On this episode of Contra Pulse, Dave tells us all about his early years and how his journey as a fiddle player began on a spur-of-the-moment whim. We explore his identity as a New England Style Fiddler, and get to hear Dave demonstrate his unique fiddle strum, and a few beautiful tunes on the guitar. Dave leaves us with a cliffhanger about new developments coming out with his band, Stomp Rocket, so we’ll just have to wait at the edge of our seats to find out. In the meantime, enjoy!
CDSS is pleased to support “Songs that Speak,” a monthly YouTube series by Saro Lynch-Thomason. Learn about the history, folklore, and modern-day relevance of traditional songs, and sing along as Saro teaches each song through sing-and-repeat. Saro’s latest offering is “Can Songs Kill? The Leo Frank Trial and the Ballad of Little Mary Phagan.”
Ken Willson and Kim McKee present “Scarborough Settler’s Lament,” in which an exile to Canada during the Highland Clearances sings about longing for the beauty of Scotland.
On this episode of Contra Pulse, Julie sits down with fiddler Becky Tracy. Becky has been a defining presence in some of the most popular and innovative contra dance bands from New England—Wild Asparagus and Nightingale.
Tim Edwards introduces “Tom o’Bedlam’s Song,” an early 17th-century tune that has been described as the finest anonymous poem in the English language. Tom is a licensed beggar discharged from the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London (“Bedlam”).
The Winter 2021 CDSS News is now available! Learn about Ignatius Sancho, a country dance composer who started life on a slave ship; dance the Pandemic Waltz; get some tips for weathering the winter together; and remember that “Songs Stay Sung.” Plus much more!
The Country Dance & Song Society is proud to announce that Ed Stern of Minneapolis, MN, is the 2022 recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award.
- Generational Transition Survey
Are you 18-44 years old? Do you participate in folk music or dance? Take our survey!
- Fall 2023 CDSS News
The Fall 2023 CDSS News is now available! Hear how Hoggetowne Fancy keeps ECD music fresh in Florida; play a tune in remembrance of Rosemary Lach; dance online with Symmetry ECD; learn how the CDSS Educators Task Group is bringing dance, music, and song to the next generation; and much more.
- John Dexter Leaves a Legacy of Joy
John Dexter—morris dancer, musician, teacher, fearless leader and guiding light of New York City’s Bouwerie Boys—passed quietly from this world in May 2023, leaving behind a 50-year legacy of incalculable breadth. Thank you, John! Thank you for the legacy of your years of dancing, playing, and teaching, and for your generous legacy gift, which will help CDSS to flourish this year and well into the future. Read more about John and his gift to CDSS.
- Lifetime Contribution Award Celebration
Registration is open for the 2023 CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award Celebration honoring the New England Dancing Masters on Sunday, October 15, in Greenfield, MA. Learn more and register!
- From the Mic Episode 16: Catherine Burns
In this episode of From the Mic, Mary speaks with Catherine Burns, who has been at the heart of the Ottawa contra dance scene for decades. In the early 1980s, Catherine worked alongside her husband, Gord Peeling, who helped form the Old Sod Folk Music Society with musician Ian Robb. In the late 90s, she encountered contra dancing and became Ottawa’s house caller—and the rest is history.
- September 2023 Song of the Month
Judy Cook introduces “Cock Robin.” The identity of the murderer of Cock Robin may not be a mystery (spoiler: it was the sparrow), but the origins of the British-American folk song certainly are.
- August 2023 Song of the Month
Margaret Nelson introduces “Dives and Lazarus.” This traditional folk song retells the parable of a rich man who refused to give food and comfort to a beggar at his door.
- From the Mic Episode 15: Luke Donforth
This month on From the Mic, Mary is joined by longtime friend, collaborator, and fellow Vermont caller Luke Donforth. As a caller, he brings a warm and inviting playfulness to the stage. He calls new compositions and traditional contras at weekly dances, barn dances, weddings, and festivals all over the country. On the local front, he currently runs a monthly family dance in Burlington and he is also a published author! If you don’t already own a copy of his book The ABCs of Contra Dancing, pick one up for the young dancers in your life.
- July 2023 Song of the Month
Mark Gilston presents “How to Make Love,” a set of tongue-in-cheek instructions for young men wishing to court. The necessary ingredients include hairstyling lard, a harmonica, gold tooth, red bow tie, and ten cents’ worth of drugstore perfume.
- Bob McQuillen Curated Tune Lists
- Summer 2023 CDSS News
The Summer 2023 CDSS News is now available! See contra dancing through the eyes of a young person; learn to shoot good dance videos with Don Bell; dance the New Jersey Commute with Alex Laursen; and much more.
- Check out the last Web Chat: Communities in Conflict
The slideshows, video, and transcript from our May 2023 Web Chat are now available. CDSS Executive Director Katy German joined Jenny Beer, Dana Dwinell-Yardley, Sue Songer, and Kathy Story for a conversation about working through conflict as a community.
We don't have any open positions right now; please check again next year!
We are working on compiling a more complete look at our 108-year history. Check back soon! In the meantime, please email us if you have any specific questions, and check out these books and publications for more info:
Legacy: 50 Years of Dance and Song, from the CDSS Store
Also check out the CDSS Archive and Collections at the University of New Hampshire.