Latest News

Wild Leaders Adult Immersion: A Radical Expression of Hope

A wise friend recently shared these words that really struck a chord with me: “It feels like a radical expression of hope for a conscious person to choose to have a child in this time." The co-creation of the Wild Leaders Adult Immersion, my most ambitious offering to...

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Settling into Barnardsville

It took 8 months but I finally feel settled into my new homestead in Barnardsville, NC. Since May I have dropped trees, cleared an old logging road, set up my outdoor bed, flattened the cabin and outdoor kitchen site, set the new locust posts, set up a yurt workshop,...

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How to Move a Modular Cabin in Just 4 Days

Two and a half years ago I built a tiny modular cabin knowing full well that I would have to take it apart and move it one day. Well that day has come. Fortunately, I am moving my cabin to an absolutely dreamy spot on the side of a mountain in Barnardsville, 20 miles...

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Operation Shoe Making Classes

Well, after a bit of an emotional, hard, and bumpy winter I am so appreciative to finally be back on top of my life and blazing forth with my newest passion; teaching shoe making classes. I just finished my 2nd class of the year (in Washington, DC. pictured above) and...

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Shoes, Shoes, Shoes

I have been busy recently with shoe making.  I just finished this pair of leather bottom dance shoes; my first time having really nice dance shoes. I made this pair in the workshop of another Asheville shoe maker named Jessica Brommer.  These shoes were made using a...

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Dickel Brothers Return From The Grave

It has been over a decade since the five original all played on the same stage together.  That will change on January 17th as we reunite to play the Portland Old Time Music Gathering.  In order to facilitate getting us all to Portland as well as getting us into the...

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The Return to China

I am back in China again for a very different trip then my previous trip 2 years ago. This time I am traveling all around the country performing for and calling dances for predominantly Chinese people. I am half way into a month long tour and so far the response has...

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My Very Own Email Newsletter!

If you want to know more about my shoemaking classes or just see the new designs as they role off the line then please sign up for this email newsletter. If you sign up make sure and add michael.ismerio@gmail.com to your address book so my newsletter does not end up...

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New Fiddle Videos

I recently realized that there was not much on the internet that showed me playing fiddle at normal fiddling tempos so I asked my friend Bruno to film me playing some fiddle tunes.  There are six videos on my YouTube channel for you to check out....

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First Shoe Class a Success!

I just finished teaching my first shoe making class which went incredibly well. Four students, including a 13 year old, all finished their shoes in four days. And they all fit! Many more classes to come. Get in touch.  ...

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Shoe Making Classes

  Starting in August I will be teaching shoe making classes out of my home in Asheville, NC. I will be teaching two different styles of shoes; a 10th century Scandinavian style Turnshoe with recycled rubber soles (above) and a more modern style shoe with Internal...

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The Cordwainer

Most people are familiar with the term Cobbler, which is someone who repairs shoes, but fewer are familiar with the term Cordwainer, which is someone who MAKES shoes. My shoemaking workshop is now up and running in a some what open air work space at the end of my...

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Bill “Bubba” Martin – King of Squares

(The following is the memorial speech at I gave for my friend and mentor, Bill Martin, who passed away this past September. I gave the speech at the 14th annual Portland Old Time Music Gathering to a crowd filled with his friends and loved ones) I met Bill Martin in...

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Almost Home

Last weekend I had a very successful work party that saw the floor of my cabin going down and the walls going up in one day. The community spirit present on that day was amazing. Thank you all for your help! A few days later a smaller crew helped lift the very heavy...

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My 8×12 Portable Cabin

I am a week away from raising my tiny cabin. I've been scavenging materials all summer and framing out the wall panels for the last few weeks. Once I put the exterior sheathing on I can do the trial run assembly in the warehouse where I've been building it. Next...

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Building Roots

I've just finished the first in a hopefully long series of projects aimed at setting down roots in my new home of Asheville, NC. Where did I start? with a bed, of course. I've always wanted an outdoor bed and now I live in a place where I can sleep outside eight or...

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Just a Little Bit Longer

For those of you eager to view the square dance videos that I uploaded to the internet, unfortunately you will have to wait a little bit longer. The donor of the video has requested that I find a less public forum for displaying the videos then my YouTube channel. The...

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Very Short Fiddle Lessons

This winter I made some instructional fiddle videos to share my teaching techniques with others.  Here is one video.  The other two can be found on the Living History page or on my YouTube Channel.  Let me know what you think about them....

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Square Dancing in the 80s

I just finished a month long fellowship at Berea College, Kentucky watching archival footage of square dances and editing that footage into usable snippets that I can upload to the internet. In the coming months I will be uploading 54 videos and creating a square...

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Terlingua Ghost Town

On my cross country tour this winter the most fascinating and unexpected stop ended up being a former ghost town near the Texas-Mexico border called Terlingua. Terlingua is the closest town to the entrance to Big Bend National Park. The town was created during a...

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Get In The Square Dance Van

After nearly 8 years of bumming rides off of others I have finally rejoined the world of car ownership by purchasing a low mileage '85 Toyota van. I'm very much in honeymoon stage with my van right now but I'm going to put it to the test by driving nearly 4,000 miles...

