Hot New Local Contra Dance Band Debuts with West Coast Dance Caller
On Friday October 23rd, Ithaca’s hottest new contra dance band, The O’Shanigans, will provide lively traditional world music for a contra dance at Bethel Grove Community Center on Rt. 79 just east of Ithaca NY. The dances will be called by renowned west coast caller Woody Lane. The dance starts promptly at 8:00 pm and runs until 11:00 pm with a short break about halfway through. Admission is only $6.00. All dances are taught from scratch. No partner is needed to attend. Contra dances are held at this venue every Friday. Contra dancing a fun friendly mix-and-match type of dance; always with live fiddle music.
Facebook event page http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=154226023782
Brief description of the band:
The O’Shanigans perform Celtic, American and world fiddle dance tunes suitable for general entertainment and contra dances. The band combines the skills of an incredibly talented young fiddler.with two of Ithaca’s most experienced open music jam leaders. The O’Shanigans is: Tim Ball on fiddle (Contrapasso, Tunescape, Ithaca College violinist and etc), Phil Robinson on guitar (Ithaca Bluegrass jam leader, multi-instrumentalist), and Michael Ludgate on mandolin and tenor banjo (Canaan jam leader, waltz jam originator, Cornell Middle East Ensemble member and etc). The band O’Shanigans was originally formed by Phil Robinson to fill a fun gig for a Saint Patrick’s Day in March of 2009. The band name was coined as a spin off on the word shenanigans and that first Irish gig! Web page http://www.canaaninstitute.org/oshanigans.html Booking: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the dance caller:
Woody Lane : Dance Caller, Teacher and Percussive Dancer
Woody calls contra, squares, mixers, and circle dances for all levels of dancers, from weddings and community dances to venues for experienced dancers, such as contramanias and weekend dance camps. He generally calls modern contras, although occasional chestnuts are fun, and he enjoy calling smooth, active contras that dancers really enjoy. He can also call good fast squares, and will call one or more in an evening depending on the crowd and the music. His teaching is clear and precise, and he tries to generate excitement and exhilaration on the dance floor.
Woody has called extensively throughout the Pacific Northwest and West Coast and for the past few years has toured across the United States. He has done dances in Denver, Washington DC (Glen Echo), Baltimore, North Carolina (including Brasstown), Georgia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky. New York, Anchorage, and many other places around the US and Canada.
Woody used to live in West Virginia, where he was first exposed to the feeling and rhythms of Appalachian music and dance. There, he danced to old-time string music in small community halls in the mountains. he first learned to call in the early 1980’s at the Augusta Heritage Workshops in West Virginia and has been calling dances ever since. Woody has lived and called in Madison, WI and Ithaca, NY. He moved to Oregon in 1990. In the past few years, he has expanded his calling to be on staff at dance and music camps, including Fiddle Tunes, Bear Hug (Montana), and Raincoast Ruckus (Vancouver, BC).
Woody Lane is also an accomplished percussive dancer and will usually do some stepdancing when he calls. He began clogging in the late 1970’s in West Virginia. He taught clogging in Ithaca and was one of the founding members of the famous “Limberjacks” clogging team in New York in the early I 980s. In Wisconsin, he was on the “Kickapoo Cloggers” and was founding member of the “Barking Frog Cloggers” - an eclectic dance troupe that specialized in unusual formations and rhythms. Over the past ten years in Oregon, his dancing has evolved into a more complex style of flatfooting that adds a rhythmic accompaniment to the music. In the Pacific Northwest, he is well-known for his percussive dance, and will join bands as a percussive element. At festivals and dances, he often teaches percussive dance workshops that include clogging, flatfooting, rhythms, and waltz clog.
More about Contra Dancing:
WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR FIRST DANCE Contra dancing is easy to learn. It’s so easy to learn that you don’t take lessons. Just show up at a dance and by the end of the first night you’ll have learned all the dance moves and you will be able to enjoy the next dance even more. People are friendly and welcoming to beginners. The age range is from kids to folks that have been around for a while. Both singles and doubles come to contra dances and women as well as men ask people to dance. It is usual that you change partners after every dance. You will meet people in a relaxed, pleasant, smoke and alcohol free atmosphere. The patterns of the dance can be a tad confusing at first but remember everyone had a first time and that other dancers will help you. Listen to the caller and the music and go with the flow of the dance. Some people find they get dizzy at first. Looking directly at the person you are dancing with eliminates this sensation. For many, the music is what keeps them coming back as it is exciting and lively. People come to dance, hear the music, socialize and have a good time.
WHAT TO WEAR? Wear smooth soled shoes and comfortable light weight clothing. Some halls require non-street shoes so make sure the soles of shoes aren’t bringing grit onto the dance floor. Most people bring a bottle of drinking water. Contra dancing is joyous so it’s important that you bring a smile. [ source http://www.greatmeadowmusic.com/music.html ]
More INFO http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contra_dance
More details about O’Shanigans band members – all currently reside in Ithaca NY area:
Phil Robinson - [ Guitar with O'Shanigans, also mandolin, fiddle, sitar and 5-string banjo ] Phil’s grandmother and mother both played piano and sang, and his father played saxophone in a swing band. His family noticed early on that Phil had perfect pitch, so they encouraged him to learn piano and music theory as a young child and even bought him a baby grand piano on which to practice. He competed in National Piano Players Guild auditions and earned several honorary certificates as a boy. In elementary school, Phil learned recorder, baritone horn, and tenor sax as well.
