This episode, Julie sits down with pianist, caller, dance choreographer, and west-coaster Jeff Spero. Jeff has been playing piano and singing since he was five years old. At a young age he discovered an affinity for popular music and later brought his rhythmic style to American and Celtic folk and dance music. Now he plays dances, concerts and festivals...
Episode 30 – Jeff Spero
This episode, Julie sits down with multi-instrumentalist and long-time director of Maine Fiddle Camp Doug Protsik. Doug likes to play the “old-time piano” for dances, melodramas, honky tonk saloons, and silent movies. He’s a founding member of the band Old Grey Goose and has toured the world as a musical ambassador for the US State Department. In their conversation over...
Episode 29 – Doug Protsik
This episode Julie sits down with accordionist Sylvia Miskoe. A New Hampshire native, Sylvia first learned to dance at age 12 in 1947 and has been playing her accordion for decades, ever since college where she began playing for square and contra dancing. Today she plays for contra dancing and also Scottish and English country dance. In their conversation...
Episode 28 – Sylvia Miskoe
This episode Julie sits down with Pacific Northwest fiddler, teacher, and music editor Betsy Branch. Betsy is a versatile musician who loves to explore multiple genres of music. She got her start at age 5 in classical music, and then in her 20’s fell in love with fiddle music. She plays for contra and English Country Dances, and is...
Episode 27 – Betsy Branch
This episode, Julie sits down with guitarist Owen Morrison known for his driving rhythm and virtuosic flat-picking in well-loved bands such as Elixir, The Figments, and the Morrison Brothers. They dive into Owen’s musical background growing up immersed in a musical family in the midst of a rich music and dance scene of Charlottesville, Virginia. They explore his tune-writing...
Episode 26 – Owen Morrison
This episode, Julie sits down with accordionist, pianist, and composer Jeremiah McLane. He is known for his work with such groundbreaking contra dance bands as The Clayfoot Strutters and Nightingale, as well as his role as a leader and instructor, especially through his Floating Bridge Music School, which is devoted to teaching traditional music from the British Isles, Northern...
Episode 25 – Jeremiah McLane
This episode, Julie sits down with legendary fiddler, violin maker and tunesmith Rodney Miller. Rodney is recognized as a “Master Fiddler” by the National Endowment for the Arts and his career of performing, teaching and recording traditional and genre-defining fiddle music spans across decades and continents. Julie speaks with Rodney about his early musical influences,...
Episode 24 – Rodney Miller
This episode, Julie talks with the prolific caller, pianist, and producer Tony Parkes. Tony is known internationally as an exceptional caller for beginners and experts alike, and this conversation delves into the detailed history of his roots in square dancing, learning alongside greats like Ted Sannella, as well as the heyday of the Yankee Ingenuity dance in Boston, and...
Episode 23 – Tony Parkes
This episode, Julie sits down with true contra renaissance man Nils Fredland – trombone player for Elixir and other bands, Revels North artistic director, as well as a singer, Waldorf teacher, and caller extraordinaire. They discuss his background in classical trombone, how he ended up in the contra scene after a cappella and ska music, some great memories from...
Episode 22 – Nils Fredland
This episode, Julie interviews the wonderful violinist and violist Mary Lea from the legendary bands Yankee Ingenuity and Bare Necessities. They discuss Mary’s roots in the Boston contra scene, her approach as a fiddler and how she works with improvisation and variation. They also get into some of the nuts and bolts of playing for dance, some of the...
Episode 21 – Mary Lea
In the second part of Julie’s conversation with Vermont musical legend Pete Sutherland, they talk about what makes good dance music, how drums changed his approach to dance playing, the difference between playing in large bands and small bands, and we explored what it means to respect tradition without being a strict traditionalist.
Episode 20 – Pete Sutherland Part 2
This episode, Julie talks with Vermont musical legend Pete Sutherland from Pete’s Posse, The Clayfoot Strutters, and many more. They covered so much that we split the episode into two parts. In part one, they discuss Pete’s musical roots, the contra scene in the early 70s, how he teaches music theory, and more. Look for part two next week!
Episode 19 – Pete Sutherland Part 1
This episode, Julie talks with Andy Davis – a founding member of the “New England Dancing Masters” and a decades-long pianist, caller, and organizer of contras, community dances, and weekends. They talk about his beginnings, the intersection of calling and playing, teaching dance to children, and the deep roots of the folk dance community.
Episode 18 – Andy Davis
This episode, Julie interviews Gordon Peery, the wonderful piano player from New Hampshire and bands such as Fresh Fish, Fiddler’s Union, and Trip to Nelson. They talk about learning the craft from Bob McQuillen and other influences, great gig stories, and what tradition means and how it’s crafted. Enjoy!
