Local Hero: Carol Compton

CarolComptonCarol Compton is a true hero of dance music in the Upper Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont. Her gentle and effective leadership lies behind much of our flourishing music for both Contra and English Country dancing.

Contra Dance: Carol has played piano with Northern Spy for almost 20 years. Her knowledge of traditional dance and her highly skilled, yet gentle and diplomatic leadership are invaluable....really beyond compare. Band members consider her to be the "music director" and appreciate the inspiration and joy that she brings to the table. Her efforts with the band and behind the scenes have made a significant contribution to the Northern Spy experience for the musicians, dancers and callers. Carol can be heard with Northern Spy on the 2000 Smithsonian Folkways Recording "Choose Your Partner!".

English Country Dance (ECD): Carol has been the lead musician for the Upper Valley English Country Dance series since 1997. That dance scene is now thriving due in large part to her wonderful music; in addition to core local dancers, folks travel to our afternoon dances from the far reaches of NH, VT, and beyond. Her ECD bands here have gone by names including "Morning Star" and "Trip to Norwich", and have featured a number of very talented musicians, but Carol is the ever constant enabler, leader, and quiet driving force, as well as our keyboard and recorder player. Her current musical collaboration with Thal Aylward on violin and viola is exquisite.

CarolComptonSpyDanceNov2011 008Carol has a broad repertoire and a deep understanding of both the tunes and their associated dances, always setting just the right flavor and tempo, and occasionally adding a humorous overtone when appropriate. An experienced dancer herself, she follows the teaching and brings the band in seamlessly at just the right moment. She also collaborates on new dance tunes, notating classical scores as needed for the dance, or writing tunes such as "Lucy's Lead", for a dance commissioned for our 2014 Strafford Ball.

Open Bands and Teaching: Carol shares her talent with others and is committed to encouraging new dance musicians. For the last six years she has run an open band for our March ECD, encouraging closet musicians, helping them find how best to contribute, and melding their talents into a wonderful sound. It may seem like magic, but she works hard with many of these musicians through the year in another outreach forum: she teaches a twice a month ECD music band session at the Upper Valley Music Center. In addition to playing for the Open Band dance the English dance music group also participates annually in the UVMC showcase recital. Carol also coordinates an Open Band for Northern Spy which creates a sense of community and helps foster the next generation of contra dance bands in the Upper Valley. The recent Contra Open Band had a 7 year-old fiddler who had a great time and was made very welcome by the fiddle section, and the ECD Open Band frequently includes a now 12 year-old fiddler.

Carol is also a hero in other communities not far from us, including the Southwest New Hampshire morris dance scene, the Brattleboro Music Center, and the Monadnock Folklore Society.

    - Submitted by members of the Northern Spy Band, the Upper Valley English Country Dancers, and the Upper Valley Music Center.