Contra, the Tradition

Contra music and dance has been popular in New England since the early seventeen hundreds. The local dance was the big event in early communities and it still is in many places today. Traditional contra music comes from the British Isles, built around the eight beat phrase of the dance movement. The tunes consisted usually of four phrases totaling 32 beats. That defines contra music today. It is music for the dance. Today Contra music comes in many flavors, but traditional contra is still popular in New England and beyond. The CDs below are some of the best of traditional contra.

DVD - $15
VHS - $5

Together in Time

Featuring Rodney Miller and Airdance

This is an award winning 30 minute documentary film that tells the story of contra music and dance, from when it first appeared in this country. It describes the contributions of people like Ralph Page, Dudley Laufman, Bob McQuillen and Henry Ford. Backed with music by Airdance, Rodney Miller describes his career as a leading contributor to the modern Contra scene.


New England Chestnuts

New England Chestnuts with Rodney Miller

Two CD Set -


Hear Clip From Vol. 1, Track #8

Rodney Miller and Friends - Two CD Set

After 20 years of collective listening, the consensus has emerged that these recordings are the definitive musical statements of these "classic" traditional New England Contra tunes. The two CD's are recommended listening for musicians, callers, and listeners interested in hearing the music that has had America dancing since colonial times. The liner notes contain a wealth of information about New England Contra music and dance. Here is the sound of classic New England Contra music at its best.

Volume 1:

1. Lady Walpole's Reel, Batchelder's
2. Opera Reel
3. Rory O'More, Saddle the Pony
4. Chorus Jig
5. Nerissa, Larry's Waltzes
6. Lamplighter's Hornpipe, Kildare Fancy
7. Portland Fancy
8. Hull's Victory
9. Chickadees, Silver & Gold, Sarah Dell Polkas
10. Money Musk
Total time 42:15

Rodney Miller, Randy Miller, Sandy Bradley, George Wilson, Steve Woodruff 1980


Volume 2:

1. Ross' Reel No. 4, Lady of the Lake, Forester's
2. Steamboat Quickstep, White Cockade, New Rigged Ship
3. Road to Boston, Jenny's Gone to Linton
4. Glise de Sherbrooke, Whalen's Breakdown
5. Petronella, Green Mountain Petronella
6. O'Donal Abhu, Rocks of Brae, Meeting of the Waters
7. Maggie Brown's Favorite, Shetland Boston
8. The Gay Gordons, Farewell to the Glen
9. Fisher's Hornpipe
10. Heather Island, Amelia Waltzes
Total Time: 42:44

Rodney Miller, Randy Miller, Sandy Bradley, George Wilson, Laurie Andres 1981

Contra Music

contra dance



Hear Clip From Track #8

Contra Music: The Sound of New England

This is "sampler" of Contra music, with cuts from Great Meadow's first eleven releases featuring New Enlands's best Contra muscians and bands. Included are Rodney Miller, Bob McQuillen, Airdance, Wild Asparagus, The moving Violations and others.

CD - $5
$35 for 10 CDs

Tune List:

1. The Green Mountain/Tarboltan/Siobhan O'Donnell's (Green Mountain - Mary Cay Brass & Friends) 5:07
2. Lafferty's (Best of Wild Asparagus) 4:10
3. I Don't Love Nobody/Little Old Cabin in the Lane/Honey Harbor Two Step (Pure Quill - Rodney Miller and Bob McQuillen) 3:31
4. Leather Britches/Miller's Reel (Airplang II - Rodney Miller, Peter Barnes, John McGann) 4:06
5. Poor Old Woman/Ned Kendall's Hornpipe/Levi Beaulieu (New Leaf - Rodney Miller and David Surette) 4:29
6. The Jewel Tune/Briul de la Fagaras/The Carpathian Tune (Faster than a Walk - The Moving Violations) 5:02
7. Bagpipe Ditty/Christmas Day in the Morning/Young Widow (Greasy Coat - The Rodney Miller Band) 3:57
8. Chorus Jig/Opera Reel/Growling Old Man and Woman (Full Swing - Susan Kevra, Mary Cay Brass and Friends) 8:22
9. O'Donal Abhu/Rocks of Brae/Meeting of the Waters: (New England Chestnuts Vol. 2 - Rodney Miller, Randy Miller and Friends) 4:03
10. Lamplighters/Kildare Fancy (New England Chestnuts, Vol.1 - Rodney Miller, Randy Miller and friends) 3:57
11. Happy Acres/Murphy's/Johnny Rhino Polkas (Old New England - Bob McQuillen, Jane Orzechowski, Deanna Stiles) 2:59
12. Kilcommon/The Volunteer (Airdance - The Rodney Miller Band)
Total Time 53:59

