Sep 282012

Fiddler Julie MetcalfThe Monadnock Folklore Society presents the Peterborough, NH First Saturday Contra Dance on October 6th, featuring Steve Zakon-Anderson calling with Julie Metcalf and Larry Unger.

“Farmers Dance For Free” is the theme for this night because hard-working farmers rarely get to kick up their heels. In addition, information will be available about how to support local farms and purchase local food.

Participating Farms include:

Rosaly’s Organic Garden Peterborough, NH
Fox Den Farm Lyndeborough, NH
Blossom Hill Farm Hancock, NH
Autumn Hill Farm Temple, NH
Stonegate Farm and Flowers Greenfield, NH

Dance caller Steve Zakon-Anderson has been leading contra dances for over 25 years. He has performed at dance camps and festivals from Alaska to Florida. Steve’s clear teaching, precise calling and sense of humor have made him a favorite of dancers of all ages and abilities.

Julie Metcalf began as a classical violinist in Worcester, MA. Coming from a family of musicians, she was encouraged to make music from an early age; Julie picked up the violin for the first time when she was 4 years old and has been playing ever since. Recently, she has immersed herself in the study of both traditional folk and contemporary styles of music, including Celtic, Appalachian, bluegrass, jazz, and Latin music.

Larry Unger, guitarist, has been a full time musician since 1984, and has presented a diverse range of musical performances at contra dances, waltzes, dance weekends, dance camps, festivals, and concerts all across the United States and in Canada, France, Scotland, Denmark, and Sweden. He’s one of the busiest contra dance musicians around, playing for more than 150 dances every year.

The dancing begins at 8:00 PM, with an optional introductory workshop beforehand. Admission is $8 or $6 for students and seniors, and farmers dance for free. The dance takes place in the historic Town House in Peterborough, NH at 1 Grove Street. For more information call 603.762.0235.

 Posted by on September 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Sep 142012

After taking a break on 9/10, the Monday dances are back.

There will be one more “dark” Monday on November 5th, prior to the presidential election. Then we should be able to go at least two years without having to cancel a dance for an election.

 Posted by on September 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm
Jul 202012

On Sunday, July 15, a Monadnock Lyceum was held at the Unitarian Church in Peterboro, NH. All the pews were full for the event, a presentation of Monadnock Region music, particularly square and contra dance music, and Bob McQuillen’s part in it, which has been and still is big. Gordon Peery of Nelson and the Monadnock Folk Lore Society put the show together. Gordon gave a good talk on the history of contra and social dancing . Then Old New England, Bob Mcquillen’s band, himself, Jane Orzechowski, and Deanna Stiles, on flute, fiddles and piano, played some selections of jigs, reels, hornpipes, marches and waltzes, some of them Bob’s own compositions. In the balcony, thirty musicians, all influenced by Bob, or, even influenced him, waited for the four potatoes, and, playing Jimmy Allen in unison on fiddles, accordions, concertinas, banjos and flutes, they processed, youngest first, oldest (me) last down the stairs and up the aisle to fan out across the alter. Then they played Amelia’s Waltz, on DDog.

McQUILLENBob and Dudley share a Laugh

This accordion player is a laughing fellow

with steel gray hair, bribing the bellows.

He coaxes and listens to the Irish in it,

falls of water, hills of granite,

weather brown barns, evergreen tree.

He roars with laughter & slaps his knee,

His music blends with the fiddle man,

the caller, the piano, the summer dancers

with taps on their shoes, fresh from the farms,

the woolen mills.

He tattooed his arms.

Looks like he’s taking a nap on his box,

but what he is doing is coaxing talk,

getting it going like a spinning top,

you can hear it out in the parking lot.

– Dudley Laufman

 Posted by on July 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm
Jul 132012

Bob McQuillen at the Nelson Town Hall

Sunday July 15th, 2 PM, 25 Main Street, Peterborough NH

Welcome to a musical program honoring New England legend Bob McQuillen, patriarch of the longstanding tradition of New England Contra Dance music. After a short historical overview of the importance of this music to our region, we will be treated to a concert of contra dance music from past to present featuring Bob McQuillen and his band, Old New England, with Jane Orzechowski, Deanna Stiles and some fabulous surprise guests.

