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.