The square dance night of the annual Berkeley Old Time Music Convention presents three bands and three callers to keep the floor hopping all evening long. No dance experience is necessary, as all dances will be taught from scratch. All ages are welcome; you don’t need to bring a partner; and same-sex couples fit in fine. The BOTMC runs Sep. 12-16, with concerts, workshops and other events.
For those who want a break from dancing, a jam session in the back studio, open to all comers, will be led by Daniel Rothwell, Mark Olsen & Penny Critchlow, and Jim & Amber Mueller. And come early for the treat of a flatfooting workshop, included in the price of admission to the dance. It’s taught by Thomas Maupin, one of the greatest old-time dancers in America; 2008 national champion buckdancer Jay Bland; and Evie Ladin of the Stairwell Sisters.
Riley Baugus and Trevor & Travis Stuart are three of North Carolina’s finest old-time musicians. Baugus is probably most widely known for his singing and banjo playing in the film “Cold Mountain” and has worked with various major stars including Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, T-Bone Burnett, and Willie Nelson. He plays in the Dirk Powell Band. The Stuart Brothers were born and raised in Bethel, in rural Haywood County, North Carolina. Trevor plays fiddle and Travis plays great-uncle Austin Starney’s banjo. Their grandfather was fiddler Rev. Henry King, born in 1856. The twins have performed as a duo for more than 25 years and have taken their music all over the U.S. and Europe.
Rafe and Clelia Stefanini both placed among the top five fiddlers at Clifftop in 2011, the only father and daughter ever to do so. Rafe was born in Italy and has lived in the U.S. since 1983. He has been in many influential old-time bands, including Big Hoedown, the Wildcats, and the Rockinghams. Clelia learned her prize-winning fiddle style from her father and also plays guitar, bass and uke.
The Squirrelly Stringband won first place in the BOTMC string band contest in 2003 and 2004 and nearly a decade later is a beloved institution. Led by fiddler David Murray, the band also includes Debbie Berne (old-time clawhammer banjo), Allegra Yellin (guitar) and Rachel Kraai (washtub bass). They founded and continue to host the popular “First Friday” square dances at the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library.
The callers: Amy Hofer is a Californian now living in Portland, Oregon. She fiddles, calls square dances, and helps put on the Every Sunday Square Dance. By day she is a librarian. Jordan Ruyle is the driving force behind the wildly successful North Oakland Square Dance. He plays fiddle and banjo, lives in Oakland, and is a closet Francophile. Jack Dunton left his home in rural Maine at a young age, found traditional music during his travels, and has played fiddle and called square dances from North Carolina to Hawaii. He lives nowhere in particular.