Monday, May 07, 2007

Highlandville, May 14, 2004

Highlandville, May 14, 2004 (mp3) (pdf)

The photograph above was taken by Pat O'Loughlin in early May 2006 but May 14, 2004 was a night very much like it. I had driven out to the Highlandville schoolhouse to sit in with my friends in the wonderful Norwegian-American old-time band Foot-Notes at one of their regular dances.

The dance was well underway and I parked just where the cars are in the right hand side of the photo. I thought I would tune my old Flatiron octave mandolin in the car before I went into the noisy hall but a little snatch of melody fell out in the process. I decided to see where it led and I closed the car up so that I could see the dancers inside but couldn't hear the music from the band.

After a minute I thought (as you might when you hear the tune) "oh, it's just another pale imitation of Soldier's Joy" but I put that devil behind me. Before the band took their break I packed up the octave and went in and spent the rest of the night playing the wonderful polkas, schottisches, waltzes and two steps that are the soundtrack to the Highlandville Dance.

A day or two later I went back to this tune and decided I liked it, pale imitation that it is. It's been played off and on by Contratopia and I've arranged it for mandolin orchestra also as part of my piece Another Late Spring in Iowa, which has been performed by both the Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra.

The recording here was hastily done last Saturday morning while preparing to play a contra dance at the schoolhouse with Contratopia. I used the Flatiron octave (early 80's, pre-Gibson) and my Pomeroy.

If you haven't been to Highlandville it's well worth a visit. Especially if you can make it when Foot-Notes is holding court at a Saturday night dance.

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