We have had really good luck, even bands with tight collaboration,
leading workshops followed by them leading workshop attendees for the
opening sets of a dance. The rehearsals/workshops given by some of the
bands have really helped cultivate and inspire local musicians. When
promoted in the community, we have seen participation from a mix of
band members from local bands who have been playing for 10+ years,
bands that had recently formed, and talented musicians who had been
playing since childhood and were interested in playing for contra
dances. The feedback from dance attendees has been really positive -
people seemed generally surprised at how well the music worked during
the large ensemble portions. I have also heard good things about
Splashdance, the dance held at the end of summer in NC where a rhythm
and melody leader manage arrangements for a stage full of volunteer
Here is a example of an announcement sent out to local musicians for
an event back in 2013 when Great Bear Trio visited -
Greetings, contra dance musicians! I'm looking forward to the
workshop with the Great Bear Trio and the Rowdy Contra Dance on
The band has identified two medleys they would like to work with in
Angeline the Baker / Benton's Dream and Nail That Catfish to a Tree / Sandy Boys
I have asked them to select from our list of tunes from the November
workshop for the evening's tunes:
Angeline the Baker / Benton's Dream
Chinquipin / Roger's Dodge
Catharsis / Devil in the Strawstack
Jump at the Sun / Carpathian Tune
Nail them Catfish / Sandy Boys (A)
Gray Morning / Flying Home to Shelley
Reel de Remi/ la Belle Catherine
Richmond Cotillion/ Contrazz
Sligo Creek/ Evil Diane
Liza Jane (A)
The tunebook is at:
Here is a checklist of what to bring to with you to the workshop -
1) A print-out of the tunes in the tunebook
2) A music stand
3) Something to share for the potluck. There is full kitchen with
refrigerator and stove at the workshop/dance location!
4) Paper and pen or pencil to make a few notes [ optional ]
5) A music stand light if you have one
6) and, of course, the instrument(s) you plan to play
As a reminder, here is the outline of the schedule:
2:50PM - Arrive at the Guilford Grange, doors open.
3:00PM - Music stands set up and ready to start the workshop!
6:00PM-7:00PM - Potluck, with a sound check at around 6:50PM
7:00PMish - Beginner contra dancer's workshop
7:30PM-10:30PM - Contra dance!
All activities will take place at the Guilford Grange, 4909 Guilford
School Rd, Greensboro, NC
The cost for the workshop is $25 with admission to the evening contra
This interview (from a day or two earlier) gives a pretty good idea of
some of the things discussed in the workshop -
On Fri, Apr 10, 2015 at 7:14 AM, Jeff Kaufman via Organizers
It depends on what your goals are. If you want to give
the dancers there
that night the best music you can give them that usually means letting your
touring band play on their own. Most bands have their own tunes,
arrangements, and style, and when fitting in extra musicians that's often
hard to communicate and organize in the time available. Especially if this
is a band known for having a tight sound, you're going to lose that when you
add more people.
But this may be worth it if your main goal is building local capacity. Yes,
the music that night won't be as good, but if you can make up for that when
the local musicians who sat in are playing on their own it's good on
balance. If you go this route it's important that the sit ins are there
because they want to learn and not just because it would be fun to play with
the visiting musicians, or else you're not really being fair to the dancers.
(You do still want to check with the band, because the amount the band's
sounds will change when they incorporate new musicians is variable. At one
extreme you have groups like Perpetual eMotion, at the other you have groups
of individually excellent musicians who have more of a pickup band style
among themselves. The more pickupish a band is the better they'll be able to
integrate new musicians, and the way to find out is to ask them what they'd
(The above is all talking about sit ins who are included in the overall
sound and that the band is trying to coordinate with. It's also possible to
allow sit ins to sit well behind the band off mic while the band plays
whatever they normally would. This is what BIDA does, though people only
rarely show up. Some musicians find it annoying to have people noodling
along behind them, others don't care.)
On Apr 9, 2015 10:37 PM, "Emily Addison via Organizers"
Hi Dance Organizers,
One more question stemming from my work on our callers handout here in
Ottawa... except this query relates to musicians!
Do any of your dances facilitate local musicians sitting in (either on OR
off mic) with visiting bands? This came up at Puttin' On The Dance 2 and we
have a few keen musicians who would like to do this as part of their
strategy for improving their chops. I've since talked to two touring
musicians who are very open to this and think that some other bands may also
be open. However, I anticipate that other bands may not be open.
So ... if you do something like this...
1. How do you structure it? Is anyone allowed on stage? Do the musicians
get permission from organizer ahead of time (e.g., book their spot)? Is
there a max number of sets a night that are 'sit in'? Are any 'sit ins'
mic or are all off mic? ???? ????
2. Also, how do you pitch the idea to the hired band?
I'm particularly talking about TOURING BANDS and then local musicians who
already have some dance experience (not random musicians).
Organizers mailing list
Organizers mailing list