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.