Ralph Page The Francestown Jig Apple Pie Ms. Whittemore's Waltz Nana Deanna Joey's Hornpipe April's March Fitzwilliam Polka
Pinewoods Reel The Bookseller's Jig Eighty-Eight Keys The Dancer Mike's March The Naughty 'Noochie Amy's Chandelier
Pompelia David's Return to Carlisle Hattie's Waltz  Ant Lucy's Jig Coffee's "Woo-Woo" Polka New England Winter
Ghost Town Jig Abell's Reel The Guiding Star Polka Santa's Jig Ernie's Tune My Mother's Waltz Rich 'n' Lucy / Camden's Jig
Jay and Molly's Waltz Fred's Jig / Dinah's Jig Scotty's Waltz


As part of our wrapping-up-the-project celebration, we posted a tune every day in December. These were special tunes that we found during the year as we played through Bob's Note Books, tunes that had not had the attention his most popular dance tunes had received. Our Hidden Gems.

Scotty's Waltz

Bob McQuillen / 22 July 2012 / From Bob's Big Book of Waltzes.
Today, December 31, 2023 is 123123 - Waltz Day! And so we end where we began, with Scotty O'Neil, whose tune, Scotty O'Neil, Number 1 in Note Book 1, started Bob down this path.
Bob's dedication reads: "I do so hope Scotty O'Neil can hear this where he is now; it comes to him with much love from Mr. Mac."

Scotty's Waltz: Hidden Gem for December 31, 2023 (Waltz Day: 123123)

Fred's Jig / Dinah's Jig

Bob McQuillen / 8 Feb 77
From Book 3.
Two, Two, Two Jigs in One! For Fred and Dinah Breunig, these were two of the first Hidden Gems we found.
Bob's dedication reads: "For Fred & Dinah Breunig with fondest Best Wishes"

Fred's Jig / Dinah's Jig: Hidden Gem for December 30, 2023

Jay and Molly's Waltz

Bob McQuillen / 26 July 2011
This lovely waltz, number 37 in Book 15, was hiding in plain sight. Not even Jay and Molly knew it existed. But when they realized it, they played it immediately on their wonderful "Quiet Room" live video feed during from their home near the Ashokan Reservoir. You can hear the Quiet Room broadcast here. The waltz starts at about 27.00, but the whole video is wonderful.
Bob's dedication reads: "I'm so lucky to be at Jay Ungar and Molly Mason's Ashokan Dance Camp. They are awfully nice to me, and so I thought they should have a waltz. So here it is, dear friends, with many thanks for your kindness."

Jay and Molly's Waltz: Hidden Gem for December 29, 2023

Rich 'n' Lucy / Camden's Jig

Bob McQuillen / 19 Feb '83 / Dec. '09
From Books 7 and 14. Two Jigs that go very well together, in either direction.
Bob's dedication for Rich 'n' Lucy reads: "After this happy day was over, Rich Blazej and Lucy Spahr-Blazej were man and wife, and a good time was had by all!"
Bob's dedication for Camden's Jig reads: "Camden Spear was one of the stalwarts in my piano class at the Maine Fiddle Camp last summer, and he did so well that he earned a tune. I hope you like it, Camden!"

Rich 'n' Lucy / Camden's Jig: Hidden Gems for December 28, 2023

My Mother's Waltz

Bob McQuillen / 4 Nov 81
From Book 5. Bob's dedication reads: "With much love and so many thanks to my dear mother, Eleanore L. Campbell, of Peterborough, New Hampshire, whose help I appreciate so greatly."

My Mother's Waltz: Hidden Gem for December 27, 2023

Ernie's Tune

Bob McQuillen / 10 Jan 78
From Book 3. A Schottishe! Bob didn't write many. Lots of his hornpipes could be played in Schottishe tempo.
Bob's dedication reads: "For Ernie Spence of Reading Mass., a dance enthusiast of long standing, and greatly appreciated by his friends."

Ernie's Tune: Hidden Gem for December 26, 2023

Santa's Jig

Bob McQuillen / 25 December 07
Our Hidden Gem for December 25, 2023
From Book 15. There's not much about holidays in the Note Books, but suddenly Santa!
Bob's dedication reads: "I don't know if anybody ever wrote Santa Claus a jig before, but they have, now! I hope he likes it!

Santa's Jig: Hidden Gem for December 25, 2023

The Guiding Star Polka

Bob McQuillen / 22 Sept 92
Our Hidden Gem for December 24, 2023
From Book 9. This sweet polka has the perfect title for Christmas Eve.
Bob's dedication reads: "Talk about having a good time! Last Saturday I played down in Greenfield, MA, at the Guiding Star Grange Hall, with Roddy Miller, Fiddle, Bill Tomczak, Clarinet, and Bill's wife Susan Kevra doing the calling. I'm glad you can't get arrested for having too much fun, because I'd still be in jail if you could! I think Marcy Rawitscher would be in there with me, because we rode down together, and she did seem to get along OK!! "

The Guiding Star Polka: Hidden Gem for December 24, 2023

Abell's Reel

Bob McQuillen / 28 Mar 91
"I'd like to send my thanks down to Chris Abell of Concord, MA, for a lot of hard work. He made all of Sarah Bauhan's beautiful whistles and rebuilt part of her great Haines wooden flute, so I guess it would be fair to say that he has been (forgive me!) instrumental to her success. I hope this tune sounds OK in your shop, Chris!"

