Wear your comfy shoes on Friday, February 29, to Bearlys Bissextile (AKA leap year) Bluegrass Bonanza (8pm, $8/$5 sliding scale). This flat-pickin, boot-kickin good time features the music of The Smokin Contra Band, The Strangeboys and Oh Dinah. All proceeds support the Save Lincolnville Campaign. A contra dance, explains Dave Ron (mandolin, guitar, banjo, vocals), is a square dance without the square. Theres a caller who guides the audience on what to do. The music starts and people jump in. Other than that, the best definition Ive heard for it is an amusement-park ride we make for ourselves. Contra dances are the new raves, actually. Everyone has this permanent smile fixed on their face by creating this pretty euphoric moment in time together. Ron, Amy Lounder (violin, vocals), Ben Sichel (guitar, flute, vocals), Graham Kerr (upright bass) and Jason Dionne (percussion) make up the band. If previous dances are any indication, expect this one to be standing room only.
Weve been discussing getting a bigger venue to accommodate the growing interest. It actually becomes a safety hazard to have so many people tearing up the floor together in such a tight space, says Ron. I think lots of folks instinctively love to hear catchy old-time tunes. Secondly, the songs we play, whether they be historic fiddle jigs and reels or contemporary bluegrass ballads, all evoke certain feelings of a raw, deep-rooted and rustic longing---its a musical aesthetic that connects city folk with the rural tradition. With the help of a good van, The Smokin Contra Band takes the show on the road this summer. We have plans to go on a summer tour through the Maritimes and northeast US playing contra shows in big ol halls and traditional bluegrass on street corners and maybe a few abandoned barns, says Ron. We are constantly scheming! Ron hopes people connect with the cause at the heart of this weeks contra. This music resonates themes of rural hardship---the people of Lincolnville, along with countless other indigenous black communities around Nova Scotia, have faced racial marginalization and political negligence for too long. See savelincolnville.nspirg.org.