Rodney Miller's quest for excellence in traditional New England dance music has been the rabbit to all the greyhounds in the field for the last three and one half decades. The sound of his fiddle was the heartbeat of the early 1970s New England dance revival, a time when Rodney played for innumerable town hall dances each year. His early recordings (Castles in the Air and New England Chestnuts) were mileposts that set a new standard. His 1985 Airplang LP charted a new course, adding non-traditional instruments and some ideas from rock and jazz. In recent years his Airdance band (Airdance, 2000; Flying on Home, 2003; Cloud Nine, 2006) brought together a wonderful group of the North East's finest to play adventurous, creative music that still maintained roots in the traditional style. Throughout, Rodney has sustained and expanded a virtuosic, highly personal style that assimilates stylistic elements from great fiddlers from around the world without compromising rhythm, drive and danceability.
Elvie Miller provides the powerful, seemingly effortless, sometimes mischievous half of the duet (and two thirds of the trios) on this recording. Daughter of Rodney and Jane Miller, she showed the world that she had been paying attention during her upbringing in the midst of the traditional dance/music revival when, while still an undergraduate, she recorded a delightful CD with fiddler Naomi Morse (Grapevine, 2003.) Elvie was selected as a Watson scholar and spent a year in Northern Europe studying with accordionists. Now she is back and tours with Airdance, Night Watch and others. And increasingly she can be heard making great music with her father at dances and festivals around the country and around the world.
The waltzes here are beautiful, poignant, brooding, cheerful and vivacious in turns. You may have already noticed. In addition, they are really great dance music and, as such, hard to fully appreciate sitting down. So stand up and ...What, you don't think it’s cool to waltz around the room by yourself? OK, I'm a little shy about it, too. But I dare you to sit still!
"The waltz never quite goes out of fashion; it is always just around the corner; every now and then it comes back with a bang. It is sneaking, insidious, disarming, lovely. It does its work, not like a college-yell or an explosion in a munitions plant, but like the rustle of the trees, the murmur of the illimitable sea... There is something about a waltz that is simply irresistible."
H. L. Mencken, 1920
Excerpted from Prejudices: Second Series, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1920
The waltz too a toe hole in the early days of the contra and historic dance revivals in New England. The waltz' place at the end of a contra program became fixed during the 1970s; a second waltz at intermission was added later. In recent years waltzing has become a passion for a growing crowd, with regularly scheduled waltz-only evenings spring up across the nation. Back with a band, once again.
Charlottesville, May 2007