'Dance' a delight even for a couch potato

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hundreds of fiddlers record albums full of tunes each year. Some write their own original music, while others attempt to play tunes as closely as possible to the way they are traditional rooted. Others still cling to the traditional aspects of tunes they have come to love, but also infuse them with their own spices and interpretations.

Vermont-based Lissa Schneckenburger is a fiddler of the latter persuasion. Her September release, "Dance," features 10 traditional tunes with her twist put on them. She chose to record tunes that have been played by fiddlers over hundreds of years, translating them in her own way to speak to what she called "a new generation of musicians."

From "Petronella" to "Jamie Allen," the album is a delight. As its title implies, these are certainly dance tunes. Each of which is attached to a particular traditional dance of the contra persuasion. But unlike many dance CDs, "Dance" isn't just a marathon of marches. Its pace and tone changes from track to track, walking the line between lively and relaxing and therefore appropriate for both morning and end-of-day listening. So one may spin the disc while lounging on the couch, but it's likely that some of the livelier tracks will at least lead listeners to tap their toes in appreciation.

The fiddle is featured as the album's main voice backed by guitar, but a handful of other instruments are sprinkled here and there for good measure - a walking bass line, a few plinks of a banjo, toots of horns and a piano accordion that plays alongside the fiddle like a good friend.

Schneckenburger will bring the sounds of New England to the far west with series of performances and a workshop in Southeast Alaska. Accompanied by guitarist Bethany Waickman, Schneckenburger will begin this weekend in Sitka with fiddle and guitar workshops at noon at Blatchley Middle School, followed by a 7 p.m. performance at the Sitka Performing Arts Center. Waickman and Schneckenburger will then hit the road for a performance at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Juneau. Their last Alaskan appearance will be Tuesday at the College Coffeehouse in Fairbanks.

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