The New England contradance renaissance Oral History Project Update
I have had interviews, really conversations, with 18 people for a total of almost 24 hours of recordings. Most of these were callers and musicians, but there were a few dancers in the mix. In the process I learned a whole lot about Boston dance history and all the various characters that were part of the dance scene at that time. Some of them had some amazing stories, many after protesting that they really didn't recall anything when they started their interviews. With a few exceptions, I tried to focus on Boston area folks who were part of that evolution in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
My original intention was that these recordings would be sent to the dance library at the University of New Hampshire in Durham to be material for future research. In talking with David Millstone, a dance historian and caller in New Hampshire, he pointed out that this material would be much more useful if the recordings were transcribed and therefore searchable. He suggested that the CDS Boston centre might be willing to fund the transcription process, and they graciously agreed to do that - Chrissy Fowler, a dance caller and transcriber in Maine did all the transcriptions. The CDS Boston centre is now in the process of putting the transcriptions on their web site for public access. The current plan is to have the audio files and the transcriptions go up to the dance library at the University of New Hampshire.
Here is a list of the people who I have talked with,
and a short bit about who they are:
Joyce Desmarais Isen - played Hammered dulcimer and percussion
with Yankee Ingenuity back in the day.
Tod Whittemore - A favorite dance caller and the founder of the
Thursday night dance back in the late 1970s.
Tony Parkes - A favorite dance caller and a founder of Yankee
Ingenuity and the Monday night dance.
Jim Bollman -A dancer and Musician and an owner of the Music
Emporium in Cambridge and now in Lexington.
Vince O'Donnell - A fiddle player.
Dan Pearl -A dance caller and the producer of the Thursday night
Carol Bittenson - A fiddle player
Sue and Bruce Rosen - A dance caller and a musician.
Mary Lea -A fiddle player with Yankee ingenuity.
Dudley Laufman - A dance caller and musician from New Hampshire
who started a lot of other musicians on their way.
Jack O'Connor -A dance musician who is currently running the
Monday night dance series
David Stoppelman - A dancer and a musician.
Robin Kynoch - A dancer and a musician.
Dan Watt - A caller who was part of the group that started Roaring
Jelly back in the 1970s.
Ruth Rappaport - a dance musician.
Cammy Kaynor - A dance collare and musician who was originally
from western mass but now lives in the Boston area.
Kate (Peter) Barnes -A dance musician and the piano player with
Donna Hebert -A fiddle player, who with Tony Parkes founded
Yankee ingenuity and started the Monday dance series.
My thanks to all those who came to chat with me about the old days for the record. And a special thanks to David Millstone who was invaluable in providing advice and information, and occasionally prodding me to get on with the project. I also greatly appreciate the work of Chrissy Fowler who did the transcriptions.
Walter Lenk Cambridge, MA