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Birdie March – All-Comers Band tune for July 7

In June, we danced a new composition at the BFS Community Dance: Coyote Prowl, a community contra created by the Coyote deme at Northwood Natural Learning’s Village Day program. Coyote Prowl premiered at the closing circle at Northwood, where we danced it to The Birdie March, a new tune by Ali Palm. We’ll dance Coyote Prowl to The Birdie March at the July 7 BFS Community Dance.

Here’s an mp3 of the tune. The A1 and A2 differ slightly, and the B1 and B2 have substantial differences. It’s in G, with possible chords as follows:

A1: G-/G-/D-/D-/
A2: G-/G-/D-/G-/
B1: G-/G-/Em-/Em-/
B2: G-/G-/Em-/Amaj-/

Double chocolate for those ACB musicians who correctly identify at least three of the birds whose calls inspired the tune… and triple chocolate if you explain the variation at the end of B2!

Gems from a Gathering of Midcoast Maine’s Musical Tribes

On May 23, BFS co-sponsored the Maine premiere of “Welcome Here Again”, a documentary about the seminal contra dance band, the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra. (See earlier post.) Before the screening, Ned Lightner of Insight Productions recorded an inspiring jam/chat session with 20+ trad musicians of diverse musical backgrounds.

In Ned’s video, the musicians shared thoughts about playing traditional music in social settings. As one viewer noted, “Each of the speakers was eloquent, in many different ways, and I heard gem after gem.”

The chat was partly inspired by a keynote that Laura Risk gave at an educators’ conference. In it, she referred to Thomas Turino’s Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation, a book that “explores why it is that music and dance are so often at the center of our most profound personal and social experiences.”

It’s worth mentioning that the musicians who gathered on 5/23 play with a rich variety of inclusive groups: Belfast Flying Shoes All-Comers Band, Belfast Bay Fiddlers (BBF), Kitchen Junketers, Maine Fiddle Camp, Quebecois jam, ukelele jam, Irish session, and more! And nearly all have played for dances, including with the BFS All-Comers, BBF, Old Grey Goose, Maine Country Dance Orchestra, Oakum Bay String Band, Montville Project, Gawler Family, Newell Family, Velocipede, Roaring Jelly, and of course, the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra. Most importantly–and without exception–they play music as part of their social life.

Many thanks to the folks who came as audience members, to the Colonial Theatre owners Mike Hurley and Therese Bagnardi for making their Dreamland space available, to Jacqueline Laufman and filmmaker John Gfroerer for trekking up from NH, to Ned Lightner for thinking up the event, and immeasurable gratitude to all of the musicians who jammed, chatted, and introduced themselves on film for posterity. We’re thrilled to have helped make it happen.

Welcome Here Again! A Gathering of Trad Music Communities in Midcoast Maine

Welcome Here Again

Belfast Flying Shoes is thrilled to join Insight Video Productions and the Colonial Theatre in sponsoring a celebration of participatory music-making. Come one, come all, with instruments in hand!

Tuesday May 23 at 7pm
Colonial Theatre, Belfast

Come Early for the Open Jam Session, playing a variety of fiddle tunes in the traditional vein. Enjoy Conversation about playing trad music in social settings.

See the Maine premiere of the documentary film: Welcome Here Again: A Recording Session with the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra (click for trailer).

Meet the Documentary’s Creators, John Gfroerer of Concord, NH and videographer Ned Lightner of Belfast.

Suggested donation: $3 to $30 (Proceeds after expenses will support the outreach work of Belfast Flying Shoes.)
More about the 5/23 event, click here.

Cool Breeze: Nor’easter returns to the Belfast Flying Shoes Contra Dance

Join us Friday, June 2, for contra dancing at American Legion Post #43, 143 Church Street in Belfast. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a Community Dance called by Chrissy Fowler and with music by the All-Comers Band. All musicians are welcome to sit in. Fun and simple dances will be taught, giving beginners the opportunity to learn new skills and offering experienced dancers a chance to brush up on their steps. The Contra Dance begins at 8:00 p.m.

Bob Isaacs

Calling for this month’s dance will be Bob Isaacs of New Jersey. A caller since 1999 at dances, weekends, and camps across the country, Bob is known for a clear, enthusiastic teaching style that works for dancers of all levels. He is also a talented and prolific choreographer, whose contras and squares are both inventive and true to their traditional roots. This will be Bob’s first time calling for a Flying Shoes dance, and we’re thrilled to welcome him. Returning to the Flying Shoes stage with Bob will be:

Nor’easter

The popular Boston-based trio Nor’easter joins the talents of fiddler Cedar Stanistreet, mandolinist and guitarist Max Newman, and pianist and accordionist Julie Vallimont. Thoroughly steeped in New England music, the three share musical interests that range from classical and jazz to rock and techno. Their light, subtle, energetic sound has made them a favorite at dances across the country.

Cedar Stanistreet—fiddle
Max Newman—mandolin & guitar
Julie Vallimont—piano & accordion

Sound provided by Eric Weest Johnson

Nor’easter

All-Comers Tune for May

The Belfast Flying Shoes All-Comers Band is an inspiring and exciting phenomenon—what’s not to love?!? Just to add to all that delight on first Fridays, your community dance caller (Chrissy Fowler) and All-Comers Band leaders (The Gawler Family) have decided to occasionally feature a “Tune of the Month.”

Presenting, on May 5, 2017… The Black Joke!

