Archive for the ‘contra’ Category

Benefit Contra and More 11/8: Toss the Possum and Shawn Brenneman

September 9, 2009

Yes! Save the Date of November 8 from 7 to 10 p.m. for a benefit raise money for Montain Justice Blacksburg, Concerned Citizens of Giles County and Energy Justice Network.

The contra dance band extraordinaire, Toss the Possum (check out their new logo above, and Blacksburg’s equally gifted caller (musican and contra dancer) Shawn Brenneman have graciously volunteered to show us a wonderful time

So come on down on at 7 p.m. Sunday, November 8 to the the YMCA’s dance floor at 1000 North Main in Blacksburg, Virginia, marked “B” on the map. (“A” is the Lyric Theater, where Coal Country is showing tomorrow night at 7 – 9:30.)

You can charge a ticket by donating $10 or more here (just save a receipt to show at the door. ) Action Center Inc. is our non-profit umbrella, so your donations are tax deductible. Just write “November 8 contra dance” on the designation line. And if you can’t come, you can still donate and be a sponsor. And please help us spread the word. We’d like to get at least 100 dancers. If you pre-register, we won’t be sweating it.

So come on out. And if you’ve never contra danced, don’t worry. We’ll show you how. You’re allowed to completely mess up for your first year of dancing. After that, you may mess up, if you smile while you do it. We LOVE new dancers. And if you refuse to dance, the music will be worth listening to, I promise you.


No Strings Attached at Contra

December 20, 2008

Photo of Wes, Pete, Randy and Bob by Jesse Chappell.

No Strings Attached (email, facebook) will be playing tonight at the Blacksburg contra dance with Rob Harper. One of my favorite bands, NSA (odd to think they share an acronym with the warrentless wiretappers) consists of:

  • Wes Chappell on hammer dulcimer, mandolin, mandola, guitar, pennywhistle and percussion (since 1978)
  • Pete Hastings on guitar and harmonica (since 1978)
  • Randy Marchany on hammer dulcimer, synthesizer, piano, percussion (since 1980)
  • Bob Thomas on anything bass–upright, clarinet, sax (since 1984)

Their newest album is “Old Friend’s Waltz.”
This will be the first time I get to try out the Y’s new dance floor. And I always love to hear the guys play.

Upcoming Blacksburg dances are:

  • January 17,2009–Floor Play with Gaye Fifer calling
  • February 21, 2009– Skylark with Anne Marie Walter calling
  • March 21,2009–Avant Gardners with Diane Silver calling
  • April 18, 2009– Gypsy Meltdown
    with Jack Mitchell calling

Gypsy Meltdown, by the way,includes Keith Gillis, whom I got to meet when he and his wife potter Leigh Partington stayed with Rob and Sue at the Charlottesville Fall Festival (see bottom of the entry.)

Toss the Possum

November 15, 2008

Photo from Amanda’s post on the Possums from her Virgin Island blog. Like the Zisettes, she’s a member of the LDS church. She says that Jane told her that Greensboro contra dancing was

square dancing with lots of twirls and smelly mountain hippie people.

Tonight the Possums will be at the CEC in Blacksburg. That’s

  • Robbie Zisette on fiddle
  • Janse Zisette on flute and whistle
  • Chas Zisette on bass
  • mom Laura Zisette on piano
  • dad Charlie doing sound and dancing (with me, hopefully on his card.)

They play a hot combination of southern tunes, old time, Celtic, jazz and folk. According to the Birthplace of Country music, where they played in May,

The name Toss the Possum was inspired by a possum who found itself trapped under a spare dresser drawer in the family’s garage. Chas, upon seeing the upside down drawer moving mysteriously of its own volition around the garage floor, yelled for everyone to come and see.

Here’s what was written about the background of the band members:

Rob Zisette, age 15, is the fiddler for Toss the Possum. After playing violin for a year and a half, he entered the fiddle contest sponsored by the Festival of the American West at age 10. He won first prize and has been fiddling ever since. Rob also likes to compose and is a percussionist in the Radford High School Band. Occasionally he’ll pick up the drumsticks at a dance. Chas, age 17, taught himself to play bass as soon as he realized the family band was forming without him. Sometimes he plays his sax with the band. Chas’ claim to fame is that he can play ‘Ode to Joy’ on 16 different instruments. Jane, age 19, began playing flute when she was 12. Soon after, she heard Joannie Madsen play her whistles with Cherish the Ladies and decided to add the Irish whistle to her repertoire. Jane plays on Patrick Riordan whistles. Jane also sings with the band. She has been accepted as a flute performance major at BYU Idaho. Laura (mom) taught Piano at Utah State University until she moved to Virginia. In Utah she played with Barnstorm and Leaping Lulu. Now she’s hanging on for the ride with Toss the Possum. Charlie, (dad) of course, is the most important member of the band. Not only has he picked up sound engineering and springs for food after the gigs, but the kids have dubbed him the ‘instrument Sherpa”.

Hm-m-m. Smelly mountain hippie people? Wonder if that includes us?

Good Vibrations

November 14, 2008

Cover to the Beach Boys 1966 Capitol Records single, “Good Vibrations.” (lyrics)

Good good good good vibrations
(oom bop bop)
Shes giving me excitations
(oom bop bop excitations)
Good good good good vibrations
(oom bop bop)
Shes giving me excitations
(oom bop bop excitations)

Joyful music and reduce stress, according to Science Friday, which opened today with strains from the Beach Boys hit (or by a trick of memory was it something else and I’ve just substituted?) Guests included Michael Miller,Director of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

As I emailed Jill Card from the C’ville, “

we contra dancers should be most able to deal with stress–seeing as we’re also getting cardio exercise as we listen. (Especially if we eat dark chocolate during the breaks.)

