The Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra had not played together since 1986 when they recorded the Belle of the Contra Dance at Middlesex School in Concord, MA—released only on cassette. If anyone had suggested to me that we make a new recording I probably would have said no. If anything I would have been more interested in getting the Belle released on a CD.
Jacqueline took it upon herself to organize a new recording of the CCDO in honor of my 85th birthday. She arranged for the use of the chapel at Middlesex School and contacted all of the former musicians along with some new ones, all of whom have been playing for us over the years.
On a Sunday in 2016 we gathered at 8 am, milled around, had coffee and donuts, ran over some tricky notes, and by 10:00, we launched into it head first, playing Moon & 7 Stars first. We haven’t lost it over the years–44 years since the first album and 30 years since the Belle. We sounded just the same with that rich full sound. We were at it all day, stopping for snacks and lunch provided by two Canterbury friends. Everything “took” the first time. A few days later Al McIntyre wrote:
March 20 was a very emotional day of music with so many old friends, surrounded in spirit by the rest that could no longer be with us, in the very space that has brought the unique sound that inspired many, for decades. The Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra lives on, moving into new generations, and on this day, Dudley Laufman, still “holding court,” relating wonderful stories about each tune we were about to embark on, together.
We are still kicking, getting together once a year to play for a dance. Gray hairs predominate. Of the musicians on the earlier recordings, eight are gone, but the music goes on. More good musicians swell the ranks. Whenever we get together, we sound like we did on our first record. Some secrets are that we don’t rehearse and the combination of instruments must be, at minimum, piano, string bass, banjo, accordion, flute or piccolo, and several fiddles. We rarely do leads or medleys. That magic is always there.
Gerry Putnam of CedarHouse Sound was our sound man. Before we started, he placed a red and black checkered bag on the piano saying, “This lunch bag belonged to Bob McQuillen. He left it at my studio the last time he was there recording with Old New England. I am putting it here now so that his spirit may guide us through this day.”
Of the sixteen musicians taking part on this recording four of them do not read music. The rest have had some musical training during their lives. Although most of us now live in rural settings or small towns, many were raised in urban communities and some musical training went along with that upbringing 50-60 years ago. Many old time musicians in New England back in the day not only played the fiddle, but also doubled on horn or flute and played in the town band. I have tried my best to get my people here to scuzzy it up, but they have given it a rich classical feeling and I love it.
Written music for some of these tunes can be found in Ralph Sweet’s Fifer’s Delight.
- WELCOME HERE AGAIN A fife tune and our title piece.
- COME UP THE BACK STAIRS Al Quigley, old Nelson fiddler, had a different B music for this jig which he played on D. Al was from Maine and them Mainers do things different anyway. When Dick Richardson played this tune, Johnny Trombley would sing “Come up the old back stairs with me, And we’ll…” This is another close to the floor jig that sort of keeps us in our places.
- ROXBURGH CASTLE In England, the Bampton Morris use this reel for the Fool’s Jig, their only stick dance, done as a solo.
- MOON & 7 STARS A fife and drum tune that was very popular in the late 1700s.
- CHARLEY MURRAY’S WALTZ (Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki) Written when Jordan was 22 for his grandfather’s memorial service.
- MARLBORO STREET (Dudley Laufman) There is Peter Street Reel and Walker Street Reel, why not Marlboro Street?
- CONNACHT MAN’S RAMBLES An Irish jig, close to the floor and one of Jacqueline’s favorite jigs, not surprising given her roots of Irish-English ancestors.
- COTILLION DES BAISE-DES-ROCHERS We call this the Bathtub Song. Someone told us it is a lullaby…a woman is trying to get her child to undress and take a bath. I first heard the tune at a private dance in St. Elizabeth, Quebec, where it is used for a cotillion. We use it for a similar cotillion.
- BLACKBERRY QUADRILLE A jig we all learned from the 12-inch 78 rpm recording by Floyd Woodhull. On the flip side was Soldier’s Joy and at the time it was the only decent recording of square dance music that could also be used for contras.
- FORESTER’S HORNPIPE The Helwigs invited us to a cocktail party at the Gray Ghost at Tolman Pond in Nelson and that is where I first met Newt Tolman. I played Durang’s Hornpipe on my little D harmonica and Newt joined me on his flute. He couldn’t believe that here was a young dairy farm worker playing an old tune. Anyway, the party moved along and Newt eventually played the Forester’s.
- MONK’S MARCH A heel and toe Morris dance tune from the English village of Sherborne. We use it for the Gie Gordons, a couple dance from Scotland. Sydney Carter (Lord of the Dance) set his song George Fox to this music.
- THE WATERLOO DANCE From The Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy. If you are looking for an alternate tune for the contra dance The Arkansas Traveler, this 48 bar music is what you are looking for.
- RORY O’MORE A Scottish jig—a good grungy close to the floor tune. Has its own contra dance which I learned in high school. Ralph Page’s New Hampshire Trio, (Dick Richardson, fiddle, Junior Richardson, bass, and Johnny Trombley, piano,) had recorded this tune on a 12-inch 78 rpm for Folk Dancer Records and he used it for the contra dance Morning Star. They played it on G with the B music in major. Johnny did not do minor keys.
- SWEET RICHARD This is from a collection of dances, A Choice Selection Of American Country Dances of the Revolutionary Era 1775-1795, by Kitty Keller and Ralph Sweet. There is no information about the music itself other than it came from a commonplace book belonging to Aaron Thompson.
- SCOTTY O’NEIL (Bob McQuillen) One of Bob’s best tunes. We use it for a Grand March or the Gie Gordons. You can hear a small segment of the CCDO play it at the end of the film Country Corners (Fiore & Nevell).
