Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Change of Plans

There's some good news/bad news regarding our 2008 calendar. First, the Bad. It turns out that we won't be playing at Tapestry in April after all. Our apologies if you've planned your vacation around this dance and already booked your flight. These things happen.

The Good News is that we will be playing a Mostly Waltz dance at Tapestry sometime during the afternoon on March 15. This will be followed by the already scheduled contra that evening. I know that's the Ides of March but I've already consulted with the experts and the omens are good.

Hope you are enjoying your holidays.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Let Me Count the Ways...

Realizing that this week is the start of the Shopping, er "Holiday", Season I thought I'd take a minute to note some of the many ways that Contratopia's recorded music can be found. I realize that almost everybody who reads this blog probably has all three of our commercial recordings, but you never know. It could be that the spirit of giving might lead you to want to share some of our recordings in either a physical (CD in a jewel case with booklet and liner notes, etc.) or a purchased digital form with a whole slew of your friends and neighbors. What better surprise for those music and dance lovers on your list? If that is the case then here are some of the ways you can get from here to there.

1. All of the band members can supply you with CDs. Just get in touch and we can fix you up. Or send me an order form from our website. I'm not certain but I think that the Homestead Pickin' Parlor in Minneapolis might have a few CDs in the shop also. CyberYankee's Contracopia website also can supply you with both Smitten and Hands Four and the folks at Great Meadow Music can fix you up with Smitten as well.

2. Our friends at CD Baby can send you our CDs and many other excellent recordings by people we either know or admire (sometimes both). You can see our page here and you might note the special discount for ordering multiple copies of a title. While CD Baby takes a cut of the purchase price in exchange for their great service we still love to sell CDs through them because it's easier than going to the post office. Also you can use your favorite credit card to pay.

3. In the digital realm you can listen to and purchase our recordings from most of the major vendors. There are separate iTunes pages for Smitten, Ballroom Echoes and Hands Four and I should note that iTunes fans have been very good to us. You can listen to, and purchase, all of our tracks at and over 50 other online services too.

4. Of special note is the new MP3 sales option direct from CD Baby. We have priced both Smitten and Hands Four at only $9 for the complete albums and Ballroom Echoes at only $6. If MP3 is your preference then this is a great way to go.

So, until we get that next CD recorded (and your guess is as good as mine), these are some of the ways to purchase what we've managed to record so far. Hopefully we'll see many of you at some of our upcoming dances in the new year and your holiday season will be a good one.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Northfield Harvest Stomp!

Just days away from the start of our new season on Friday, October 26 from 7 to 10:30 p.m. at the Northfield Armory, 519 Division Street in downtown Northfield. Details here.

So far the weather looks promising (we don't want to make snow storms a regular part of our visits to the Armory) and our anticipation is building. Can we still play? Do we remember any tunes? Which mandolin will John bring?

Erik and I played our local dance here in Decorah last night with our Western Home String Band friends and seemed to be able to manage a few tunes OK. In fact a lot of the playing was pretty darn good. Rob, Mike, David and young Ben all did a great job of keeping the train on the track despite our best efforts to confuse them.

Hope some of you can make it to the dance on Friday. Otherwise we'll hope to see you at Tapestry during the winter, or maybe out East in April. Here's the full schedule in case you haven't memorized it yet:

2007/2008 Season: When & Where

October 26, 2007
Contra dance in Northfield, MN (details to follow)

January 12, 2008
Contra dance (7:30-11:30) at Tapestry Folkdance Center, Minneapolis, MN

February 22, 2008
Contra dance in Northfield, MN (details to follow)

February 23, 2008
Contra dance (7:30-11:30) at Tapestry Folkdance Center, Minneapolis, MN

March 15, 2008
Contra dance (7:30-11:30) at Tapestry Folkdance Center, Minneapolis, MN

April 3-6, 2008
Mid-Atlantic Tour 2008 (w/Ted Hodapp): Glenside, PA (3rd); Glen Echo, MD (4th); Shepherdstown, WV (5th);
Glen Echo, MD (6th, afternoon waltz & evening contra)

April 19, 2008
Contra dance (7:30-11:30) at Tapestry Folkdance Center, Minneapolis, MN

May 3, 2008
Contra dance at the Highlandville Schoolhouse, north of Decorah, IA

May 17, 2008
Contra dance (7:30-11:30) at Tapestry Folkdance Center, Minneapolis, MN

Saturday, October 06, 2007

CD Baby Gets It Right

Our good friends at CD Baby are now in the business of selling mp3 downloads of our (and thousands of other) CDs. They have already been making our music available for download from most of the major vendors (iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, Napster, etc.) for a few years but now they are offering full CD downloads direct from the CD Baby site.

