beach Road /off Route 6A Barnstable/Sandwich – park in the lower lot and enter at the far end to the beach. Rain location: Knights of Columbus Hall, 5 Armory Rd. Buzzards Bay.
Reprinted with permission from The Barnstable Patriot