Archive for the Category ◊ Contra Dancing ◊

• Thursday, February 12th, 2015

BROOKTONDALE NY - Tempest CD release concert and jam session! Featuring: Tim Ball - fiddle; Chuck Abell - guitar, vocals; Eric Metzger - drums. Also with: Harry Aceto - bass; Erik Stabnau - saxophone; Dave Davies - trombone. All at Canaan Institute Friday Feb 27th 7:00 pm. House concert CD release party followed by a jam session. $12 at the door. RSVP’s requested for this private venue to directions Tempest neatly blends traditional Irish and American fiddle music with inventive, progressive grooves and harmonies that draw from jazz, world music, and R&B to create some seriously fun music. A growing repertoire of traditional and original songs helps round out Tempest’s sound.

Facebook event

Audio Clips - Sneak previews from the new CD!

Video Clips

Tim Ball is a versatile fiddler/violinist from Ithaca, NY, equally at home playing Irish, contra dance, and classical music.

Chuck Abell is guitarist and singer-songwriter from Rochester who has played in dance bands, both swing and contra, for over two decades.

Eric Metzger, a prolific drummer, is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music with a focus in Jazz Performance. He plays in swing, contra, gospel, and pop/blues bands in and around Rochester.

Harry Aceto is a highly-esteemed bassist and guitarist from Ithaca who has collaborated with countless bands, including Wild Asparagus, the Clayfoot Strutters, and Swingology.

Erik Stabnau is a recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music Jazz Program who is equally soulful on saxophone and clarinet. He now lives in Syracuse where he collaborates with multiple bands.

Dave Davies is at home on the trombone, guitar and upright and electric bass. He has performed with Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Lindy Hop Heaven, Djug Django, The Clayfoot Strutters, Peggy Haine’s Lowdown Alligators, The B Side, The Contradictions, The Gourmet Jug Band and leading the HotFoot Club.

Bookmark and Share
• Friday, January 16th, 2015

ITHACA NY — Cornell Contra Dance Club (CCDC) event in Ithaca NY CCDC presents a contra dance with the band O’Shanigans and caller Bob Isaacs. Date: Saturday, January 24 Time: 7:30 - 11:00 pm. 7:30 Beginner Workshop 8 - 11pm Dance! Location: Memorial Room, Willard Straight Hall, Cornell University. Admission: Cornell Students FREE, Other Students $2, General Public $5. Music: O’Shanigans (Tim Ball, Phil Robinson, and Michael Ludgate) with caller Bob Isaacs Band websites: and Beginners welcome. All dances taught. No partner needed. Casual dress. Smoke-free and alcohol-free. Directions to Willard Straight Hall: photo Facebook event

Same venue starting at 5:00 pm preceding the contra dance: Lissa Schneckenburger and Bethany Waickman, sweet and fiery traditional songs and dance tunes on fiddle, guitar. Early concert, 5:00 pm Sat Jan 24th, Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room, Cornell University. Early American, Celtic, Scandinavian, and original music. Concert tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, Autumn Leaves, Greenstar Market, Bound for Glory, online at and at the door. $15 adv./$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens. Cornell students $5. Children free. Info: web or 607-351-1845.

Bookmark and Share
Author: Margaret
• Thursday, January 15th, 2015

ITHACA NY - Lissa Schneckenburger and Bethany Waickman, sweet and fiery traditional songs and dance tunes on fiddle, guitar. Early concert, 5:00 pm Sat Jan 24th, Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room, Cornell University. Early American, Celtic, Scandinavian, and original music. Concert tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, Autumn Leaves, Greenstar Market, Bound for Glory, online at and at the door. $15 adv./$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens. Cornell students $5. Children free. Info: web or 607-351-1845.

NOTE: New time (YES, 5 PM cONCERT) and venue so that traditional music and dance fans can attend this concert, followed in the same space by an 8 pm Cornell Contra Dance Club dance with the O’Shanigans. Five hours of mighty fine music and a superb dance floor.