Why buy direct from CD Baby? Let me count the ways. First, we get to set the price. So for now we are asking $9 each for Smitten and Hands Four and only $6 for Ballroom Echoes. Since CD Baby only keeps 9% of the sale price most of the money goes directly to us to pay for things like strings, instrument repair and shoes for the kids. Not for the Mercedes or shopping sprees in Paris. OK, sometimes we buy chocolate or maybe a pizza.

More important than price is the quality of what CD Baby is selling. You can go here to read the details but, basically, you will receive high-quality DRM-free mp3s, a JPG of the CD cover and a text file with info about the recording.

CD Baby is only selling complete CDs and not individual tracks so you will still need to visit our friends at iTunes, etc. if you really want to download a single set of tunes or a waltz.

By the way, we love it when our listeners buy our recordings in any format and I personally think that DRM is a bad, bad idea. You will definitely never be sued by us for enjoying our music!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

YouTube-Northfield-Google Book Search Fun

Our good friends in Northfield have loaded a wonderful music slide show of photos from our Winter Stomp! dance in Northfield earlier this year. It features great photography set to our own recording of "Mason's Apron" followed by "Maggie in the Snow." If you haven't seen it yet check it out. We are actually in a couple of the photos but the focus, as it should be, is on the dancers.

In a little over a week Pat and Patrice will be half of a great band that will play at the St. Olaf College homecoming event and then Contratopia Proper will show up later in October for a Friday Harvest Stomp. Here's the announcement:

The Northfield Harvest Stomp!
Friday, October 26, 2007, 7:00 – 10:30 p.m.
A community contra dance at The Northfield Armory, 519 Division Street. Dance instruction 7:00 - 7:30 p.m. (recommended for all participants) followed by dancing to Contratopia and led by Robin Nelson. Admission: $9 adults, $6 students and youth under 18 ($20cap per family). No partner needed, and no previous dance experience necessary. Comfortable shoes and festive dance-ready attire recommended. All ages welcome, but participation in the main dance is recommended for children 10 years and older. (A dance area for younger children will be provided alongside the main dance area so that children can have fun dancing safely alongside the main dance.)

Finally, thanks to the ever-inventive folks at Google Book Search, here's a quote from:

A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen By Robert Chambers: "It is painful to hear some of the young ladies at our parties reddening with a kind of horror at being asked to join in a reel or country dance and simpering out "I can't dance reels -- they're vulgar; "

Thankfully, as the slide show above amply demonstrates, the ladies and gentlemen of today have no such concerns!

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Company We Keep

It's still a few weeks until the four of us (Pat, Patrice, Erik and me) get together for our first dance of the new season in Northfield. But when we aren't playing as Contratopia we each get to keep some pretty good company.

Down in Iowa Erik and I get to spend time with some mighty fine local musicians. In particular we play with our buddies Jim Skurdall and Jody Koenig as Bear Creek Bluegrass and with our local contra dance group the Western Home String Band.

Last Saturday we played with Western Home for a dance that was held as part of the new student orientation at Luther College. Bill Deutsch did a great job of calling this slightly chaotic event held in a nearly dark parking lot where several hundred energetic young students are mixing while eating free pizza. Campus pastor Mike Blair on guitar, professor David Ranum on English concertina (a Stagi Hayden Duet no less!) and student Ehler Orngard (of Ames' excellent Barn Owl Band) on fiddle and whistles joined Erik and me in supplying the tunes. On Saturday Sept. 15 most of us will drive out to the Highlandville schoolhouse for the first official Decorah contra dance of the season.

Tomorrow Erik and I are playing a wedding reception with Bear Creek (with Bill Musser substituting for Jody on bass) here in town. On Sept. 29 Bear Creek will be playing a barn dance for the Oneota Community Co-op, probably our last gig of our summer season.

Up in Minnesota Pat and Patrice are keeping fine company as well. I'm not sure exactly who is joining Pat in the Testostertunes (Testosterunes?) these days but it looks like they played last Sat. at the Tapestry Folkdance Center.

