Rehearsal Report #7 – 3/3/2024

Portland Megaband 2024
Rehearsal Report #7 – dress rehearsal
March 3, 2024

The following is in the order we will be playing them

Louis Cyr / Reel Beloeil
Remember the hole in B6 at the ending. Don’t step in it.

Last Chance / Ducks / Ice
We will start this set thusly:

  1. Fiddle potatoes, guitar, and fiddles only
  2. Add bass, flutes, and plectra to the fiddles and guitar.
  3. All in.

Don’t step in the hern diddle spaces in the switch from Paddy to Ice and in the Ice variation.

Northern / Robin’s / Chicago
Nothing new.

William Blake / Live Oak / William Blake
Last time through Live Oak, use the coda on the B part, which puts us up an octave.

Entrance to William Blake from Live Oak, no backups (melody only) on the pickups measure.

Wellerman / War Hent Kerrigouarch / Screch Owl
We may be able to sing Wellerman twice (4th and 5th times), depending on how much calling the dance needs during the B part. We’ll make that decision on the spot, in conjunction with the caller. Watch for the Variation signal. Melody land hard on those opening notes to Screech Owl. Percussion, come in on the second time through Screech Owl.

Switch in to Screech Owl; Bombarde wait until B1 to come in.

Wagoner / Jumpin’ / J&K
Ending of J&K. Those three half notes at the end make staccato (more like quarter notes) then one more C to hold out.

Lament for Farmers’ Market
immediately after the Wagoner set—no time to prep.

Watch the conductor at the end for a ritard. Specific directions coming.

— Break — Approx. 10 minutes

Socar es Sert
We’ll play this without any repeats. Just A, B and C. Three times through.

If you’re not in your place when the schottische starts, stay out of the band until it’s over. No climbing over others who are playing in order to get to your place.

Rabbit Reel / Le Paresseux / Mains Blanches
The two variations in Mains will be done back to back. First, non fiddles and  nonhorns play bars 3-4, 7-8 in the B part, then the horns do the same. Everyone else drop out those four bars each of those iterations. So when Gordy signals “V”, it’s in that order.

Lounge Bar / Rakers
Because this is a double-length tune (once through all 4 parts is twice through the dance, except for the Variation signal that will involve all four parts, each signal will apply to the oncoming two parts. For example, if fiddles are signaled during the D part of the tune, that means fiddles will play the A and B parts the next time. If plectra are signaled during the B part of the tune, that means plectra will play the C and D parts.

The Variation will be signaled during the D part of the tune and will apply to all four parts the next time through. Only miked back up and percussion on parts A, B, and C. Unmiked backup drop out until the D part. The variation is:  A part flutes, B part fiddles, C flutes and plectra, D part everyone.

Ain’t Broke / Old Time Son / Goat Groove
Ending for backups: Block chords in B7, then stay out until the final Am chord.

Virginia Reel / Brendan / Sceachog
Nothing New

Rainy Night / Paddy / Vladimir’s
Tempo tends to drag on this one. This will be the last set of the evening, so we need to keep it going. There’s no recovery if this goes south.

At the end of Vladimir’s, play the alternate ending. Do not ritard into the last note.

Northwest Passage Waltz
immediately after the Rainy Night set—no time to prep

All of this will be signaled..

  1. Fiddles only on A part, then everyone on B part.
  2. Non-fiddles only on A part, then everyone on B part.
  3. Fiddles only with high harmony on A part then high and low harmony on B part.
  4. All play with high and low harmonies.

Martin O’Connor’s
immediately after the waltz—no time to prep
Remember to choke the ending.

Rehearsal Report #6 – 2/25/2024

Portland Megaband 2024
Rehearsal Report #6
February 25, 2024

After Party
This will be at the Rose City Book Pub immediately after the dance. Contact Lori Shaffer, for more information.

Parking Permits
If you signed up with Tom Webb for a parking permit, be sure to bring $7 exact change for him next Sunday.

Covid Tests
We need some more covid tests. Please donate some if you can.

Volunteers Needed
We need someone to record the dance from the board and a couple of people who can place themselves by the doors to make sure no one is sneaking in. Do you know someone who would like to come to the dance but doesn’t want to dance? They would be perfect for these jobs. Email me with names.

