Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day (live from 2003)

Here's a lovely photo by Pat O'Loughlin of the iconic Highlandville Schoolhouse where we would have been playing a dance a few years ago on Derby Day (that's the first Saturday in May to you non-Louisville area folks).

I mention this today (Mother's Day 2016) because I thought it would be fun to share a live recording of the band playing our waltz "Mother's Day" back in April of 2003 at Camp Sertoma, NC during the Spring Dance Romance weekend.

The recording comes from a Sunday morning waltz session, it might be the first tune of the day. There's the occasional mistake but in general I think it sounds pretty good. Hope you enjoy the music!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Loon to Earth Day

Here's a fine photo of Erik Sessions as we played for part of the Friday night dance at the 2016 Call of the Loon Dance Weekend. Thanks to Trish Finn (ContraGypsy FotograFinn on Facebook) for this and several other fine shots of the band. Sharing the weekend with Wild Asparagus was great fun for us and very inspiring. Such nice folks and brilliant musicians!

In addition to getting to watch Wild Asparagus work, Erik, Patrice and John all managed to drive up to the Cedar Cultural Center on Friday to hear the last 40 minutes of Vasen's set on Friday. Also super inspiring. Thanks to Pat (who does photography at the Cedar) for helping us get in the door on short notice.

This coming Friday (April 20) we will be playing for a special Earth Dance at Carleton College in Northfield with guest fiddler Linda Breitag. Robin Nelson will once again call the dances. Teaching starts at 7:00 and the dance will be in the Cowling gymnasium on campus. We've done this before and it's always lots of fun.

We will have one final dance of the season, on June 11 at Tapestry, with Tim Reese fiddling, before we take our summer hiatus. Hope to see you at one of these events!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Northern Aire Coming Your Way

If you are in the D.C. area this week you have the opportunity to dance to the sounds of our own Pat O'Loughlin, sometimes Contratopian Tim Reese, and Bob Walser, who are touring as Northern Aire with caller Ted Hodapp.

It's probably a little late to catch them tonight in Baltimore but you can certainly hear them at Glen Echo on Friday and Sunday night. They will also be playing for the Richmond contra dance on Saturday night. The band sounds great and, if you're lucky, Ted may share a few of the new jokes he tried out last Saturday night at Tapestry in Minneapolis.

Speaking of Tapestry, Contratopia had a super good time there last weekend and the crowd was great. We also had a fine rehearsal on Saturday morning at Patrice's house and had the chance to try a few new things that night. Everyone at Tapestry seemed pretty excited about the upcoming Call of the Loon weekend with Contratopia and Wild Asparagus. Even though the dance weekend is booked to capacity I believe that they are taking names for a waiting list in case there are cancellations.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Bad News, Good News

Bad News first: we are sorry to announce that we will not be playing in Northfield on Feb. 19 because the Winter Stomp dance will not be taking place. There are perfectly good, although private, reasons for this but we hope to schedule another dance in Northfield soon.

Good News:

  • Even though we won't be playing in Northfield on the 19th we will still be playing at Tapestry on Saturday Feb. 20.
  • While we love all of the callers that we are privileged to work with at Tapestry we are excited to learn that we will be working with our old buddy Ted Hodapp on the 20th! 
  • This will be our first time working with Ted since last winter on our short mid-Atlantic tour and our first time working with Ted at Tapestry since Feb. of 2013. So look out!
  • Even though Contratopia won't be touring out East this winter, Pat's "other" band Northern Aire (featuring Bob Walser and Tim Reese) are bringing the Upper Midwest Sound out to Glen Echo and the mid-Atlantic area at the end of February. 
  • We are really only a few weeks away from the Call of the Loon weekend at Tapestry in April. As you can imagine we are honored to be sharing the weekend with the great Wild Asparagus band. In addition, Pat and Northern Aire will also be featured on the Sunday of the weekend. 
  • Registration for Call of the Loon has closed but I believe you can still sign up to be put on a waiting list. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Tapestry, December 12, 2015

We're just a couple of days away from the final Contratopia dance of 2015. We (featuring Erik Sessions on fiddle) will reconvene at Tapestry Folkdance Center on Saturday night for one more dance before winter arrives. Robin Nelson will be calling the dances and we'll do our best to make things fun for all.

Our Riff City CD cover is just another reminder that Contratopia CDs make great holiday gifts. We will also be offering a free copy of our Ballroom Echoes waltz CD for every copy of Riff City that is purchased at the dance on Saturday. What a deal!

We hope to see you there.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tapestry, Nov. 21, 2015

Come on out to Tapestry on Saturday night and join us for a fun dance with David Kirchner calling and the great Tim Reese joining us on fiddle. With Tim in the mix we are sure to play a number of old Contratopia favorites along with some tunes that Tim will bring to the party.

The Riff City cover shot is a reminder that we still have a few of these CDs available for your holiday shopping. We will have plenty at the dance but you can also order the physical CD from CD Baby and you can purchase downloads from all of the usual suspects; iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, etc.

There is a lot of discussion these days in the musician community about the pros and cons of making recordings in the emerging "music business." Even the biggest names (with notable exceptions) only sell a fraction of the CDs that they used to sell. And downloads are shrinking too.

Fanfare Magazine (a great record review source) recently quoted an "executive at a top label" who reportedly said that the average number of sales for a classical CD in the U.S. is between 100 and 150 physical copies. It's not rocket science to calculate that this number of sales doesn't cover the cost of recording, or even manufacturing.

What's a band like Contratopia to make of this? We knew when we decided to record Riff City (after a 10 year break) that we wouldn't sell more than a few hundred copies. We were pretty careful with our expenses but we did use a first-rate studio (Wild Sound in Minneapolis) with great microphones and a great vibe. We all agree that it was worth the cost.

However, we would like to sell enough copies to break even, hence this long-winded sales pitch. We are still (as they love to say on public radio) short of our fund-raising goal. So, if you have enjoyed our music in the past and are trying to think of just the right present for that certain someone we have just the recording for you!

We hope to see you on Saturday night. If you can't make it this week there will another chance to dance with us on December 12. Erik Sessions will be fiddling that night and, yes, we will still have a few CDs for sale.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Harvest Stomp! 2015 in Northfield

Come join us in Northfield for another great dance at the Armory downtown on Friday night. This will be our first chance to play a dance together in several months so it's sure to be high energy music.

Hope to see you there!