☼ Contra Dance: Nelson NH Town Hall | Caller: Rick Mohr | Music: Bill Thomas, Matt Harris, Gordon Peery

Saturday, January 12th
Beginner’s Workshop 7:30Rick Mohr
Dance 8:00 – 11:30
Admission: $8 / $6 seniors, students
For information: 603.827.3044 or E-mail: Lisa Sieverts

Bill Thomas and Matt Harris, seasoned Irish session-players, will be providing music for the Nelson Contra Dance on Saturday, January 12th. They will be accompanied by Gordon Peery on piano. Rick Mohr is the caller for the evening, bringing 20 years of experience calling dances throughout New England. Rick says “Every roomful of dancers is different, some dancing all their lives and some walking in for the first time. I enjoy pulling out the right dances so the hall really heats up and we become a roomful of friends.”

While Irish tunes figure prominently in the New England contra dance repertoire, the pure Celtic energy anticipated from this trio is something unusual to look forward to. Bill plays the Irish wooden flute, and the Uillean pipes, which delivers some of the excitement of its larger cousin, the Highland pipes, but with much more capability for musical subtleties. Going back a couple of decades, Bill was often heard playing at local contra dances. In recent years he has focused on playing at sessions in central New England. It is a pleasure to welcome him back to the hall. Matt, on fiddle, is a frequent musical collaborator with Bill at the sessions.


Listen to a music preview of Bill Thomas, Matt Harris, and Gordon Peery


Some years ago members of the Irish band, the Chieftains, came to Nelson on an informal tour. At the end of the evening the audience moved the chairs back and asked the band to play some tunes so they could dance. Paddy Moloney, the leader of the Chieftains, had never seen anything like this, but was impressed by how well the dancing suited the music. As a result, a year later he called and asked the Monadnock Folklore Society if they could put together a small dance ensemble to join the Chieftains in performances including Symphony Hall in Boston and Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York. MFS responded by forming the Nelson Village Dancers, and the short tour was a great success. Of course, folks in New England have been dancing to Irish tunes for years, but it was nice to be able to demonstrate this directly to worlds’s best known Irish music band, and to have them get excited about it.