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!






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!

https://soundcloud.com/jgoodin/mothers-day-contratopia-live-in-2003

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!