These two young New Englanders keep old traditions fresh, with sweet-voiced ballads and original songs and skillful, dynamic tunes that bring drive and joy to the dance floor and concert hall. Both are highly regarded contra dance musicians: Boston-based guitarist Bethany Waickman with Anadama and Firefly, and Brattleboro-based Lissa Schneckenburger with Phantom Power, Fiddlespiel, and other bands. Both are in demand to lead guitar, fiddle, and vocal workshops; Lissa was featured at last year’s Youth Traditional Song Weekend.

Maine-raised, Lissa Schneckenburger took up the fiddle at the age of six; by high school, she was playing contra dance tunes in concert and at dance venues. Fiddle camps broadened her experience of diverse styles and roots of traditional music; she studied with master fiddlers such as Alasdair Fraser and found her community. In 2001 she graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in contemporary improvisation, and since then has performed around the U.S. and internationally. She has recorded eight CDs, (five solo and three with various groups). Searching near-forgotten archives, she has devoted herself to exploring the origins of the Downeast and New England traditional music she first loved as a youngster. Her CDs Song and Dance feature early American songs and fiddle tunes in the northern tradition. Each tune or song, in her hands, sings with individual beauty and pluck. Although she favors pre-20th century songs, she is also a “literate, catchy songwriter,” writes seasoned reviewer Scott Alarik, of the Boston Globe. But it is her bowing for which Lissa Schneckenburger is best known, as soloist or with Phantom Power, Fiddlespiel, or other groups. Sing Out dubs her a “world class fiddler,” and Folk Roots praises her “tasty and feisty fiddle … Lissa blows out the cobwebs in no uncertain fashion.”

When Lissa and Bethany join forces, you can count on a spirited evening. Come have your winter cobwebs blown out!

Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, Autumn Leaves, Greenstar Market, Bound for Glory, online at and at the door. $15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens. Children free. Cornell students $5. Info: web or 607-351-1845.

Bookmark and Share
• Sunday, October 26th, 2014

ITHACA NY - Nov 7th CONTRA DANCE - Linda Leslie from Boston calling the dances with music by: Margaret Ball and Michael Ludgate along with guests Christine Diepenbrock (cello), Andrea Katz (viola) & Sophie Orzechowski (fiddle) playing an eclectic mix of traditional and modern contra tunes. Bethel Grove Community Center, 1825 Slaterville Rd. 8-11 pm. $6- and

Bookmark and Share
Author: Margaret
• Tuesday, October 07th, 2014

Who: Wild Asparagus, George Marshall calling
What: Contra dance, Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca
When: Saturday, 11 October, 4:00-6:00 (experienced dancers) and 8:00-11:00 pm
Where: Beverly J. Martin School, 302 West Buffalo Street, Ithaca
How much: Both sessions, $18 members/$22 nonmembers; afternoon only, $10/$12; evening only, $10/$12.

Springing up in the 1980s in the heart of the Pioneer Valley, Asparagus Capital of Massachusetts, the renowned band WILD ASPARAGUS has been vital in the contra dance renaissance. Their monthly “first-Saturdays” at Greenfield (dance mecca) are packed. Over the years, these top musicians have put their individual stamp on traditional tunes from New England, Canada, the wider Celtic world, and beyond. Their hallmark is playfulness: imaginative arrangements and dynamic pacing that draw on sources from medieval Brittany to pop to hot Latin grooves. You won’t want to miss this unique blend of skilled musicianship, creativity, and energy! Becky Tracy on fiddle shows incomparable flow and soul; David Cantieni, woodwind wizard, provides exuberant melody with flutes, tin whistle, oboe, saxophone, and bombard; Ann Percival on piano, guitar, and vocals is the essential heartbeat of the band; George Marshall, gifted at English concertina, bodhran, and bones, brings drive and does double duty as a caller renowned for simple, elegant teaching and an excellent selection of dances.

