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Let's talk about Open Mic for Contra dances

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Nov 7, 2019 - 1:52:11 PM
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7683 posts since 3/19/2009

Last night's open mic event for the Contra dance attracted 10 musicians...I was the host this month .. MOST of the other 9 are also occasionally the Host of the open mic night.. Also Most of us 10, come to each others open mic hosting event.. I now realize that the Same people (mostly) showing up once a month seem to have developed a 10 person band 'attitude'.. That is, we have become our own 'thing'.. We've gotten to know what to expect from each other... know who to sit next to and who not to sit next to.. who needs their mic 'a little louder', and who will be sitting in the second row, off mic..We basically have developed our own stage culture.. This is an exciting revelation to me.. For many years, I felt that I didn't fit into the local OT scene and thought that I had to prove myself, especially if I was hosting open mic night.. NOW? Forget it.. I feel like I'm 'one of the guys' and try to make other musicians feel comfortable playing with our group..Life is good..

Nov 7, 2019 - 2:07 PM

7683 posts since 3/19/2009

It is funny how Geniuses think alike.. I had just made the OP and then I received an email from our amazing guitar player, Dan Willens, who had made pretty much the same observation..!! He says that I play with my eyes closed, but that after all these years playing with the same people that I SHOULD be able to play with them eyes-closed..!

Nov 7, 2019 - 3:27:45 PM
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Fiddler

USA

3977 posts since 6/22/2007

What a great story! And, you did it. You got those folks together.

Here's my story. When we were starting the North Texas Traditional Dance Society (nttds.org), it started with an "open band" for all of the dances. Anywhere from 10 to 20 folks would show up. It great fun because it was essentially the only outlet to play OT music with others. We all had a similar repertoire. As leader of the band, I learned which tunes to use for a dance - smooth, bouncy, reel, jig, etc. It helped that my wife was the caller. I danced which helped me learn the figures and which translated into phrasing the music.

It was also simpler because the only person with a mic was the caller. However, this made the tune selection critical. With a large group of intermediate musicians, the music needed to be forgiving so that it would not sound mushy.

The popularity of the dances grew with the musicians and several found kindred spirits. They formed their own band. The dance group moved away from open bands to closed bands. The music level increased, but the opportunity to play with others decreased. So, it was a trade-off.

Today, it is still a closed band for the 1st and 3rd Saturday community contra dances. There are a number of good bands that play, so we only get 2 or 3 opportunities every 6 months. On the 2nd Saturday, it is an open band and also open caller. The 2nd Sat dances are an opportunity for musicians to learn to play for dances and for callers to learn and try out new dances.  

Nov 8, 2019 - 4:43:45 AM

128 posts since 12/30/2008

Lee,

I can remember when that Bloomington dance was open band and caller every week. It was interesting, sometimes. Depending on who showed up, you could have all sorts of instrument combinations.

Nov 8, 2019 - 4:56:13 AM

7683 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by hokelore

Lee,

I can remember when that Bloomington dance was open band and caller every week. It was interesting, sometimes. Depending on who showed up, you could have all sorts of instrument combinations.


That was one reason they went to having a 'host'.. That way at least One person would be somewhat skilled and would keep things under control.....Come down some time!!!

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