About Contra Pulse

The Contra Pulse Project is a collaboration between Julie Vallimont and CDSS to document the history and evolution of contra dance music from the boom-chuck piano roots to new modern forms for all instruments. Julie will be interviewing musicians from across the continent with a range of different styles— taking a snapshot of the “state of the artform,” and exploring the evolution across the lifetimes of each artist. These interviews will dive into how artists think about their playing, who and where they learned from, how their styles are distinct and how they may have influenced others.

We plan to release each interview in a podcast format, along with video interviews and musical clips.

COVID-19 has impacted the way we’ve been operating – originally, Julie has planned to interview musicians while she herself was touring across the country. When events were canceled due to COVID, we needed to find a new way forward. Taking advantage of the warm weather, Julie began interviewing subjects on her porch in Brattleboro, Vermont while she still could. As the weather turned colder, we’ve worked out how to get good-quality audio from remote interviews. The result is a very Northeast-heavy slate of interviews for the beginning of the podcast, but we’re still planning to interview a wide range of musicians across the continent. If you have ideas for musicians from anywhere you’d like to hear on the podcast, let us know!

Want to get involved? Become a part of the process! We’d love to have your help making this project even better – email contrapulse@gmail.com.

The Incomparable Julie Vallimont

Julie Vallimont (creator, interviewer, producer) is known for her driving piano style, skill in matching tunes to dances, and music with heart. Julie became known on the national contra scene with the beloved bands Nor’easter and Buddy System and is an in-demand pianist and accordionist in New England and nationwide, having played in many bands over the years.  Her compelling, rhythmic piano style draws on her study of New England contra piano and traditional Quebecois, Irish, French, and Cape Breton music. A former classical pianist and organist, she fell in love with traditional music and dance in 2004 and since then has gone on to perform at numerous festivals and music camps.

Ben Williams (producer, editor) works for the Country Dance and Song Society, managing the digital and print publications as well as various other duties. He works with Julie on the long-term planning and direction of the podcast, as well as handling the technical side of the website and hosting. He also edits the audio from Julie’s notes – taking raw interview audio and turning it into a podcast with intro and interstitial music. Ben is an avid singer, contra, and English dancer, as well as podcast lover!