See also:

New story recommendation of the day,0,4744216.story

Site recommendation of the day

What I did today in addition to blogging

Volunteered over at NewsTrust. Sigh. This last because I wonder if they will hire me again if I’m working so much for free. NewsTrust and 34 sites are contending for the We Media Game Changers awards.

Who is reading my blog today

Among others, someone from Prince Georges County, MD, wanted to know about Bush’s last minute regulations. And although the election was over 10 days ago, someone in Södertälje, Sweden(! native city of Bjorn Borg and journalist Jan Guillou) wants to know where the losing candidate, John McCain, stands on issues of war and peace. And someone from LA found my blog from a google image search that yielded Mark Fiori’s terrific cartoon on the unitary executive.

Yes, Virginia, there was no 6’4" Black man (and a bit about the C’ville Fall Festival)

October 24, 2008

Illustration of The Bogeyman from Chapter 1 of the d20 Menace Manual by J.D. Wiker, Eric Cagle and Matthew Sernett (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)

In one of the oddest sidebars to the election, a Pennsylvania McCain campaign worker Ashley Todd, 20, has recanted her story to the Pittsburgh police that she was robbed at an ATM in Bloomfield the night of October 22 and that the suspect began beating her after seeing a John McCain bumper sticker on her car, then cut a backwards letter “B” in her cheek.

Fox News Executive Vice President John Moody, a native of that city, had written yesterday,

this incident could become a watershed event in the 11 days before the election.

If Ms. Todd’s allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.

That struck me as an odd denial of racism. Why would an act, even if committed, by a black thug, reveal to folks that they don’t know enough about one of the candidates. Moody went on to write,

If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.

For Pittsburgh, a city that has done so much to shape American history over the centuries, another moment of truth is at hand.

That seems hyperbole which shifts the blame. If McCain is associated with race-baiting, why not for for Sarah Palin’s playing to the base (pun intended) with racially tinged innuendos warning that Obama would “pal around with terrorists.” And while I’m at it, let me say, that I also dislike the way Palin’s and McCain’s comments on William Ayers smack of red-baiting.

At least Moody’s piece is better than some of the screed from the right, as run down in today’s The Atlanta Journal-Constitution post “The aftermath of Ashley Todd’s story” by Jay Bookman (email), a columnist and deputy editorial page editor, specializing in foreign relations, the environment and state and local politics.

In fairness, though, Bookman also should have credited conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, who today has the pleasure of writing, “I told you so.” Although Malkin made the divisive comment on October 22 that most fake hate crimes were “perpetrated by liberals,” she went on record as saying that the Todd incident “smells awfully weird,” acknowledging that

there have been some shameful …[fake hate crimes] on our side of the aisle as well.

Today, she instructs her readers,

Final lesson: Trust your instincts. Use your brains. Stop jumping every time Drudge hypes something in Armageddon-sized font.

She adds a caveat to those who don’t share her political persuasions:

And those of you on the left who are now so interested in debunking despicable hate crimes might show a little more skepticism yourselves next time when similar narratives hit the news pages involving politically correct hoaxers who share your politics.

Skepticism is always good advice. I’d like to see it throughout the political spectrum. And I’ll hope that Ms. Malkin holds to the same standard when she is helping to circulate memes which accord with her own point of view.

In other news, I am in Charlottesville this weekend staying at Rob and Sue’s to attend the Charlottesville Fall Festival. Featured band is Crowfoot with caller Nils Fredland
Adam Broome (guitar, vocals), Jaige Trudell (fiddle), and Nicholas Williams (flute, accordion). Also staying with Rob and Sue are long time NC dancer Rod Edens, as well as Keith Gillis and Leigh Partington. Below you will find a photo Doug Plummer posted at Flickr of Crowfoot playing at the Scout House in Corcord MA.

UPDATE: On October 28, Anil Dash (email) “What Sarah Palin Is Saying,” an insightful take on how language is used.

Tina Liza Jones ast the Floyd Contra Dance

October 11, 2008

Photo from the Floyd Music School Gallery.

You can tell that Tina is a dancer, as well as an old-time player. She and her fiddler paced their tunes perfectly. Hope she’ll be back at more dances, joining the impressive local bands such as Toss the Possum, House Red, Dot Dot Dash, and, of course, No Strings Attached.

Of Contras and Killer (Ginger) Cookies

May 5, 2006

Photo from the website of Beeswax Sheepskin, the hot band playing at the Charlottesville Contra Dance tonight at MAC, which I’ll get to attend thanks to Sue arranging for a place to stay with Will Morrison and Mary Prendergast of Catharthis.

Sue and Rob volunteered their front porch to be the drop-off point for the community-assisted agriculture producer from Scottsville, The Best of What’s Around. Today was the first delivery–all kinds of greens including spinach, kale and mustard, plus asparagus, camomille flowers, pea tops and I don’t know what all else.

To welcome those coming to get their shares, I baked Sue’s favorite cookie. Here’s the recipe:

Joanie’s Triple Ginger Snaps

Mix together and set aside:

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

Cream together:

1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

Add in:

1/2 cup molasses

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 TBS grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup coarsly chopped candied ginger

Gradually add dry ingredients, stirring until well blended. Cover and set in refrigerator to chill for an hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Form dough into 3/4 inch balls. Pour 1/4 cup sugar into bowl and roll cookies to lightly coat. Place on greased cookie sheets . spaced two inches apart.

Bake in center of oven for 12 to 14 minutes until cookies are just beginning to color and tops are crinkled.

Cool on racks or board. Store in tighly covered container.