“Dance all night”: a sure-fire dance tune
Tuning: GDAE. Source: “Dance to the Music and Listen to the Calls.” Here’s a link to the movie, cued right to where the tune starts.
In the video below, I play the tune once at a moderate speed, then I break into short phrases (starting here) so you can pause if you want, then I play it once slowly all the way through (here). Near the end I give some tips on style (here).
This a simple, accessible tune I love to play at dances, and one that other fiddlers often ask me about. It’s from Larry Edelman’s 1987 film “Dance to the Music and Listen to the Calls.” The film documents a long-running Pennsylvania square dance and focuses on the calling of the extremely charismatic Jerry Goodwin. But the thing I love about it is the band, which has fiddle, western-swing-style electric guitar, electric piano, and electric bass. The sound is so “not-cool” that it’s cool, if you know what I mean. I like it so much that I’ve formed a whole band of my own, Missouri Turnaround, that tries to recreate it. See the bottom of the “About” page if you’re interested in that.
When Larry screened this film at the Dare to Be Square callers’ workshop in Portland a few years ago, I was whispering with someone in the back of the room (sorry, Larry) until this tune came on the soundtrack and my head whipped around. It was exactly the kind of tune I’d been craving more of in my repertoire—straightforward, honest, and highly danceable. And the playing was clean, smooth, and kind of “square.” Very different from the more scratchy, droney, syncopated style I’d been attracted to when I first started playing. On the surface, the tune’s so ordinary, but there’s something profound about it, too. It has a kind of perfection. Nothing extra, nothing showy. Partly because of this tune, when I met Bill Peterson at Weiser a year or so later and got a copy of his and Dwight Lamb’s Bob Walters collection, “The Champion,” my ears were ready for it, and I started learning a whole new style and repertoire.
Larry tells me the fiddler’s name is Chuck Monticello. He has a super crisp and bouncy shuffle style (more on that in my video) that meshes perfectly with the dancers, and he’s not afraid to use a little bit of vibrato here and there. Apparently, he’s also a caller and nowadays is doing more of that than fiddling, but I really like his fiddling. While the film doesn’t give the tune title, and Larry wasn’t sure when I asked him, I think it’s pretty clearly a version of “Dance All Night,” just without the slide up to the high D note in the second part that many other versions have. I kind of prefer it that way, although at dances I’ll throw in that high note from time to time for variety. (Please comment if you have other theories about the title!)
Whether you’re a beginning or seasoned dance fiddler, you should find this a useful tune. There’s a great hook for the caller and dancers to latch onto and keep track of—those slides into the G chord in the second part—and it’s simple enough not to be exhausting to play at very fast tempos. It has some air in it, some breathing room. You naturally back off a little on the A part and then dig in on the B part, and this reenergizes the dancers and the band every time around.
Hope you like it. Let me know . . .