Beginners are welcome; no partner needed. A newcomers’ workshop at 7:30 pm will cover basic steps and patterns. All dances taught. Bring clean, soft-soled shoes to protect the floor. And bring a dish-to-pass for a potluck at 6:15 pm. Info: 607-273-0249 or

Bookmark and Share
Author: Margaret
• Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Cedar, Max, and Julie

Saturday, 19 April, noon to 11 pm at CSMA (Community School of Music and Arts), 330 E. State/M.L. King St., Ithaca NY. Welcome spring with nearly 12 hours of dance and music-making at Fiddlehead Frolic #7, sponsored by Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca.

Some of the Boston contra scene’s finest are performing: the dynamic Nor’easter (Cedar Stanistreet on fiddle, Max Newman on mandolin and guitar, and Julie Vallimont on piano and accordion), and revered caller Lisa Greenleaf, known for her finesse, playfulness, and fun, inventive dances. She’s a master at teaching beginners while keeping experienced dancers challenged. In demand throughout New England, the Flurry, at CDSS, and beyond, she’s also been on staff at a number of U.S. and international dance camps and festivals.

Nor’easter emerged in New England in 2008 and has quickly grown in force and range; the music is irresistible, pure delight. With triple gusto, this band has picked up followers in more than 20 states and three Canadian provinces. Cedar, Max, and Julie happily wed their skills in classical and traditional music, teaching, instrument making, and dance organizing.

This year’s Frolic also features the ever-popular O’Shanigans and a “panoply” of local callers. O’Shanigans combines Ithaca’s finest contra talent as a string band trio: Tim Ball on fiddle, Phil Robinson on guitar and Michael Ludgate playing mandolin. This power string trio has been playing with high energy and finesse for central NY dances and weddings for over 5 years now.

Contra dances are the focus of the Frolic, but there will also be waltzing and other couples’ dances, a musicians’ workshop with Nor’easter, instrumental jamming (including the opening “Waltz Jam sandwiches”), and a song swap. Those who come only to jam, not dance, are admitted free to the jamming.

Daytime only OR evening only is $12 for HFDI members, $15 non-members; whole event $24 for HFDI members, $30 non-members. Children under 12 free. Become a member ($10/yr; $5/yr for students and teens) at the dance for discounted admission to all HFDI dances (including Frolic). Newcomers are welcome; each dance is taught and the steps are simple, with friendly experienced dancers to help. Please bring clean, soft-soled shoes to protect the floor; no need to come with a partner. Some housing is available for out-of-town dancers. More schedule info at or call 607-539-3174.

Bookmark and Share
• Monday, March 03rd, 2014

BROOKTONDALE NY - Instrumental Workshop on Long Island dance tunes from the 19th century (from the collections of William Sidney Mount 1807-1868 and Isaac Homan 1816-1901) Sat Mar 8th 2014 from 1-3 pm at Canaan Institute $20- More RSVP via email to reserve a seat!

Dave Ruch and Jeff Davis (The New Boys of Old New York) will be teaching an unlikely-seeming workshop on the fiddle tunes of Long Island. In truth, old Long Island was a hotbed of tunes and there are at least two collections to prove it: William Sidney Mount (1807-1868), the famous painter of The Banjo Player and The Bones Player, was also a fiddler; his collection spans music from English marches, Irish jigs, to tunes learned from the minstrel stage and from black fiddlers. The collection of Bellport’s Captain Isaac Homan (1816-1901)–recently uncovered by Dave Ruch–also contains a huge variety of tunes—reels, hornpipes, cotillions, waltzes, and much more. Both reflect the intense swirl of influences upon fiddlers living near the growing vortex of New York City in the mid-Nineteenth century. Dave and Jeff will talk about the two collections and teach several tunes. Bring any instrument (they’ll be playing fiddle and mandolin). Bring a recording device if you have one. Facebook event for Workshop

