What The Reviewers Say

VRCD 333, VRCS 333 STARRY NIGHTS & CANDLELIGHT

This rightly should join "New England Chestnuts" as a record to be used in lieu of live music (as a last resort of course) for the ubiquitous contra dances. The trio (plus Gordon Tracie) present a dozen dance sets, 20 tunes, some old, some new, some original, but all excellently rendered. It's straightforward, no tricks dance music, played with skill by folks possessing a wealth of knowledge and healthy respect for the tradition. This is thoroughly enjoyable; why, it makes me want to grab my best gal and line up in an improper contra and balance and swing all night. The mandatory Bob McQuillen waltz is also included. Get it! (Victory Review)

*****

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the music on this album and with the bouncy fiddle and strong beat supplied by the piano I suspect it will both please and prove useful to contra dancers. For the listener it provides well-played old-time fiddle tunes consisting of hornpipes, jigs, marches, schottische, reels, two-steps and a rag. The tunes represent a wide range of writers from Neil Gow and Brahms to Vivian Williams and Arthur Smith. In addition to fiddle and piano, backup instrumentation includes guitar and mandolin, tin whistle and accordion, and a tastefully played snare drum. (Devils Box)

*****

This is a CD reissue of 1985 LP, "We Love Contra Dances." Pat, Phil & Vivian are well-known to Northwest contra dancers (and to other types of audiences) for their strong dance rhythm, powerful melodic sense, and good time(s), with Pat on piano and accordion, Phil on guitar and mandolin, and Vivian on fiddle and piano, and special guest, the late Gordon Tracie on various percussion. They give us a trick-free, solid dance performance of a few chestnuts, some obscurities, and a host of their own originals, all exceptionally played, illustrating their taste and respect for tradition. It would make for quite the enjoyable evening of dancing. (Victory Music Review)

*****

An instrumental album of old time dance music, suitable for contra dances, square dances, couple dances, or just for listening. (last sentence from liner notes). That tells it all better than I ever could. Fiddle is the prominent instrument and this should be of interest to fiddle fans. (Disc Collector)

*****

The subtitle of this recording is "Old Time Dance Music for Fiddle, Accordion, Mandolin, Piano and Guitar" and it's a good description of what it is. The experienced musicians are well-known to audiences in the Pacific Northwest. Pat Spaeth is featured on accordion and piano, Vivian Williams of fiddle and piano, and Phil Williams on guitar and mandolin. There are twenty tunes in all and most of the twelve cuts are over three minutes long. The liner notes are good; they provide concise background on the melodies and indicate what dances they work with best.

There is good variety here too -- hornpipes, jigs, polkas, waltzes, reels, marches, rags, two-steps, and schottisches. Not all the cuts feature the fiddle; actually five are led by the accordion. The repertoire draws on the American and Canadian fiddle music traditions. All in all, a good, clean, rhythmic dance recording that also makes for pleasurable listening. (Fiddler Magazine)

*****

At first listen, "Starry Nights and Candlelight" may seem a little repetitive or tedious to someone attempting to simply sit down and listen to this album in its entirety; however, in the liner notes, it is clearly stated that, "This is a dance record." With this in mind, it is easier to appreciate and enjoy this recording.

Each and every tune on here is a "nice, square 32-bar tune" that has been chosen specifically with the dancer in mind. Not only has the dancer been provided with lovely, enjoyable dance tunes but the "caller" has also been provided for. In the liner notes, there are specifics in italics beneath each song. These details include the type of song it is (e.g. hornpipe, waltz, schottische, etc.), the exact time of the song, and the number of times the song is repeated during this time, thus making it easier for the caller to plan and call his or her dances.

This is a good DANCE album and while "live music is best, it's not always available." So, if you like to dance or know someone who does, I would recommend this album for the next starry night that you decide to light the candles and have a fun-filled old-tyme dance. (National Old Time Fiddler)

*****

Having a party? Need some contra dance music? This stellar band features the deft and steady piano oom-pahs of Pat Spaeth, who jumps over to accordion when Vivian Williams sets down her smooth fiddle to bounce the ivories. Phil Williams provides kind and gentle guitar and mandolin accompaniment on their set of jigs, rags, polkas and waltzes. Square and steady as she goes. (Dirty Linen)

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