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Berkeley Old Time Music Convention Family Dance

Doors at 2:30 pm; Dance at 3 pm

Eventbrite - Berkeley Old Time Music Convention Family Dance

Tickets are $8 Adults / $6 Kids


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

The Berkeley Old Time Music Convention’s Family Square Dance is the final official event in this year’s five-day festival (full schedule at, and it is has become a wonderful tradition; a great way for the whole gang to have fun dancing together in a casual setting. No experience is necessary, and all ages are welcome. Caller Phil Jamison teaches the dances from scratch and prompts the moves all the way through, with some dances that even babes in arms can do! Foot-stomping old time music is provided by the Bearcat Stringband. WB Reid and Bonnie Zahnow open the show with some songs you can even listen to.

The Bearcat Stringband likes to play bluegrass and old-time music with an old sound and a young attitude. The band excels in tasty harmony singing, hard-hitting fiddle tunes, and a foot-stompin’ good time. The quartet has been making a name for itself in the Bay Area since 2013, but its members have long played and sung in other bands. In Bearcat they have perfected the balance between keeping true to the musical traditions the players all love and throwing a rocking on-stage party. The Bearcat Stringband is Rowan McCallister (mandolin and clawhammer banjo), Robin Fischer (fiddle), Allegra Thompson (bass), and Ryan Finch (guitar).

From Asheville, North Carolina, Phil 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.” From 1982 through 2004, he toured and played guitar with Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers, and he also plays fiddle and banjo. Over the last thirty years, Phil has done extensive research in the area of Appalachian dance, and his recently-published book, “Hoedowns, Reels and Frloics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance” (University of Illinois Press, 2015) tells the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in southern Appalachia.

Opening today’s family square dance, WB Reid & Bonnie Zahnow are a husband and wife duo who present a wide range of musical traditions: old-time country songs and fiddle tunes, string blues music from Mississippi and Memphis, and Mexican songs and dance tunes. Both play fiddle and guitar, and WB also plays a variety of other stringed instruments. Sweet harmonies on songs ranging from poignant to humorous, twin-fiddling, foot-tapping tunes and slow waltzes, all make for fine and enjoyable music in any situation.

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