Pat, Patrice and our good friend, fiddler Ken Steffenson will be playing at a street dance somewhere in St. Paul on Thursday Sept. 20. And on the 29th Pat, Patrice and Ken will be joined by Ken's Danebodium bandmate Dan Leussler to play for the Harvest Festival held during Homecoming at St. Olaf College.

Going along with this theme I have posted an old home recording of a tune I titled "The Company You Keep" over on my So Many Tunes blogsite. Here's the link to the mp3 version of the tune:

The Company You Keep (mp3)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Calendar Update

Thanks to Patrice's hard work we have just arranged to play for a series of dances at the Tapestry Folkdance Center in early 2008. I have updated our official calendar at the Contratopia website but here is our upcoming season in a nutshell:

We will play two dances in Northfield, MN; one in the fall on Oct. 26 and one in late winter on February 22. We will play five dances at Tapestry, once each month January through May. We'll play what has become our annual early May dance at the Highlandville schoolhouse near Decorah and we will take to the road for another visit to the mid-Atlantic region in early April.

There has been some talk of having us play a couple of "mostly waltz" dances on Saturday afternoons at Tapestry in the spring also and we'll be sure and announce them if those arrangements come together. Otherwise this looks like a pretty full schedule to us.

Tom Gau's beautiful artwork for our first CD is something I always enjoy. Usually I only see it as I'm handing a CD to someone so I thought I'd place it here to add some class to this short entry. Thanks again, Tom, for both the original drawing and the finished CD cover.

Friday, July 06, 2007


I was updating the dances page on our official website last night with a few dances that we have scheduled for next season and I moved the list of last season's gigs over to our history page. This, naturally, led to reflections on music, people and places in the band's history.

I grabbed the photo above from our long-time buddy Ted Hodapp's dance page. I'm guessing this was taken sometime in the year 2000, pretty early in the band's journey. See how happy we are?!

This reminded me that Ted has been kind enough to serve up two recordings from one of our earliest concerts on his website for a long time. These come from a long ago performance at Haugen Hall here in Decorah that we played for a wonderful group of friends and neighbors. I'm not sure where the master recordings are for this concert, I'm not even sure who did the recording (maybe Jody Koenig?) but I've got a CD copy of the show.

I've created an mp3 version of our rendition of Erik's beautiful tune "Oak Woods Song" that you can download and enjoy. I really like this recording because I remember that we barely knew the tune at this point and everybody was really paying close attention to each other while we were playing it. (Of course we always pay close attention to each other, but this was really
close attention.)

Patrice was stuck playing a keyboard instead of a piano and she's lower in the mix than I would like. But, if you listen carefully, you'll hear how she reinvents the harmony to the tune each time it comes around. The chords that appear in the Contratopia Tunebook for this tune don't come close to the richness of what Patrice achieves here.

About this time of the summer I start to really miss playing regular contra dances with Pat, Patrice and Erik. I get to play quite a few wedding dance gigs with excellent musicians (like Ken, Linda, Jim, Jody, Bill, Rob etc.) but it's not the same as settling in for a three hour session with Contratopia where the dancers and the caller are simply there to dance. However, that's enough nostalgia for now.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Summer Hibernation

It occurred to me while I was playing a duo gig with Erik at the Burr Oak, IA Laura Days event this afternoon that I had neglected to bring the 2006-2007 Contratopia season to a satisfying blogospheric close.

Lest anyone in a distant part of the world (and I can see from Google Analytics that folks from all over do visit this site from time to time) wonder if the band exploded in a fit of "artistic differences" following our gig at Highlandville, let me assure you that everything is great and we're looking forward to the start of our next season in the Fall.

We do need to do a little work towards getting a few gigs nailed down but I know for sure we'll be out East in April of 2008 for a long weekend and that we'll play a dance or two for our new friends in Northfield, MN as well. Hopefully our old friends at Tapestry in Minneapolis will find room for us a few times also.

All of us have plenty of music in our lives during the summer season but we rarely get together as a quartet. Pat, Patrice and I usually play a few weddings and other private events with one or another of our favorite alter-Eriks. This summer we get to play with both Ken Steffenson and Linda Breitag at different times and I'm looking forward to having Ken join us next Thursday in Fairibault.

Patrice and Pat both stay busy, often playing with other fine musicians for dances at Tapestry. This summer they will both be on the staff at the first ever Midwestern Heart family dance week to be held the Shell Lake Art Center in Wisconsin from August 12-18. This should be a great week and I think there is still time to sign up. Speaking of camps, fiddler Sessions is off to the June Maine Fiddle Camp next week. I'm counting on these camps to give us a nice supply of new and new-old tunes for us to play with next season.

