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Dancing 2 by 2 ~ Couple Dances for Flying Shoes

Dancing two by two in the streets of Belfast! (from the BFS archives)

Two by Two: Couple Dances for Flying Shoes

BELFAST – Belfast Flying Shoes presents an evening of couple dances by the All Comers Band, led by Larry Unger & Rebecca Weiss – waltz, polka, schottische, foxtrot and more — on Friday, May 6, at 6:30 pm at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.

Dancers are encouraged to practice courtesy and cooperation, in accordance with the Flying Shoes public health policy , as they glide two by two across the wooden floor with each dance partner — whether a beau, friend, family member, or neighbor. We’ll offer fun tips on ways to meet everyone’s needs for safety and consent, and we’re thrilled to step carefully back into social dancing on First Fridays!

Musical guests Rebecca Weiss on fiddle and Larry Unger on guitar & banjo will lead the All Comers Band (all musicians, instruments, and skill levels welcome!) Musicians can find a partial tune list at belfastflyingshoes.org/all-comers-band/

Boston-based musician and tunesmith Larry Unger is a local favorite, known for his rock solid rhythm, a rich repertoire that includes his 5000 original  compositions, and his deep roots in traditional music.

Larry Unger on banjo at Renoir’s Boating Party

Part of a younger generation of exciting dance fiddlers, Rebecca Weiss hails from the Pioneer Valley in MA and grew up in greater Washington D.C., where a variety of tradition-bearers mentored her in the Appalachian, Irish, and contra dance music communities.

Rebecca Weiss on fiddle

Doors open at 6pm. The evening begins at 6:30 with a warm up session for the All Comers Band musicians, with open dancing from 7-9 pm.  Dance callers will offer mini-lessons on ways to enjoy the various types of dances, giving simple tips for satisfying and accessible dancing.

Sliding scale admission is $5 – $20 per person. The Troy Howard Middle School gymnasium is at 173 Lincolnville Ave (Rte 52) in Belfast. Doors open at 6:00, the All Comers Band warms up at 6:30, and the dancing starts at 7:00.  Masks required indoors. See BFS public health policy for more info.

Rays of Sunshine March 25

Since the vernal equinox this week, things are really brightening up in Belfast! Here are some rays of sunshine to look forward to…

March 27

The DownEast Country Dance Festival is hosting an online social for folks to connect and share stories. They’re also kicking off DEFFA’s new project related to our collective history of participatory dance and music in Maine. Register here.

Join Larry Unger on Friday April 1

April 1

We’re soooo excited to make some musical mischief with Larry Unger on April 1st at the Bazz! Details in the BFS calendar.

Saturday April 9 at the middle school

April 9

Longtime BFS folks might remember when BFS door prizes included tickets to A New Vaudeville Revue ~ Belfast’s own fun-filled, down-home music and comedy variety show. Well, they’re back! Sat. April 9, featuring contra dance musicians (Drivetrain), a BFS teaching artist (Mr. Ando), and plenty of humor, music, and even some ragtime! At THMS in Belfast. Complete details here.

Tri Town Music Program starting at Searsmont Town Library

April 25 – June 6

The Searsmont Town Library presents the Tri-Town Music Program for students in grades 2-5, starting April 25, with Jennifer Armstrong leading ukulele and Jeff Densmore leading percussion. BFS is a proud partner with the Library for this free program for residents of Belmont, Morrill & Searsmont. Contact the Library here.

Flashback to February:

We’ll close with a fond memory of the Fireside Chat at Waterfall Arts that featured BFS and Jennifer Armstrong (plus an amazing crepe paper “campfire”). Here’s their recap post, with a bit of audio, on the Waterfall Arts website.

 

Larry Unger’s Musical Mischief on April 1

On April Fool’s Day, we’re thrilled to welcome Larry Unger, the consummate dance musician, prolific composer, and more. He’ll do a workshop, concert, and jam session —“Musical Mischief with Larry Unger” — on Friday, April 1, at the Bazz (Basil Burwell Community Theater), 17 Court St in Belfast. 5:30 doors open, 6:00 pm start.