Bob McQuillen is a living local legend who has been instrumental in keeping contra dancers on their toes in the Monadnock area for a very long time, connecting back to the legendary caller Ralph Page in the 30s. In the 70s, he worked with Dudley Laufman and the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra. In 2003, he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. These days, at 88, he is still found at the piano Monday evenings in Nelson and at the first Saturdays Contra Dance here in Peterborough.

McQuillen is a prolific composer, with close to 1,500 tunes that often carry the name of the person who inspired them. McQuillen compositions are popular among musicians as well as dancers, available in Bob’s Notebooks. “Old New England,” Bob’s current group with Jane Orzechowski and Deanna Stiles, represented New Hampshire at the 1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and performed at the Celebrate New Hampshire festival in 2000. “Old New England” has released four CDs.

“Mr. Mac” is also remembered and well loved for the 30 years he spent teaching shop class at Peterborough High School (now Conval). Bob has always taught, mentored and inspired people, especially aspiring musicians. “He’s one of those angels that just floats around making a difference in everyone’s life,” said Leslie Jose, whose son Mike inspired “Mikey’s Reel.” “There’s no way you could even put into words the magic that Bob McQuillen has.”

Narrator Gordon Peery has been playing for contra dances since the late 1970s. He has toured throughout the US, as well as Canada and Europe. Gordon was a founding director of the Monadnock Folklore Society, and is currently President of the Peterborough Historical Society.

 Posted by on July 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm
May 282012

Greetings from the Traditional Arts Program!

In June and July of this year we are presenting a series of public programs to celebrate traditional arts in New Hampshire with a specific focus on our Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant program. This grant category funds a master artist of a craft, music or dance tradition to teach an experienced apprentice in one-to-one sessions. These grants help preserve traditions that are a part of our living cultural heritage.

The project kicks off with an exhibit entitled “Shaping Our Heritage” that will be held at the State Library in Concord from June 8 to July 20. We hope you’ll be able to join us for the opening reception June 8 from 4:30 to 6:30 and if so, please RSVP to
If you are unable to join us for the opening reception, we hope that you will have the opportunity to view the exhibit June 11 to July 20, anytime between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm.

We are also holding a Traditional Arts Conference tailored to the needs and interests of traditional artists on June 9, 2012 at the beautiful McLane Center on the grounds of the New Hampshire Audubon Society, 84 Silk Farm Rd, Concord, NH from 9 am to 4:30 pm. The conference promises to be a unique opportunity for traditional artists to meet, exchange ideas, and build a stronger community. We are working out the last of the arrangements for the workshops and we hope it is a memorable and enriching day for everyone. We’ve invited Barry Bergey, director of the Folk Arts Program at the National Endowment for the Arts, to open the conference. Here is a link to the portal on our website with more information on the project:

Conference registrations are coming in nicely and we are almost at capacity. As of today, we still have space for around 25 more traditional artists. If you know of a traditional crafts person, musician or dancer that could benefit from this opportunity, we invite you to pass along an invitation to register for the conference.

There is no charge to attend. However, because the Audubon Center has space limitations, we are providing lunch, and we have a fixed budget, we need to make sure everyone who plans on attending is registered. Our deadline is Friday, June 1, 2012 and “First-registered, first-accommodated!” To register for the conference, artists should contact our special project assistant Julianne Gadoury at or by phone: 271-0791 8:30 am to 1:30 pm.
NH Council on the Arts

 Posted by on May 28, 2012 at 11:37 am
Mar 272012

Fierce ModalWhen I first heard Flynn Cohen (several years ago) he was playing backup guitar behind three stellar fiddlers who were wowing the audience with an array of fancy stuff.  It wasn’t until late in the concert when Flynn did a solo set that his ability to similarly dazzle was displayed.  Since that time I’ve come to admire his playing for his willingness to understate. Or perhaps another way of saying that is that Flynn doesn’t play a note unless it needs to be played.

His latest solo album, Fierce Modal, is a daring effort consisting of entirely original instrumentals. It opens with a gentle meditation he calls “End of an Era”, which gave me an image of a pool of water,  glimmering in sunlight, but seemingly standing still. Then you realize that the water is moving – not very fast, and not very far, but in a very logical way. Continue reading »