CD Now Available
The Portland Megaband: Live
The music on this cd was recorded at the annual Megaband contra dance in Portland, Oregon, March 9, 2002. Seventy musicians played at this event: 30 fiddles, 10 mandolins, banjos, and autoharp, 7 whistles, flutes, recorders, 3 concertinas and accordions, 2 clarinets, 2 saxophones, 3 hammer dulcimers, 9 guitars, 4 percussionists, keyboard, bass, and harp. Although the tune sets here have been edited to fit the time allotment of the cd, many transitions within and between the tunes have been left intact to retain the feel and flow of an actual Megaband dance. We hope that the listener will experience this same energy and excitement.
The Portland Megaband is an all-volunteer contra dance band open to any musician on any acoustic instrument at any level of experience. Since its inception in 1997, it has grown to around 70 players who range in expertise from rank beginner to contra dance veteran. The only requirements for participation in the band are a willingness to attend rehearsals and to play with enthusiasm. The band plays a benefit dance in Portland once a year for the Portland Country Dance Community (usually the 2nd Saturday in March) and every other year at the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle. Megaband tune sets are assembled by organizer/director Sue Songer with input from band members. Organized rehearsals begin two months before the yearly gig, and they are mostly devoted to learning to play as a group and working out some arrangements. Much of the arranging, however, occurs spontaneously at the dance, where Sue Songer and Gordy Euler, who alternate conducting duties, use elaborate hand signals to bring in harmony lines, control dynamics, and determine which section should be featured the next time through the tune. It adds up to a very special evening of contra music and dance which is much anticipated by dancers in Portand and surrounding communities.