Staging and Seat Assignments
I am working on this right now. If you have signed up to be towards the back of the band, you can sit on a bar stool if you would like to. This will give you a good view of the conductors and the whole hall. You may also stand if you are in the very last row (the only place anyone can stand). Let me know if you would like a bar stool or plan to stand if you didn’t indicate that on the seating sign-up sheet.

Advance Admission
If you would like to purchase advance admissions at the next rehearsal, you will need to do that before the rehearsal starts or during the breaks. Lanny and I need to leave immediately after the rehearsal is over. Erik will be closing up.

Next Rehearsal
It’s a long one. The doors will open at 10:30, and we will go from 11:00 until 3:00. We will play through all our music although not in the order we will play the sets and the dance. There will be breaks for snacks.

The Dance!
We will talk about the dance next Sunday, and I will email you a lot of information about it after the rehearsal. If you have questions, you can email them to me this week so I can be sure to respond to everyone next Sunday. (Someone else probably has your same question.) For planning purposes now, the newcomers’ session will be at 6:45, and the dance will start at 7:15. This is 45 minutes earlier than the last time we played at Smith (2019), so our arrival time is advanced by 45 minutes and will be: Standing at the doors of the Ballroom awaiting entry at 5:45.

Notes on the Music
Only updates to previous information is listed here. Be sure to read the update on Socar es Sert at the very end.

Last Chance / Ducks / Ice
We tried starting this set with miked guitar and bass back up only. We may or may not stick with this. We’ll decide for sure next Sunday.

Remember the switch from Last to Ducks and Ducks to Ice, and remember the variation in Ice House.

Ice House has a harmony. Look for the signal. Ending is as described earlier. No changes.

Northern / Robin’s / Chicago
Switches and ending as described before.

First two times through Northern, low octave only. If you can’t play the low octave, don’t play.

Rabbit Reel / Le Paresseux / Mains Blanches
There’s a variation in Les Mains which Sue sent out in an email.

Another variation in Les Mains will be non-fiddles playing in the empty spaces where the horns played in the other variation. The non-fiddle/non-horn variation will come first. Gordy will signal which variation will be played.

Switches and endings are as described before.

Really nice job detaching tempo from dynamics. We kept around 112 bpm on the quiet parts.

Rainy Night / Paddy / Vladimir’s
A variation in Vladimir’s is to have horns-only (with mic’ backup) on the B1, B2. Everyone play the A parts.

Be sure to get the music for the ending of Vladimir’s. Sue sent it in an email earlier this week and its on the web site.  Look for a bit of a ritard during the last couple bars of Vlad.

Percussion: solo bit in Paddy…be careful to not drag the tempo. Keep it going.

Virginia Reel / Brendan / Sceachog
Nothing new.  Switches (and ending) are as described before.

Wagoner / Jumpin’ / J&K
Backups, pay attention to the G7 on the pickups to J&K (except the first time at the switch).

At the ending, last two bars, staccato half notes then hold a C note tag.

In Jumpin’, harmony will be the upper signal, the low octave will resemble the low harmony signal.

Nothing else new.

Socar es Sert—New Since Rehearsal
New decision. We will play the schottische without repeats. It is too long with repeats, and we want to be able to play both harmonies. Updated music is attached—no difference except the first ending is eliminated in the A and B parts. You can just scratch it out on your music if you want to. Remember to adjust the harmony parts too.

