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!

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!

  • Younger dancers with arms around each other Generational Transition Survey

    Are you 18-44 years old? Do you participate in folk music or dance? Take our survey!

  • Dancers under a rainbow at CDSS's Family Week at Agassiz Village. Photo by Hamish Swanson. 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 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.

  • New England Dancing Masters: Andy Davis, Mary Alice Amidon, Mary Cay Brass, and Peter Amidon 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 with Catherine Burns 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.

  • An owl and other birds surround a stone tablet reading "In Memory of Poor Cock Robin." 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.

  • "Parable of Lazarus" painting by Fyodor Bronnikov 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 with Luke Donforth 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.

  • Actor Richard Barthelmess kisses the arm of a blushing Thelma Todd, in the 1928 movie "The Noose" 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.

  • Silhouette of Bob McQuillen playing accordion Bob McQuillen Curated Tune Lists

    Over 1500 of contra musician Bob McQuillen’s tunes are now available on the Apple App Store. Check out Bob McQuillen Curated Tune Lists to narrow down the tunes and find some new favorites!

  • CDSS News, Summer 2023 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.

  • Dancers taking hands across a line 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.

    Read more about Web Chats, or email us with questions.

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:

Also check out the CDSS Archive and Collections at the University of New Hampshire.