Canterbury Dance Orchestra

CD - $15

 Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra

The name Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra goes back to 1966. Their music and Dudley Laufman's calling led to the rekindling of the contra music and dance that thrives today. In 1972 they made the first-ever long playing album of New England contra and square dance music. Now, in 2001 we have Canterbury Orchestra on CD. Their sound tells us why the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra became so enormously popular in the late 60's and early 70's. The music is up-beat, earthy, engaging, and above all - happy.

1. Earl of Mansfield
2. Chorus Jig
3. Coleraine
4. Mistwold
5. Starr Label Reel, Ned Kendall
6. Maguinnis's Delight
7. Prince William II
8. Scotch Hornpipe
9. Glenn Towle
10. Reel de Jeunne Marie
11. Madame Bonaparte
12. Farewell to Whiskey, Money Musk
13. Prince William
14. Brisk Young Lads, 2 & 6 Penny Girl
15. Petronella
16. Irish American Reel
17. La Gondeuse
18. Poor Auld Woman
19. Huntsmen's Chorus
20. Petronella with calls
21. Meeting of the Waters

Allan Block - Fred Breunig - Art Bryan - Pete Colby - Larry DeLorier - Charlene Fagelman Morse - Dave Fuller - Nicholas S. Howe - Dudley Laufman - Ted Levin - Bob McQuillen - Vince O'Donnell - Jack Perron - Jack Sloanaker - Dick VanKleeck - Jerry Weene - 2001

Total Time 74 minutes

Where'd You Get Them Great Chunes

twin fidddles and sugar river string band, jig, reels, contra music

CD - $15

Hear Clip From Track #9

Hear Clip From Track #5

 Twin Fiddles & Sugar River String Band

Reels, hornpipes and a jig. This is marvelous, solid, New England Contra music with Two Fiddles and The Sugar River String Band. Good Dudley chatter in the liner notes. Dudley's rendition of Money Musk is a classic.

1. Gloucestershire Hornpipe
2. Honest John
3. Trumpet Hornpipe
4. Reel à Pitou
5. Reel Joliette
6. Christmas Hornpipe
7. Waltz Quadrille
8. Liberation
9. Money Musk
10. Princess Royal
11. Opera Reel
12. Larry's Waltz

David Dudley & Jacqueline Laufman (Two FIddles)
Jane, Francis, Russell, Sophie and Neil Orzechowski (Sugar River String Band) Larry Seigel 2006

Total Time: 44:33 minutes

Click Here to learn the Dudley story with David Millstone's two hour documentary film: The Other Way Back/Dancing with Dudley

Click Here for Dudley and Jacqueline's book and CD on traditional New England dances, White Mountain Reels

Old New England

CD - $15


Bob McQuillen and Old New England

Bob McQuillen, legendary piano player teams up with Jane Orzechowski on fiddle and Deanna Stiles on flute to produce great New England Contra music. Their combined history of playing Contra music exceeds a hundred and ten years! They've honed their skills, for sure, but it's their sensitivity, caring, intelligence and high spirits which make this music so wonderful.