Rehearsal Report #5 – 2/11/2024

Portland Megaband 2024
Rehearsal Report #5
February 11, 2024


  • T-shirt orders will go out tomorrow, so order today. By the time you read this, it’s too late. Payment will be made later once it’s decided what the cost will be.
  • Accesorizing. The various accessories you’ve seen some band members sporting are not part of a secret club, anyone can participate, and if it would be fun for you please do. Contact Sharon Allen, Patricia Donohue, or Kathy Story for more information about their recommendations, or come up with your own ideas. Please do not bring anything on stage that will disrupt any part of the music or that can’t easily fit under your chair.
  • Seating requests are to be made using the sheet at the back of the rehearsal hall. If you didn’t get a chance to sign up, email Sue with your preferences.
  • Bar-stool seating on the stageforgot to mention at the rehearsal. If you preferenced seating on the stage, you can sit on a bar stool that will raise you above the first couple of rows on the stage and give you better visibility. Footstools will provide support for your feet. Let Sue know if you would like to sit on a bar stool and also if you do not want to sit on one.
  • Light on the stage is an unknown entity since we’ll be arranged differently from years past. If in doubt, bring a battery-operated stand light to help with that. Generally, the light out on the floor, where much of the band will be seated, is pretty good.
  • Parking at the gig: There is a parking structure across the street with a skywalk to the hall. However, the doors into Smith are locked from the inside. So, if you park in the structure, you’ll need to get to street level and enter Smith down there.  Leaving, however, you can get out the doors to the skywalk and get back to your car that way. Tom is working on getting a reduced parking rate for us.
  • After party. Lori Shaffer has procured The Rose City Book Pub in NE Portland for our after party: All band members and their guests (partners, people you are hosting from out-of-town) are encouraged to attend and enjoy after the dance. The cost per person is $10 for a wide array of salads and sandwiches. Buy your own drinks. Please sign up on Lori’s list as an RSVP so the venue can prep adequately.

A word about Janet Goulston
Janet has been a Megaband member since the first time we played in 1996. She is now in an advanced stage of cancer, and to make matters worse, a huge tree fell on her house during the ice storm, and she may have to move out during the repairs. Her adult daughters are both living with her and managing her care. If you would like to get more updates, you can find Janet on CaringBridge. She loves cards and email even though she isn’t always able to respond. If you would like to know how to get in touch with her, email me for the specifics.

Covid Test Kits Needed
If any of you have some tests to spare, some of our band members could use them. Please bring them to the next rehearsal and put them on the table by the door. Thank you!

Harmony Updates
The most recent versions of the waltz harmonies are attached here (and available here on the website) as is the 4-part Wellerman’s harmony. They will also be posted on the website. If your waltz harmonies have the chords on them, they are the most recent versions. I’ve also included notation for War Hent played 8vb.

Notation for some endings and the Variations is coming.
We worked on a couple of new variations in the horn sectionals and also figured out how we will end Vladimir’sthe last contra dance tune of the evening. I’ll send that notation before the next rehearsal. Watch for it!

Here are the notes on the music. In most cases, only updates to previous information are listed.

Ain’t Broke / Old Time Son / Goat Groove
Goat Groove Variation: In the B part, melody, play the first two bars and the D in the third bar (pop off of it), then percussion bang away for the next two bars. Then the same thing for bars B5-8.  Call/response through both B parts. Notation for the variation and the ending is coming.

Ending: Forget the earlier ending we worked on during rehearsal. Instead, we will end like this: Bar B7, quarter note D, quarter rest, quarter note D, then the eighth note pickups into bar B8. Play B8 as written and hold out the Am at the end. Backups play block chords in B7, nothing on the first beat of B8, and then land on the final Am chord.

Louis Cyr / Reel Béloeil
No new information. Start practicing this set to speed since it will be the first one we play, and we want to set a good tempo right away.

Lounge Bar / Rakers
At the switch, don’t leave a big hole at the end of Lounge Bar, just a tiny lift so you can land on the D at the top of Rakers with confidence.

Variation in Lounge Bar: A part Flutes. B part Fiddles, C part Flutes and Plectra, D part everyone. Only mic’d backups during the A, B and C parts, then all backups on the D part.  Backups, play crisply.

Rakers: There are harmonies written. We went over who’s going to play which harmonies. Hope you remember what you committed to play.

One thing we’ll do in Rakers is start an iteration quiet, and slowly get louder through the tune until we’re all playing fully by the end of the tune.  Then remember to play out at the top of the next time through. This’ll be a variation signaled by the conductor.

Wellerman / War Hent / Screech Owl
Getting into War Hent, mic’d backups play drones for the A parts, then go to regular backup on the B parts.

On Wellerman, when folks are singing, mic’d backups only.

Singers, learn the words so that the singing doesn’t slow the whole thing down. And enunciate clearly so it does’t sound like mush. If you want to yell out “Hey” at the end of phrases, feel free.  Or “Hay”. That works too.  Or “Heigh”. Whatever. Sue’s gonna yell out “Rum”, but that’s how she rolls.

