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Leeds Contra Ceilidh: Audacious, Rhodri Davies

Saturday, 19 October 2019, 19:30 - 23:00
by Richard Gibson

Audacious are Larry Unger and Audrey Knuth, a Boston based traditional duo playing for contra dances and concerts.

Guitar and banjo player Larry and fiddler Audrey play exhilarating tunes with driving rhythms featuring American and Celtic tunes with elements of other traditions including swing and blues. They also draw from Larry's catalog of original fiddle tunes, which have been featured in several of Ken Burns’ documentaries. Declared a “guitar genius” by Sing Out Magazine, Larry Unger joins fiddler Audrey Knuth for an unforgettable evening full of stirring musical experiences.

Larry Unger has been a full-time musician since 1984 and has presented a diverse range of musical performances across the United States, Europe, and Scandinavia. Titled “master guitarist” by Dirty Linen, Unger has played with many top contra dance bands and has accompanied such fiddlers as Judy Hyman, Matt Glaser, and Lissa Schneckenburger. Larry’s original waltzes and fiddle tunes have been played and recorded by musicians around the world and can also be heard in four Ken Burns documentaries including, Our National Parks. Initially studying blues guitar with Etta Baker and John Jackson and later taking up the banjo and bass, Unger has become one of the most sought-after rhythm players in the country. He has a great breadth of understanding of traditional music to complement his considerable technical proficiency and enjoys telling stories about the origins of his music and the people who taught him.

Hailing from Honolulu, Audrey moved to Boston in 2008 to attend Berklee College of Music and to explore the thriving New England folk scene. After graduating, Audrey has made a name for herself in the music community, namely as a dance fiddler and audio engineer. With her bands, The Gaslight Tinkers, The Free Raisins and Wake Up Robin, she has travelled across the world playing for dances and concerts. She’s equally adept at teaching workshops, and has been on staff at several music camps across the United States. Audrey’s fiddle playing can be described as rhythmically lively; she's guaranteed to get you up and dancing.

For more than 30 years Rhodri has been calling for dances, specialising in contras but covering many styles and working for most of the UK dance festivals such as Chippenham and Sidmouth as well as in the USA at Seattle Folk Life festivals and also has regular bookings at local dances and club events round the country. Whilst he has a special fondness for contras he has a wide repertoire; a mixed programme dance would find him calling Playford to Squares, his own compositions to traditional dances from the Country Dance Manuals.

He is a caller with unbounded energy and his style of calling always keeps the dancers on their feet. Expect a varied evening of Contras and Squares with a wide mix of styles, difficulties and energies tailored to suit the audience.

Contra or American style Ceilidh is fast, flowing dancing to fiddle based music with many of the figures similar to those done at English Ceilidhs (or Barn Dances). You don’t need to bring a partner as you will dance with most of the other people in the hall during the evening and cannot help but come away happy at the end of the night. All the dances will be explained by an expert caller and the dancing is done to a fast walk with all the figures flowing beautifully one into another accompanied by fiddle-based reels or jigs with the occasional waltz or march thrown in.
The dances are in long way sets, limited only by the size of the hall, with couples moving up and down the set to dance with everyone in the set. Occasionally square sets for eight people are thrown in to provide some variety.

Regular dances at Headingley Parish Hall, St Michaels Road, Headingley; 8.00 - 10.00 pm (2nd & 4th Tuesdays)

Location: St Chad's Parish Centre, Leeds
Address: St Chad's Parish Centre, Otley Road, Leeds,  LS16 5JT
Contact: 07989 618550
Ticket prices £10 (students & Children £6) on door or £9 / £5 in advance from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.