Back to All Events

Berkeley Old Time Music Convention Square Dance Party

Workshop for Callers with Phil Jamison at 5 pm (FREE); Doors at 7:30 pm; Clogging Workshop with Phil Jamison at 8 pm; Square Dance at 8:30 pm

Eventbrite - Berkeley Old Time Music Convention Square Dance Party

Tickets are $15


Check out the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention September 20-24

Berkeley Old Time Music Convention’s Square Dance night features three great fiddle-and-banjo bands (Foghorn Stringband, Red Mountain Yellowhammers, and Bobby Taylor & Kim Johnson with Karen Celia Heil) plus two callers (Phil Jamison and Evie Ladin) who love to introduce the uninitiated to the joy of a square dance equals big fun! The callers teach all dances from scratch and call the moves all the way through. Jamison also leads a clogging workshop. No need to bring a partner, although you can if you want, and same-sex couples fit in fine. All ages are welcome at all BOTMC dances. And there is jamming in the back room led by Bruce Molsky's Mountain Drifters and other BOTMC performers.

The history of BOTMC is steeped in mirth. The first convention, held in Provo Park (now Martin Luther King Park), was listed as the “35th annual.” It was followed a year later by “the 17th annual.”  And of course they haven’t happened every year until the 21st century, so your guess about this year’s event is as good as the organizers’. What counts is the amazing quality of musicians from all over, and at Ashkenaz the best dancing of the whole festival, which runs Sept. 20-24 (Ashkenaz also hosts Sunday’s family square dance).  There are workshops, lectures and endless music at various other venues from the Freight to UC Berkeley. Information on all of the BOTMC events is at

Tonight’s callers are Evie Ladin and Phil Jamison, who leads the 8 p.m. clogging workshop. Ladin is a longtime favorite, bringing  joy to everything she does (which have included Keith Terry’s world music Crosspulse and the bluegrass/old time Stair Well Sisters, to her own band and the World Body Music Festivals she produces with husband Terry), no more so than when she puts down her banjo and clogging shoes and just calls square dances. Like Ladin, Jamison is a nationally known musician and caller. He has devoted 35 years to the Green Grass Cloggers, and was a featured dancer in the film “Songcatcher.” Oh, and he’ll be calling Sunday’s BOTMC Family Square Dance at Ashkenaz as well.   

Foghorn Stringband is the present day gold standard for real-deal hard-hitting genuine old-time American string band music, with eight albums, thousands of shows, more than 15 years of touring under their belts, and an entirely new generation of roots musicians following their lead. Foghorn Stringband continually and obsessively draws from old time, bluegrass, classic country, and Cajun music traditions in an ongoing quest to present a broad span of American historical music with an unparalleled youthful energy, joy, and virtuosity. The band is Caleb Klauder (vocals, mandolin, fiddle), Reeb Willms (vocals, guitar), Nadine Landry (vocals, upright bass) and Stephen “Sammy” Lind (vocals, fiddle, banjo).  

Alabama’s Red Mountain Yellowhammers are best known for their exuberant “wall-of-sound” dance music, with old-timey blues and early country songs, presented with lots of impromptu humor. Guitarist Joyce Cauthen wrote the definitive history of Alabama old-time fiddling, “With Fiddle and Well-Rosined Bow,” published in 1989 by University of Alabama Press and still in print; she and fiddler Jim Cauthen have been visiting and collecting from older generation Alabama fiddlers for more than 30 years. Their bandmates are mandolinist Phil Foster, bassist Nancy Jackson and Jamie Finley on harmonica and banjo.

The trio Bobby Taylor & Kim Johnson with Karen Celia Heil is a bi-coastal all-star affair. Fiddler Taylor and banjo player Johnson are steeped in many generations of West Virginia music, while East Bay guitarist-fiddler Karen Ceila Heil is known as a teacher for FiddleKids camps among others, was a founder of the Creole Belles and continues in such local bands as Bucking Mules, San Francisco's Knuckle Knockers, and KC & the MooNshine Band.

Leading our back studio jam is one of the hottest acts of BOTMC: Grammy nominated Bruce Molsky burst on the old time music scene as a Bronx youngster who not only sounded as if he’d been playing the oldest roots for 80 years, but had the ability to make that music sound totally up-to-date and hot! His Molsky’s Mountain Drifters features him on fiddle, banjo, guitar and singing, joined by Winnipeg banjo ace Allison de Groot and Boston-based Stash Wyslouch.

Earlier Event: September 22
Dirty Cello
Later Event: September 24
Soul Sanctuary Dance