Abell's Reel: Hidden Gem for December 23, 2023

Ghost Town Jig

Bob McQuillen / 31 Oct 2011
This B minor jig, dated on Halloween, is a tribute to a 'Ghost Town Chill Down' dance weekend in Jerome, Arizona; to the place, and the Rhythm Rollers (Laurie Andres, Cathie Whitesides, WB Reid, and Bob himself); to the wonderful weekend they had there in 2009.

Ghost Town Jig: Hidden Gem for December 22, 2023

New England Winter

Bob McQuillen / 31 Dec 76
This unusual tune is in waltz time, but isn't really a waltz per se; it's a little bit like The Dancing Bear in its repetitiveness; it's spooky in a way that most of Bob McQuillen's Tunes are not; somehow it captures the dark, cold beauty of a New England Winter quite perfectly.
It could be the soundtrack for a movie scene. Hidden Gem for the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2023.

New England Winter: Hidden Gem for December 21, 2023

Coffee's "Woo-Woo" Polka

From Book 12 / Bob McQuillen / 15 March 05
This tune is so Bob. He wrote, "Janie's mom, Marjorie (Mrs. Lyle) McBride, has a cute doggie named "Coffee" (she's the color of black coffee, you see). On command, she will sit, point her nose straight up in the air, and sing "woo woo woo"! It's hysterical!"

Coffee's Woo-Woo Polka: Hidden Gem for December 20, 2023

Ant Lucy's Jig

From Book 8 / Bob McQuillen / 20 Apr 91

Today's Hidden Gem comes with another fun inscription and a rabbit hole you can go down if you choose.
Lucille's website doesn't mention ants, but there's a lot of other interesting information.

Bob wrote, "Lucille Reilly, AKA The Dulcimer Lady, is a truly great performer on the hammered dulcimer. I really enjoyed playing with her all too briefly at the New England Folk Festival this year. She also runs an ant farm down there in the Garden State (NJ) where she is training them (the ants) to dance to her music. Utterly incredible!"

Ant Lucy's Jig: Hidden Gem for December 19, 2023


From Book 4
Bob McQuillen / Oct 79
Bob wrote, "Pompelia - a place of beauty, joy and love. It's nothing but a memory now, but what it stood for will linger in our hearts."

Pompelia comes with an intriguing inscription! The notes from the Farewell to the Hollow CD furnish more information: “Way up on a shoulder of Mt Monadnock in Dublin, NH the Cabot family had a beautiful estate called Pompelia, which was destroyed by fire” (in 1979).

Digging into it a little more finds Pompelia mentioned in a Nomination Form for the National Registry of Historic Places. It was part of Dublin’s so-called “Latin Quarter” – a concentration of artists’ and writers’ summer homes on the south side of Dublin Lake, with a notable “Italian flavor” in the architecture. Pompelia was described as “having a “groin-vaulted arcaded loggia open to a sweeping western view of the lake and mountains”. It's amazing what you can learn when you go down a rabbit hole following one of Bob’s inscriptions!

Pompelia: Hidden Gem for December 18, 2023

Amy's Chandelier

From Book 15
Bob McQuillen / 12 Sept. '11
Bob wrote, "Great Vermont Fiddler, Amy Cann, really likes that very old chandelier in Pierce's Hall over in Putney.
When Russell Orzechowski and I recently played for a dance there, she suggested that I write a tune for it.
So here it is, Amy, just for you (and the chandelier!)."

Amy tells a slightly different version: she suggested that Bob name the tune for Abe Noe-Hayes, the organizer of the Pierce's Hall dance at the time. But Bob wrote the tune, and named it for Amy, so Amy's Chandelier it is.

Amy's Chandelier: Hidden Gem for December 17, 2023

The Naughty 'Noochie

From Book 1
Bob McQuillen / Feb '74
Bob wrote, "With love to my Mother, 'Grammy' Campbell, who cooked the super 'Naughty 'Noochie.'"

Hear it played in a medley by Rodney Miller with Bob on piano, on the CD 'Pure Quill.'

The Naughty 'Noochie: Hidden Gem for December 16, 2023

Mike's March

From Book 7
Bob McQuillen / 28 June 89
Bob wrote, "A most genial soul, Mike Richardson is from Seattle where he is immersed clear up to his third cervical vertebrae in the contra dance scene, what with calling, playing his fiddle, and writing great dance tunes for his friends. We sure do appreciate and enjoy all the great stuff you're doing Mike!" Hear it played by Hand It Down (Bob with Laurie Andres, Cathie Whitesides and WB Reid).

