Live music is the essence of contra dance, and in San Diego we are fortunate to have five terrific bands that make it possible to present a contra dance with live music virtually every week of the year: our community band, More the Merrier; Crooked; Flashing Sirens; Old Twine String Band; and Tectonic Shakedown.
More the Merrier is our pool of local musicians who love to play music. The Community Band is open to anyone who wants to participate. You should be able to play at least some of the tunes from this playlist. Martha Wild (at the keyboard at far right), leader and coordinator, can answer any and all questions about the band and its music.
See the Dance Schedule page for upcoming nights when the Community Band will play. A rehearsal is usually scheduled a week or more in advance. On dance night, sound setup/check runs from 7 to 7:30 p.m.; the band plays from 8 to 11 p.m. Contact Martha with your email address to be notified of rehearsals and other announcements.
Come and play as much or as little as you like. We look forward to seeing and hearing you!
Community Band Resources:
Community Band Playlist. In PDF format; revised July 3, 2015.
Printable Sheet Music: This is an index that links to 90 PDF files that you can download and print for use with the band.
Also see the Resources page of this website to obtain additional resources for musicians.
Crooked is a high-energy, San Diego-based contra dance band that every now and then likes to sneak out of the church to get the barflies dancing too. From your left are Chad Pittman, acoustic bass; Anna Levitt, fiddle and vocals; Michael Nieman, percussion and banjo; and Nick Montemarano, guitar. Check out some of their tunes on their website, as well as their Facebook page—and their new music video, Fiddle and the Bow, just below.
Flashing Sirens are (from left) Kelly Duley, fiddle; Martha Wild, piano; and Marci Phelan, piano accordion. They play a mix of lively Celtic music: Irish, Scottish, and Quebecois, with the odd Old Timey or Balkan tune thrown in, because Marci also plays in a Balkan band called Eastern Exposure. Kelly teaches classical violin and Irish fiddle (contact Kelly if you're interested in violin lessons!) and Martha also plays Old Timey music in the Old Twine String Band. All together they play toe-tapping tunes that make the dancers balance and smile.
Old Twine String Band (also known as "Old Twine") has been playing music together in various configurations since the late 1980s, when they got together to play old-time music and hone their musical chops. Their goal then was to one day play fast enough to do a contra dance—and now, can they ever! They've been performing for contra dances since 1991. Their foot-stomping renditions of old-time tunes will keep you balancing and swinging the night away and coming back for more. From the left are Drew Leavens (the newest member of the group), fiddle; Martha Wild, piano and mountain dulcimer; Jeff Bratt, hammer dulcimer, recorder, concertina and percussion; and JoAnn Koppany, banjo.
For bookings, email Martha or call 619-283-8550.
Tectonic Shakedown has been playing for contra dances since 2012. You will definitely feel the floor shake when dancing to this string band! With Kim Spalding on fiddle, JoAnn Koppany on banjo, and Tom Dillon on guitar, this band will draw you out to the dance floor with their hard-driving old-timey music. Much of their repertoire is derived from authentic mountain music originating from deep roots in rural Appalachia. They keep the old-time tradition alive by performing tunes as played by many of the great old-time musicians.
Our San Diego Contra Dance community enjoys having guest bands come into town to impart their own distinctive sound and energy to the contra dance! We usually aim to book two or three guest bands per quarter. Please email us, and let us know about your interest and availability.