Episode 17 – Gordon Peery
This episode, Julie interview the illustrious Audrey Knuth, from The Free Raisins, Wake Up Robin, and other places across the world. They have a lot of fun reminiscing about their various contra adventures starting in Boston, Audrey’s transition from classical violin to fiddle, her priorities as a dance fiddler, her inspirations, and much more. Enjoy!
Episode 16 – Audrey Knuth
Julie sits down with Peter Siegel, the guitarist, mandolinist, and singer from the Greenfield Dance Band and The Gaslight Tinkers. They talk about the wide range of sounds in his bands, what tradition means, experimentation and innovation in the folk tradition. As well as Muppet impressions, of course. Enjoy!
Episode 15 – Peter Siegel
Julie speaks with the wonderful pianist, accordionist, and singer Mary Cay Brass of the Greenfield Dance Band and Airdance - mainstays of the New England contra scene in the last decades. Mary Cay is also a talented international folk musician, and music educator. They discuss her early days playing for contras, her piano style and influences, and her passion...
Episode 14 – Mary Cay Brass
Julie interviews the renowned musician, caller, and organizer George Marshall. They talk about his mission to share the joy of dance, his calling mentors and inspiration, his approach to working with bands, and what makes great dance music. It’s a wonderful conversation for musicians, callers, and everyone interested in the evolution of contra dance! Show...
Episode 13 – George Marshall
The second half of our interview with Noah VanNorstrand. whose driving fiddle, feet, and mandolin have been a rhythmic powerhouse behind some of the most popular dance bands of the last decade. In this half of the interview we talked about Noah's philosophy of fiddling for contra dances, some contra tricks, and about the future of dance weekends, and...
Episode 12 – Noah VanNorstrand Part 2
The first of a two-part episode with Noah VanNorstrand, whose driving fiddle, feet, and mandolin have been a rhythmic powerhouse behind some of the most popular dance bands of the last decade, including Great Bear, Buddy System, Wake Up Robin and the Faux Paws. Noah freely blends traditional folk genres such as Celtic and old time Appalachian fiddling with...
Episode 11 – Noah VanNorstrand Part 1
This episode, Julie sits down with Lissa Schneckenburger, the talented fiddler and singer. Her unique perspective as a player of many different styles, and a graduate of the New England Conservatory, makes for a great conversation about music, contra, and community.
Episode 10: Lissa Schneckenburger
Julie sits down with the extraordinary Kate Barnes, whose legendary piano stylings have been a mainstay of the contra scene for decades. She’s also a renowned English dance musician, and they talk in-depth about her beginnings in contra dance piano, improvisation, how the dance scene has changed over the years, and much more!
Episode 9: Kate Barnes
Part two of Julie's conversation with David Cantieni - founding member of the bands Wild Asparagus and Swallowtail, who has been an important fixture of the Western Massachusetts contradance scene for many years. They go through David’s roots, his transition from classical oboe to traditional music, the excitement of the bombard and the influence of French tunes, how he...
Episode 8: David Cantieni Part 2
Part one of Julie's conversation with David Cantieni - founding member of the bands Wild Asparagus and Swallowtail, who has been an important fixture of the Western Massachusetts contradance scene for many years. They go through David’s roots, his transition from classical oboe to traditional music, the excitement of the bombard and the influence of French tunes, how he...
Episode 7: David Cantieni Part 1
Arthur and Julie have a lovely summer-night chat about his early roots, building communities through dance, and glorious New England tunes. And as piano players, they also geek out about piano styles, the difference between acoustic pianos and keyboards, and much more!
Episode 6: Arthur Davis
This episode, Julie invites Anna Patton, clarinetist from Elixir and other bands, to sit down on her porch and talk about life as a gigging musician, groove and beat placement, the clarinet as a contra dance instrument, and much more!
Episode 5: Anna Patton
Julie takes to her porch to talk with Everest Witman, guitarist, mandolinist, and foot percussionist from Nova about his experience growing up in the contra dance scene, DADGAD guitar, contra vs. session playing, and we have a good old rhythm player geek out session about ways that rhythm players can support the dancing. They also talk about Everest's current...
Episode 4: Everest Witman
The second part of Julie's conversation with Charlie Pilzer about how he accompanies tunes, how that's changed over the past few decades, what makes a great contra tune, music theory and more!
Episode 3: Charlie Pilzer – Part 2
Julie interviews Charlie Pilzer at the NEFFA, the New England Folk Festival, in 2019. They talk about this history of the contra dance scene, Charlie's diverse musical experience, and even dive into some music theory on what makes a great contra dance tune!
Episode 2: Charlie Pilzer – Part 1
Julie interviews Dudley at Maine Fiddle Camp - filled with classic stories from Dudley's long career as both a contra dance caller and musician. Diving into what makes the perfect contra dance band sound, tune. And medleys? Who needs 'em.