"One of the best ways to improve as a band is to record your playing and listen back to it. This was really useful when the Free Raisins were getting started and finding our sound, and I'm again finding it valuable with Kingfisher. When you're playing you mostly hear yourself and not the whole group, and you often hear more how you wish you were playing than how you actually are. Listening to recordings lets you consider your music from a more objective place, shows you ways it could be better, and gives you more time to think about how you want to sound.
Sometimes, though, it's helpful to get even more distance and hear what other people think. When I ask friends how the music was, however, they just say generic positive things. I think this comes from a combination of politeness, not having good words for things, not having been paying close enough attention to give actionable feedback, etc. So I'd like to make a standing offer for any contra dance band to listen to a recording of a set and give feedback.
If you'd like to take me up on this, record one of your evenings and pick a set that you think best represents what you're going for. Send it to me along with a general description of how you see the set ("this is for if the caller asks for something smooth and pretty"). It doesn't have to be a high-quality recording, it doesn't have to be perfect playing, just make the recording you make and pick one of the sets. I'll listen to it, and give you as much feedback as I can."
Since we're on the shared weight list, I'd also be happy to do this on-list if anyone wants to link a recording for public discussion?