Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What the Cosmic Otters did on tour

We got in the car Friday morning with our instruments and our suitcases and our knitting and two otter puppets that come to gigs with us and drove and drove and drove, over the Mississippi River into Missouri.
Because we were in a hurry, we had to get a quick dinner at Panera in Columbia. The Fool likes bread bowls. I tried to take it away from him and he growled and bit me.

This is the Columbia, Mo. contra dance community - a whole lot of fun people. That guy in the black T-shirt on the far right edge of the picture was our host. He invited everyone over after the dance to his house, where we had snacks and drinks and played Irish tunes with a bunch of musicians he found somewhere - all excellent. The Fool played piano and I sat and listened to the music, and then around 1:30 a.m., I got tired and went upstairs to bed, where I fell asleep to the tunes ... and promptly had a really weird dream that I attribute to being in a strange bed.

The next day, we went on to Fairfield, Iowa, where it was so cold my eyeballs got a little glazed over and my nose hairs froze when I inhaled. When I was a kid, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. When I was a kid, I also loved to eat pickled herring, so my judgment may have been a bit off.

The folks in Fairfield did not turn this on for us.

You can't see her in this photo, but there's an old woman at this dance, wearing a magenta velour tracksuit. I thought she was going to sit and listen all evening, but after she got her coat off, she stood up and shuffled back and forth and waved her index finger in the air like she was conducting or jitterbugging. The caller set up a circle dance, really easy, and she found a partner and the men handed her round carefully, each making sure she was in the hands of the next before they let go. They changed the dance for her when it got too hard, sometimes just holding hands and shuffling together in a little circle, four bars round, and then on to the next partner. Her daughter came up to us toward the end of the evening, when the family was putting their coats on to leave.
"Thank you so much for playing," she said. "Now that Mom's heard some fiddle music, I think she'll make it through the winter."
Then we went back to our host's house, where we were sleeping in his guesthouse, and he invited us in for hot tea and stollen, and we sat on the couch and talked and enjoyed the fireplace and his cat, Legolas, came and sat on J's lap and let us pet him for a very long time.
And there were lots of blankets on the futon in the guesthouse, heavy and warm, and the next day, we went for pancakes and coffee and on to St. Louis for the Sunday night contra.
That's the St. Louis contra dance community.
And that's the Fool with Extra Otter Martha, a fine, fine fiddler who we like to sit in with pretty much whenever we can. She is a knitter, too, one who is just returning to the craft after a bit of an absence, and she made herself a pair of nice black wristwarmers.
It was pretty fun for a first tour. The next big one is coming up in April, where we'll be playing in the Asheville, N.C. area.
Mountains in the springtime ... I can't wait.


GaiaGal said...

Great pics, thanks for sharing them. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.


AnneMarie said...

Hi - I'm AnneMarie, I live in Asheville, I knit and spin, and I call contra dances!!

Maybe we can work together - Are you playing on Monday at the Grey Eagle or Thursday - Old Farmers Ball at Warren Wilson? Unless of course you have already made arrangements with another caller - We have lots of them!

Let me know what dates you have and I will contact the booking people from my end. Looing forward to meeting and hearing you. Later...

amwalter AT mail DOT com

Eldronius said...

That whole event looks and sounds like a whole pocketful of fun. I had no idea what contra dancing was, so I looked it up earlier in the week. I have to say, I can see why y'all go to so many of them.

Perhaps I will get up enough courage to look up the nearest one and check it out.

Thanks for sharing! Oh, and I always loved the cold when it turned my wet hair into popsicles and made the skin on my nose stick when I scrunched it up.

Jen & Matt said...

Okay, in the first contra dance picture, the guy in the middle with the white shirt, jeans, and running shoes looks exactly like my composition professor. Spooky. Just thought I'd share. :P ---jbs