I was so astonished to discover at the Kaynor Thanksgiving (I think it was 1975) that up there (living at my brother, Chapin's house) in Burlington VT you, cousin David, had begun playing fiddle and were playing the same “contra” repertoire that Van and I had been playing down in the Connecticut River Valley!
As I later got to know Pete Sutherland and the Green Mountain Volunteers, it became evident why and how, and then as I became familiar with the contra scene in Maine that I intersected through my Morris activities (where you were before VT), I saw the interconnections between our lives were even more subtle and foundational to what we would do together for the decades after, than I ever realized at first.
When the "wood nymphs" of Harvard Forest in Petersham MA begged us to come do dances at their town hall so they wouldn't have to drive so far (1977), the band was "whoever wants to play, Tod Whittemore calling." Within a few months it was apparent that a rather unusual thing was going on – amongst the “regular musicians” who came each time that included locals and friends like Doug Feeney and Susan Riley, were four people with last name Kaynor!
We decided we should become a named band and naturally, with our propensity for punning many hilarious names were considered until we finally settled on “The Fourgone Conclusions” to mark the unusual family core of the assemblage. I attach here a photo from those early days of the four Kaynors.
There are many things that distinguished the Fourgones, but in particular I felt there was some sort of hybrid vigor provided by our familial similarities and our disparate backgrounds.
Van and I had classical training in our background (though I had quit for 8 years, so I felt like a beginning fiddler) while you and dad were largely self-taught. Susan Riley also had classical background, while Doug Feeney had brought his own diverse folk music history. Nick Hawes brought his ethnomusicologist perspective that he inherited from his mother at the Smithsonian, and Becky Ashenden brought an international folk dance background that the rest of us hadn’t encountered. Al MacIntyre connected us to former years of contra with Dudley Laufman et al. and the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra in NH, and that brought us full circle to the dances I began attending when I was just getting into contra in the early 1970s and sat in with my recorder at Dudley’s dance with a band made up of members of that orchestra.
I can think of so many things we learned from each other – all of us – that track to these differences and similarities in our backgrounds, mingled with the synchrony of purpose that motivated us and made what we do quite unique. This mix adds a depth of complexity for a truly rich and wholesome effort at every occasion, even to this day when we play in the driveway outside your window.
There are multiple deep levels of sophistication beneath our joyful music and dance that are neither apparent nor discussed but have a substantive impact on the “energy”–the “aura”—and I speak not only of the technical aspects of music making, but the philosophies and strong beliefs we have developed about inclusivity, community, art, etc.
Daily I feel grateful for what this conglomerate of human passion brings to me and to the world around us, and grateful for the large part you play in making all of us what we are today.