New England fiddling is like Boston baked beans – a variety of ingredients are baked slowly for a long time, gradually melding into something completely different and wonderful. George Wilson personifies the New England fiddle tradition, with its strains of French Canadian and Cape Breton fiddling — which in turn have strong Irish and Scottish influences – all fused together with true Yankee ingenuity to create a genuine New England style..
Legendary pianist Bob McQuillen is the grand old man of contra dance music – he’s been playing for contra dances since 1947! His lively playing has fired up countless fiddlers and dancers from his native New Hampshire to Washington State, and many places in between. Bob has composed over 1,000 tunes, many of which have entered the traditional repertoire (which means that people are playing these tunes without knowing who composed them!)
Whimsical wordplay and a dry sense of humor seem to be a hallmark of New England contra dance musicians, if George and Bob are typical. Bob ended our first phone conversation with a riddle: “What’s orange and sounds like a parrot”. George calls one of his workshops “Bowing 747.” I look forward to more verbal sparring this summer! – Suzy Thompson