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.