Friday, November 07, 2014

Riff City at iTunes

Our new CD Riff City is now available for download from both iTunes and CD Baby. That means you can click on one of the links in the previous sentence and buy a copy right now, no muss, no fuss; immediate gratification. (Now that would make a good album title.)

Of course if you want the physical, high quality CD you can always buy one from the band tomorrow night (Saturday, Nov. 8) at Tapestry. Then you'll get to see the excitement in our eyes as we thank you for getting us one step closer to recouping our investment. Plus you get a physical copy of Maria's great artwork.

Any way you choose is fine with us. We're confident that you'll enjoy the tunes.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Riff City has arrived

A decade in the making, Contratopia is proud to announce the release of our 4th CD, Riff City.

It is hot off the press so, for now, the best way to get your hands on a copy is either to order one from CD Baby ( or to buy one directly from us. Digital download options will be available soon.

We will have lots of copies with us on Saturday night when we play at the Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis.

More news to come. You can go to the CD Baby link to hear sound clips or come hear us play the tunes live at Tapestry on Saturday.

Cover art and package design by our friend Maria Nicklin Collins (

Monday, October 20, 2014

Northfield Harvest Stomp Coming This Week (Oct. 24, 2014)

Whoah! What a sleepy blog!

OK, so things have been too busy for the last few months to post here (or maybe I've been too lazy?) but Contratopia is getting ready to launch the new 2014-2015 season, starting this Friday in Northfield.

It's not like we've been inactive since last February. There have been a number of gigs, together and apart, plus lots of real world events, both happy and sad.

We've got several dances lined up, including another swing out to DC at the end of February/beginning of March, and we are finally wrapping up work on our fourth CD, which was actually recorded back in February and March.

The new CD is titled Riff City and we hope to make it available, physically and online, in the next few weeks. We'll be sure and make a little noise when it's ready.

For now though, consider coming to Northfield on Friday and having some fun while we dust off some familiar tunes and maybe try some new ones.

More info at this Facebook page:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Glen Echo & Shepherdstown Coming Right Up

We are heading out east this weekend for another visit to a couple of our favorite dance halls. The fabulous Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park will be our home away from home on Friday night and Sunday afternoon and evening. On Saturday night we will return to the lovely & historic War Memorial Building in Shepherdstown, WV (pictured above).

The band is coming off of another high energy dance last weekend in Northfield, MN. We all had significant challenges trying to get to Northfield because of near blizzard conditions and roads covered in thick ice but we made it there and back to our various homes without injury or accident.

We were hoping that DC in March would involve some Spring weather but it looks like temperatures may only be in the 30s and 40s most of the time that we are there. It was 10 below here again this morning so anything above freezing still sounds pretty great.

Whatever the weather we are looking forward to playing for lots of enthusiastic dancers! You can find out the details about these events by following the links on the "dances" page on our website. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Big Time in Decorah!

Thanks to all the folks who came out in snowy Decorah last night for our annual concert/dance event. I'm pretty sure that it was a record crowd for the dance.

Pat and Patrice came down from the cities on Friday afternoon and we indulged ourselves in a series of rehearsals. We started Friday evening, after a great dinner at the Old Armory BBQ, with a lengthy session on Center Ave. We followed up on Sat. with a morning practice and then a trip to the Oneota Food Coop where we played ("will play for food") a short acoustic set. Then back home for a couple of more hours. Back to the Coop for dinner, then to the Elks.

We were amazingly organized (by our standards) and used our time well. We prepared (who plays what, where)(we even took notes!) several sets of tunes for a recording session that we have scheduled a week from Monday at Wild Sound in Minneapolis. Then we performed those arrangements as the bulk of our concert set last night. We hope this recording will be the first step towards a new CD for the band.

The concert audience was great, very attentive and forgiving. They also did a great job at providing percussion during Pat's tune, "Two Bits". Ted Hodapp, our caller for the evening, worked the soundboard during the concert and really made us sound good.

The dance itself was most excellent. The energy level was great. We could have used a much larger dance floor. We stopped promptly at 10:30 because Pat, Patrice, Ted & Lynn all needed to drive back to the cities and wanted to stay ahead of the worst of the snowy, windy weather to come.

This event kicked off 2014 for Contratopia, our 14th or 15th (we're really not sure when we started) year as a band. We'll be a little busy, by our standards, for the next couple of months with dances and recording work. Next dance will be Feb. 21 in Northfield, followed by a weekend of dances at Glen Echo Park, near DC (with an excursion to Shepherdstown, WV), at the start of March. Hope we'll see some of you out on the floor!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Minnesota Country Dance Weekend

We're all looking forward to being the Friday night contra dance band for the Minnesota Country Dance Weekend this week, held at the lovely Sokol C.S.P.S. Hall in St. Paul. Check out the Weekend webpage for details.

Erik and I will be driving up from Decorah on Friday afternoon and we will be hunting the elusive perfect fiddle tune, a rare but lovely bird. Neither chamber of Congress will deter us from our appointed round trip.

We are all looking forward to getting to work with the great caller David Millstone. We hope that some of you can join us.

A brief commercial message: I will be bringing along a few copies of my new solo CD, Deer Tracks (for solo mandolin), in case anyone has a taste for slightly off-center, classical solo mandolin music. You can listen to samples at CDBaby or learn more at my Kickstarter site. I'm pretty sure that it's available at iTunes now also. Our own Pat O'Loughlin sat in the producer's chair for this one, so it's at least partially a Contratopia production.

It'll be Friday before we know it.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Hail to the 2013/14 Contratopia Season!

I just updated our "dances" page on the Contratopia website with what we know of our 2013/14 season. Since the season begins this Saturday night at Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis I thought I'd better bring things up to date.

I moved info about last season's performances to our "history" page, which is getting pretty long. Right now the history starts with the 2001/2002 season but someday I need to try and reconstruct the years before that. Any way you look at it we have been playing together (and "playing" is definitely the right word) for a long time.

This new season will begin with Ehler Orngard making his second appearance in the role of Erik Sessions and Pat, Patrice and I are looking forward to it. Mr. Sessions himself will return in his featured role on October 4th when we play the Friday night dance for the Minnesota Country Dance Weekend and, as you can see, the original quartet has several more dances already on our calendar beyond that.

As always, we hope to see you at one or more of these events.