A combination made in heaven, but played on banjo, fiddle and guitar! Feb. 25’s Lillooet Music concert and Square Dance at the Elks Hall was just that.
The concert portion featured Jason and Pharis Romero who found themselves right at home amongst a crowd that cheered for Horsefly BC and for banjo playing. They began by announcing that this was old time music and it would be sung acoustically. What a treat! Their strong voices and superb harmonies floated above their instruments, filling the hall with sound. Pharis’ introductions were humorous and helpful. They well deserved the standing ovation given. For more on this busy couple, their tour schedule, workshops and banjo making, please consult their website.
Following a short intermission, square dance caller, Paul Silveria stepped to the mic. He would equal any sheepdog at rounding up a scattered flock and getting them pointed in the right direction! In no time at all, he had 50 people in two lines of two and a Virginia Reel underway. All couples, forward and back, forward again and pull through; head couple, sashay down to the bottom and back again; split to the bottom, form an arch and all pass through. The dancing just took off!
Next, an eager bunch as young and keen as Gabby Kingston (the harpist from United in Music) and as old and experienced as George Vanderwolf formed into sets of eight to pay attention to the ‘how to’ of basic square dance figures. Caller Paul made it all so easy. Learn your place: partner, corner, couple number. Learn to swing. And it’s “heel toe and away we go”.
As the night progressed, the floor became a maze of two’s, three’s and four’s in lines, stars and circles. There were arches and tunnels and something called “push her on.” And if you got mixed up, well just find your partner and go back home. “Quilting people” is the caller’s art, said Paul. Another short break, a waltz or two thrown in and one to end, brought the event to a close.
Planning for this event brought out some lovely stories of good times: from the 1950s when Dave Jones called dances at the old community hall. (where the tennis courts are now.) And from the 1970s when Gerry Hooser called for the Sagebrush Swingers and the keen ones entered competitions. We also heard about Frank Conway’s dance lessons given in whatever house he was currently building - everything from tap to ballroom.
Much appreciation to the caretakers of the Elks Hall and the ladies of the Royal Purple for a great job of hosting. Take a bow, Lillooet’s fine fiddler, Coral Nast for her abiding conviction that everyone loves to square dance!