- COLONEL ROBERTSON We used to do a Scottish couple dance called The Roberts. I learned the tune from Dick Richardson. The first part of his version was as we play it here, but the B music was on the key of A, which is the way I learned it. I was pleased to find this version in Ralph Sweet’s Fifer’s Delight.
- CONSTANCY I learned this and the American colonial dance that goes with it from country dance teacher George Fogg.
- BUCKWHEAT BATTER I learned this tune from Dick Richardson who said it is a Canadian tune he learned from Don Messer. On this recording I am playing Dick’s fiddle See www.laufman.org for more on this story.
- MY LOVE IS BUT A LASSIE YET A Scottish reel. Robert Burns set words to it and we sing them whenever we do a Burns Night after having stuffed ourselves with haggis and Glenlivet.
Other Canterbury Orchestra Recordings
1972 Canterbury Country Danced Orchestra, LP
1974 Mistwold, LP
1986 Belle of the Contra Dance, cassette
2001 Canterbury Country Danced Orchestra /
Mistwold, CD release of both LPs
Dudley Laufman – melodeon, harmonica, fiddle
Jacqueline Laufman – fiddle
Vince O’Donnell – fiddle
Taylor Whiteside – fiddle, mandolin, guitar
Greg Boardman – fiddle, viola
Art Bryan – banjo, mandolin
Sylvia Miskoe – accordion
Carl Jacobs – bass
Al McIntyre – melodeons, harmonica
Jack Perron – fiddle, mandolin
Wally Sweet – flute, fife
Jane Orzechowski – fiddle
Russell Orzechowski – fiddle, piano
Sophie Orzechowski – fiddle, piano
Neil Orzechowski – fiddle, piano
Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki – fiddle
Plans are to have all the albums available for downloading including some tunes that did not make it onto albums.
Other Artist’s Recordings
CCDO musicians on this album having their own recordings and/or books: Art Bryan, Sylvia Miskoe, Vince O’Donnell, Greg Boardman, Taylor Whiteside, Jack Perron, Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki, and Jacqueline and Dudley Laufman.
Canterbury Orchestra Documentary
A documentary of this 2016 recording session and the generational influence of the music will be available October 2016 from Accompany Video Productions, Concord, NH, see their website www.accompanyvideo.com
Archives and Acknowledgements
FOLK New England has undertaken to support the archiving and preservation of all the Canterbury Orchestra original reel-to-reel recordings and other documentary work collected by Dudley Laufman. Archival copies are held by Folk New England in Cambridge, MA, and the Special Collections Library of the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH.
Permission granted by Great Meadow Music for Bob McQuillen’s tune Scotty O’Neil and by Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki for Charley Murray’s Waltz.
Jack Sloanaker agreed to produce the first LP when Dudley said to him, “Lets record the Orchestra.” Four albums and forty-four years later this rich sound still resonates with so many – thank you, Jack!
We are grateful to the extraordinary musicians who gathered that day and enthusiastically played great music together; to our friends, Ginny and Portia, who fed us all so well; to Steve who photographed; to John for videotaping; and to Gerry for recording this music.
And thank you, Dudley, for bringing forth the Canterbury sound so many years ago and for continually sharing this joyful music and dance. May it go on forever. — JL
© 2016 Canterbury Music
PO Box 61, Canterbury, New Hampshire 03224
Produced by Jacqueline & Dudley Laufman
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Gerry Putnam at CedarHouse Sound & Mastering, N. Sutton, NH
Photographs: Steve Booth, Canterbury, NH
Layout & design: Jacqueline Laufman
Manufacturing: OASIS CD
® The Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra trade name is registered with the State of New Hampshire.
HOW CONTRA DANCING WAS INVENTED
Started off as a cash crop. Had to entertain them summer folk on Saturday nights. Got Uncle Walter to show us the figures ‘n steps to them old contrys and quadrilles. We called ‘em square dances. Hollis & Quint played their flute & fiddle. They’d get Arno on his guitar, and go down to that abandoned cider mill, had that brook running underneath it, smell of pomace and rotting wood. Sit there in the lantern light, pass a bottle around, play them old dance tunes with that great echo.
Uncle Walter’s nephew would sit in a dark corner. Couldn’t see him, quiet feller. Surprised everyone by lilting out in his flute-fiddle voice, chanting the changes to Hull’s Victory like he’d been doing it all his life. He was a natural. They pressed him into service at the very next dance.
You know how the story goes from here. How the hippies came to the dances with their Patchouli Oil & bare feet, how they didn’t like the word “square,” and how they discovered some were contras. We heard one of them tell someone, It’s not square dancing, it’s contra dancing. It’s not square dancing it’s contra dancing.
The rest is history except that there are still some of us old folks up here who like to say we’re going to the square dance.
THE COUNTRY DANCE
The dancers arrive, spilling into the hall like a tipped over basket of many colored balls of heavy yarn, waving college pennants. They start to unravel, spinning around like parenthesis. Some go down the center like slinkies ‑ some turn like a brace & bit, others like a dime on edge.
The fiddler rubs rosin along his bow and a fine dust rises out over the hall. He breaks off small pieces, doling them out to the orchestra like ginger. The prompter drinks his down with one swill of flute water, the piano player tapes hers to the bottom of her sandal, the accordion player holds his between his teeth, the banjo player smiles like Jack Palance, and the flute players pass as they enjoy the elusiveness of mercury.
Each tune does not hum along in a straight line. They are wrapped in strips of seersucker, reams of corduroy, bolts of denim. Reel des Moissonneurs is of a gay ric rac complete with a zipper. McGuinness’s Delight is a winter tune, a felt lining for heavy boots. Chorus Jig is a burlap bag of rosin kept in an old attic.
Recorded March 20, 2016