Local Bands and Callers

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

Local Bands

Bandwidth

Bandwidth brings together three of Portland's contra dance music veterans, Gordy Euler (fiddle, whistle, piano), Keith Moe (fiddle), and Carl Thor (piano, mandolin). Their list of band affiliations reads like a “Who's Who” of the Portland folk music scene, including: Hands4, Full Moon, The Steeltones, Shanghaied on the Willamette, Stepwise, Cascade Crossing, Celtinalia, Tunestruck, and, of course, the bodacious Portland Megaband. Be ready for an exciting, full spectrum of contra dance music when these gents take to the stage. They're having fun up there, and it shows!

The Hat Band

The Hat Band is an all-purpose string band from Portland that includes Jon Neff, guitar; and Syd Newell, fiddle. Both members wear hats. Jon Neff is an IT specialist, and Syd Newell is a retired technical writer and former chemistry professor. The band plays for contradancing and other events throughout Oregon and Washington. Dancers love their diversity—traditional, rags, blues, swing, klezmer. They have also been members of The Portland Megaband and Five-Euro Tip.  Contact information: sydnewell@mac.com

Fine Companions

Fine Companions starts with four great talents, mixes in some magic and gets a musical feast better than the sum of its ingredients. This Portland favorite just keeps growing their reputation and it's all good! The band features Betsy Branch on fiddle, Lisa Scott on piano, Bill Tomczak on clarinet & saxophone, and Erik Weberg on flute. If you like lots of dreamy textures and rich harmonies, this is the band for you!

Portland Megaband

The Portland Megaband performs in Portland, Oregon with the annual PCDC Portland Megaband 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.

Joyride

Joyride is a Portland Oregon contra dance band long known for fun, skilled play, tunes fit to dance figures, good spirits, and ringing, rocking, gorgeous melodies that make you want to move. George Penk’s rich and lively fiddle, Erik Weberg’s nimble flute, harmonica and bombarde, Sue Songer’s pulsing piano, and Jeff Kerssen-Griep’s percussive guitar energy breathe big life into modern and traditional tunes for dances, weekends, and festivals. Here’s a video playlist of the band on the road and at home! Since 2006, Joyride hosts great callers and happy dancers at their monthly First Wednesdays Contra Dance party, held at the Portland Polish Library Association’s dance hall each September through June. This band loves creating a great experience for everyone, every time. Catch a lift with Joyride at home or on the road!  

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).  When playing as a trio (often with Rich calling), sometimes with a guest musician or two, the band is known as Stepwise and plays a more traditional repertoire.

 

Local Callers

Erik Weberg

Erik Weberg 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."

Laura Hatch

Laura Hatch stumbled across English Country Dancing in 2006 while visiting friends and immediately fell head over heels in love with it.  She has never recovered.  Ever since, she has been continuously learning more about this beautiful dance form and honing her calling skills. Known for her patience, clarity and warmth, Laura brings a spark of joy and good humor to every dance she calls.  She strives to make even challenging dances accessible, easy, and fun to do, while simultaneously making sure dancers feel safe and confident, and leave with a deep sense of satisfaction and happiness.

Laurel Thomas

Laurel Thomas has been calling contra dances (and the occasional square) since 2008. Since then, she has called at dances all over the Pacific Northwest, and has made several appearances on the East Coast. Dancers appreciate her clear teaching, articulate calling and her ability to choose fun, lively dances that have good flow. Her carefully crafted programs build skill level throughout the evening and aim to satisfy a mixed level crowd of beginning and experienced dancers.

Ric Goldman

Ric Goldman calls and teaches Contra, English Country, Irish set, Morris, and international folk dances. He's performed or taught throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K. coast to coast and overseas, and given many workshops for adults and children. Ric delights in all the wonderful dance communities he encounters and loves combining simple and sophisticated dances into programs that challenge and entertain both newcomers and experienced dancers alike. His clear, concise, yet warm and approachable teaching style brings a feeling of form, flow, and fun for dancers of all levels, with a repertoire that extends from the usual favorites into many hidden gems of lesser-called and experimental dances. He’s a patient teacher with a great sense of humor, and has been known to succumb to writing new dances, usually named after friends who ply him with Coca Cola. Contact Ric at 650-906-8707 or letsdance@rgoldman.org.

David Macemon

More years ago than he would like to admit, David was fortunate to be introduced dance when he was invited to help start a high school based performing group that demonstrated English Country Dance, Contra, Morris and Sword dancing. He has been dancing and teaching ever since. David is known for his patient and clear teaching style and communicates the joy of dancing through his teaching and enthusiasm. He has been on staff for dance weeks and weekends around the country including Pinewoods, Buffalo Gap, Mendocino, Hey Days, and Berea Christmas Country Dance School. David has been the featured caller at English Balls in the US and internationally. He is a regular caller for the weekly English dance and the monthly advanced dance series in Portland Oregon.

William Watson

William Watson, a resident of Beaverton, OR, danced his first contra in 1989 and began calling in Texas in 1992. He's called numerous contra events in cities coast-to-coast, and his extensive experience and soothing voice project a calm confidence. Vigilant and thoughtful dance programming ensure a variety of figures, transitions, and sequences to entertain and support new dancers while offering the occasional challenge for the more advanced. His calling proficiency and sensitivities ensure everyone has a good time.

Rich Goss

Rich Goss 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.