Our tune list, with notes for callers
We pick the tunes to go with the dances, and to go with the mood.
We like to work with callers.
The core of what we work from these days, with some notes:
- Old French (D) / Fisher's Hornpipe (D)
...bouncy, easy; early in first half
- Home with the Girls (Dm) / Devil in the Strawstack (Gm)
...four-count phrases throughout, esp lots of balances in A; dramatic
- Growling Old Man (Amix) / Paddy Fahey's (Dm) / Wooden Nickel (D)
...our "gypsy in A1" set, rousing finish, sure winner
- Rush and Pepper (D) / Wind and Weather (G) / Old Joe (C)
...happy Midwestern tunes, polka-like, or for squares
- Sal, Won't You Marry Me (G/Em) / Waiting for Nancy (A)
...more happy Midwestern tunes, square-dance-like,
always a cheer on this
- Fermoy Lasses (Em) / Miss MacLeod's (G) / Wissahickon Drive (A)
...smooth entrancing slow reels
- Dancing Bear (Em) / Peter Miller's Reel (Am)
...smooth and intense esp in B part
- Yellow Rose of Texas(D) / Old Grey Cat (Em) / Red Crow (Am)
...building drive and drama and a great transition into the last one
Our very favorites, good as closers:
Cold Frosty Morning (Am) / Evil Diane (A) / Tam Lin (Dm)
...swirly B crashing into a balance and swing at the top of A1, our favorite. A dance like Box the Compass (a modernized Chorus Jig?) with contra corners throughout B and the partner b&s in A1 is perfect
- Rainy Night in Montague (D) / North Carolina Breakdown (G) / The Gale (Am)
...swirly and symphonic, intense; balances in the second part of
each phrase in A make Trip to Lambertville (Steve Zakon-Anderson)
the perfect dance for this set
- Red Haired Boy (Amix) / Julia Delaney (Dm) / Return to Chernobyl (Dm)
...these fit anything, especially at the end of a long driving night
New York Jig (C) / Champagne Jig (D) / The New Fiddle (E)
... rousing cheerful Scottish jigs, smooth-ish but not Irish
The Hag's Purse (D) / Jackie, Hardly Knew Ya (G/Em) / Jump at the Sun (Gm)
...B part matches mixed balances and swirl (eg Rant and Roar);
the last tune is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser
Salute to Boston (A) / Little Pickle (A) / Wellington's Advance (Am)
...powerful, driving Scottish jigs, good second-half opener
Old Favourite (G) / Hungry Rocks (Em)
...swirly, slow-ish, totally smooth; good for a completely
balance-free dance, perhaps right after an intense driving set
Saddle the Pony (G)/Coleraine (Am)/[Sailor's Wife(Dm)]
... straight-ahead hoppy jigs
Chestnuts, polkas, singles
Richmond Cotillion (D)
Chorus Jig (D)
Wind and Weather (G)
Seneca Square Dance (G)
Saratoga Hornpipe (F)
Ice on the Pond (G)
Sunday River Waltz (F)
Bright Lights of Burlington (G)
Texas Waltz (D)
The Lovers' Waltz (D, modulating)
Waiting for Fish (Dm)
Nancy's Waltz (A)
More notes for callers
Thanks! Let's go have fun!
- We've got a first-half closer.
We really like the Evil Diane set as a first-half closer,
and we really want a dance to match it.
We've even rejiggered dances to fit this tune set,
including our closer at Folklife 2000.
The essence of this set is the drama building
through the B part up to a crashing balance at the top of the A.
Please please pick a first-half closing
dance with (i) swirly in B (no balances or f-and-b after B1) and (ii)
a balance-and-swing, preferably N, in A1.
This is my favorite move in all of contra dancing, to swirl around in the B,
and then to find a new neighbor and balance and swing....
Oh, and we've been known to play an extra sixteen counts of A1,
one last swing, with a cut ending (don't give it away!).
- We pick tunes to match dances.
Please show us your cards. We often want to look ahead, and apologize in
advance for the nuisance. If you've got ideas arranged ahead of time,
we'd love to hear them!
Before playing the Growling Old Man set, for example, we'll want to know
whether you've got a gypsy dance planned anytime for later on, so we don't
"waste" it on a less-appropriate dance
- We love flying starts
But we have to all agree beforehand that it might be possible. If
we start playing and you stop to say "and now we'll have four potatoes"
the effect is lost. In my experience it works best with an eight-count
move, rather than a long swing, at the end of B2; and also with
a minor key opening tune.
- We can call the switches.
Normally, we won't switch tunes until you stop calling.
We need your help (of course) to tell us when you're about halfway
(or a third-way) through how long you want the dance to go on.
Also, we'll try to remember to tell you in advance
how many tunes in the set.
You'll usually hear us pick the switch at the
top of the A ("last time this tune"),
confirming in the B ("we're going").
- Please warn us with two to go.
The preferred method is two fingers, in B2, with two full times
through the dance remaining. Try to make eye contact with both of us.
It doesn't help to tell us three or four or five more times; we can't
count that high anyway. (With one exception, the Growling Old Man set.)
- Talking to us is risky.
While we're playing, please don't talk to us except in short
phrases. "Which tune?" "Two or four more?" "Time to switch."
Please try to make eye contact with me (Eric) periodically, because I'll
want to know the same things. Talking to Alan is discouraged; he's
busy, and if he loses his place, it's harder to keep your dancers
- We encourage tempo feedback.
We tend to play too fast. Early in the dance especially, say after the
first or second time through, we'd appreciate some feedback, say
a palm-up (to pick up the tempo) or palm-down (to ease off). Or say
what you want us to do ("pick it up", "ease off").