Nelson Town Hall
Admission $8 / $6 seniors and students
Beginner’s Workshop 7:30
Don Primrose will call to music by Harvey Tolman and Bob McQuillen at the Nelson Second Saturday Contra Dance on April 10th, held in the Nelson, NH Town Hall. Contra dance, a form of social dance done in straight lines, was brought to New England with its earliest Anglo settlers. During the past 200 years, it has become part of life in the region’s town halls and community centers.
Attending the many dances and house parties in the area throughout the 1950s, Harvey Tolman was exposed to the music of many fine musicians—most notably fiddler, painter, and violin maker Albert Quigley. Quigley had a huge impact on young Tolman and gave him, not only inspiration, but also his first fiddle. Despite the his influence, Tolman wasn’t completely won over to traditional music until he and some friends traveled down to Boston in 1960 to the annual Scottish Games. There, he heard Cape Breton fiddle music for the first time. The music touched him deeply: combining, as it did, the potential for solo performance that he’d always loved, and the possibility for a community of fellow musicians.
In 1980, Tolman found another opportunity to share his love of music. Musician and dance caller Peter Temple started a weekly contra dance in Harrisville, just down the road from Nelson. When his “regular” fiddler couldn’t play, Temple came to Tolman and asked if he would stand in. Shy about playing for a dance, Tolman said that he would do his best. Twenty-seven years later, Tolman’s fiddling still anchors the music at the “Monday Night Dance.”
Bob McQuillen, pianist and accordion player, has held a central position in the contra scene for more than 60 years. Although his grandfather played accordion and his father played the piano, McQuillen did not turn seriously to music until he returned from service as a Marine during World War II. Some friends took him to a local dance, and he became interested in playing the accordion. He continued his day job teaching industrial arts at Con-Val High School in Peterborough, New Hampshire, but also began playing accordion and piano for dances throughout the region, working with the legendary contra dance caller and historian, Ralph Page. In 1973, McQuillen wrote his first tune, Scotty O’Neil, named for a student who died. Since then, he has written more than 1,300 dance tunes. Still, it appears that his greatest joy comes from what he sometimes modestly calls “boom chucking,” providing the propulsive rhythms for a contra dance band that set feet and bodies moving on the dance floor.
Harvey Tolman and Bob McQuillen are both recipients of the New Hampshire Council on the Arts Folk Heritage Award. Bob is also the 2002 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship and the 2009 Lifetime Contribution Award from the Country Dance and Song Society.
Caller Don Primrose, from Sullivan, NH, is well-known for his able guidance of the weekly Monday night dance. After working with Bob McQuillen to save that dance in 2001, he has seen the dance grow and become a regional “must see” for visiting national and international travelers.
The dance opens with a new dancer orientation at 7:30 PM, and dancing begins at 8:00 PM. Beginners and singles are welcome and all dances are taught throughout the evening. Admission is $8, $6 for senior citizens and students. For more information call 603.762.0235 or visit http://www.monadnockfolk.org.