William Blake / Live Oak / William Blake

Pay attention to the syncopation in measure A5 (the first measure on the second line). The A note is played ahead of the beat, not on the beat. This is different than the way it is played on the practice recording.  This rhythm as notated matches the rhythms in measures B1 and B4.

Ending: Play through to the last bar, then just play two D notes and hold out the last one.

Lament for Farmers’ Market
Gordy will indicate the beat in one beat per bar rather than two.  This will give us the tendency to drag, so be aware of that.  Watch for a ritard at the end.

NWP Waltz
Look for an update to the low harmony in your email.

Probably this order:

  1. Fiddles only on A part, then everyone on B part.
  2. Non-fiddles only on A part, then everyone on B part.
  3. Fiddles only with high harmony on A part then high and low harmony on B part.
  4. All play with high and low harmonies.

Rehearsal Report #4 – 2/4/2024

Portland Megaband 2024
Rehearsal Report #4
February 4, 2024

Announcements and Updates

T-shirts: Samples are in the back for choosing colors. Women’s sizes tend to run small. Sample of the design is there as well. Look for another email with the final design (Some rum is being incorporated in honor of Wellerman), the ordering schedule, and information about prices.

After party: Lori will once again plan the after party. Finding a venue that will accommodate us is not a simple taskLori has been pounding the pavement on our behalf. Yay Lori! A few others have volunteers to help. If you’d like to help, email Sue.

Seating preferences at the dance: You will have assigned seats at the dance. At the next rehearsal, there will be sheets on the table in the back where you can tell us your seating preferences. We do our best to place you where you would like to be. The staging will be different than in past years at Smith. The first 2 or 3 rows will be on the floor at the same level as the dancers. There will be two rows of band members on risers, 24” above floor level. There will be four or five rows of b and members on the stage, which is about 18” higher than the riser level. The stage will have some bar stools for further elevation. If you want to stand while you play, you should preference the stage and indicate that you are planning on standing. You may preference who you would like to sit next to or near and whether you would like to be on the edge or in the middle of the band. Be sure to let me know if you are planning on sharing a music stand with anyone to ensure that you are sitting together. (We do encourage stand sharing to save space on the stage.)

Buttons: You will each have a button to wear at the dance. This shows the admissions folk that you are a part of the band and do not need to pay admission. Anne Heimlich will stamp out the buttons for us once again. Thank you, Anne!

Advance admission: Lanny will manage advance admission purchases during the break or after rehearsals. You won’t get a ticket; names will be recorded and admitted at the dance. If you are paying with cash, please bring exact change.

Roster: An updated roster is attached. This one has corrected mistakes in the earlier version.

Covid tests: Email me if you need more Covid tests to see you through the rehearsals and the dance.

Harmonies: The waltz harmonies were attached to an email last week and are posted on the website now. The rest of the harmonies will be posted this week. I will send another message with the list of harmonies later this week.

Horn sectional:  Melody players are needed for the horn sectional next Monday at 4:00 in SE Portland. Contact me if you are able to play.

Dance time change. The dance on March 9th will be 15 minutes earlier than in the past with the teaching session at 6:45 and dance starting at 7:15. Dance done at 10:30. More information directly pertaining to the gig will be discussed at a later rehearsal.

Next Rehearsal
February 11th; Rehearsal #5: 1:00 – 3:00 pm:

Ain’t Broke / Old Time Son / Goat Groove
Louis Cyr / Reel Béloeil
Lounge Bar, Da (play ABCD) / The Rakers
Wellerman / War Hent Kerrigouarch / Screech Owl Reel
William Blake’s Dead / Live Oak / William Blake’s Dead

Couples’ Dances
Lament for the Farmers Market
Northwest Passage Waltz
Martin O’Connor’s
Socar es Sert

Notes on the Music

Rabbit Reel / Le Paresseux / Les Mains Blanches
The “X” over those E notes in Rabbit mean the only sound right there should be the fiddles plucking their E string as pizzicato. Others, do not play on those Xs so you don’t mess with the plucking fiddle players. Dampen strings and really lift of at those spots so you don’t become a plucker as well.  Fiddles, go ahead and just pluck it right on the Xs. Backup, play a D on the first downbeat after the pluck.

More about Rabbit Reel…don’t make it legato. Make it happy and lifty and lilty.

Rabbit to Le P: Pop off the G, leave a tiny hole, and land on Le P.

