This Friday’s Mid-Winter Tinker Fiasco is not for everyone.
But for those who have an interest in jazz, swing, Americana, classic country, Celtic, Afrobeat, Appalachian, Cajun/Zydeco, Caribbean, bluegrass, disco, New Orleans funk, alternative folk, roots rock, jam band, old-time or worldbeat music might want to head to Headroom Stages to check it out. Or if you just like to dance.
Organizer Peter Siegel explained his vision for the eclectic-but-cohesive bill: "The night will have lots of variety stylistically but the binding thread is that all three bands will make you want to move."
Getting your hips shaking from a wide mix of musical angles is the mission of Siegel’s newly formed band The Gaslight Tinkers. Its players come from wildly different backgrounds and have roots in many of the aforementioned musical genres. Siegel, a Vermonter well known in contra dance circles, explained how they came together.
"Garrett (Sawyer) and I conceived of this band roughly a year ago. He was in the process of breaking from the Alchemystics, and I was looking to bring in some different elements to what I was doing musically. We wanted a jam band that brought all of our influences together -- Celtic, old time, West African, Caribbean infused with some original songs. We also knew that we needed a fiddler who would be up for anything, and so, we called Zoe Darrow of the Fiddleheads ... perfect. Over the last few months we’ve established that Dave Noonan of Alafia (formerly Fenibo) is our regular drummer."
Primate Fiasco’s uniquely psychedelic-yet-high-energy approach to Dixieland is irreverent, inventive, unpredictable and joyously danceable. Banjo/guitar/harmonica player Dave DelloRusso talked about what attendees might expect from the group on Friday night. "Improvisational fun. The goal is to keep the dance floor moving and to keep each show different from the last. ... (The) band is different to different people. Some like the interesting lyrics. Some like the unexpected cover songs. And some like the horn solos. But the majority are there to dance."
The dancing will surely not slow down for The Andrew and Noah Band, a seven-piece outfit built around the fraternal fiddling of the VanNorstrand brothers, Noah and Andrew, who have been jamming together since they were tykes. The pair is also well known in the contra dance circuit where they have been touring since 2000 as The Great Bear Trio -- with mom Kim on piano.
"Noah and I have grown up writing and playing music together," recalled brother Andrew. "We both started on the fiddle around age 8. After a couple years I started working on guitar and Noah picked up the mandolin. We were writing fiddle tunes and some songs right from the beginning. Our earliest influences were mostly bluegrass and country artists like Doc Watson, Hank Williams and Bill Monroe."
Their experience in the contra world is an essential element to their current group’s live performances.
"Playing for dances is a really unique experience because people are actually moving to your music so you can really see what works and what doesn’t. ... We build our tunes from the bottom up; usually starting with some kind of rhythmic dance groove and then fitting in the rest of the pieces," said Andrew VanNorstrand. "We’re stoked to be sharing the show on Friday with the Gaslight Tinkers! Peter Siegel has been a good friend of ours for many years, and this show is shaping up to be just an awesome party."
Dave Madeloni writes a weekly music column for Ovation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.