Sunday, December 09, 2012

Return to Tapestry

Next weekend we get to return to our home court at Tapestry in Minneapolis. Our last visit was way back in April when we played for the 2nd annual Call of the Loon weekend. (It's not too soon to register for the 3rd Loon weekend, April 12-14, 2013 featuring the fabulous Notorious and caller Diane Silver.)

Our dance next Saturday (Dec. 15), with our buddy David Kirchner calling, will mark the end of our longest ever absence from Tapestry land. I'm tempted to joke about imaginary reasons for this (fill in your favorite conspiracy theory here) but the truth is that this is just the way that the calendar worked out. In any event you can bet that Patrice, Pat, Erik and I will all be ready to play next week. It should be a great time.

This is also a chance to remind you that Contratopia CDs make great stocking stuffers. You may have all three of our CDs but there may be family and friends who don't. Also, this year is the first holiday season that the Erik Sessions/John Goodin Notes from the Farm CD is available. While we're at it I should also mention the John Goodin Mandolin Tunes CD as well. I'm linking to physical CDs available from CD Baby here but all of these CDs are also available as mp3 downloads from iTunes and the other usual suspects.

Hope to see a bunch of you next weekend. We will try and remember to bring some CDs to the dance too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Harvest Stomp! Again

Another year, another Stomp! Patrice, Pat, Erik and I will try to pull ourselves together for the start of yet another Contratopia season this Friday evening in Northfield, MN at the wonderfully noisy downtown Armory. Come and out and add to the abundant energy that is always present when students from Carleton and St. Olaf mix with youngsters and geezers (both on the dance floor and in the band) from around the region. Watch in awe as Robin Nelson weaves order out of the chaos. See Contratopia try to remember how tunes go and who plays what. It'll be fun.

Go to the event in Facebook and let everyone know you are planning to attend. (Thanks, Arlo!)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Contratopia 2012-2013

OK, so it's been four months. We've always said that things are slow around here in the summer. While this has been a very dry season water-wise (causing farmer Erik no end of concern and extra labor) it has actually been a very active one musically.

All the members of Contratopia have been busy with weddings, special events, camps and dances since last April. We even managed to all be together to play for a memorable wedding reception in June outside of Maiden Rock, WI. (I think this was the first time ever that Contratopia was able to convene in the month of June.)

So, going forward (as they love to say in business and politics) what's in store for the 2012-2013 season?

At this point it our tentative schedule looks something like this:
  • Harvest Stomp dance in Northfield on Friday October 19, 2012
  • Sat. night contra dance at Tapestry Folkdance Center on Dec. 15, 2012
  • Sat. night contra dance in Decorah, Iowa sometime in mid-January, 2013
  • Sat. night contra dance at Tapestry sometime in Feb., 2013
  • Winter Stomp dance in Northfield sometime in Feb., 2013
  • Friday night contra at Glen Echo, MD on March 1, 2013
  • Sat. night contra in Shepherdstown, WV on March 2, 2013
  • Waltz Time afternoon dance at Glen Echo on March 3, 2013 (we've got our fingers crossed)
  • Sunday night contra at Glen Echo on March 3, 2013
  • Sat. night contra at Tapestry sometime in April or May, 2013
We'll keep you informed as these tentative dates and events become more firm and we hope to see you somewhere along the way!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Loons on Parade

About this time last Sunday we were playing for the "mostly waltz" hour at Tapestry's second annual Call of the Loon dance weekend and, thanks to "craigwildgoose" and youtube, you can see a nice clip of some of our favorite people dancing as we play a very relaxed version of my tune "Favors Her Father."

While there was plenty of room on the dance floor at that moment you can find another video that will show you the rest of the Loon crowd chowing down on the delicious Sunday brunch that was being served in the next room.

We had a super, awesome, most excellent, great time all weekend long. The band was tight, the dancers were giving off powerful good energy and Doug Lohman from Armadillo Sound gave us one of the best monitor mixes we've every had. Hearing each other clearly makes a big difference in how we play and we were really enjoying listening to each other play new and interesting things.

Call of the Loon 2 was a big success and you should consider a trip to Minneapolis next spring (April 12-14) for version 3. Word on the street is that next year's band will be the fabulous quartet incarnation of Notorious, an event not to be missed.

Thanks to everyone who made the weekend possible and especially to all the dancers!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Cherry Blossoms, Shaun, Linda and More

(Video courtesy of Kevin Mabon)

Right about now, one week ago, we were just about finishing up a tremendously fun dance in Frederick, Maryland. It wasn't the biggest crowd of our short four-day tour but the band had a great time playing there. Plus the dance was in a gym and someone found a basketball after we had packed up our stuff. They had to run us out finally after a pretty inept display of hoop prowess.