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Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship

Amazing! I just found out that my proposal to Berea College's Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship was accepted.  I will be spending the month of March deep in the archives in Berea, Kentucky researching traditional Appalachian square dance callers and east Kentucky...

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Shoemaking: The Sequel

Fall on the west coast. It may not be as spectacular as the east but it sure is pleasant and mild. I made it back to Portland to study shoe making again and finished my third pair of shoes. Once more I studied with Jason Hovatter at Laughing Crowe Leatherworks. And...

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Beijing Nights – Old Time Hits China

In May I was invited to China for two weeks to call square dances for Americans living in Beijing.  A generous businessman named Mark Atkeson had square danced at his wedding 20 years ago and decided to spread the joy to his friends in Beijing.  He teamed me up with a...

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The Ancient Art of Shoe Making

The latest endeavor in my quest for handmade everything has led me down the path of shoe making.  In January 2010 I met Jason Hovatter who teaches shoe making and leather working out of his home workshop in Portland, Oregon.  This winter I made it back to take one of...

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The Porch Swing – Real Stories By Real People

Bloomington is lucky enough to have an incredible community radio station, WFHB, that is chock full of great shows including a top notch Old Time Music show called Train 45. A group called the Bloomington Story Tellers Project recently started a weekly show called the...

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Musical Fluency – Excuse Me, Do You Speak fiddle?

Music is a language. Old Time fiddle music is a dialect of that language. When I think about it that way it changes the way I view Old Time music and the way that I teach it. I recently teamed up with my friend Willem Larsen to redesign my Old Time Bowing workshop...

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Square Dancing on the Little Screen

These days calling square dances is one of the main things that keeps me busy and moving around the country but I realized that I didn't have any good visuals for someone interested in square dancing but unsure of what a modern traditional square dance might look...

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Hearth Music Listening Lounge

After many years as the music director for the Seattle Folk Life Festival, my good friend, and fabulous human being, Devon Leger has gone solo and created his own music and arts promotion agency called Hearth Music. Along with an incredibly flattering bio of me Devon...

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The World Gets Smaller

I've just moved into my smallest living space yet. It's interior dimensions are 7.5 by 7.5 feet for a spacious 56 square feet of personal space. I built a loft that folds up to give me more daytime workspace and installed an indoor propane heater to enable me to stay...

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Lotus

A big reason for my moving to Bloomington, Indiana is the impressive amount of musicians and the incredible support for music that exists here.  One of the main manifestations of that support is the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival.  For four days downtown...

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Back Up & Push

I just returned from the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington where my friends Jason and Pharis Romero (banjo and guitar) released their brand new CD "Back Up And Push" Jason and Pharis traveled the west coast backing up and recording one...

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Spring in Indiana

Spring hit today, March 16, in Bloomington, Indiana, my new home of eight days. The Red Maples were the first to blossom; little red nubs of color amidst the gray tree line. The Robins and Cardinals have been singing for days. It reached sixty degrees today and...

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A Week in the Village

I spent this past week in Portland participating in a five day skill share organized by TrackersNW called the Nature of the Village, The week was loosely structured but jam packed. It was organized using a model called Open Space that uses few rules but requires the...

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British Columbia

I tend to be a seasonal wanderer who easily falls into routines.  I'm upholding my late fall routine with another visit to British Columbia and my dear friends Jason and Pharis Romero on Vancouver Island. They were keeping busy building Jason's 200th banjo. I was...

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My Pal Greg

This is my friend Greg. He is a gem of an individual. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana where he recently out did himself as one of the best hosts ever.  I had my own room, he took me swimming in the infamous Bloomington rock quarries (shown below), he sewed up the...

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South America Trip

I just posted photos of my South America trip on the photographic evidence page of my website. Now I am spending the summer riding my bicycle around the eastern U.S. visiting friends, watching birds, going to music festivals, and swimming. Let me know if you are...

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Brazil

I'm currently wrapping up two months in Brazil where I have been traveling and meeting my fathers side of the family including my three half siblings that I have not seen since I was a child. This is a trip I have procrastinated for 18 years for no good reason. Now...

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Not Your Grandparents Square Dance

A seattle videographer Doug plummer just made this great four minute video about square dancing in Portland featuring interviews with Bill Martin and myself. Not Your Grandparent's Square Dance from Doug Plummer on...

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The Swinging Pendulum of Luck (Brazil Notes)

I guess I have to admit that my normally sharpened travel senses were getting a little dulled. Since I arrived in Rio de Janeiro I had been lulled into the ease of depending on my Portuguese – speaking, Brazilian, half brother, Fernando, to do all the talking and...

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Fall 2008

Rumours are spreading that I've emigrated to Canada. It's not true, but I'll probably be spending more time there. I spent one month this fall helping out and hanging around the work shop of Romero Banjos on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The shop is the husband...

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Mexico Tour Update

Hello friends, I just returned from an amazing 7 week tour in Mexico playing electric guitar with my friends the Can Kickers, an old time/punk band from Connecticut. We were on tour with a band from Mexico City called Polka Madre y La Comezon in their white Chevy van...

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