Bands & Callers

Here’s a list of some of the great bands and callers who perform at PCDC dances!

Bands

Wild Hair

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Fun, eclectic Portland Oregon-based dance band Wild Hair pleases with addictively danceable fiddle tunes and songs from Ireland, New England, Appalachia, French Canada, and unexpected points beyond. Swingy fiddler Betsy Branch, versatile Todd Silverstein (pennywhistle, alto sax, bouzouki), syncopacious pianist Mark Douglass and percussive guitarist Jeff Kerssen-Griep sync up a propulsive ensemble sound that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. Wild Hair’s giddy groove is spontaneous, harmonious, welcoming, feisty, and fun, played with contagious good humor aimed at your feet. You can see Wild Hair in action here and here.

Unleashed

Since its members came together in 1999, UnLeashed! has been one of Portland's favorite contra bands. Fiddler Jocelyn Goodall leads the pack with the driving style she learned from famed Irish fiddle master Tommy Peoples. On guitar, banjo, and fiddle, Rick Macquoid provides enough energy to keep dancers going all night long, while Eliza Romick's percussive dulcimer and banjo-ukulele add that infectious pulse that dancers love. With Rick Piel's incessant keyboard backup supplying intensity and rhythm, an evening with UnLeashed! is guaranteed to make you howl with joy!

Portland Megaband

Portland Megaband Dance

The Megaband performs in Portland, Oregon at the annual PCDC Dean Kenty Benefit Dance, as well as at many Northwest Folklife Festivals. The all-volunteer musicians of the Megaband come from all levels of skill - from near beginner to professional. The Megaband welcomes applications from anyone playing an acoustic instrument who is willing to attend all the rehearsals and play with enthusiasm.

The Nettles

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The Nettles are well-known on the West Coast for their original approach to contra dance music. Playing traditional music from all over the world, The Nettles create a strong rhythmic groove under soaring improvisations. Rhythmic drive and melodic fluidity allow The Nettles to propel contra dances into the stratosphere. The Nettles are a continuing favorite at the dance pavilion at Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle and have played at many other festivals, dance camps, radio programs and bars.

KGB

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This KGB is not a spy organization, but a band from Seattle that plays for New England style contradance, English Country Dance (as MI-5), for concerts, and private functions such as wedding receptions. We write a lot of our own music, and the rest comes from all over the world: the British Isles, French Canada, the Northeastern USA, Western and Eastern Europe, South America, the rest of the USA, and places we haven't yet identified.

Joyride

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Joyride is a contra dance band of friends from Portland, Oregon, playing for contra dances, dance camps, weekends and festivals. Known for tight ensemble work, skilled play, fun energy, and inventively arranged tune sets, Joyride plays old and new dance tunes from New England, the British Isles, Appalachia, French Canada and right here at home. George Penk's richly-danceable fiddle is joined by Erik Weberg's flute, harmonica, & bombarde, Sue Songer's lilting piano and Jeff Kerssen-Griep's ebullient guitar and percussion. Sue also joins George to drive twin fiddles. The band says "Dancers have given Joyride kind and generous support through the years by their attendance at our dances and by the happy comments they've made about our playing. One dancer describes our music as '...life-changing; pure ethereal beauty!!!' Another proclaims that 'Joyride is the perfect name! Thanks for bringing so much joy to all of us!' We work hard at finding new ways to earn such comments and continue keeping our dancers and callers happy!" Joyride hosts excellent regional and national callers at their own "First Wednesdays" contra dance each month at Portland's historic Polish Library Association Dance Hall.

Hands4

Since 2004, Hands4 has delivered high-energy music to dance halls throughout the Pacific Northwest, and in Texas during a 2006 tour. Combining seldom-heard traditional tunes with originals by band members and other musicians, Hands4 has created a unique blend of music that is definitely not your usual contra tunes. Hands4 features rock-steady leads by Keith Moe on fiddle and mandolin, soaring whistle and flute lines from Fran Tewksbury, and a clockwork rhythm engine driven by Rich Goss (percussion) and Carl Thor (piano).

Cascade Crossing

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Cascade Crossing's music is influenced by many styles, with touches of baroque, celtic, traditional, southern, and original tunes. Expect the unexpected, from hard-driving reels to smooth, mysterious jigs. Their style varies from a light touch to incredibly high energy, and they can stop on a dime. Cascade Crossing consists of Carl Thor (Vancouver, WA) on piano, hammered dulcimer and drum; Rich Goss (Portland) on guitar, mandolin, and percussion; Sarah Goss (Portland) on whistle, oboe and bass; and Lori Prime (Portland) on fiddle. The band also has the option to play as a trio, with dances expertly called by Rich Goss.

Callers

Nan Evans

Nan Evans is a beloved caller of English Country and Contra Dances from the rainy Pacific Northwest. Nan brings a commitment to the joy of dance and the magic of community to dance groups around the country. Nan is well known throughout the Northwest and beyond for clear teaching, a warm and welcoming style, and a love of dances that flow - whether highly spirited or beautifully graceful. Nan is at home with small groups in the great room in the co-housing community where she lives or with hundreds of dancers and beginners on the floor at a crowded Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle. Nan has been a featured caller at Lady of the Lake for both the summer and fall camps, at Monte Toyon for the San Francisco area fall and spring dance camps, Cascade Contras sponsored by the Eugene dance community, and at the Heather and Rose Suttle Lake Camp. Nan often works with her husband, Fred Nussbaum, Portland's premier dance music cellist. When not on the stage or the dance floor, Nan works in Salem as the Director of the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. Nan can be reached at 503-292-5574 or nanswaltz@earthlink.net.