Molly Gawler will help lead a review of the tune just before the dance. For all you ear-learners, it’s a wonderfully repetitive jig. Note-readers can check out the pdf of the dots & lines. And everyone, we hope you’ll join the dancers in a rousing chorus: “Hey, Ho, Diddley-Dum!”

Download The Black Joke (PDF)

Jigue Time: Québécois Power Trio Genticorum Returns to Belfast Flying Shoes Contra Dance

Join us Friday, May 5, for contra dancing at American Legion Post #43, 143 Church Street in Belfast. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a Community Dance called by Chrissy Fowler and with music by the All-Comers Band. All musicians are welcome to sit in. Fun and simple dances will be taught, giving beginners the opportunity to learn new skills and offering experienced dancers a chance to brush up on their steps. The Contra Dance begins at 8:00 p.m.

David Smukler

This month’s caller is Syracuse, N.Y.-based David Smukler. Active on the dance circuit in the Northeast for over thirty years—and a favorite among Flying Shoes regulars—David is also a traditional-dance scholar and writer, and a prolific creator of new dances. Sharing the Flying Shoes stage with David will be:

Genticorum: Pascal Gemme, Yann Falquet, Nicholas Williams (left to right)

Genticorum

The Belfast Flying Shoes dance series is excited to welcome for their return visit one of the top bands on the Québécois traditional music scene. Over the past decade and a half, Genticorum has produced five CDs, played hundreds of concerts in some 20 countries, and earned four Canadian Folk Music Awards. Renowned for its intricate vocal harmonies, the trio roots its sound in the powerfully rhythmic Québécois dance vernacular, which it renders with a raw, joyous energy that should make this event truly memorable.

Pascal Gemme—fiddle
Yann Falquet—guitar & bass
Nicholas Williams—piano & accordion

Sound provided by Eric Weest Johnson

Admission to the Community Dance is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Admission to the Contra Dance is $10 for adults, $8 for ages 13 to 20, and $5 for children. All-Comers musicians get a $2 discount. Bring along a window fan and get $1 off. For more information: call 338-0979, email us at belfastflyingshoes@gmail.com, or visit www.belfastflyingshoes.org. Find us on Facebook too!

Our Brains On Dancing

Ever wonder if there’s more to community dancing and contra dancing than the temporal pleasure you derive from it? A recent New York Times article explains, “A new study that compared the neurological effects of country dancing with those of walking and other activities suggests that there may be something unique about learning a social dance.” Thanks to the BFS dancer who alerted us to this article! (Wait ’til you see the closing suggestion!) A similar article in the Denver Post makes the contra connection even more explicit.

Here’s a link to the original journal article in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Local Food Movement Inspires Local Foot Movement: Sassafras Stomp Returns to Belfast Flying Shoes Contra Dance, Friday, April 7, 2017, with Caller Chrissy Fowler

Join us for an evening of contra dancing at American Legion Post #43, 143 Church Street in Belfast. The evening begins at 6:30 pm with a Community Dance called by Chrissy Fowler and with music by the All-Comers Band. All musicians are welcome to sit in. Fun and simple dances will be taught, giving beginners the opportunity to learn new skills and offering experienced dancers a chance to brush up on their steps. The Contra Dance begins at 8:00 pm.

Chrissy Fowler

This month’s caller is Belfast’s own Chrissy Fowler. A founder and leading light of the Belfast Flying Shoes dance series, Chrissy spreads the joy of contra dancing also at schools, community gatherings, and private events. With wit and good cheer, Chrissy keeps things spicy enough for veteran dancers while making novices feel equally welcome. Sharing the Flying Shoes stage with Chrissy will be:

Sassafras Stomp

Adam Nordell & Johanna Davis

With roots in Maine and Montana, Sassafras Stomp’s Johanna Davis and Adam Nordell tend roots of a more literal sort at their organic Songbird Farm in Unity. As the string duo Sassafras Stomp, they play a coast-to-coast slate of concerts, workshops, weddings, and dances. The band’s website describes their fiddle-and-guitar sound as “sweet, high-energy folk music.” Threading freely through the Celtic, New England, Acadian, and old time traditions, it’s a style that feels contemporary yet, appropriately enough, deep-rooted.

John Pranio Photo by John Clarke Russ

Joining Johanna and Adam will be multi-instrumentalist and local legend John Pranio. Co-founder of the North Whitefield Contra Dance, a member of the Henry Road Band, and a favorite instructor at Maine Fiddle Camp, Pranio is known for his elegant musicianship, unerring good taste, and tireless efforts to make Beatles music part of the standard contra dance repertoire.

  • Johanna Davis—fiddle
  • Adam Nordell—guitar and foot percussion
  • John Pranio—fiddle, banjo, harmonica, and mandolin
  • Sound provided by Eric Weest Johnson

Admission to the Community Dance is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Admission to the Contra Dance is $10 for adults, $8 for ages 13 to 20 and adult All-Comers, and $5 for children. Bring along a window fan and get $1 off. For more information: call 338-0979, or email us at belfastflyingshoes@gmail.com. Find us on Facebook too!

Songbird Farm & Sassafras Stomp!

Johanna Davis Adam Nordell, Photo by Linda Coan O’Kresik

Sassafras Stomp musicians Johanna Davis & Adam Nordell are in the spotlight! Check out this Bangor Daily News piece about their alter egos as organic farmers on their Songbird Farm in Unity. The article includes photos, video, and plenty of tasty tidbits to whet your appetite for their April 7 appearance at the Belfast Flying Shoes contra dance.