The Florida Folklife Reader

Article excerpt

The Florida Folklife Reader. Edited by Tina Bucuvalas. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. 2012. Pp. xx + 240 bibliography, appendices, index, photographs. $65.00 cloth, $25.00 paper.)

Tina Bucuvalas' edited volume The Florida Folklife Reader offers an overview of a variety of topics related to the study of Florida folklore. As former director of the Florida Folklife Program at the Department of State, Bucuvalas herself has a thorough knowledge of the subject, and she has assembled a group of other folklorists focusing on Florida folklore including Brent Cantrell, Joyce M. Jackson, Stephen Stuempfle, Katherine Borland, Martha Ellen Davis, Ormond H. Loomis, Robert L. Stone, Anna Lomax-Wood, Stavros K. Frangos, Gregory Hansen, Laurie K. Sommers, Martha Nelson, Jerrilyn McGregory, and members of the Florida Folklife Program. In addition, Bucuvalas herself is a contributor to the volume.

The introduction offers a helpful historical overview of the various folk groups of Florida, a state rich in regional, ethnic, and ecological diversity. The essays themselves are organized geographically from south to north, except for the last chapter on maritime folklife, which covers the entire state. South Florida folklore is the subject of Brent Cantrell's essay "Key Largo to Marathon: A Report on the Folklife of the Upper and Middle Keys." After this descriptive account of folklife in the southernmost part of Florida, Tina Bucuvalas, Katherine Borland, and Martha Ellen Davis address various aspects of Latin American folklore, including CubanAmerican festivals, Peruvian music, and Nicaraguan folklife. In addition, Joyce M. Jackson and Stephen Stuempfle provide a portrait of African-American and Afro-Caribbean folklore forms. Jackson and Stuempfle's contributions complement each other, as Jackson provides a helpful overview of topics and genres related to African-American and Afro-Caribbean experience in South Florida, while Stuempfle's essay focuses on one particular genre (Trinidadian pan music) as elaborated in the work of folk artist Michael Kernahan. Ormond H. Loomis's brief study on the Seminole chickee (traditional building form) offers a description of the form and a discussion of its changing functions and meanings.

Central Florida is the subject of Robert L. Stone's essay "Sacred Steel," a fascinating African-American steel guitar music used in certain African-American Pentecostal services. The rich Greek folklife of the Central Florida region is covered by Anna Lomax Wood's essay "Musical Practice and Memory on the Edge of Two Worlds: Kalymnian Tsambóuna and Song Repertoire in the Family of Nikitas Tsimouris" and Stavros K. Frangos's essay entitled "Eternal Be Their Memory!" Gregory Hansen's study of the folk music of Richard Seaman rounds out the essays from the Central Florida region and is another excellent example of a folkloristic study of an individual folk artist that both addresses the artist's individual contributions to the form while also placing his/her work within a larger context. …