Shake It Up With Shakedown!
In the not so olden days, before cheap electronic amplifiers, and 45 rpm records, the band was the heart of the square dance. You might see old Dr. Humphrey Bate and his Possum Hunters a pickin’ and a grinnin’. At a typically large gathering, there might have been 3 or 4 callers. Each would call to one or more squares, either shouting out the calls or using megaphones so he could be heard. At the end of each dance, the dancers would tip their individual caller. Hence the origin of the term. The folks would rest awhile, dance a waltz, two-step, or perhaps a schottische. Then the callers would move on to new forming squares, and the next tip would begin.
The dances were simpler than they are today, most with repetitive sequences that matched a particular tune. The band would play one tune for the Birdie in the Cage, another for Dive for the Oyster Dig for the Clam. The dancers knew what to expect from each dance, and they had a ball. Looking back at all of that, we can appreciate a sense of charm, a rustic heritage that brings to mind visions of the Old West or a New England Barn Dance in the Fall. There is certainly a place for that, and many who might hearken back to a simpler time.
One can almost see the picture, feel the movement of the square, smell the fresh baked apple pie, and admire the decorations hanging from the rafters of the barn used for the big harvest dance. The place is alive and noisy, boisterous men, freshly bathed, filing into the hall after scraping the horse manure off of their boots. The gals are dressed in gingham, the light of excitement in their eyes. Ribbons are tied in their hair, and they cluck like hens to one another as they watch the guys watching them. They don’t mind the manure, because they’re used to it.
Ah yes. Those were the good old days.
Over time, tastes change. These days, we’re far more sophisticated. We don’t use prewritten dances much anymore. The maneuvers are more complex and intricate, some might say more interesting. We don’t have to call to one or two squares anymore (err, that is to say we aren’t restricted to calling for just one or two squares) … no, we’ve got cheap power – amplifiers, 45 rpm records. Heck, throw out the records, we’ve got MP3s!
Old Doc Humphrey and his Possum Hunters were playing the music of their day. No one thought twice about a fiddle tune at a square dance. After all, that kind of music was the popular music in older times. Square dancing is a folk dance, right? What makes Modern Square Dancing a folk dance? How about the fact that normal folk participate! You don’t need years of training, the grace of a ballerina, or a ballroom gown to play. Normal folk like the popular music of the day! That’s not to say that fiddle tunes and hornpipes won’t conjure a smile or two, but when’s the last time you hummed Ragtime Annie?
Shakedown’s got you covered. We won’t be shouting out calls or yelling through a megaphone. We’ll be rockin’ the house! If we can borrow a fiddle player, we might play a fiddle tune or two before we throw him back, but you can expect covers of The Steve Miller Band, Looking Glass, Ronnie Milsap, Brooks and Dunn, Alabama, and Fleetwood Mac. If it’s got a good beat and makes you want to move your feet, we might try to shake it down for you. We’re in it for a roarin’ good time, and good fun is contagious! So, tell yer friends and neighbors, grab your gals and git yer guns. Come shake it up with Shakedown. We’ll leave the traditional music to Doc Possum and other folks who do that well. We want you with us, and we’ll do our best to make you smile. If you feel like stepping into the past – for just a bit – we won’t mind. Especially if you bring back the tradition of tips!
See you soon!