1. Scotty O'Neil, Jan's March, The Isle of Mull
2. Bill's Reel, Ice Cream Hornpipe, Altan's Reel
3. Melissa's Waltz, April Lee's Waltz
4 Derek's Jig, Bertha's Jig, Black Friday
5. Happy Acres Two Step and Murphy's Polka, Jonny Rhino's Polka
6. Kanaly's Hornpipe, Trafalgar Hornpipe, Herrin' Brook
7. Ms. Hathawy's Jig, Guy Walks into A Bar, Amelia's Jig
8. Visit To Sandy, John Simon McDonald, Good For the Tongue
9. Jane's Hambo, Sohpie's Hambo, Tobuguggen
10. The Canote Men's Bramble, Brick Layers Hormpipe, Cincinnati Hornpipe
11. The Kitchen, The Chicago Reel
12. Eugene O'Donnell
13. President Clinton's Hornpipe, High C's, Kiss The Cook, President Garfield's Hornpipe
14. Jack and Connie's Jig, Cat In the Hopper, Planxty Dennis O'Conor
15. Vampire Reel, Yerow's Reel, Bob With the One Horn
16. Heavens to Besty, Tea with Debra, Mary Elder's Jig
17. Francis' Hornpipe, Russell's Reel, Sandy Silva's
18. The JB JB Waltz, Amelia, Nancy's Waltz, Linda's Waltz, A to Z Waltz

Bob McQuillen, Jane McBride Orzechowski, Deanna Stiles, 1996

The Montville

twin fidddles and sugar river string band, jig, reels, contra music

CD - $15

Hear Clip From Track #3

Hear Clip From Track #4

Art Bryan, George Fowler, Surya Mitchell and Fred White

This CD presents the “core repertoire” of New England contra dance music. It was recorded at the Maine Fiddle Camp in Montville, Maine in 2007. It includes wonderful renditions of 53 great contra melodies, not the least of which is Bob McQuillen’s magical waltz, “Amelia.” The liner notes give good background of the music.

1 Marches: Road to Boston/ Jamie Allen/ Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine
2. Reels: St. Anne’s/ Old French/ Mason’s Apron
3.Jigs: Coleraine/ Irishman’s Heart to the Ladies/ Top of Cork Road
4. Reels: Petronella/ Galopede/ Green Mtn. Petronella
5. Waltzes; Southwind/ Gentle Maiden
6. Reels: La Bastringue/ You Married My Daughter, But You Didn’t/ La Bastringue
7: Old Time Reels: Arkansas Traveler/ Soldier’s Joy
8. Polka/Two Step: Silver & Gold
9. Reels: Farewell to Whisky/ Wind that Shakes the Barley/ Miss McLeod’s
10. Jigs: Off She Goes/ Saddle the Pony/ Swallowtail Jig
11. Reels: Flowers of Edinburgh/ Temperance Reel/ Staten Island Hornpipe
12. Hornpipes/Schottisches: Boys of Blue Hill/ Off to California
13. Reels: Paya de Haut/ Glise a Sherbrooke/Growling Old Man & Grumbling Old Woman
14. Jigs: Kesh/ Haste to the Wedding/ Shandon Bells
15. Waltz: Cabri Waltz
16. Reels: Crooked Stovepipe/ Red Haired Boy/ Come Dance & Sing
17. Cakewalk/Rag: Colored Aristocracy/ Ragtime Annie
18. Old-time Reels: Liberty/ Mississippi Sawyer/ Over the Waterfall
19. Reels: Chorus Jig/ Opera Reel/ Chorus Jig
20. Polkas: Golden Slippers/ Jenny Lind
21. Reels: Gaspe Reel/ Reel de Montreal/ Joye of Quebec
22. Waltz: Amelia

George Fowler, Surya Mitchell, Art Bryan, Fred White, 2007

Opera House

twin fidddles and sugar river string band, jig, reels, contra music
CD - $15

Hear Clip From Track #3

Hear Clip From Track #11

The Old Grey Goose

Here is a collection of fun music from Maine. We normally don’t sell CDs that have vocals, but this CD is a worthy exception. The Old Grey Goose is dedicated to collecting and preserving traditional dance music and songs from Maine and neighboring Canadian provinces.