Le P to Les M: Cut that D half note short, leave a tiny hole and land on Les M.

Ending: Last measure, play D quarter, F# quarter, then D half and hold out.

Virginia Reel / Brendan McMahon’s / Reel of Sceachog
This set should be smooth and pretty as much as you can make it so.  Remember to make it swingy.

Backups; in Sceachog, bar B3, if you can’t get off that A on the last offbeat in time to play the D on B4, rest rather than playing the A chord, and land on the D on B4.

Virginia to Brendan: Change the last bar to land on an E after those first four eighth notes. Lift off the E into Brendan. Keep the off-beat in that last measure.

Brendan to Sceachog: Use the appended bar written into the music at the switch. No pickups first time through Sceachog. Backups sustain offbeats through the switch.

Ending: Last bar, play a B, lift off, land on the A. Block chords.

Wellerman / War Hent Kerrigouarch / Screech Owl
On Screech Owl, backups, if you can’t do that Eb, just don’t play that chord. Leave a rest in that spot.

Wellerman singing: The fifth time through, there will be singing on the B parts. This will be signaled with the Variation sign. On that time through, play the A parts, then mic’d backups only on the B parts to accompany the songsters. Everyone (including mic’d backups) who can sing, please do.  Note that the singing melody is slightly different from the melody when we are playing. There are 3 attachments pertaining to Wellerman—the lyrics, vocal parts by Betsy in case the range of the melody doesn’t work for you or you would like to sing a harmony part, and a sound file playing the B part at the speed you will be singing. It will be good to practice singing at this speed.

Wellerman to War: Last bar, two half note Es, then flutes/whistles, mic’d backup, percussion as described above.

Starting War Hent, just mic’ backups droning and percussion and flutes/whistles. Melody plectra join on the B part. Last two bars of the first time through, backups go to the boom-chuck. Everyone in the second time through. Note: we need to work on the drones to make sure they aren’t dragging.

War to Screech: Lift off the A in the last bar, then into Screech. Pretty simple.

Ending: There’s a coda written into the music. Make those quarter notes crisp on the coda. And the ending should be choked. After those four descending quarter notes, land on the D staccato and the silence.

Lament for Farmers’ Market
Please be sure to play the pickup notes with confidence after Lisas four-bar intro. Let the tune swell up to the F in bar B4. Use your dynamics to achieve that. There are two harmony parts for this waltz.

Northwest Passage Waltz
Nothing to report…sounds beautiful. Thank you, John Mulooly for being part of the committee writing this waltz last September. There are two harmony parts for this waltz.

Martin O’Connor’s
No arrangements. Choke the ending.

Socar es Sert
Betsy will lead off two bars of intro. There are two harmony parts for the schottische.

Rehearsal Report #3 – 1/28/2024

Portland Megaband 2024
Rehearsal Report #3
January 28, 2024

Ain’t Broke / Old Time Son / Goat Groove

Old Time Son, hit the syncopated notes hard, like the G at the end of the first bar.

Broke to Son: Last bar, pop off that second D half note and leave hole filled with the sound of silence. Then land on the Old Time Son assertively.

Son to Groove: Same as Broke to Son, pop off the second G half note and leave a tiny space, but be ready to play the pickups into Goat.

Ending: Bar B7, two staccato Ds (backups, two D block chords), then the last two eighth notes in that bar and the second ending, but wait with the final A until conducted. A notation of this ending is attached. Incorporate it into the music you already have. We will figure out a conductor signal that indicates leaving the big hole at the end.

Last Chance / Ducks on the Pond / Ice House

Last Chance, add lift in the B part by popping off the B in bars B2, B3 and B6.

Last Chance 1st time through, fiddles and piano/guitar. 2nd time through add plectra and flutes, 3rd time through add bass and all play.

On Ice House, hit those syncopated notes hard.  That is, A1, A5, B1 and B5.

Variation in Ice House B part: All play bars B1-2, then fiddles and percussion only hern diddle* bars B3-4. Do the same in the second half of the phrase (B5-6 all melody, B7-8 fiddles and percussion only hern diddles). We may add dynamics to the variation. A notation of this variation is attached.

Chance to Ducks: Last two bars of B2, backups go to a G chord. The G chord is only the last time through the tune into the switch. Melody play the last bar as two B half notes and pop off the second one in preparation for Ducks.