Erik and I keep busy enough here in Decorah playing for weddings and other events as well. Along with our duo gigs we get to play a few times with our buddies Jim and Jody in Bear Creek Bluegrass. Our first performance of the summer comes up a week from Thursday, June 21st, at the Sabor Latino courtyard on Water St. You can also catch Bear Creek at Sabor on the opening night of Nordic Fest and in the entertainment tents on Water St. on Friday and Saturday during the Fest.

If you run into any of us at one of these summer shows please say hello.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Two for the Show ...

Last Saturday night at Carleton was tons of fun! Frederick Park held a large crowd of energetic young dancers in thrall as he explained both the history of contra dance (and social dance in general) and where to put your feet. We got to provide the music. A highlight for me was the long square dance that Frederick called where he asked us to only play one tune, not a medley as we typically do. We had a ball giving "The Squirrel Hunters" a thorough working over. Even better, it looks like there's a good chance we'll get to play in Northfield again next Fall and in Spring 2008.

This Saturday (April 28th) we'll be reunited with our "Fifth Beatle", Ted Hodapp, at Tapestry in Minneapolis. It will be our last dance at Tapestry for this season (no more until Fall) and our first chance to give Ted a hard time since our D.C. Tour back in November. Ted has already set up another mid-Atlantic tour for us for next April but we'll have more news about that later.

All good things come to an end and Sat. May 5th (that's Derby Day back where I come from) Contratopia will close this season with what has become a traditional finale at the beautiful Highlandville Schoolhouse (see Pat O'Loughlin's photo above) just north of Decorah. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Decorah contra dance group we'll get to work again with our buddy Sue Hulsether. Even though the dance floor is small we always have a large amount of fun playing in the Schoolhouse.

If you've never made the pilgrimage to Highlandville you owe it to yourself to take a look. Dances have been held there for over 30 years now. As Bill Musser wrote in 1994:

The mixture of people that came amazed me. How could such a diverse group - from the cow barn, the classroom, the commune, and the office; the very old, very young, progressive, conservative, single, and married; believer, atheist, agnostic, meat-eater, vegetarian - all hold this singular pleasure of dancing to old-time music in common?

You can find directions for getting to the Schoolhouse from Decorah at the website of our good friends Foot-Notes who have been carrying on the tradition of dancing there for over 15 years. You can bet that we'll play Erik's lovely "Highlandville Waltz" before the evening is over.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Earth Day - Carleton College - Frederick Park

April 22 is Earth Day but we get to celebrate a day early (Saturday the 21st) with the legendary Frederick Park at Carleton College in Northfield, MN! Our last visit to Northfield was serious fun and this time (knock on wood) there shouldn't be a blizzard. The dance runs from 7:00-10:30 at Severance Hall on the Carleton campus.

I was already excited to meet Mr. Park (did I mention that he's Legendary?) but I just discovered that he now is in a band (the Burning Desire String Band) with one of my all-time favorite musicians in the world, Bob Lucas. It's been, literally, decades since I've had the luxury of soaking up some of the Lucas musical inspiration but maybe Frederick can help me recall some of those amazing days of yore.

Erik and I will also both definitely be in the audience for Lissa Schneckenburger's house concert here in Decorah on Tuesday April 24th. The show starts at 7:00 and you can reserve a place by contacting Bob Fitton at We're both looking forward to what should be an excellent concert and we're expecting to hear some great new tunes.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Three to Get Ready...

A couple of Very Unusual happenings here in Ctopia Land. First, as mentioned earlier, we rarely add a gig to our schedule once we plan out our limited season of dances. But, thanks to the enthusiasm of our new friends in Northfield (and a little money), we will be returning to the banks of the Cannon River to play the Northfield Earth Day Contra Dance on Saturday April 21. The legendary Fred Park (legendary because Pat's always telling stories about him) will call the dances and risk his good reputation by associating with us. This can only be a good time. Severance Hall, Carleton College. Teaching begins at 7:00 and the dance lasts until 10:30.

