Monday, October 24, 2016

A Contratopia Cornucopia - This Week Only

Please join us at the Cellar in the Old Armory building in Decorah at 7:00 on Friday, Oct. 28 for A Contratopia Cornucopia, a unique combination of music and food. We will provide seasonal, organic, acoustic, mostly homegrown tunes and master chef Justin Scardina will serve up small plates of tasty dishes with a harvest theme. The Water Street Music Series is presenting this event and you can purchase advance tickets through the WSMS website.

The band is having fun designing our musical menu and we will feature some new combinations of familiar and exotic fare. This concert with food will give Contratopia a chance to mix up some of our basic ingredients to create some new flavors. We hope you will consider joining us.

We played for two dances this past weekend: Friday in Northfield, Saturday at Tapestry in Minneapolis. Both dances were tremendous fun and served as a great kickoff to our new season. Unfortunately it will be a few weeks before we get to play another dance, but it's always wonderful to wind Contratopia up again and start it spinning down the road. We hope we'll see many of you along the way in this our 17th season as a band.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Season 17 (2016-2017) Almost Here

The photo above shows the four of us, I believe, on the front porch of the house that Erik and Sara were renting outside of Decorah somewhere around the turn of the century. I think we were rehearsing that day to prepare for recording our first CD, Hands Four.

Many years later we are set to commence our 17th (although I could be off by a year or two) Fall to Spring season as Contratopia. We have a flurry of activity this month and we will be returning to the east coast in March. In between I am sure we will play a few more dances here in our home region.

Things will kick off (this should be the only football analogy) on Friday Oct. 21 with another great Harvest Stomp contra in Northfield, MN. This dance will be held at the Northfield Ballroom; the town Armory, our former site, is no longer available.

The following night, Oct. 22, we will play once again at the Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis. We have played at Tapestry many times over the years and we think of it as our group home.

On Friday Oct. 28 Patrice and Pat will travel to Decorah to join John and Erik in presenting A Contratopia Cornucopia: A Harvest of Local Food and Music, along with chef extraordinaire Justin Scardina. This will be the first event of the new season for Decorah's Water Street Music Series and will be a combination of a concert and a feast of delicious culinary creations. (Tickets are available now but seating is limited, so don't delay if you are interested.)

Looking ahead to March 2017 we are excited to be returning to the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park for contra dances on both Friday March 17 and Sunday March 19. On Saturday the 18th we will make our first visit to the contra dance in Annapolis, MD. We are also hopeful that we will once again be playing for the Sunday Waltz Time dance at Glen Echo on the afternoon of March 19.

I'm sure that we will schedule some more dances as we go along, but that's it for now. We hope you can join us for some of the fun!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day (live from 2003)

Here's a lovely photo by Pat O'Loughlin of the iconic Highlandville Schoolhouse where we would have been playing a dance a few years ago on Derby Day (that's the first Saturday in May to you non-Louisville area folks).

I mention this today (Mother's Day 2016) because I thought it would be fun to share a live recording of the band playing our waltz "Mother's Day" back in April of 2003 at Camp Sertoma, NC during the Spring Dance Romance weekend.

The recording comes from a Sunday morning waltz session, it might be the first tune of the day. There's the occasional mistake but in general I think it sounds pretty good. Hope you enjoy the music!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Loon to Earth Day

Here's a fine photo of Erik Sessions as we played for part of the Friday night dance at the 2016 Call of the Loon Dance Weekend. Thanks to Trish Finn (ContraGypsy FotograFinn on Facebook) for this and several other fine shots of the band. Sharing the weekend with Wild Asparagus was great fun for us and very inspiring. Such nice folks and brilliant musicians!

In addition to getting to watch Wild Asparagus work, Erik, Patrice and John all managed to drive up to the Cedar Cultural Center on Friday to hear the last 40 minutes of Vasen's set on Friday. Also super inspiring. Thanks to Pat (who does photography at the Cedar) for helping us get in the door on short notice.

This coming Friday (April 20) we will be playing for a special Earth Dance at Carleton College in Northfield with guest fiddler Linda Breitag. Robin Nelson will once again call the dances. Teaching starts at 7:00 and the dance will be in the Cowling gymnasium on campus. We've done this before and it's always lots of fun.

We will have one final dance of the season, on June 11 at Tapestry, with Tim Reese fiddling, before we take our summer hiatus. Hope to see you at one of these events!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Northern Aire Coming Your Way

If you are in the D.C. area this week you have the opportunity to dance to the sounds of our own Pat O'Loughlin, sometimes Contratopian Tim Reese, and Bob Walser, who are touring as Northern Aire with caller Ted Hodapp.

It's probably a little late to catch them tonight in Baltimore but you can certainly hear them at Glen Echo on Friday and Sunday night. They will also be playing for the Richmond contra dance on Saturday night. The band sounds great and, if you're lucky, Ted may share a few of the new jokes he tried out last Saturday night at Tapestry in Minneapolis.

Speaking of Tapestry, Contratopia had a super good time there last weekend and the crowd was great. We also had a fine rehearsal on Saturday morning at Patrice's house and had the chance to try a few new things that night. Everyone at Tapestry seemed pretty excited about the upcoming Call of the Loon weekend with Contratopia and Wild Asparagus. Even though the dance weekend is booked to capacity I believe that they are taking names for a waiting list in case there are cancellations.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Bad News, Good News

Bad News first: we are sorry to announce that we will not be playing in Northfield on Feb. 19 because the Winter Stomp dance will not be taking place. There are perfectly good, although private, reasons for this but we hope to schedule another dance in Northfield soon.

Good News:

  • Even though we won't be playing in Northfield on the 19th we will still be playing at Tapestry on Saturday Feb. 20.
  • While we love all of the callers that we are privileged to work with at Tapestry we are excited to learn that we will be working with our old buddy Ted Hodapp on the 20th! 
  • This will be our first time working with Ted since last winter on our short mid-Atlantic tour and our first time working with Ted at Tapestry since Feb. of 2013. So look out!
  • Even though Contratopia won't be touring out East this winter, Pat's "other" band Northern Aire (featuring Bob Walser and Tim Reese) are bringing the Upper Midwest Sound out to Glen Echo and the mid-Atlantic area at the end of February. 
  • We are really only a few weeks away from the Call of the Loon weekend at Tapestry in April. As you can imagine we are honored to be sharing the weekend with the great Wild Asparagus band. In addition, Pat and Northern Aire will also be featured on the Sunday of the weekend. 
  • Registration for Call of the Loon has closed but I believe you can still sign up to be put on a waiting list. Hope to see you there.