Ducks to Ice: Bars B7 band B8, fiddles only play hern diddle on E/B potatoes into Ice House. Everyone else play through the G in bar B6 and leave a hole in preparation for the hern diddles.

Ending: Pop off the C# note at the end of B6 to leave a hole, then in the last bar just quarter notes F#, G# and hold out the A.

* A hern diddle is kind of like a heurn didda.

The Northern / Robin’s Bodhran / The Chicago

Last year on this set there was too much down beat. Emphasize the off beats, especially percussion. On Robin’s, bars A1 and A5, punch and pop off those first quarter notes to give the tune lift.  Same thing with other jigs, like The Northern and in particular The Chicago on that first quarter note…really punch it out and lift the tune.  Make these “Oompa, Oompa” types of jigs.

Northern to Robin’s: Leave a very tiny hole and skip the pickups to Robin’s first time through. After that play the pickups. Backups, no offbeat at the switch.

Robin’s to Chicago: Pop off the E at the end of the last bar and leave a quarter note hole (rest) and land on Chicago with both feet.

Ending: Leave a hole in B6 leaving off the last two eighth notes. Then hold out the D in the second ending. Backups block chords last two bars: D, A, A, D

Wagoner / Don’t Be Jumpin’ / J & K Rag

In Wagoner, watch the tied notes giving it syncopation. This whole set is really swingy and syncopated. Make sure it’s played that way.

Wagoner to Jumpin’: Pop off the last note and leave a little hole.

Jumpin’ to Rag: Pop off the last E half note and leave off the pickups to Rag first time through (do play the pickups after the first time through).

Ending: Pop off the C in bar B8 then land on another C note and chord.

Rehearsal Report #2 – 1/21/2024

Portland Megaband 2024
Rehearsal Report #2
January 21, 2024


Thank you for being here today.

The only announcement is to introduce Betsy Branch, fiddle in the front. Betsy is the fiddler on the practice recordings and also oversees all the harmonies (and writes many of them herself)

Louis Cyr / Reel Beloeil

Louis Cyr—you should have the version dated 1/9/24. Small change: First and 5th bars of the A part now match. Dotted quarter G, eighth B, quarter D, eighth rest and eighth D. Print the music, you’ll see it.  Good lift, good swing.

Louis to Beloeil: Nothing special. In the rest at the end of Louis, leave that rest open. No offbeats on the switch.

Ending: Bar B6, rest the last three eighth notes. Then the last bar of all things, just D, F, D, two quarter notes and hold the last D

Lounge Bar / Rakers

A variation in the Lounge Bar might be to have some section play the C part and fill in with the rest for the D part.  Watch for that. Conductors will signal who is to play

In Rakers, a variation will be to play the A parts normally, then through B1 and B2, drop volume very low and build to the end of the B2.  **Remember that changes in volume (dynamics) don’t have anything to do with changes in tempo.** So we’ll have a really dramatic build through the B parts.

Lounge to Rakers: There’s a switch bar written into your music. Melody, hold the D through the measure (tied dotted quarters), backups go to a G chord for that last bar. Then start Rakers with alacrity so it’s clear that we’re now in a different tune.

Ending: No breaks or holes. Just play through the last bar and land on a held Dm.

Rainy Night / Paddy / Vladimir’s

Rainy Night, A part arpeggios, give the first note of each of those bars emphasis. That’ll drive it along. In Paddy, add lift at bar A7, pop off that first quarter note. And bars B1 and B5 make those staccato notes short.

Vladimir, remember to put the swing in even though it’s a bit more difficult tune. As much as you can.  [Pro tip: at home, slow it down and totally go overboard with the swing, make it sound like a schottische or something. Then when you speed it up an appropriate amount of swing will remain. Really, it works.]

Rainy to Paddy: Last bar changes to half note D, quarter note D then quarter note rest. Back up players use block chords in that measure for the switch.

Paddy to Vladimir: Change the last bar to three quarter notes and a rest (hole). Last time through Paddy, backup drop out, maintain percussion, Play the B part in the low octave.

Possible Ending: Leave a hole at the end of B2-6 (second bar in the last line), then play straight through and hold out the last A note/chord. However, if this set ends up being the last one of the evening, we will construct a fancier ending.

