The Pic’d Up Orchestra
The Pic’d Up Orchestra is the open band of Portland Intown Contra Dance! The band plays for Thursday night contra dances every few months and you are invited to join. It’s the warmest, fuzziest thing we’ve ever done as a dance community.
What is an open band?
An open band is everyone’s opportunity to play music on stage for live contra dancers. Musicians of all instruments and levels of ability are welcome to play.
In fact, an open band is at its best when a wide array of instruments are represented. And there is room for the least experienced of musicians.
How does it work?
The Pic’d Up Orchestra is conducted by Fearless Leader, Emily Troll. She coordinates the practice parties, picks the tunes, and tells all the musicians what to do while they’re playing. She also recruits an experienced fiddler to lead the melody players and an experienced guitarist or pianist to lead the rhythm players during the practice party and at the dance gig. You do not need to attend the practice party to play for the dance, but it is recommended.
What Tunes do we play?
At the practice party and on the evening of the dance gig, Emily Troll picks from these tunes, which make up The Pic’d Up Orchestra’s repertoire:
Road to Lisdoonvarna (Em) / Le Torment (G) / Maison de Glace (D)
Jimmy Ward’s (AKA Clare Jig) (G) / Connachtman’s Rambles (D / Bm)
Out on the Ocean (G) / Irishman’s Heart to the Ladies (A)
Joys of Quebec (A) / Gaspee Reel (D)
Louis Cyr (G) / Old French (D / A) / Petronella (D)
Macleod’s Farewell (D) / Far from Home (G)
Angeline the Baker (D) / Sandy Boys (A modal)
La Bastringe (D) / St. Antoine’s (A) / La Bastringe (D)
Brenda Stubbert’s (Am) / St. Jean (Bm / D)
St. Anne’s (D) / Swinging on a Gate (G)
Shove that Pig’s Foot (G) / Greasy Coat (Am / A modal)
Shenandoah Falls (A) / Benton’s Dream (A modal)
Spotted Pony (D) / Liza Jane (A)
Coleman’s March (D) / On the Danforth (A)
Reign of Love (Em) / Wren (Bm)
Sunday River (F) (AABB)
Midnight on the Water (D) (AAB AAB AABB!)
Time to contact Emily
Email Emily Troll at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out when the next gig is and when and where the next practice party will be held. The practice party is usually about a week before the dance.
WHAT IF I’M SCARED OF PERFORMING?
We’re friendly and we can hide you in the back. You’re welcome to play as much or as little as you like. As soft or as loud.
WHAT IF I CAN’T PLAY TUNES UP TO SPEED?
The band is big and other folks will have that covered, so no worries! Nobody will hear you in the commotion, I promise. So you can really do whatever seems fun and right for you and let the band carry you along! You can play the first note of every 8, and work your way up to 4s and 2s. Alternately, you can say “tunes shmunes” and join the rhythm section. Or even just sing along or hoot and holler.
WHAT TUNES DO YOU PLAY AND WHERE CAN I FIND THEM?
Most of the tunes we play can be found in the (West Coast) Portland Collection tune books, or on The Session. See the current tune list above. It’s totally flexible, though, so send on any suggestions to Emily (email@example.com) or just bring ideas to rehearsal.
WHEN AND WHERE ARE REHEARSALS?
For that privileged information, you will need to join the email list by writing to Emily (firstname.lastname@example.org). Generally speaking, we have one rehearsal a week or two before the gig in the Portland area.
WHAT IF I PLAY AN INSTRUMENT NOT COMMON TO FIDDLE MUSIC?
The more variety we have, the more we are like a true orchestra! The most common keys we play in are D, G, and A.
IF I PLAY MULTIPLE INSTRUMENTS, WHICH ONE SHOULD I BRING?
If you are choosing between a big instrument and a small one, bring the small one. We usually have a mighty bass section and like to limit percussion, just to achieve band balance. Beyond that, just let Emily know.
I’M READY TO JOIN. WHAT DO I DO?
Email email@example.com. Tell Emily your name and preferred instrument. Congratulations, you passed the audition. You’re in the Pic’d Up Orchestra!