William Watson

William started dancing in Austin, Texas in 1989, prompted by a co-worker. He says he thought "it'll be good for me," and it has indeed! After starting with international folk dancing, William started dancing contras in 1990. He called his first dance in late 1992 at an open mike afternoon dance that had dancers and musicians, but no one to call. He started calling regularly the next year, and has called roughly monthly ever since. He's called full dance evenings in Texas, Florida, California, and here in Oregon, and a few dances each in Washington, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. He thinks about dance choreography, has collaborated on a few dances, and wrote one notable dance sequence, which some considered the "oooh dance" of 1999, "The Devil's Backbone." In 1994, William became the third member of "the triumvirate" who founded Austin's first weekend contra dance that April. He later became President of the Austin Friends of Traditional Music, and worked on the executive committee for the Austin contra dance weekend (Fire Ant Frolic) its first three years.

Todd Silverstein

Those who know Todd Silverstein from his sax, whistle and bouzouki playing with the Nettles, the Flying O'Carolan Brothers (and formerly with the Wildcats) will recognize those wild tendencies in his calling style. Keeping his teaching time to a minimum and his calling clear, exciting, and fun, Todd aims for a good time had by all. Although concentrating on contra dances, both modern and traditional, Todd also mixes in square and circle dances during the course of the evening. He is experienced calling for beginners and for advanced dancers, and is a sought-after caller for weddings and parties as well as for regular evening dances. Todd began contra and square dancing in the late '70s in the San Francisco Bay Area. He learned calling at the feet of the master, Larry B. Smith of La Grand, OR, and got his start calling contras and squares in Walla Walla, WA in the mid-'80s. Since moving to Salem in '89, Todd has called dances throughout Oregon and Washington, calling regularly in Portland, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, and Ashland.

Suzanne Girardot

Suzanne Girardot's enthusiastic and clear dance teaching and calling have made her a favorite on both coasts. Her infectious laugh and easy-going personality put even the very beginning dancer at ease on the dance floor. Her unique, energetic teaching style helps students gain proficiency not only in the dance style they are learning, but also basic movement skills. When she calls, she projects her love of traditional dance and music. Suzanne lives in Seattle, Washington and learned to call from Sandy Bradley in 1981 when her Balkan dance ensemble presented American dances to Eastern Europeans during a 2-month dance tour, and she had to call! Since then she has been calling square and contra dances around the Pacific Northwest. She makes regular appearances at dances around the country, particularly in the Washington, DC area. She has taught at dance camps as diverse as Monte Toyon near San Francisco, CA, Harvest Moon in Santa Barbara, CA, Camp Damp in Juneau, AK, Echo Summit near Sacramento, CA, Victoria's Revenge at Cape May, NJ, and at Dancing Bears in Anchorage, AK.

Sue Baker

Sue Baker's idea of a great dance is where everyone-dancers, musicians and caller- has a good time. Many of her best dances were gathered while she was out on the dance floor and thought "dang, this is a great dance, I have to write it down!". Dancers say they enjoy her clear instructions, sense of humor and her selection of dances taylored for their event. Available for weddings, parties, contra dance evenings and good times.

Mary Devlin

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Mary Devlin leads American (contras, squares, triplets) and English country dancing. Based in Portland, Oregon, Mary has called for camps and evening dance parties all over the U.S., in Canada, and in Denmark. In addition to dance calling, Mary has served on the PCDC Board and as President of the Country Dance & Song Society (www.cdss.org).

Erik Weberg

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Erik has been calling contra dances since 1990. He summarizes his philosophy this way: "I choose dances based on simple criteria. They have to feel good and they have to be fun. Complexity does not necessarily translate into dancing pleasure. Flow, interesting figures, and connection with the music are what make dancing sublime. Whether it's smooth like butter or driving like a freight train, it's got to make sense and feel good. Those are the dances I choose to call. I work to teach efficiently and clearly, and often I succeed."

Elinor Preston

Elinor Preston has been delighting dancers with her calling and varied dance programs for many years. She has been calling dances and teaching workshops in the Northwest, and other parts of the country since 1988. She is recognized as a superb dancer and excellent teacher, and she is known for her succinct instruction as well as her grace and humor when faced with malfunctions of equipment or other unexpected program challenges. Elinor is well versed in a variety of dance styles including contras, squares, circles, and English Country Dances. In addition to calling for community dances, she also calls for weddings, birthday parties, and other special occasions.

Rich Goss

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Rich was introduced to contra dancing in 1990 in Austin, Texas and was immediately hooked. He began calling dances in 1992 with the help of a good friend, and called at open mikes at the Austin Wednesday contra dance. Expanding his contra horizons to include regular calling gigs, playing for and organizing dances, he has a feel for what makes a dance fun, and a concise teaching style that makes contra dancing seem easy. A recent transplant to the west coast, Rich is now living in Portland, Oregon, calling and dancing in the Pacific Northwest. A dance gypsy his whole dancing life, he has collected many interesting and fun dances in addition to composing a few dances of his own. Rich played with the band Mockingbird in Austin, and currently plays with Cascade Crossing, Hands4 and the Celtic band Talisman.