Folknotes: February

The Monadnock area is well-known as being the home to many celebrated professional musicians in the New England Fiddle and dance music genre.  But what really makes our region rich are the numbers of folk who play, largely for their own pleasure, out of sheer love for the tunes.  In any given week there are numerous gatherings, often in private homes, with fiddles, guitars, mandolins, flutes, banjos, and – well just about anything goes. Many of these gatherings are semi private – that is to say, if you know someone who goes regularly, you might get invited, but the event is not highly publicized, largely because of space considerations.

Among the more public sessions: on Monday night there is the “Baby Band”, where a dozen or so musicians of varying skill gather for an hour before the contra dance in the Nelson Town Hall. The repertoire is based on an ever-expanding photo-copied hand out, the Portland Collection, The New England Fiddler’s Repertoire, and the Waltz books. It’s a round robin affair, with each player requesting a specific tune (and sometimes introducing “new” ones). Hilliare Wilder is fixed at the piano (to provide consistent accompaniment). Lisa Sieverts “moderates” the session, making sure newcomers feel welcome, and generally keeping things on track. Read more

☼ Contra Dance | Peterborough | “Thanks to Bob”

It’s time to work up an appetite at a very special…



Contra Dance

WEDNESDAY, November 26th

8:00 – 11:30 pm

at the Peterborough Town House, Peterborough, NH

“Giving Thanks to Bob”

Featuring: a stageful of musicians and

callers contributing their talents

to honor Bob McQuillen

& his 60 years

of playing & writing music for dancing!

ssshh – it’s a surprise for Bob!

Admission: $10.00

Proceeds to benefit the
Johnny Tremblay Fund for Young Musicians

and the Peterborough First Saturday Series

Sponsored by the Monadnock Folklore Society

For more information: Steve & Bettie Zakon-Anderson 413-369-4369

“Thanks to Bob” night in honor of Bob McQuillen’s 60 years of playing dance music
Many musicians and callers.

FolkNotes: September

The Rhythm Rollers are a west coast band, but with a special attachment to New England contra dance music, and  notably (pun intended) for the “piano playing of Bob McQuillen, the tunes he has written, his relentless encouragement, and his jokes.”

Their new recording, Grand Right and Left, features none other than the man himself on the ivories, Cathie Whitesides on fiddle, Laurie Andres, accordion, and WB Reid on banjo-guitar (that would be a guitar in a banjo body), regular guitar, and fiddle.

Joy Abounds! Of course it’s impossible to hear McQuillen playing the piano without cracking a smile that invokes awareness of some higher power. But two additional components stand out on this recording. Laurie’s accordion playing gets right to the point. Read more

☼ Contra Dance | Nelson | Bob Isaacs ~ caller, Jessie Gagne Hall ~ fiddle, Gordon Peery ~ piano

Saturday, November 8th
Nelson Town Hall
7:30 Beginner’s Workshop
8:00 – 11:30 – dance
Admission $8 / $6 for students and senior citizens
Info: 603-762-0235

Washington, DC area caller Bob Isaacs comes north for a great night of dancing and tunes by Jessie Gagne Hall, fiddle, accompanied by Gordon Peery, piano.

Hailing from New Jersey, caller Bob Isaacs is well known for his ability to invent creative dances while remaining true to the traditional roots of contra dancing. Fiddler Jessie Gagne-Hall hails from Manchester, NH and has been strongly influenced by her years in Maine’s lively fiddle scene. Her playing is relaxed yet lively, and her repertoire of tunes is immense for such a young player. Gordon Peery of Nelson can’t shake his fame as the piano player who can single-handedly take a dance from mundane to marvelous, combining rock solid rhythm with myriad jazz influences.

☼ Contra Dance | Nelson | Jeff Petrovitch~caller, Music by Celticladda

Saturday, October 11
Nelson Town Hall
7:30 Beginner’s Workshop
8:00 – 11:30 – dance
Admission $8 / $6 for students and senior citizens
Info: 603-762-0235

Jeff Petrovitch lends his dymanic, flamboyant calling to one of the most talked about bands from coast to coast:

“Celticladda’s renditions are fresh and dynamic. Their mastery of contra art and craft on New Year’s Eve launched exhilarated North Bay dancers across the threshold of 2008 with a lasting dance high.” -Reta Lockert, San Rafael, CA

“We rarely get to hear well-played, driving, northern style dance music, and Celticladda is it.”  -Jeffrey Rovner, Chicago Barn Dance

Contra Dance | Brattleboro | Dave Kaynor, caller | Music by Elly Marshal and Owen Marshall

On Sunday August 24 the Brattleboro Contra Dance will feature David Kaynor calling and music by Elly Marshall on fiddle and Owen Marshall on guitar and octave mandolin. The dance takes place in the Stone Church, located at the corner of Main and Grove Streets in Brattleboro, VT. The dance will run from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Admission is $10 ($7 for students, seniors, and low income individuals).

Contra dancing is an easy, fun, accessible social activity that is open to anyone; no experience is necessary and all dances will be taught. For more information or directions please visit the Brattleboro Dance website at, call 802-257-9234 or email

☼ Contra Dance | Dudley Laufman | Two Fiddles

Nelson Town Hall
Admission $2 (this dance only)

The Nelson Second Saturday Dance in August comes on the eve of Nelson’s Old Home Week. How fitting to have Dudley Laufman come and call, accompanied by his wife Jaqueline, with whom he forms “Two Fiddles”.

Dudley has been calling dances since 1948, and his early history was well-rooted in Nelson. He brought musicians from Nelson to the Newport Folk Festival.

If you know Dudley, you’ll want to come by for this special event. If you don’t, this is a great opportunity to experience an old time Nelson contra dance.

Thanks to support from a generous underwriter, the admission to this dance is only $2.
Email for More Information
or call 603-762-0235