New Boys of Old NY concert later Saturday evening …

The Cornell Folk Song Club will present an evening of traditional music from New York State done with a flair. The New Boys of Old New York — Jeff Davis and Dave Ruch — will perform in concert on March 8 at 8 pm at 165 McGraw Hall, Cornell Arts Quad. Earlier in the day, from 1 to 3 pm, the New Boys will be conducting a workshop on Long Island dance tunes at the Canaan Institute in Brooktondale. Facebookevent for CONCERT

Their concert will include a mix of songs, folk tales and stories, old dance hall tunes, and uncommon music originating from farmers, sailors, lumberjacks, and homemakers. If you think singing about Erie Canal is elementary school stuff, the New Boys will surprise you with some more unfamiliar music once heard along New York’s canals. On the stage with the New Boys will be fiddles and mandolins, banjo and guitar, spoons and jawharps, including some instruments hand-made by folk artisans. Jeff and Dave also sing unaccompanied duets and use their bodies as instruments, hambone stye.

Jeff Davis is one of America’s most respected collectors and interpreters of traditional music. He has both visited “source singers” and combed libraries and archives for old songs and tunes. He has toured in Canada and Europe and throughout the United States, playing in every state but one.*

Dave Ruch, based in Buffalo, has toured nationally and internationally as well, but he prides himself in being something of a musical locavore. Like-minded with Jeff, he has visited the older generation of singers, talkers, joke tellers, and tunesmiths, as well as historical archives, to build his collection of New York State based songs, tunes, and stories.

As the New Boys of Old New York, Jeff and Dave performed at the Old Songs Festival this past summer and have made appearances at NEFFA and the Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival. More locally, they have wowed audiences at Bound for Glory, the Cranberry Coffeehouse, and Valley Folk.

Concert Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, Autumn Leaves Books, GreenStar, Bound for Glory, online at $15 adv/$17 door; usual rebate for members, seniors, teens. Cornell students $10/$12. Free for children 14 and under with an adult. Info: 607-351-1845 or website.

More on the afternooon New Boys of Old New York workshop: Instrumental Workshop on Long Island dance tunes from the 19th century (from the collections of William Sidney Mount 1807-1868 and Isaac Homan 1816-1901) from 1-3 pm at the Canaan Institute in Brooktondale NY. Dave and Jeff will talk about the two collections and teach several tunes. Bring any instrument (they’ll be playing fiddle and mandolin). Bring a recording device if you have one. $20- donation. RSVP via email to reserve a seat and for directions. Facebook event

*Jeff has yet to perform in North Dakota (at least as 6/29/2013).


Bookmark and Share
• Sunday, February 02nd, 2014

Fri Feb 07 Contra Dance! Last Ithaca contra dance before FLURRY! Finalize your car-pool plans! Dance to a fun new band! Caller: Casey Carr. Music: Michael Ludgate with Lindsey Clark and Alyssa Rodriguez along with their folk jam friends: aka “Fishbowl” many Ithaca College music students! 8-11 pm Bethel Grove Community Center 1870 Slaterville Rd., Ithaca NY 14850. The monthly Waltz Jam 7-8 pm, precedes the contra! The waltz jam is an open band, come dance or play! More Facebook

Bookmark and Share
Author: Margaret
• Thursday, January 02nd, 2014

Celebrated Annual Contra Dance and Dessert Potluck
Saturday, Jan. 18, 7:00pm-11:30pm
CSMA (Community School of Music and Arts)
330 E. State St./Martin Luther King Boulevard

A feast of music, dancing, friends, and fabulous desserts are all part of the Eleventh Annual “Dance and Dessert Potluck” hosted by Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca. Nationally renowned fiddler and dance caller David Kaynor from Massachusetts will be joined by some terrific local musicians, including Andrea Katz on fiddle, Tim Ball on guitar, and Nancy Spero on bass, for some sublime and whimsical tunes. Together, they make the sweet music that grows from well-attuned friendships. Contra dancing (7:30-10:30 pm) will be followed by a dessert potluck and schottisches, hambos, and waltzes, 10:30-11:30 pm. Step lively and you just might balance your caloric intake and output!

