The Portland Megaband:
A Beneficial Tradition
© 2009: music recorded at the annual Portland Megaband Contra Dance 14 tracks / 36 tunes / 74:02 total time / $15.00
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About The Portland Megaband
The Portland Megaband began in 1996 with 25 musicians. In 2009 it has grown to 80 players, each bringing unique energy and expertise to the group. This all-volunteer band is open to any musician, on any acoustic instrument, at any experience level, and its members range in ability from professional to novice. The ages of 2009 Megabanders span eight decades; they play on 31 different instruments. The band’s tight, cohesive sound is the result of each member’s commitment to bringing their best to the group combined with 7 highly focused rehearsals. Some musical arrangements are worked out in advance, but many of them arise spontaneously at the dance and are communicated to band members through an elaborate set of predetermined hand signals by conductors Sue Songer and Gordy Euler.
Each year, dancers from all over the Pacific Northwest and points beyond join Portlanders at the Megaband Contra Dance. The dynamism of the Megaband in sync with the feet of hundreds of enthusiastic dancers makes for a supercharged experience for dancers and musicians alike. We have attempted to capture the feeling of the Megaband dance on this CD. The music has been edited down to fit the time requirements of one disc, but almost all of the original switches between tunes have been preserved, and the planned arrangements are intact. We hope that you, the listener, can experience (or re-experience) the pleasures of being at the event itself through this recording.
A Beneficial Tradition
The Portland Megaband Dance is an annual benefit dance, usually the 2nd Saturday in March. The proceeds go to the Portland Country Dance Community scholarship fund for musicians, callers, and dancers.
With Dan Pearl’s permission, we have used the title of his popular contra dance, “Beneficial Tradition,” in the title of this recording. Dan wrote it for the “Dance Musicians’ Development Fund,” an annual benefit dance run by the Folk Arts Center of New England. The “Tradition” part of the title comes from the English Country Dance “Pat’s Tradition” by Cor Hogendijk, which features the zig-zag figure also found in Dan’s dance. Erik Weberg called “Beneficial Tradition” for the last contra dance of the evening (Track 13) on March 14, 2009. Happily, the benefits and the traditions will both endure far beyond that night.