The Princeton Traditional Music Society was founded by Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat who have a life long commitment to this music. They are singers of traditional song and scholars of ballads, shanties, and other folk songs. The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, and its success, is a testimony to their passion and hard work.
Those who have come to visit, sing, play, and share their culture at Jon and Rika's home come from far and wide and many are core to the Traditional Music scene. Over a period of forty years these people have attracted more like minded artists and the Princeton Traditional Music Festival is the culmination of this process. It is truly a treasure of musical culture in Canada.
The Festival was started in 2008 and has shown value as both a driver for tourism and as an asset to community development. Many people also enjoy an involvement as volunteers and this contributes to the social gains as well as helping to make the Festival a success.
The focus of the music is oral tradition and history. Although the word "traditional", when associated with music, is generally used to describe the musical traditions of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Manx, and Breton cultures, the concept can easily be expanded to include music which centres on the poetry of the human condition. Indeed, in this day and age, it is difficult to not do so. Traditional music then, is an art form which speaks to our history and teaches us something about ourselves.
This music originates from the very people whose lives it chronicles. It is not only an expression of life on the sea, in work camps, mines, and factories, but it also speaks of childhood and family life. This is not the music of concert halls, but rather that of the streets, pubs, picket lines, weddings, funerals, and family kitchens. In short, this is music that belongs everywhere, and to everyone.
In defining this art form it is impossible to ignore the non-verbal expressions which are closely related, inspired by, or directly associated with it. One cannot dissociate dance from the music. In the same vein, where there are musicians there will always be an instrumental narrative, even just for the simple joy of playing. Often too, these non-verbal expressions are inspired by the same environment or events which gave birth to the purely oral traditions. In the end, this art is all about the human condition and tells the story of our cultures and where we came from.