Beginners of all ages are always welcome at contra dances. A workshop at 7:00 pm will teach the simple moves, and experienced dancers are supportive. No need to bring a partner, but please bring clean, soft-soled shoes and something yummy to share for the grand dessert finale. Hot beverages will be provided. Info: 607-539-3174 Admission: $8 members; $10 nonmembers. Join HFDI at the dance for discounts on all dances for the year.

Bookmark and Share
Author: Margaret
• Friday, October 25th, 2013

Sunday, 3 November, 2 pm

Appel Commons 303, Cornell North Campus


Fabulous New England-based band Elixir (Ethan
Hazzard-Watkins on fiddle, Anna Patton on clarinet and vocals, Jesse Readlynn
on trumpet and flugelhorn, Owen Morrison on guitar and foot percussion, Nils
Fredland on trombone and vocals), will perform in a Cornell Folk Song Society
concert as part of a double feature: Saturday night contra dance (sponsored by
the Cornell Contra Dance Club) and Sunday afternoon concert! A creative fusion
- with joy and finesse - of big-band, traditional Celtic and French Canadian,
Dixieland jazz, swing, reggae, singing squares, rock, and originals. Exquisite
harmonies, high energy from a premier band.


This venue has the advantage of a nice dance floor behind
the chairs (for those who can’t stay in their seats for this exuberant music),
as well as a large adjacent parking lot, open to the public.


Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, Autumn Leaves Books,
GreenStar, Bound for Glory, online at
$15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens. $5 for student
members of Cornell Folk Song Society (membership is free to CU students).
Children free. Info: 607-351-1845 or website.


Bookmark and Share
• Friday, October 11th, 2013

ITHACA NY - The Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA) has launched its 6th Annual Arts for All Marathon. CSMA’s signature fundraising event, the Marathon benefits educational programs, with a focus on need based scholarships. Throughout October, local artists, performers, and writers will undertake creative projects and benefit events to raise funds on behalf of CSMA. For more information about the artists and events, check out the marathon website

Facebook event

Benefit Contra Dance - On Saturday October 26th O’Shanigans will play music with Casey Mullaney calling for a Benefit Contra Dance. Ithaca musicians Tim Ball, Phil Robinson and Mike Ludgate will play for a contra dance at CSMA for part of the Arts For All Marathon. Casey Mullaney is calling and teaching the dances. Arts For All Marathon is CSMA’s annual fund raising drive. The band will be donating most of the door proceeds to CSMA! 8-11 pm. $10/ea or $25/family at the door. 3rd Floor performance space. 330 E Martin Luther King Jr. / State Street., Ithaca, NY 14850 - O’Shanigans acoustic band: Celtic, contra and world dance music

Contra Dance is the traditional folk dance of New York and New England. It is easy, fun and family friendly. All dances are taught by the dance caller. No partner needed. Casey Mullaney is a rising star in the contra dance world and is in great demand for her vivacious, beginner friendly calling and teaching style. The popular O’Shanigans contra dance band perform Celtic, American and world fiddle tunes for contra dancing, general entertainment and weddings. Their repertoire includes fiddle and dance tunes from: New England, Southern Appalachia, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Finland, Sweden and the Middle East! The O’Shanigans is: Phil Robinson on guitar, Tim Ball on fiddle and Michael Ludgate on mandolin. Band web site

More about contra dancing - What to expect at your first contra dance. Contra dancing is easy to learn, and about the most fun you can have with both feet on the ground. It’s so easy to learn that you don’t take lessons. Just show up at a dance and after a dance or two, you’ll know all the moves. People are friendly and welcoming to beginners. 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. What to wear? Wear smooth soled shoes and comfortable light weight clothing. Most people bring a bottle of drinking water. Contra dancing is joyous, so bring a smile! (Adapted from Local Facebook group

More Upcoming Marathon Events – For a Complete line-up of other Marathon events, take a look here

CSMA would like to thank their Arts for All Marathon sponsors! Masterpiece Sponsor: CFCU Community Credit Union. Artist Sponsor: Travis Hyde Properties. Muse Sponsors: Audrey Edelman RealtyUSA; Ciaschi, Dietershagen, Little, Mickelson & Company, LLP; Mariette Geldenhuys Attorney at Law; the Merchants of the DeWitt Mall and Wegmans. Media Sponsors: Finger Lakes Woman and Tompkins Weekly.