William Blake / Live Oak / William Blake

Note that last time through Live Oak we go to the coda which is up an octave in the B part.

Oak to Blake 8va: be ready for the pickups, which means pop off the G of Live Oak in time to play those pickups at the same tempo as you just played Live Oak

Ending: Bar B6, cut off the last two notes to leave a hole…. More next time 🙂

Rehearsal Report #1 – 1/7/2024

Portland Megaband 2024
Rehearsal Report #1
January 7, 2024

Hi All—

We’re off to such a great start. It’s really pretty amazing that a group as big and as varied as ours could play so well together right off the bat. Excellent work, everybody! Thanks so much for your attention and very quick understanding of what we were asking in terms of the music!!

As usual, there is a ton of info to send out in this message. Please read it all. First are some updates since the rehearsal and also things to look for in all the verbiage below:

  • T-shirts—Ron Swick has volunteered to create the design, and Syd has once again stepped forward to manage the whole print and distribution schedule. Thank you, Ron and Syd!
  • Potluck and session next Sunday 5:00 – 9:00 at Sue and Lanny’s, 4405 SW Redondo Ave, Portland. Test before you come if you plan on not wearing a mask or taking it off to eat.
  • Inclement weather. I hope not, but the forecast for this weekend reminded me of that possibility. It is sometimes really hard to decide whether or not we need to cancel, but if it seems likely, I will let you know one way or the other by 10:30 on rehearsal day.
  • Opting your contact info out of the band roster. See below.
  • The detailed rehearsal schedule is attached to this message. We will now work on the tunes in sets more than as single tunes. The sets are listed in alphabetical order, not in the order we will rehearse them. Please arrange your music in sets and organize the sets so that you can quickly get from one to another.
  • Changes to the music. Two tunes only—Old Time Son and Louis Cyr. The updated notation is attached—single tunes and medleys (also updated) are all in one file. The updated Louis Cyr is different than the way we practiced it last Sunday. The dates on these tunes and on the first page of the medley formats should say 1-9-24. The changes are so minor, you can probably just write them into your music instead of reprinting. The easier chords for Reel Béloeil are also attached.

Be sure to read the information about PCDC, grants, and options for playing along and listening to our sets.

There are many references to websites throughout the report below. I am going to send a separate message with links to everything mentioned here. (Including all the links makes this message too cumbersome.)

Hope to see a lot of you this Sunday! If we need to cancel because of snow, I will let you know by 2:00 pm.

Rehearsal Report #1
January 9, 2024
by Erik Weberg


Welcome everyone!

Introductions: Erik Weberg, joint director; Gordy Euler, joint conductor; Bill Tomczak, webmaster; Therese Vogel, recordings assistant; Lisa Scott, keyboard player; eleven new band members and several returning members who have been away for a while.

Parking: Leave spaces out front for those with heavy equipment. Use the Fulton lot or the church lot across the street (unless church is in session).

Instrument Cases: Put your cases along the back of the rehearsal space. Leave the aisles on the sides clear.

No entrance to the classrooms is allowed. It is a breach of our contract with Fulton.

Seating:  You can sit anywhere you want during the first four rehearsals. Front rows are reserved, and the front area on the left (as you face the stage) is needed for the miked back up (bass, keyboard, guitar), cello, and percussion.

Bathrooms:  Both mens’ and womens’ are down the stairs to the left of the stage (in Fulton)

Covid: Don’t come if you’re feeling sick or test positive. Your choice to test or mask. Testing is on the honor system. Take test kits as you need them and order from the gov.

Products to sell/Announcements:  Bring stuff you want to sell or flyers for events. We don’t make any announcements for events or products—just Megaband announcements (which are plenty).

Advance Tickets:  After February 1st, band members will be able to buy tickets for family/friends at rehearsal. You will also be able to purchase tickets online on the public Megaband page. The admission price has been set at a suggested price of $25 per person but on a sliding scale of $15 – $40 per person.

Portland Country Dance Community: PCDC sponsors the Megaband dance. There are many reasons to join this organization that supports and promotes traditional music and dance in Portland and near-by areas.

PCDC Grants: PCDC members of six-month duration are eligible for grants to attend music/dance events. These grants are not need based—you need merely to apply for one. Links to PCDC general information, Membership, and Grant Applications are at the very end of this message.