Larry Unger on Banjo at Renoir’s Boating Party

Larry has been a full-time musician for nearly 40 years, and his stellar guitar work (with Nat Hewitt’s fiddling) launched the Flying Shoes contra dance in 2005. Over the years, Larry returned many times to Belfast, most often with Notorious.

He has played music all over the world and has written over 5000 tunes. Larry’s compositions are widely played for dances, and are featured in four Ken Burns documentaries. (Plus, Door County #2 was played on the Grand Ole Opry and That Schoenberg Rag was performed by the San Luis Obispo Symphony Orchestra!)

Playing Harp Guitar at the Twisted Tree in Lincoln MA

Larry likes to play unusual instruments such as jaw harp, fretless banjo, and harp guitar (above). For this special April Fools Day musicians’ workshop, Larry’s natural affinity for musical mischief will complement his well-honed teaching skills. [Bonus: Larry teaches private lessons on banjo & guitar, and we asked him to do a popup music studio while he’s here. To book Larry for a class, get in touch directly about schedule and rates – [email protected]]

Following the workshop, Larry will present a solo concert, featuring finger-style blues guitar, old-time banjo, his original waltzes and fiddle tunes, and plenty of stories about the origins of his music and the people he learned from. The evening concludes with an All Comers Band jam session, open to musicians of all ages, experience levels, and instruments. Attendees who don’t play an instrument are invited to enjoy listening from their seats.

Sliding scale admission is $5-20 per person. All attendees must wear a mask. Our updated BFS Public Health Policy is here.

Sittin’ on Top of the World (Playing Banjo)

BFS By the Numbers – 2021

Pi Day (3.14) seems like the right time to focus on the numbers. Here’s some 2021 BFS data to digest, from 4 to 16,703! (Enjoy the infinite joy and delight for dessert.)

Rays of Sunshine March 9

Morning birdsong is loudly announcing that spring is on the way, but in case your heart longs for even more rays of sunshine, here’s a tasty trio: Radio, Video and Banjo, oh my!

Flying Shoes Radio Hour on WBFY

Still time to enjoy the “March Forth” show (livestream 1pm Wed, or on demand now thru Thurs). Upcoming shows will tie into this month’s celebrations of Women’s History, Music in Our Schools, and Irish-American Heritage.

Tune in via WBFY-Belfast Community Radio at 6:00pm on Fridays (encore 1pm Wed) at 100.9 FM or online. Please send us your advance REQUESTS, especially on this month’s themes.

Trad Dance & Music Movies – Sun. March 13!

The BFS Board just heard about the Portland Roadhouse Independent Film Festival – Sun March 13, starting at 2pm ET. Here’s the detailed schedule, with these films (and directors)

  • Paid to Eat Ice Cream: Bob McQuillen & New England Contra Dance (David Millstone)
  • The Canote Brothers Story (Larry Edelman)
  • Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Story (John Whitehead)
  • Take it Back (Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons)
  • Take Hands (Doug Plummer)

So, if you missed Mac’s Music & Movie on Feb 5, you can see it on Sunday! (Plus, the DVD is also available anytime at the Belfast Free Library.) Chrissy Fowler is looking forward to the documentary about the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, and is especially excited to see her Pourparler colleague Stacy Rose, who’s featured in Take Hands (about the impact of community dancing in Coos Bay, OR.)

Yes, Foolin’! April 1 Flying Shoes First Friday

Multi-instrumentalist and tunesmith, Larry Unger will be our featured guest, so mark your calendars and tune up those instruments* and get ready to be a bit foolish! *Yep, banjos and accordions are especially welcome for April Foolin’…

Larry Unger plays banjo and more for April Fools

March Forth on Friday, March 4

Joy and connection at March Forth!