The dance in Northfield creates an even more historic first for the band: dances three weeks in a row! There's no telling what will result! First Northfield, then Tapestry on April 28 and, finally, the Highlandville Schoolhouse in rural Winneshiek County on May 5. Plus we get to work with three of the finest dance callers on Planet Earth; first Fred Park, then Ted Hodapp, then Sue Hulsether. Details, including directions to Highlandville, are at our "dances and news" page.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Vernal Equinox at Tapestry

Last Saturday we had a great time playing for the regular Saturday night contra at the Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis. Erik and I drove up from Decorah, Patrice only had to come a few blocks and Pat rolled in from a week of travel and adventures in the Southwest US and Baja Mexico.

Robin Nelson called a carefully prepared and masterfully executed series of dances and the crowd was one of the largest that we've ever had the pleasure of playing for at Tapestry. The unnaturally warm weather (sure it's spring in most of the country but it's usually still winter in Minnesota in March) certainly contributed to the large turnout.

It's pretty rare for us to add a date to our schedule this late in the season but we hope to be able to announce something pretty soon. We have just a couple more dances to play before we enter the long summer hibernation.

Big news for summer, though, is that Patrice and Pat will be on the staff at the first ever Midwestern Heart family dance week to be held the Shell Lake Art Center in Wisconsin from August 12-18. Check out the website and treat your family to a great vacation with some of the finest musicians and callers in the upper midwest!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Blizzard Walk

What a snowy adventure this weekend! While the trip to Northfield was pretty good (and the dance extraordinary, thanks to Suzie and crew), the short trip I had to Tapestry was quite snowy and moreso on the way home. My car managed to plow through the alley, only getting hungup temporarily. Planning to get to my church gig on Sunday morning, I dutifully snowblowed my garage pad at midnight.

This morning I plunged in fits for about 20 feet into my unplowed alley - stopping to shovel myself out about 6 times. It was so deep I started to "plow" with my bumper (and the car door as I left it open so I could hear when the tires began to spin). If I could only get out the alley, I'd be ok. I finally threw in the towel (or shovel as the case may be) and called another piano player who was going to attempt it. It is now 11 am and my very kind neighbor took the 2nd shift of using my snowblower to clear the car pad we share, but alas we've run out of gas. Bless his heart - he's shoveling the front walk! With more snow expected (already have about 10") I suspect I'll have yet another opportunity to play in the snow! How I wish I'd had time to buy some more yarn to work on a new knitting project!

But last night's dance - a number of stalwart (read "crazy") people braved the storm to come dance. Pat was able to snag our good fiddler friend Ken Steffenson and newly found harmonica player Steve Watney to conjure up a nice spicey band for the evening. Robin Nelson called and when she turned to us for a name, Blizzard Walk just seemed to pop out. Thank you to Ken and Steve for bailing us out and providing a great night of dancing! Now, I've heard March is the snowiest month and am crossing my fingers that instead March 24 at Tapestry brings us a nice balmy spring day for our next dance there.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Winter Stomp Indeed!

Big Fun in Northfield last night at the Northfield Winter Stomp!

Well over 200 highly motivated folks showed up last night at the Northfield Armory to dance and socialize and drive the cold winter away. Take a look at these photos (courtesy of Mark Heimat) to see what you missed. Or, if you were there, you can play "Where's Waldo" looking for you and your friends.

Special thanks to Suzie and her extraordinary crew, the folks at the Armory for all their help and the hardy souls who drove down from the Twin Cities to add their experience to the wintry mix. The band and caller Robin Nelson had a great time and rumor has it that we may get to do it again someday.

It's February in the upper midwest and sooner or later you have to pay the piper. Threats of terrible weather nearly prevented Erik and me from making the trip to Northfield. But a certain person's store of good karma held off the truly bad stuff until today. This led the Iowa half of the band to make the difficult decision to renege on our commitment to play at the most excellent and revered Tapestry Folkdance Center for tonight's contra and race home (well, at around 40 mph) this morning ahead of the storm. We promise to make it up to Pat, Patrice and the good people at Tapestry somehow.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Deep Freeze Tour

It's less than a week now before our Northfield-Minneapolis mid-winter tour. It's rare for us to play two nights in a row without having to fly someplace to do it so we're all definitely looking forward to next weekend.

Friday night we have the honor playing for the Northfield Winter Stomp! at the Northfield Armory. The idea is to create some enthusiasm for contra dancing in a town with a large potential dance population and, ideally, to get a regular dance going. Our good friend and partner-in-crime Robin Nelson will be teaching and calling the dances and we're confident that everyone who comes will have a good time. We hope this will be only the first of many dances in the Cannon River Valley and that we'll have the chance to return many times.