As he degenerated into a rebellious teen, Phil thought electric guitar would be way cooler than anything, so at 13 he bought a bizarre bright blue electric with dozens of semi-functional buttons to play with. He managed to plug it into his mom’s 8-track tape player and use it as his first amplifier. Hard rock was his earliest influence, with Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Angus Young of AC/DC, and Alex Lifeson of Rush being his favorite guitarists to try to emulate. Phil took a few lessons but mostly practiced scales and chords endlessly, whiling away several hours a day, many years in a row, from junior high school through grad school.
After the initial funky guitar, Phil acquired a Fender Jazzmaster, then a Gibson Les Paul Standard, and finally a gorgeous red Fender Stratocaster that he still plays today. In high school and college, Phil played with various rock cover bands. He started to enjoy jam bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish, learned many of their songs, and he loves soloing to that kind of music. Also, Phil started to get serious about learning classical guitar, playing pieces by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Isaac Albeniz, Bach, Fernando Sor, and many other composers.
With some semblance of maturity settling in recently, Phil got into Old-Time, bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, zydeco, and contra dance music. And since everyone and his/her canine plays the guitar in Ithaca, Phil decided to branch out and teach himself fiddle, mandolin, 5-string banjo, and sitar (out of an appreciation for classical Indian music). Phil leads a local bluegrass jam and he sometimes attends Jay Ungar and Molly Mason’s Ashokan Fiddle and Dance camps (Southern Week). Monday evenings in the summer, Phil makes regular appearances with Your Friends and Neighbors at the contra dances on the Ithaca Commons.
Tim Ball - [ Fiddle ] Tim Ball plays fiddle in Contrapasso and Tunescape, and is frequently heard entertaining audiences and lifting the feet of dancers across central New York in the company of these groups and many other fine musicians. A recent graduate of the Ithaca College School of Music where he studied violin with Susan Waterbury, he brings training in classical music and jazz improvization together with a love of social dancing and a great respect for the traditional music of New England, Ireland, Quebec, and the many other regions that have lent their influence to contra dance musicians everywhere.
Tim’s first instrument was the tin whistle. He began taking violin lessons when he was 9, and almost immediately began to teach himself the traditional tunes that he had learned on the whistle. Around the time that he started college, he started to play regularly with the Monday night open band in Ithaca. Eventually he and pianist Roberta Truscello formed Contrapasso. That was truly a “gateway” experience; he has been performing with many musicians around the region ever since.
Michael Ludgate - [ Mandolin with O'Shanigans, also fiddle and Irish tenor banjo ] Michael comes from a long local line of Ithaca musicians. His grandfather Moe Harper was a local jazz clarinet and tenor saxophone player in the Ithaca area in the 1940’s through the 1960’s Moe’s wife Ina, played violin in a more classical style. Mike’s mother Roberta played flute and piano and was popular as a piano accompanist for a variety of musical tasks. Mike remembers vividly the barbershop quartets training in the living room as a child with coaching from his mom. This was the beginning of Michael’s musical education. He always tinkers with the keys of any keyboard he walks by, but never took a lesson - he says he wishes he did. He started on trombone in 4th grade at the public schools in Dryden NY .. taking some lessons from one of his grandfather’s jazz friends, Woody Peters along the way. When his sister took up flute, he just couldn’t resist noodling with woodwinds and started playing scales and simple tunes on flute and saxophone and clarinet.
This instrumental distraction continues today; Michael picked up his grandmother’s violin in 2002 and taught himself to read treble clef with help from a Suzuki book. Then his spouse took pity on him (or herself) and offered to pay for lessons. He took lessons on violin from Rebecca Geiger Hamlin for three years and at that same time started hosting the weekly Wednesday fiddle tune jam from his home. He also plays rudimentary guitar, thanks to Phil Shapiro’s guitar class. Mike has studied Irish tenor banjo, with thanks to Harry Lawless of Traonach. He learned the basics of playing fiddle tunes for contra dancers from Ted Crane and Pamela Goddard’s many open band opportunities. Michael started the Upstate NY area’s only waltz band a couple years ago - this is an open band that plays once per month at the Bethel Grove Contra dances. Most recently Michael has developed a passion for mandolin which he plays mostly melodically in a Celtic style with some New England, bluegrass and old-time influence with thanks to Phil Banaszak, Tod Sukontarak and Tom Quigley. Michael loves and supports the open bands and open acoustic jams around the Ithaca area and attends many of them when time permits. Michael hosts a weekly contra tune jam (open jam) at his home in Brooktondale NY. Michael is also currently a member of the Cornell Middle Eastern Music Ensemble (CMEMME) where he studies Armenian, Turkish and other Middle Eastern fiddle styles under Harold Hagopian.