Marching forth was glorious, thanks to the active participation of attendees coupled with the inspiring leadership & musical talents of Greg, Steve & Elsie.

Steve shared the story of the workshop tune, Doddie’s Dream, which was composed by Bruce MacGregor of Blazin’ Fiddles to benefit the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, founded in 2017 by Doddie Weir, a champion rugby player who has MND (motor neuron disease). Purchasing the Blazin’ Fiddles single and Bruce MacGregor’s sheet music will directly benefit myname5doddie.co.uk. Last March, the single was released, and the star-studded video won music video of the year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards. Check out all the links to learn more and get inspired!

After the workshop, Elsie, Greg & Steve performed a concert of tunes and songs illustrating their collective ability to play ‘outside the box’, and the audience responded with hoots, hollering, and thunderous applause. At the close of the performance, the All Comers Band joined in for Doddie’s Dream; their fiddles, guitars, banjos, pianos, and percussion filled the hall with the majestic tune, flowing into an all-request jam with many marches (and more!)

Below is our earlier blog post about the “March Forth” event. We’re thrilled to be striding forward with in-person programs on First Fridays. If you have ideas for the BFS Board as we plan, get in touch at [email protected]

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It’s time to “March Forth!” on Friday, March 4, at 6:00 pm at the Fellowship Hall of the First Church in Belfast, UCC. (Inclement weather date March 5.) The evening of exuberant fiddle tunes is the next step in our participatory dance and music nonprofit’s joyful return to 1st Friday programming.

Celebrated Maine musicians and music teachers, Greg Boardman, Elsie Gawler, and Steve Muise, will lead an All Comers Band music workshop with a theme of “March Forth”.  Besides learning tunes in 4/4 or 2/2 time, workshop participants will get tips on improvisation and creating exciting arrangements, both of which are special talents of the guest trio. All three musicians are longtime staff members at Maine Fiddle Camp, where they have inspired generations of fiddlers and cellists from throughout the state and beyond.

Humble and generous multi-instrumentalist, Greg Boardman, founded Maine Fiddle Camp. For decades, he has been an influential musical mentor in his hometown of Lewiston and beyond, from leading the Mighty Cloud of Fiddlers to playing oud music with his Somali neighbors.

Elsie Gawler grew up sleeping under the piano at contra dances. Her cello, banjo, and vocals are beloved across the state and region — whether she’s playing in the duo, Elsie & Ethan, with her siblings as The Gawler Sisters, or with the entire Gawler Family Band.

The irrepressible Steve Muise graduated from Berklee College of Music. Throughout his storied career as a music educator, has brought the joy of fiddle music to hundreds (probably even thousands) of young musicians, at Maine Fiddle Camp and at the Mt Blue Regional School District in Farmington, where he teaches stringed instruments and leads the powerhouse high school ensemble, the Franklin County Fiddlers (about whom former BFS board member, Bruce Snider, penned this article). Steve is also known for his snazzy haberdashery and quirky sense of humor.

Anonymous Franklin County Fiddler

Following the workshop, the guest musicians will present a concert that highlights their varied and dynamic musical interests. The evening concludes with an All Comers Band jam session, focused on tunes played at community and contra dances. Musicians of all ages, experience levels, and instruments are welcome. Attendees who don’t play an instrument are invited to enjoy listening from their seats.

Sliding scale admission is $5-20 per person. All attendees must wear a mask. The First Church is at 8 Court Street, with the Fellowship Hall entrance on Spring Street. Doors open at 5:30 for instrument tuning. The Fellowship Hall has limited capacity. For info and updated public health protocols, visit www.belfastflyingshoes.org or contact [email protected].

Belfast Flying Shoes was founded in 2005 with a mission to bolster the spirited dance and music community in Midcoast Maine. BFS programs include the Flying Shoes Radio Hour on WBFY, the “Sing Along and Tap Your Toes” concert series for older adults, and music lessons for residents at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center.