Bands and Ensembles
Because of my limits on traveling, much of my musical work these days is not associated with any particular group, but I still play a few dances or concerts each year with different bands, most of which were established a decade or two ago. They each have their own unique character, type of music, and repertoire. Here's a quick summary:
Thistle House is a Scottish dance band rewired for high voltage. Consisting of David Knight on fiddle, Dave Wiesler on piano, and Dan Emery on highland pipes, small pipes, and wooden flute, Thistle House is guaranteed to pump adrenaline into the most tired feet -- especially when the pipes start up! All three musicians are avid and accomplished Scottish country dancers as well as nationally recognized musicians, and this guarantees that the music they make will always be danceable and exciting.return to top
Named for a British songbird with close relatives in the Americas, Goldcrest was hatched in the spring of 2002, when pianist Dave Wiesler got two of his favorite musicians together to form a trio for English country and contra dance. The chemistry was right, and the group has been scheming ever since for more opportunities to play together, despite their geographic separation. Goldcrest features New Orleans fiddler Daron Douglas, multi-instrumentalist virtuoso Paul Oorts, and pianist/guitarist Dave Wiesler, all seasoned musicians of national reputation, steeped in the folk dance traditions of Appalachia, New England, and the British Isles.
After over a decade of playing together, Goldcrest released in early 2015 a long-overdue recording, The Goldcrest Collection, featuring music for dances of choreographer and caller Joseph Pimentel. Check out the discography link for more information.
Video clip of Goldcrest at one of the Friday Night dances at Glen Echo, courtesy of Kevin Mabon and YouTube. Totally rough and unedited.return to top
Although originally French, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety is considered to produce its finest wines on American soil (even the French grudgingly admit it). Similarly, Cabaret Sauvignon is a band with the right chemistry: four members who draw from varied musical backgrounds and European roots to make something entirely new. Members include Andrea Hoag on fiddle; Karen Ashbrook on hammered dulcimer, wooden flute, and percussion; Paul Oorts on mandolin, bouzouki, tenor and five-string banjos, guitars, and musette accordeon; and Dave Wiesler on piano and guitar.
The Cabs are noted for their energetic and creative dance sets, but their true strength lies in concert. Their repertoire includes a lot of Dave's compositions, and the musicians are featured on much of his recording, Cracks and Shadows. Karen and Paul's CD, Celtic Cafe, features some of the Belgian and Celtic repertoire. Andrea's solo recording Fire and Water (also on Azalea City) is illustrative of the Appalachian and Scandinavian influences in the group's repertoire.return to top
Chameleon was forged in the late 1990s as The Gigmeisters from some of the most popular instrumentalists at the Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom. The band includes Alexander Mitchell on fiddle and mandolin, Paul Oorts on musette accordeon plus all types of plucked strings, Ralph Gordon on bass, and Dave Wiesler on piano and guitar. The reason these four played so often at Glen Echo is readily apparent from their high-energy dance music, their rhythmic intensity, and their virtuosic performances in an astounding variety of styles, ranging from contras and squares all the way to swing, Viennese waltz, and vintage dance music.
Video clip of The Gigmeisters playing old time music at one of the Friday Night dances at Glen Echo, courtesy of Kevin Mabon and YouTube. Totally rough and unedited.return to top
Featuring Mat Clark on fiddle and mandolin, Dave Wiesler on piano and guitar, and often either Ralph Gordon or Paul Morrissette on bass. In the fall of 2003, shortly after Dave moved to Delaware, Mat and Dave were thrown together, along with bassist Bob Taylor, to play a contra dance at the Heritage Folk Festival in Philadelphia. The chemistry was right, and the trio kept on playing for contra dances since then, mostly in the Philadelphia area, despite not being able to agree on a band name for years. Bob has now moved on to other things, but Dave and Mat either play as a duo or try to get a bassist to join them.
Video clip of Hot Feat playing music at one of the Friday Night dances at Glen Echo, courtesy of Kevin Mabon, Julia Fischer, and YouTube. Totally rough and unedited.return to top
A DC-area contra dance band, Green Light Karma is David Knight on fiddle, Andrew Marcus on accordion, and Dave Wiesler on piano and guitar. All three players are experienced dance musicians, as well as prolific tunesmiths, and Green Light Karma's music is at once driving and danceable, with a refreshingly different repertoire.
Video clips of Green Light Karma at the Friday Night Dances at Glen Echo, courtesy of Kevin Mabon and YouTube. Rough and unedited.
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Olde Vienna is a quintet specializing in music of the 19th century, particularly Viennese waltz. It includes a three-piece string section -- Alexander Mitchell or Andrea Vercoe on violin, Elke Baker on viola, and Ralph Gordon on bass --Barbara Heitz on flute, and pianist Dave Wiesler doing his best to fill in the rest of the orchestra. Olde Vienna has played the Glen Echo Strauss Ball numerous times over the last two decades and has a repertoire that stretches from the classic Strauss waltzes to modern pieces written in the genre.
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Rhapsody is a probably the most traditional-sounding of any of my bands. Rhapsody is led by Marty Taylor (on recorders, whistles, and concertina), who has been a mainstay for three decades in the Baltimore and DC area dance scene for contra dance, English dance, Scottish dance, and vintage dance. Rhapsody also includes Alexander Mitchell on violin and mandolin, Dave Wiesler on piano and often Ralph Gordon on bass.
Video clip of Rhapsody at one of the Friday Night dances at Glen Echo, courtesy of Kevin Mabon and YouTube. Totally rough and unedited.return to top
Fiddler Laura Light, Dan Sebring, and Dave Wiesler formed this high-energy trio in Charlottesville, VA, in 2001. A couple of years later, Dave moved away and Laura married another pianist -- George Paul -- who joined in also on percussion, and accordion. Laura and George formed the core of the band for a decade, with Dave and many other personnel joining them on a free-lance basis. Most recently the Avant Gardeners consists of Laura, with Loren Oppenheimer on tablas, and often joined by Roger Gold on guitar, Seattle's Dave Bartley on various fretted things, and/or Dave Wiesler. The drive, energy, and wacky sense of humor persist for all lineups.
Dave is featured on much of Laura's CD No Gravity, and the group has its own recordings Stronger than Dirt (2002), Tulip Bandits (2006), and Goats in the Garden (2009), along with several other recordings.
Formed in 1994, the Lamps consist of fiddler Laura Lengnick, bassist Ralph Gordon, and Dave Wiesler on piano and guitar. Drawing on various musical influences ranging from Celtic music to old-time to popular music, the Lamps have played regularly for dances throughout the mid-Atlantic region and have been invited to play at special dance events in California, the Midwest, New England, and throughout the southeastern US. Their first CD, Primordial Groove, was released in 2000 to great acclaim.return to top
... and more...
Quite a lot of my work is freelance -- not associated with a particular band. The associations are too numerous to list here.