I expect that Erik and I will return to Minneapolis with Patrice and Pat after the dance and that someone will offer us shelter for the night. On Saturday we'll have the chance to hang out in the Big City. I'm hoping to talk Pat into taking us to one of the Saturday morning jam sessions in the area. I know Erik said something about visiting some fiddle shops and I'm always interested in stopping by the Homestead Pickin' Parlor to see what's new.

Saturday night we have a special dinner invitation (plus there's a White Castle in Pat's neighborhood!) and then we get to play more dances with Robin, this time at the Tapestry Folkdance Center. It's hard to imagine a more fun weekend. We hope you can make it to one or both of these dances. You can keep score and see if we play any of the same tunes both nights.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Wintergreen 1

Just about this time a week ago we were getting ready to wrap up the Wintergreen Dance Weekend in Bozeman. About as much fun as this band has ever had and an all-around great event. The real world (which also is a lot of fun but has a large "work" component) has been pretty all-consuming since our return on Monday.

The Bozeman folks were Great; all the organizers, dancers, scholarship workers and super-gracious hosts. Rab and family (even Sugar the dog who Pat managed to turn against me early on) deserve special mention. Kindness, patience, great food (especially considering my limitations), transportation, a fine room for an all too rare rehearsal and more! All the folks from the Bozeman Folklore Society conspired to make our lives easy. Oshi and Rab and Lynn (and the rest of the committee) made sure that everything was just right for us and Mitchell Frey did a great job keeping the sound together.

Oshi and Mark hosted a wonderful dinner and music party on Sunday night where we got to be part of a really fine session with Kathy, Vickie and Pat from Out of the Wood along with Oshi and her daughter (many names escape me these days) and the fine pianist Eric (does he really work for Google?) Anderson.

Seth Tepfer was a blast to work with during the whole weekend. He called great dances and the Wintergreen folks clearly enjoyed everything he did. He even had a dance that required us to become the Contratopia Blues Band for ten minutes or so! Out of the Wood was most excellent in the role of "other band" and I really enjoyed their playing. Plus they have the secret weapon of Pat and his funny songs. (You've got to hear "Chipmunk with a Death Wish.")

I also enjoyed getting to hang out some with former Decorah-area resident and fine guitarist/mandolinist Steve Marty. Steve moved out to Bozeman just about the time I moved into Iowa and we have many music friends in common here in Winneshiek county.

Where are all the photos? Well, I know that Pat O'Loughlin and Rab Cummings filled a 2GB SD card full of photos and then they dumped them onto Rab's computer and took some more. I'm fully expecting to have a bunch of photos to link to in the near future.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Flurry of Activity

Patrice is the punster in the band but I couldn't resist. I guess I could have titled this post "Calm Before the Storm" but that would have been just as bad. The real message is that we're getting geared up for some action.

Saturday we'll be playing a contra dance at Tapestry in Minneapolis. Beau Farmer will call the dance and try to keep us in line. A few days later, on Thursday the 25th, Erik and I will drive back up to meet Pat and Patrice at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport for our flight out to Bozeman and the Wintergreen Dance Weekend. This was a major fun time when we were there in 2003 (was it really that long ago?) and I know it's going to be excellent this time too.

On the home front I've recently set up a new blog I'm calling So Many Tunes. It contains free home-recorded mp3s and sheet music of some of my tunes. Take a look and see what you think. I'll try and add a new tune or two every week or so.

Hope to see you at one of these upcoming dances!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Surviving Christmas as a Church Music Director

I am among the general living public again. Among the highlights of Christmas:

-Stomach flu causing me to miss 3 rehearsals on the Tuesday before Xmas
-Piano player for Sunday morning Mass forgot to show up (usually wonderfully dependable and talented - she was mortified)
-Star soprano with laryngitis for Xmas Eve
-Worship programs with pages all out of order
-4th grader in the Children's Choir fainting during Mass requiring EMT's with a backboard to join us about 3/4 through 5 pm Xmas Eve Mass (one of them did say "Nice music")
-Singing of Gesu Bambino prepared with replacement of aforesaid soprano pre-empted by overly eager lector greeting the congregation before Mass.

Merry Christmas indeed! Actually there were plenty of good spots, too, but I was pretty exhausted after the final Joy to the World! I hope you all have a wonderful 2007!