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Corvallis Contra Weekend Talent for 2017


The Mean Lids (Urbana)

Only as mean as they need to be to keep the grit in their tones and the edge on their tunes, they are never seen without their signature cranial apparel. Spot them by their hats, their long lonesome sounds, and the @$$ kicking "chin-cello" grooves emanating from their mean, mean fiddle fingers. They are…

On Fiddle: Ben Smith has been playing dances and dancing dances since he was just a wee laddie. Ben has played his characteristic black fiddle with many bands, across many genres, including bluegrass, swing, old-time, Irish, jug-band, Cajun, country, western, rock, and classical. He is also a father, computer programmer, and kite flyer.
On Flute: Miriam Larson brings smooth, sweet sounds and pulsing jaw-harp beats to the mix. An artist, a burgeoning librarian, a former union president, Miriam's signature haunting waltzes and twisted tunes fill every Lids show. She is also a school librarian in Champaign and an avid historian of the Rational Dress Society (formed in England in 1871, in part to advocate for rational bicycling clothes).
On Guitar & Fiddle: Matt Turino has been playing music since he was born. He started dancing a month before that. He has performed so many shows with so many groups that you wouldn't be able to list them all in one breath. In addition to driving the heart of the Lids he also owns a house, builds stuff, and eats his vegetables.

The Quarks (Portland)

Betsy and Terry have played together for dances since 1994, and when Bill moved to Portland in 2012, he was thrilled to join forces with them. With their mix of instruments and improvisatory natures, you never know what to expect from this trio. Their delight in playing together translates to the dance floor, and you are likely to hear plenty of laughter from the stage. When not playing, the three of them love to pontificate about the mysteries of the universe (like how 3 quarks form a particle... the name, in turn from James Joyce's Finnigan's Wake), thus inspiring the band name. They are…

Betsy Branch – fiddle, guitar;
Bill Tomczak – clarinet, saxophone, percussion;
Terry Wergeland – piano, accordion


Gaye Fifer (Pittsburgh)

Gaye Fifer has been calling at dance weekends for many years. Her pleasant style and graceful teaching, honed by years of practice with many forms of dance, put dancers at ease and set the stage for a great dance experience. She is an experienced and facile teacher, caller and choreographer. Her dance specialties include contra, English, Waltz and others.

Since she travels whenever she gets the opportunity, she has a large collection of interesting stories, local customs and unique dances. Corvallis Contra Weekend is delighted that she has agreed to practice her craft with us!

Wendy Graham (Durango)
Wendy Graham is a self-described "dance maniac" who serves up delicious and nutritious dances for all with infectious enthusiasm and a smile. Wendy hosts regular folk and social dances (including Latin, Swing, Blues, Country Western Two Step, and Waltz) in Durango, Colorado. She also calls community dances, dance weekends, and dance weeks throughout the U.S. and abroad. She has been involved with folk music, song and dance for over twenty years.


Alan Roberts (Seattle, WA)
Alan is a fiddle player (plays with Southwest Passage) and dancer in addition to being an excellent sound man. He is aware of the nuances that make us all happy, and is able to provide a great experience for the callers, band members and dancers.