This was our first extended time away from home without Erik Sessions playing fiddle but Linda Breitag did a wonderful job of fitting in and playing some great tunes. Linda also was introduced to our late night Shaun the Sheep viewing ritual and got to participate in one of our fun-filled drives from Glenside, PA to Takoma Park.

As usual, there were many, many highlights of the trip but time is short so here are just a few:

  • The temperature: We've never had such warm weather in March and the halls were all very comfortable. It was especially great not to be cold in the Spanish Ballroom. 
  • The generosity of everyone we met: Too many names to mention tonight, but you know who you are. Thanks for the meals, the tunes, the friendly conversations, and, most of all, the dancing.
  • The mighty hospitality of Ted and Lynn: You can't imagine how thoughtful, patient and kind they are; and funny to boot! Thank you, thank you.
  • A special thanks to Rick Mohr for loaning me his guitar on Thursday at Glenside and to Orrin Star for his guitar loan Friday through Sunday. Orrin did a great job providing the sound for us at Glen Echo on both Friday and Sunday and even sat in with us on a few sets. In addition I had the pleasure of attending an excellent workshop on the guitar style of Norman Blake that Orrin taught at the House of Musical Traditions on Saturday afternoon.
  • Smithsonian Folkways visit: I did not know that Linda Breitag had been the third employee at Smithsonian Folkways back in the late 1980s but she offered to take us to meet her old boss, Jeff Place, who is still the Archivist there. I was just amazed at the opportunity to visit the collection and have Jeff show us around. I still can't believe that I was in the same room with the boxes of master tapes of recordings by folks like Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Doc Watson, Pete Seeger and Ella Jenkins. What a treasure!
The band already has plans to return to DC next March and, hopefully, see many of our old friends again. I should be caught up on my sleep by then.

Next up for us is the Call of the Loon Weekend at Tapestry, just two weeks from now. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Two Days to Northfield!

We'll be convening in Northfield on Friday night, along with our good friend Robin Nelson, to play for the Winter Stomp! dance at the Armory downtown.

According to Facebook, admission will be free for both Carleton and St. Olaf students so we are expecting a strong turnout. We've been having a great winter so far, first in Decorah, then at Tapestry, so we have every reason to expect this dance to be wonderful too.

Hope you can make it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Notes from the Farm / Erik & John

Erik and John had a busy December recording their first duo CD, Notes from the Farm. Recorded in three afternoons in Erik's living room and mixed in John's dining room it's a homegrown 15 track, 24 tune collection of fiddle and guitar or mandolin duets. Along with a number of new, and old, original tunes the duo decided to record a few traditional numbers as well, some very common and some more obscure. 

Here's a list of the tunes on the CD:

1. Sheehan’s (trad.) / Cold Market Morning (Goodin) (3:00)         
2. The Rights of Man / Coleraine / Grace Hay’s Delight (trad.) (3:07)
3. Coleman’s March (trad.) (2:27)
4. Grape-vine Twist (trad.) (1:40)
5. Kitchen Waltz (Goodin) (2:19)
6. Ain’t Broke / Two Days to Maine (Goodin) (2:16)
7. The Junquill: Air Moderato (James Oswald) (1:40)
8. The Junquill: Giga Vivace (James Oswald) (0:52)
9. The New Henrietta (Goodin) / Kohlrabi Stomp (Sessions) (2:10)
10. Aubrey & Andrew’s Wedding (Goodin) (2:41)
11. Young Terence MacDonough / Planxty Irwin (Turlough O’Carolan) (2:56)
12. Splinters on the Banister / Revelry Reel (Sessions) (2:21)
13. Chief O’Neill’s Favorite (trad.) / Carolan’s Draught (Turlough O’Carolan) (3:07)
14. The Road to Lisdoonvarna / Irishman’s Heart to the Ladies (trad.) (2:07)
15. King’s Landing (Goodin) (2:12)

Pat and Patrice are driving down to Decorah next Sat., the 21st, to help Erik and John celebrate by playing a short concert, followed by a full contra dance with Robin Nelson calling. The event is being held at the Elks in Decorah and the concert starts at 7:00 with the dance beginning at 8:00.

In addition to having Notes from the Farm for sale all three Contratopia CDs will be available along with John's recently released Mandolin Tunes CD. There will probably be a few copies of the Contratopia Tunebook for sale as well.

After making a splash in Decorah on the 21st the whole band will reconvene at Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis for a contra dance on Jan. 28, where we will reconnect with our touring buddy Ted Hodapp. This promises to be a special night of fun and frolic, not to be missed if you are near the Twin Cities!

Three weeks after that the fun will continue, this time at the Armory in Northfield where the band will once again play for the annual Winter Stomp! More news to follow...