Ottawa Contra Dance

Welcome to the Ottawa Contra All Comers Band

Our goal is to have as much fun as possible while creating energetic and joyful music for dancers... and you are invited to join in the fun!


The All Comers band is fully open to musicians of ANY AGE and ABILITY LEVEL. We will be playing for the community dances which are geared towards ALL ages, especially school-aged families.

Keara Leibovitz and Emily Addison are the band leaders - they will guide the musicians. The piano player and one melody player will be amplified in order to carry the tune. We rely on other strong players to support the energy and drive while players with less experience are definitely needed too --> the more musicians having fun on stage, the more fun it will be for the dancers!

A special invite to kids --- we want this band to be all ages. So if you have a little kiddo who wants to play, please bring them along. They can even join in on an instrument like a ukulele or fiddle with NO musical experience.

Also - a special invite to accompanists! This band is not only for people who play the melody. It's for anyone who wants to jam along on the chords. All of our music notation includes the chords. All accompaniment instruments are welcome with the exception that we can only have one piano player.

A quick note for experienced musicians: Playing for dancers is different than playing at a jam session. Our job is to play energetic and lively tunes at a decent speed that give lots of lift to the dancers. Don't worry if you have never played for dancing ---> we can coach you on the tricks of making music fun for dancers. We would love to have you play with us!

The All Comers Band will play all of the upcoming community dances - January 18 2020, March 21 2020, and May 16 2020.

All musicians get in free; suggested $5 donation for everyone else ages 3-99. The community dances are from 6:30-7:30pm - show up ready to play by 6:15pm. You are welcome to stay for the contra beginner lesson (730-8pm) and the first two contra dances of the evening for free. More information about the community dances here.

About the tunes we will play:

You don't need to know the tunes in order to join the band. You simply have to be willing to learn!

All of the music for the sets are listed below. The tunes are a carefully chosen to be as easy as possible while also being a mix of tunes that are familiar to local session musicians, tunes from across Canada, as well as dance tunes from the contra repertoire.

While it's totally acceptable to show up and sight read, it will be more fun for you (and definitely the dancers!) if you learn some of the tunes ahead of time. We have included both the notation (with CHORDS for the ACCOMPANISTS) and recordings of the tunes below.

If you want to know what to practice first, we will definitely play Sets #1, #2 , #5, and #7 at the first few dances. There will be other sets in an evening but Keara will pick those on the fly depending on the dance chosen by the caller.

Dance musicians are much stronger when they know the tune by heart --- that way they can focus on the dancers as well as playing with the other musicians around them. However, if you need sheet music, it is your responsibility to bring your copy and a stand.

Practices:

We won't have official practices. However, it you want to get a bit of practicing in, join us at the community potlucks which will start at 5:15pm before EVERY community dance. (Bring something yummy to share as well as your own cutlery, plate and water bottle.) As soon as we're done eating, Emily and/or Keara will lead an informal practice. This is a great way to become a bit more familiar with the tunes AND to get tips on how to play for dancing.

There will also be two informal practices on December 21st and January 4th from approximately 6-730pm at the dance call - 345 Richmond Road. These are just before contra dances so you may want to stick around to dance!.

A special thank you to the other open dance bands throughout North America that have inspired us to try this idea. And special thanks to David Kaynor and Chrissy Fowler for our name!

For more information, email Emily at EmilyLAddison@gmail.com.

Hope to see you and your instrument soon!

Tune notation and recordings:

Below are links to the tune notation and the chord charts. NOTE: As of November 2019, each set has had some updates the upcoming season. If you have PDFs from last year, please replace them with these files!