DJ Nu B; photo by Silversauce
With its new season starting, the Club Contras series in Greenwood, VA found itself looking for some new DJ talent to supply the music for dances. Last month, Brian “DJ Nu B” Murphy made his Club Contras debut. I caught up with him and talked to him about his tunes, his other musical endeavors, and the inspiration he brings and communicates with his DJ skills.
On Memorial Day 2011, Brian Hamshar organized a highly unusual event in Greenwood, VA. Whereas usually traditional contra dances include live music and crossover and techno contra events use recorded music delivered through DJs, Contra-phoria combined the talents of live contra dance band Perpetual e-Motion and Contra Sonic’s Jeremiah “dJ improper” Seligman in a rather unusual setup. DJ improper provided the percussion loops on his laptop and Perpetual e-Motion’s John Coté and Ed Howe played along with it. (You can see some of the results on BHamshar’s YouTube channel.)
Brian says, "Club Contras was kicked off back in January with the idea of injecting the Virginia contra dance scene with some new youthful attitude, variety and innovation. The first project was to introduce crossover contra to Virginia with pop/rock & techno and develop our vision for how amazingly fun that could become. But that's not all. Our main goal is to promote more variety and an even greater community focus. That means things like open mic and guest calling. It also means bringing in excellent young modern bands such as Perpetual e-Motion, and we hope to attract others. We'd love to provide a venue for area musicians who don't necessarily play traditional folk music, because we know that many of our dancers have eclectic musical tastes. For the record, we definitely don't want to use only recorded rock/techno. We love live music! However, the genre is still very very young, and at the moment we're relying mainly on our talented DJs. As part of the spirit of promoting innovation, we decided back in the spring to try putting on an extended day of dancing with a variety of music genres, and Contra-phoria was born. As an extension of that mindset, dJ improper expressed interest in creating a few sets with the band and the DJ performing together. It was a great idea, and I think the dancers really enjoyed this new fusion. We plan to do that and more new stuff in the future, and we certainly welcome new ideas from the community!"
I caught up with Perpetual e-Motion and asked them for their take on the experience.
On June 4, Club Contras caller and organizer Brian Hamshar and Sheldon “DJ Shel D” Lieberman debuted Technophoria, a techno contra event that they now plan to expand into a series; while the first one was in Asheville, NC, they’re looking at possibly making it a floating series in different venues. Unlike some others, this series uses a seasoned professional DJ to mix the tunes. I caught up with DJ Shel D to see what he had to say about the experience and what drove the idea of Technophoria.
“The idea behind Technophoria as an event came about because of my experience at a contra dance where they ‘experimented’ with contra dancing to alternative styles of music. With my previous experience as a studio DJ (mixing music at a local radio station in Brattleboro, Vermont) I knew that I could professionally mix and produce a show, and take ‘Techno Contra’ into the mainstream of contra dancing. The prospect of contributing to the evolution of contra and be the person to set the new standard in Techno Contra got me very excited!”
“One of the reasons I decided to get into dance calling, aside from my love of contra and related dance forms, was so that I could make a positive contribution to the advancement and evolution of the community, the ‘folk process,’” says Brian Hamshar. He is the resident caller and organizer of Club Contras, a monthly crossover contra series at Greenwood Community Center in Greenwood, VA (near Charlottesville).
So what gave him the idea to start the series, originally?
This project has concluded as of mid-2013 (with an epilogue posted mid-2016) but we hope to see you soon on a contra dance floor! Meanwhile, head over to our Facebook page for upcoming techno contra events and other items of interest.
The 100+ Friday Flourish videos can still be found on YouTube.
I dance with abandon. I play with glowsticks. I look for music that is conducive to one or both. I play behind cameras. I write about all of the above. I'm based in Glen Echo's contra dance community outside of Washington, D.C., but I'm happy to go dance afield when I can. Lather, rinse, repeat. Always repeat.
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