Since its inception, the Marathon has raised over $75,000 for CSMA scholarships and educational programs, opening doors to artistic learning and discovery for many who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity. See for full information, to make a donation, and for list of participating artists and schedule of events.
More about The Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA)

The Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA), Ithaca’s downtown multi-arts center and owner of a historic 23,000 square foot facility, has supported various facets of experiencing the arts throughout its 53 year history. From its humble beginnings as a children’s music school housed in the founders’ living room, through years of steady programmatic diversification and organizational growth, CSMA has firmly established its home as a vibrant hub for instruction, production, and consumption of visual and performing arts.

Best known for its leading role in community based arts education and as a nexus of artistic collaboration and production, CSMA also has long served as a popular venue for performances, gallery shows, and events. CSMA houses a multitude of classrooms, studios, music practice rooms, art galleries, and its historic 2,700 square foot Third Floor Performance Space.

CSMA’s mission is “to provide quality instruction to any community member who desires to learn music and arts, to develop and offer cultural and artistic programs and events, and to serve as a resource for community artists and musicians.”

When describing CSMA and its mission, one must look at its philosophy, a deep belief that the arts are an essential part of human nature, and that instruction in the arts should be accessible to everyone. CSMA commits its resources to students of all ages, skill levels, and backgrounds, to its esteemed teaching faculty and to the larger community of artists in the Ithaca and Tompkins County area. Need based “Arts for All” scholarships are awarded to students who qualify, helping to ensure CSMA’s programs are accessible to the whole community.

CSMA is a non-profit organization whose programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

CSMA is an active member of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce.

Website: Telephone: 607.272.1474. Address: 330 E Martin Luther King Jr. / State Street., Ithaca, NY 14850 Facebook


Bookmark and Share
Author: Margaret
• Tuesday, October 01st, 2013

The New England-based Clayfoot Strutters with caller George Marshall are returning to Ithaca after a too-long absence for a Hands Four double-header dance, 4-11 pm, Saturday, October 19, Beverly Martin School, 302 W. Buffalo St., Ithaca.Clayfoot StruttersIn the contra dance world, this band is a standout for “groove.” The Strutters draw inspiration from the far corners of the roots music galaxy to deliver an exciting fusion of traditional New England, Appalachian, and Quebecois music, progressive harmonies from pop and modal jazz, and hot dance-floor rhythms from the Afropop, swing, Latin, Cajun, and zydeco worlds. They’re prolific composers of dance tunes and songs as well. Core members are fiddler, songwriter, and producer Pete Sutherland, Jeremiah McLane on accordion and keyboards, and drummer, vocalist, and guitarist Lee Blackwell. Special guests include: Peter Davis, who plays clarinet, sax, piano, and guitar, bassist Harry Aceto (our hometown lad), and banjo and flute player Mark Roberts. George Marshall, with his suave, concise style and a deep repertoire of fun dances, will teach each dance.

There’s a session for experienced dancers, 4-6 pm, and an evening dance for all, 8-11 pm, with a potluck supper at 6:15 pm in the cafeteria between sessions. Please bring a generous dish to share! Beginners are most welcome: steps are simple and each dance is taught; there’s pre-dance instruction for newcomers at 7:30 pm. No need to bring a partner, but please bring clean, soft-soled shoes to protect the floor!

Prices (Hands Four member/nonmember): both sessions $16/20; afternoon only $8/10; evening only $10/12. Join or renew at the dance and receive the discounted admission. Info: 607-539-3174 or

– Margaret Shepard, for Hands Four Dancers

Bookmark and Share