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.