1. Opera House Medley
2. Poor Poor Woodsman
3. Earl Mitton Medley
4. Banks of Newfoundland
5. Five Step Waltz
6. Marches des Merchands des Fruits
7. Bailey’s Breakdown/ The Oyster Girl
8. Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad Polka
9. When the Silvery Moon is shining
10. The Finnish Girl
11. Reel de la Concession
12. My Girl and Me
13. Ratico
14. Reel a Quatre./Leur Partie
15. She Said she Couldn’t Dance

Jeff McKeen, Doug Protsik, Carter Newell and special guest Everett “Andy” Anderson, 2007

Old Time New England Fiddler - Dick Richardson

Dick Richardson was a country dancing master, fiddler and prompter in Vermont and the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire from 1903 to 1970. Ralph Page's real rise started when he began calling with the Dick Richardson Orchestra. Dudley Laufman described Dick Richardson's style of fiddling as "close to the floor." He was not a violinist. He played for country dances and his music had a strong rhythmic drive. Over his sixty-five year career, he was a mentor to many; Ralph Page, Dudley Laufman, Bob McQuillen, Duke Miller, Gene Gowing, Jimmy Baldwin and others.

Dick Richardson


Collector's CD - $25

Richardson's Band, 1952

1. Red River Gal
2. Chicken Reel
3. Marlborough Quickstep
4. Spanish Cavelero
5. French Four
6. Lady Walpole Reel
7. Prince Imperial Gallop (Richardson's Band)
8. Crooked Stove Pipe (Richardson's Band)
9. Haltone Special (Haltone Four)
10. Maggie in the Woods (Haltone Four)
11. On the Road to Galway (Haltone Four)
12. Maguinnis' Delight
Cuts 1-6 With calls 7-12 - without calls.

Dick Richardson, Russell Allan, Dick Jr., Johnny Trombley with caller Jimmy Baldwin


Dick Richardson


Cassette - $5





Side A

1. Scotch Hornpipe
2. Hand Organ Hornpipe
3. The Roberts, Gay Gordons
4. Old Danish, Old Timer Schottishes
5. Captain Jinks, Jacket Trimmed in Blue
6. Typsy Parson, My Love is But a Lassie Yet
7. Jingle Bells
8. Wright's Quickstep, Girl I Left Behind Me, Soldier's Joy, Chicken Reel
9. Money Musk
10. Fireman's Reel
11. Rickett's Hornpipe, Buffalo Gals
12. Buckwheat Batter
13. Sourwood Mountain
14. Haste to the Wedding, Flop-eared Mule
15. Chorus Jig

Side B

1. Potpourri I - Tunes from RP's N.H. Orchestra set: Wright's Quickstep,
Glise A Sherbrooke, Shake up the Coke, Piper's Lass, Fisher's Hornpipe,
Come up the Back Stairs, Arkansas Traveler, Reilly's Own
2. Potpourri II - A mix of contra dances from RP's New Hampshire Trio set: Reel of Stumpey, Hand Organ Hornpipe, Chorus Jig, Rory O'More, Money Musk, Climbing the Golden Stairs
3. The Haltone Four play their version of Life on the Ocean
4. Maggie in the Woods
5. All the Way to Galway
6. Maguinnis Delight
7. Prince Imperial Gallop
8. Crooked Stovepipe
9. Fireman's Reel
10. Varsouvienne

Dick Richardson


Book - $15


Dick Richardson - Old Time New Hampshire Fiddler

by Dudley Laufman and Corinne Nash


For those who are interested in the history of Contra music, this book is a fine introduction. The Monadnock Region is credited for keeping the tradition of old time fiddle and dance alive. We are thankful that fiddlers like Dick Richardson kept the tradition alive.

The book tells the story of Dick Richardson's life and gives you a feel for the era as well as how the music and dance traditions have been passed on to future generations.

Order contra dance music by Wild Asparagus

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