Band Roster: We will have a roster of band members in the next couple of weeks. The roster will include name, instrument, email address, phone number, and zip code. If there is any part of this information you do not want shared, please let Sue know immediately what you do not want shared. The deadline for that is Sunday, January 14. Your name and instrument will still be on the roster. The roster will be shared as an email attachment rather than being posted on the website.

Label your belongings: If you leave something behind, we want to know whose it is—binders, music stands, etc.


  • Be on time!
  • No tuning or noodling while leaders are speaking
  • Read your email and check the web site for much information.
  • No unsupervised small children

Observers are ok; no playing along.  Observers must follow Covid protocols just as band members do (test or mask).

Learning the Music
Easier versions of many of the tunes will be posted on the web site. If you are having difficulty with any tune or any part of a tune, don’t hesitate to play the simplified version instead. It is much better to play fewer notes (or chords) on time and with good emphasis than to play all the notes or chords. There are several listening options:

  • Play along with the practice recordings. The website offers the option of playback at several speeds, both slower and faster.
  • You can also download the practice tracks and play them at any speed you would like using the Amazing Slow Downer tool.
  • Listen to and play along with recordings made at the 2023 dance—taken directly from the board and mixed by Bill Tomczak. These recordings are exceptionally clear and reflect both the seed we will be playing at the dance and the number of times we will play each tune. This is what we are aiming for! You will also hear sections come in and out and get familiar with some of the arrangements.
  • You can also find links to videos of the band in this same area.

Next Rehearsal: January 21, 1:45 – 3:15. We can access the hall at 1:30 and will start as soon after that as possible.

Music Details from Rehearsal

Wellerman / War Hent / Screech Owl 
Be sure to emphasize the dotted swingy feel and lift where appropriate.

Ain’t Broke / Old-Time Son / Goat Groove
Make the tunes gritty and edgy, not pretty.

Go ahead and smooth out the half notes that start the phrasing in the C part of Ain’t Broke.

In Old-Time Son, emphasize the syncopation and especially emphasize the syncopated note.

Same tune, make bar B1-5 match bar B1-1 and bar B2-1. The updated music is attached—the only changes are in the B part, measure 5.

Syncopation in Goat Groove as well.

Lounge Bar / Rakers 
Lounge Bar: To emphasize the syncopation, when a quarter note precedes a  tied pair of eighth notes, lift off the quarter note to be able to lean into the following syncopated note. For example, in bar A1, lift off the quarter note E so that the tied D gets the attention it so clearly deserves.

(I’ll try to not anthropomorphize music; it hates that!)

Rakers:  Bar A5-6, emphasize the upper note in that rocking pattern.  Same in B1, 7-8.

Really watch the syncopation in the last three bars of Rakers. It’s different from the rest of the tune. In effect, you have pairs of quarter notes (considering the tied eighth notes as a quarter note), a B, an A, then two eighth notes, then quarter notes D and B. We need to all do that the same way to keep from sounding muddy.

Flutes/whistles, stay in the lower octave in the B1 to provide contrast once we get to the B2. All melody players can leave off notes dower than the D above middle C without sacificing any of the music. Just carry over the note before the ones you are omitting.

Louis Cyr / Reel Beloeil 
Louis Cyr: The attached updated music is different from the way we played it in rehearsal. The only changes are in meas A1 and A5, which now match each other. Bar B4 you can leave out those low Ds if you want.  Bars B7-8 use staccato.

Reel Beloeil: (Beloeil is pronounced “Beh-loy”. The other word is pronounced “Ree-uhl”)

Keep the dotted swingy feel throughout, even in the arpeggiated B part.

William Blake / Live Oak / William Blake 
In William Blake piano and bass stay in the lower register even once everyone else goes to the upper octave.  If we’re too top-heavy the whole band will tip over and roll down to the river.

At the switch from William to Live Oak, use the transition bar written in at the bottom.  It includes the pickups to Live Oak.  Pop off the D, leave a tiny sliver of silence, then the quarter notes E and F#.

At the switch from Live Oak into the high William Blake, backups play a block chord on that last G eighth note then backups drop out and leave the pickups to William Blake to the melody players.  Backups, come back in on bar 1 of William Blake.