Saturday, December 30, 2006

It's Nice Up North

Just a few weeks now until we fly into Bozeman for the 2007 Wintergreen Dance Weekend. The Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture is a great site for music and dance and we fully expect to have even more fun than we did in 2003 on our first visit. Seth Tepfer from Atlanta will be calling and we're looking forward to meeting and hearing the folks in Out of the Wood as well. Hopefully we'll get to share some tunes over the course of the weekend with them and some of the other excellent players in the Bozeman area.

It's not too late to catch our own Pat O'Loughlin playing with an All Star band at Tapestry on New Year's Eve. We've all played at this event, together and in various groupings, over the years and it's always a very good way to start the new year.

Contratopia is very pleased to announce that we've added a dance to our calendar for this winter. We'll be playing in lovely Northfield, MN on friday evening, Feb. 23 with our good friend Robin Nelson calling. This will be our first-ever public dance in Northfield and we're expecting it to be really fun. We'll have more details later.

Have a Happy New Year's Eve and remember, if you drink (even a little) let somebody else drive.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Holiday Festivities

'Tis the season and there's music aplenty.

Patrice is busy, I'm sure, helping to prepare music for the Winter Festival of St. Thomas Beckett church in Eagan, MN. This occurs tomorrow (Sunday) at 4:00 p.m. and is bound to be a memorable event.

I'm confident that Pat O'Loughlin is putting in long hours learning new tunes (maybe even writing some new tunes?) in preparation for the New Year's Eve dance party at Tapestry with a stellar band that includes Becka Schafer, David Kirchner, and David Edminster.

Erik and I are occupied this weekend (last night and this afternoon) with the 10th annual Burning Bright holiday season concert here in Decorah. Along with accompanying a variety of songs we are priviliged to have a little spot of our own in the program. We're being joined this year by our friend Beth Hoven Rotto from Decorah's own Foot-Notes.

While known primarily as a fiddler, Beth is playing piano with us on a newly composed waltz written in honor of our friend Gordy MacMasters (master musical saw and chromatic harmonica player) who passed away this year titled "G for Gordy". She is then joining us on lap dulcimer while Erik and I play an uptempo "Cold Frosty Morning" on fiddle and mandolin.

While Contratopia doesn't get to play together for another month or so (Jan. 20th at Tapestry) we're all looking forward to the new year and, especially, our upcoming visit to Bozeman. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Mandotopia is a site I've created to bring together a bunch of different mandolin-related projects that I've created over the last few years. It includes links to pages with free sheet music which, while arranged for mandolin, is playable by most treble clef instruments. There are also a few home recordings of me playing some of the music.

There are complete collections of 18th century music composed for "guittar" (a wire-strung fretted instrument most often referred to these days as the English Guitar, although several scholars prefer different terms) including two sets of divertimenti by the wonderful Scottish composer James Oswald. You can also find several pieces by J.S. Bach and G.P. Telemann arranged for mandolins, sometimes with guitar.

You can view, and copy, quite a few of my own pieces as well. My set of Deer Tracks for solo mandolin features both the sheet music and home recordings of the pieces. If you are a mandolin orchestra member you might be interested in my compositions in that genre. My goal here is to corner the market on recently-composed free music for mandolin orchestra so I intend to add more pieces over time. In fact there are several categories waiting for me to add content. I'll get around to this someday.

Finally I've included links to a few articles that I've written that have been published in the Mandolin Journal, the newsletter of the Classical Mandolin Society of America.

Feel free to play and listen to this music and share it with your friends. The old music is in the public domain and I'm making my stuff available using a Creative Commons license. This basically means that any non-commercial use is OK with me. Just drop me a line if you have something commercial in mind.

The photo is a shot of my recenty acquired Pomeroy mandolin. It was brand new when it's creator, Don Paine, took the picture. It's a fabulous instrument and I strongly encourage anyone in the market for a new mandolin (at a very reasonable price for a handmade instrument) to check out the Pomeroy website and contact Don.