CDSS News, Fall 2021

Some Alternative Roots logoThe Some Alternative Roots logo was designed by my epically talented sister, Andy Alter.

Pandemic Panaceas

Some Alternative Roots

By Anna Alter

In February of 2020, I moved out of the big city (Portland, ME) and into a little house in the woods. I remember thinking it was going to be the perfect spot to host small music jams and song circles (and it still will be, eventually…). I was also working at the job that I’ve now had for the past 11 years—at a grocery store. Once the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, my job became quite intense (to put it super lightly). And even after the initial panic of the pandemic began to wear off, business stayed steady. For those practicing social distancing, a trip to the grocery store was one of the few opportunities that offered interactions with actual human beings, and many people were in desperate need of connection. And in turn, at the end of each work day, I was in desperate need of solitude.

As I grew more and more accustomed to a rather hermit-like existence outside of work, I realized that I needed a Project with a capital P. I needed to do something that made me feel challenged, inspired, and constructive. I also wanted to find a way to support creators during the pandemic. So I started designing Some Alternative Roots, a creative virtual resource space (with a strong lean towards folk/trad music and dance).

Building the website was both tedious and delightful, as I diligently filled each webpage with virtual activities, links to projects by artists that I admired, and other resources. It was fun! But I wondered... Was this helpful? Would people find something meaningful here?

So when submissions from readers started popping into my inbox, my heart felt like it was going to explode. There were people out there! And they wanted to share their upcoming album with me, or a virtual festival that they were really excited about, or to tell me that the buttons on the front page were hard to read. It was amazing!

About half a year after launching Some Alternative Roots, I was invited to co-curate/host “Next Generations Week” for the Daily Antidote of Song, which is organized and produced by Jo Rasi and Carpe Diem Arts. We welcomed many artists that have been featured on Some Alternative Roots, including Sam Amidon, Alex Cumming, Elias Alexander, and Mia Bertelli. I felt both totally out of my comfort zone and like I was exactly where I was supposed to be—surrounded (virtually) by art-makers and art-lovers.

Some Alternative Roots is a little over a year old now. It began during a time when I was feeling aimless and disconnected. And now, I find myself primarily feeling gratitude, warmth, and joy for the opportunities that have stemmed from this little passion Project, the new relationships that have grown over such an incredibly tumultuous time, and the artists that helped inspire me to make something special.

Visit the Some Alternative Roots website.

Alterations Waltz

This waltz is dedicated to my musical fairy godparents, Sarah Gowan (who added the chords) and Bill Quern (who gave it a clever name). Both of them have encouraged and supported my dreams of making art for as long as I can remember.

Alterations Waltz sheet music

Bob KellerPhoto courtesy of Margaret Dimock.

Remembering Bob Keller


It is with sorrow that we announce that Robert Keller, 86, of Westwood, MA, passed away peacefully after a brief illness on March 4, 2021. Bob was a devoted husband to his late wife of almost 60 years, Kate (Kitty) Van Winkle Keller, and a loving father to his daughters.

Bob and Kitty became interested in early American music and dance during the bicentennial celebrations of 1976. Over the next few decades, they became specialists and renowned national experts on historical music and dance. In 1988, Bob developed an unique system of indexing country dance figures and has compiled several major indexes of English and American country dances including American Country Dances 1730–1810 and The Dancing Master CD-ROM and website. He participated in the development of The National Tune Index and managed the programming for The Performing Arts in Colonial American Newspapers. He is the principal author of Early American Music and its European Sources.

Together with David and Ginger Hildebrand, Bob and Kitty formed what would become the Colonial Music Institute, which promotes and encourages the understanding of early American history through music and dance. The importance of this work is reflected in the fact that it is now housed at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon.

Bob's passion for historical dance and music documentation, particularly material from the U.S. Colonial period, continued into his final years. Over the course of his life, his labor and research helped bring to us The Colonial Music Institute Indices, The Dancing Master Illustrated Compendium, and most recently in 2020, the Dancing Across the Pond online database, available in the CDSS Library. CDSS is honored to host and share Bob's wonderful work, resources that will be valuable assets to dance historians and callers for generations to come.

David KaynorPhoto by Doug Plummer.

Remembering David Kaynor


Photo by Doug Plummer.

We're so grateful for everything David Allen Kaynor brought to our world, and for the opportunity we had to honor him with our 2021 Lifetime Contribution Award earlier this year. Learn more about David’s remarkable life, rewatch the celebration video, and view the digital scrapbook featuring submissions from across the continent. May his memory (and all his tunes and dances!) be a blessing.


Laura SteinPhoto by Julia Chambers.

Remembering Laura Stein

By Katy German

Laura Stein was a long-time CDSS camper and part of the reason that there is a thriving dance community in Lansing, Michigan.

My last encounter with Laura was at CDSS’s 2018 Dance, Music & Spice week at Camp Cavell. She used a wheelchair to get around at that point, but she was impressively involved in the camp goings-on. Each evening, her husband Bob would waltz with her, chair and all, as their joy and love radiated across the floor. It was beautiful to behold.

To find out how their love for each other helped to create a dance community for generations to enjoy, read this article from the Lansing City Pulse.


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