The Country Dance & Song Society is proud to announce that David Kaynor of Montague Center, MA, is the 2021 recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award.
David was selected in recognition of more than 50 years of performing and teaching at camps and festivals across the U.S., humbly mentoring an entire generation of contra dance musicians, tirelessly serving as a leader in dance and music communities of Western Massachusetts, generously sharing tune compositions and writings about dance calling, and supporting generations of musicians and dancers in creating warm, inviting, and welcoming communities though music and dance.
David’s award was celebrated at an online event on his birthday, April 17, 2021. Watch the recording:
David’s Acceptance Remarks
I’m delighted and humbled to receive the Lifetime Contribution Award.
I think about the colossal contributions of past recipients, and I ask myself, Why me? Although I enjoyed and believed in what I was doing as a dance caller, fiddle teacher, session host, musician, and graphic artist, I considered myself irrelevant to the lofty circles and activities of the Country Dance and Song Society.
A low point in my musical life came in the spring of 1981, when the president of NEFFA told me that, in their opinion, what we … my cousins, uncle, other Fourgone Conclusions band mates, and I … were doing had nothing to do with New England contra dancing.
My response to numerous real or perceived organizational snubs was to submerge myself in the pleasures of the moment in my core interests and pursuits: Long distance running, cross country skiing, dancing, calling dances, teaching basic Swedish dances, teaching basic fiddling, and playing music. I also became something of a calligrapher and graphic artist.
Eventually, I found a niche as a teacher and caller. This led to countless gigs in which I enjoyed a happy integration of my artistic, spiritual, and political ideals and having to earn enough money to get by.
All these facets of my life came together when I became Music Director of the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra and the Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts. These groups welcomed all musicians of all skill and experience levels. My tasks included including all. Our practices blended learning and arranging tunes with in-the-moment adventure and fun. I wrote out many harmonies while on AMTRAK’S Vermonter, where the conductors knew me by name and the scenery was sweetly familiar.
I’m grateful to Jay Ungar and Molly Mason at Ashokan, Bob Dalsemer and Annie Fain Liden Barallon at the John C. Campbell Folk School, the Reiner family of Fiddle Hell, Paul Rosenberg and Peter Davis at the Dance Flurry, my colleagues at Northeast Heritage Music Camp, Mike Reddig in Flagstaff, Arizona, Fred Karsch in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Sue Songer and Betsy Branch in Portland and Mark Lewis and Carla Arnold in La Grand, Oregon, Sherry Nevins and Tom and Amy Wimmer in Seattle, Lindon Toney in Olympia, Washington, and numerous other organizers and bandmates in the Pacific Northwest. These folks gave me opportunities to share my developing skills and deep love of music and dancing, not just once, but over and over.
Thanks to all these people, I was able to cultivate relationships with and within their communities. This, in turn, enabled me to not just share tons of fun, but also share experiences of growth and development in many ways. Our skills and repertoire evolved and so did our senses of self, possibility, and purpose.
We didn’t just perform music and dance. We SHARED it. This became a fundamental personal philosophy: There are times and places for performing, but sharing can happen so much more often, and it’s good for us all. Maybe it’s even good for the world.
I’ve struggled to matter for as long as I can remember. This showed itself in a number of ways, including sports and music and dance. I was always dogged by the weight of self doubt. This finally dissipated in the final years of my career, thanks to all of the above who provided opportunities for us to explore mattering together.
David Allen Kaynor passed away on June 1, 2021. We’re so grateful for everything he brought to our world, and for the opportunity we had to honor him with this award.