MULTIMEDIA: Old-fashioned music makes dancers move

Friday, November 18, 2011 | 4:05 p.m. CST; updated 11:00 a.m. CST, Thursday, December 1, 2011
Old-fashioned music played by the River Ridge String Band inspires the Mid-Missouri Traditional Dancers to move to a different rhythm.

COLUMBIA — The feet stomped, and the dance calls reverberated from the stage. 

"Neighbor left. Once and a half," the signal caller for the Mid-Missouri Traditional Dancers yelled.

On the night of Nov. 4, the River Ridge String Band provided traditional music and rhythm to a rather traditional group. Most of the songs didn't have words, but the band still brought a sense of entertainment and liveliness to the group.

The band has four members: John Cunning, percussionist; Cliff White, hammer dulcimer player; Charlie Nelson, vocalist and guitar player; and Molly White, mandolin player. Despite White being gone on Nov. 4, the band played more than three hours of music — mostly folk tunes that come from places such as the Appalachian mountains and Ireland. .

After playing together frequently, the four members decided they might as well call themselves a band.

"We formed this band about five or six years ago," Cliff White said. "We kind of looked at each other one day and said, 'You know what, this is basically a band, so why don't we say as much?'"

The Mid-Missouri Traditional Dancers hires the River Ridge String Band about twice a year to play for them. The dancers organize contra dances, often meeting on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month in different venues, including Columbia, Ashland and Hallsville.

"It's just a fun dance that everybody's having a good time," said Pat Tew, a regular dancer with the group and assistant clinical professor at MU. "Do you see any frowns out there? Nope, no frowns."

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