Mike's March: Hidden Gem for December 15, 2023

The Dancer

From Book 14
Bob McQuillen / Dec '09
Bob wrote, "This tune was written with many thanks and, of course, much love, for Deanna's mom, Marion Stiles, who not long ago passed away at age 87. No sweeter woman ever lived, and we are all so grateful that she is finally in a pain-free environment. Rest in peace, dear Marion."

The Dancer: Hidden Gem for December 14, 2023

Eighty-Eight Keys

From Book 15
Bob McQuillen / 27 June 2011
Bob wrote, "Did you know that there are 88 keys on a piano? Well, there are! And this tune is to celebrate my piano, which Bill Faller just tuned. And he did a great job. Thanks, Bill. If sure sounds great! I always wanted to celebrate my piano on June 27th. This is a great day to tune a piano!"

A different tune by the same name appears in Bob's Book of New Hampshire Tunes. Similar, but not the same.

Eighty-Eight Keys: Hidden Gem for December 13, 2023

The Bookseller's Jig

From Book 14
Bob McQuillen / March '09
This nifty jig goes major to minor, a favorite transition. Bob wrote,
"A bookseller by trade, Richard Mori seldom misses a contra dance in the area, and it's always fun watching him have fun.
Thanks for coming, Richard. See you soon!"

The Bookseller's Jig: Hidden Gem for December 12, 2023

Pinewoods Reel

From Book 5
Bob McQuillen / Aug. '80
'American Dance Week at Pinewoods Camp - Great place, great people! (Thanks, Fred B*.!)'
(*Fred Breunig!)

Pinewoods Reel: Hidden Gem for December 11, 2023.

Fitzwilliam Polka

From Book 8
Bob McQuillen / 31 Aug 90
'Would you believe that I played in Fitzwilliam (N.H.) Town Hall for Duke Miller, the great caller, every summer for 26 consecutive years? Well, I did! No wonder I hate "Life on the Ocean Wave"! Duke called that tune "Mac's Favorite"! (I was "Mac.")'

Fitzwilliam Polka: Hidden Gem for December 10, 2023.

Hattie's Waltz

From Book 12
Bob McQuillen / 3 Sept 98
'Way out in Seattle, WA, there lives the nice Andres family: Laurie is the father (perhaps you know him - he's the best folk-Klezmer accordion player in the business); Sharon MacNamara is the Mother (and she's pretty good at being a nice mummy, too!) , and they have three cute girls to brighten their lives. One of them is named Hattie, and she's always nice to me, so this tune is to say, "Thank you, Hattie!"

Hattie's Waltz: Hidden Gem for December 9, 2023.

April's March

From Book 4
In honor of Bob's great friend April Limber. Both Pete's March and April's March are in Book 4. Pete's is played all over the place (and therefore not hidden); April's, not so much, and it's a great tune. I play it as Bob wrote it (shown here). But Bob meant the 3rd and 11th full measures to have an A as the 3rd note, not a B, and that is how April played it (hear it on Farewell to the Hollow). Either way, it's a glorious march.

April's March: Hidden Gem for December 8, 2023.

Joey's Hornpipe

From Book 3
"Bob McQuillen / 10 Feb 78 / Happy Birthday! And love always to Joey Lance Haddock"

Joey's Hornpipe: The Hidden Gem of the Day for December 7, 2023

Nana Deanna

From Book 14
A delightful jig. Bob put in 2 alternate B parts by cleverly writing first and second endings in the middle of the part. The dedication reads, "Nana Deanna / Bob McQuillen 22 July '08 / Well, it turns out that Deanna Stiles' daughter, Amelia (you may have met her), has presented her with two adorable grand-kids so far, and that's why this tune has emerged from the crypt."

Nana Deanna: The Hidden Gem of the Day for December 6, 2023

David's Return to Carlisle

From Book 1
This glorious march celebrates the return of David Fuller to the Carlisle contra dance after a serious construction accident. David was an accordion player with the Canterbury Country Orchestra. The dedication reads, "Bob McQuillen Feb '75
For Dave Fuller, with best wishes always. What a great night of music that was, in Carlisle."

David's Return to Carlisle: The Hidden Gem of the Day for December 5, 2023

Ms. Whittemore's Waltz

From Book 14
Dedicated to Wendy Whittemore, this lovely gem reminds us of a music box tune.

Ms Whittemore's Waltz: The Hidden Gem of the Day for December 4, 2023

Apple Pie

From Book 15

Dedicated to his late father-in-law, perhaps the title of this delightful tune celebrates the fact that Glen Scribner liked to eat apple pie with turkey gravy?

Apple Pie: The Hidden Gem of the Day for December 3, 2023

The Francestown Jig

From Book 5
Books 1-15 contain 475 tunes in 6/8. Over 50 are 'composed through' in one or both parts.
Of these tunes, at least half are somewhere between delightful and fantastic. Here is one. Play it at least three times through - it will grow on you.

The Francestown Jig: The Hidden Gem of the Day for December 2, 2023

Used with permission from CDSS

Ralph Page

From Book 4
One of Bob's most joyful tunes.
Hear it on YouTube • Old New England • Applejack

Ralph Page: The Hidden Gem of the Day for December 1, 2023

Used with permission from CDSS