Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Call of the Loon 2018

(photo of Erik Sessions at Loon 2016, courtesy of Trish Finn)

I suppose we could name it "Call of the Frozen Loon" since it looks like we might have some interesting weather this weekend. In any event we're all looking forward to playing for a big crowd at Tapestry from Friday through Sunday as part of this year's Loon.

We are especially looking forward to hearing, and meeting, the members of Elixer and caller Lisa Greenleaf. 

We're also excited that we get to work with the great Ted Hodapp this weekend. This is the first time that we won't have to travel a long distance to work a full weekend with Ted and we expect to hear a ton of new bad jokes. 

Registration for the Weekend has closed but we hope, if you are reading this, that you have already signed up and we will see you in a couple of days. Remember to bring your dancing clothes and your winter weather gear!

Ask us about our ill-fated trip to Takoma Park in March.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Winter to Spring, 2018

We are waking this blog from its long slumber to mention a few upcoming events and opportunities.

First, just two weeks from today we (including our buddy, caller Ted Hodapp) will be in the middle of another long weekend in the D.C. region. We'll be playing the Friday night contra in the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park (check our Dances page for links and details), the Shepherdstown Contra Dance on Saturday night and both the afternoon Waltz Time and evening contra dance at Glen Echo on Sunday.

From April 13-15 we will be the "local" band for the Call of the Loon weekend at Tapestry in Minneapolis, along with the mighty Elixer and callers Ted Hodapp and Lisa Greenleaf. This is always a great weekend and I think there are still a few spots left.

On Sunday afternoon June 3 we will be playing from 4-7 in the lovely courtyard of the Courtyard & Cellar in charming Decorah, IA. This will be a family-friendly "picnic and a pint" event, bring the kids or just come and enjoy the relaxed setting.

Finally, many of the readers of this blog probably already know that Patrice Pakiz, our piano, oboe and percussion player, is a member of Laura MacKenzie's fabulous band Brass Lassie. If, however,  this is your first time hearing about this group you should check them out and consider supporting their Indiegogo CD fundraiser. You'll be glad you did!

If you are able to hear us at one of these upcoming gigs please stop and say hello. We are really looking forward to playing some tunes and hope we'll see you around.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Maryland and Back

Erik and Ted playing a hambo during the Friday Night dance break.
We have all returned safe and sound from another visit to our eastern headquarters in Takoma Park. It is impossible to thank Lynn and Ted enough for their generous hospitality. They even keep two friendly cats at their house so we will have pets to play with when we visit.

The dances were all wonderful and the music was full of fun. We especially enjoyed our first band visit to Annapolis and we were able to spend a couple of hours being tourists and having a fine meal at the Galway Bay Irish Pub.

Thanks to all of our old friends who came out to dance and hear us play, and thanks to those new listeners who became friends before and after the dances and during the breaks.

We are actively trying to plan a return visit early in 2018 and we'll keep you posted about that.

We will also be playing again on April 1st at Tapestry in Minneapolis, even though we aren't yet listed on the calendar. Come out and dance if you are in the area.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Glen Echo - Annapolis, the Maryland Tour happens this weekend

The band is beginning to pack our bags, looking forward to three dances this weekend at Glen Echo Park and our first visit to Annapolis. The remarkable Ted Hodapp will be calling the contra dances while supplying foot percussion and playing the occasional hambo. Ted and Lynn, our ever-generous hosts, are trying to Contratopia-proof their humble abode. The cats have been alerted.

Here are the gig details:

The Friday Night Dance at Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, MD (March 17);
Annapolis Contra Dance, Annapolis, MD (March 18);
Waltz Time Sunday Afternoon Dance, Glen Echo, MD (March 19)
Folklore Society of Greater Washington Sunday Night Contra and Square Dance, Glen Echo, MD (March 19)

We hope to see lots of folks at these events. It's been two years since our last visit, and we're not getting any younger. Even the weather looks promising at this point.

Stop and say hello if you come out. We'd love to see you.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Tapestry, Feb. 11 - Free Dance in Memory of Jan Greenfield

(Photo courtesy of Trish Finn)

Contratopia is honored to be playing this Saturday night for a special event at Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis. A generous donor has funded a free dance in memory of Jan Greenfield, a beloved member of the Tapestry dance community.

Jan was also a big fan of Contratopia so we are glad that can be a part of this event. Come for the whole night of dancing or just stop by for a dance or two. It's free!

This will be our first dance of 2017 and will serve as a bit of preparation for our upcoming Mid-Atlantic tour in March. It's been almost two years since we have played at Glen Echo for a contra dance and at least three since we have played for the Sunday afternoon Waltz Time. So we are looking forward to that trip.

If you are reading this on Thursday, Feb. 9 there is still time to go see Pat O'Loughlin and his brother John give a Kingston Trio tribute concert tomorrow night (the 10th) at Maggie's Farm in St. Louis Park. It's a guaranteed good time. Then stop by the free dance on Saturday to tell Pat how much you loved the show.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Contratopia Cornucopia - This Week Only

Please join us at the Cellar in the Old Armory building in Decorah at 7:00 on Friday, Oct. 28 for A Contratopia Cornucopia, a unique combination of music and food. We will provide seasonal, organic, acoustic, mostly homegrown tunes and master chef Justin Scardina will serve up small plates of tasty dishes with a harvest theme. The Water Street Music Series is presenting this event and you can purchase advance tickets through the WSMS website.

The band is having fun designing our musical menu and we will feature some new combinations of familiar and exotic fare. This concert with food will give Contratopia a chance to mix up some of our basic ingredients to create some new flavors. We hope you will consider joining us.

We played for two dances this past weekend: Friday in Northfield, Saturday at Tapestry in Minneapolis. Both dances were tremendous fun and served as a great kickoff to our new season. Unfortunately it will be a few weeks before we get to play another dance, but it's always wonderful to wind Contratopia up again and start it spinning down the road. We hope we'll see many of you along the way in this our 17th season as a band.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Season 17 (2016-2017) Almost Here

The photo above shows the four of us, I believe, on the front porch of the house that Erik and Sara were renting outside of Decorah somewhere around the turn of the century. I think we were rehearsing that day to prepare for recording our first CD, Hands Four.

Many years later we are set to commence our 17th (although I could be off by a year or two) Fall to Spring season as Contratopia. We have a flurry of activity this month and we will be returning to the east coast in March. In between I am sure we will play a few more dances here in our home region.

Things will kick off (this should be the only football analogy) on Friday Oct. 21 with another great Harvest Stomp contra in Northfield, MN. This dance will be held at the Northfield Ballroom; the town Armory, our former site, is no longer available.

The following night, Oct. 22, we will play once again at the Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis. We have played at Tapestry many times over the years and we think of it as our group home.

On Friday Oct. 28 Patrice and Pat will travel to Decorah to join John and Erik in presenting A Contratopia Cornucopia: A Harvest of Local Food and Music, along with chef extraordinaire Justin Scardina. This will be the first event of the new season for Decorah's Water Street Music Series and will be a combination of a concert and a feast of delicious culinary creations. (Tickets are available now but seating is limited, so don't delay if you are interested.)

Looking ahead to March 2017 we are excited to be returning to the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park for contra dances on both Friday March 17 and Sunday March 19. On Saturday the 18th we will make our first visit to the contra dance in Annapolis, MD. We are also hopeful that we will once again be playing for the Sunday Waltz Time dance at Glen Echo on the afternoon of March 19.

I'm sure that we will schedule some more dances as we go along, but that's it for now. We hope you can join us for some of the fun!