Meet Your Musicians -- Buz Lloyd

January 01, 2015

Buz Lloyd is the driving force behind the Third Friday contradance at the Carrboro Century Center. He formed the Carolina Song and Dance Association, which sponsors the dance, and also plays the fiddle in one of several bands for those dances. This dance is open to everyone—TCD members, in particular, are invited! In an effort to improve the Third Friday dance experience, Buz recently initiated an open discussion on Facebook. He looks forward to implementing some of the suggestions which were made by our dance community.

How did you get started playing for contradances?

I started playing fiddle in the mid-70’s after having played guitar for about ten years. When I began, I didn't have a clear idea of what style(s) I wanted to learn but I gravitated towards the styles and repertoire of country, bluegrass and old-time indigenous to the South. I am self-taught and play both fiddle and guitar almost exclusively by ear.

Around 1982, not long after TCD started putting on a monthly contra dance at the Presbyterian Student Center, I organized the CSDA Third Friday Contra Dance and have done so continuously since then. In addition to playing Appalachian old-time music, I had started playing Irish jigs and reels early on. For contra dances, I started playing more of the Irish tunes, although for some dances, I played whole evenings of Appalachian old-time music, a tradition I continue to the present. My exposure to dancing in New England, which is truly the mecca of contra dancing, inspired me to seek musicians in North Carolina who play piano and other instruments more traditional to the New England contra dance bands. Ultimately, my repertoire of northeastern tunes grew to the point that I started playing whole dances of New England, Quebecois and Cape Breton tunes.

Nowadays, the bands I play with at the Third Friday Dance present whole evenings of music that is either traditional northeastern (The Jivetones), Irish (The Donnybrook Lads) or Appalachian old-time (The Carolina Cut-Ups) with various guest artists for any given dance. The repertoire of tunes that I play in each style focuses on primarily traditional tunes although the interpretations may be less so! The Triangle area is truly blessed to have a community of very talented musicians of many styles, and I am always interested in meeting new ones.

What do you do when you're not playing music?

Since the late 70's, I have supported my fiddling habit by working in real estate, both in sales and in the design, renovation and construction of homes and other structures. A year ago I moved to five acres west of Carrboro where I live with my Black & Tan coonhound, Polly W. Doodle, and am working to establish a pecan orchard. Aside from fiddling and dancing, biking is my favorite activity. I have enjoyed being able to bike in several locales, especially the western US where the scenery is interesting and exotic! I particularly enjoy an annual visit to Tucson where I bike and hike and attend Dance in the Desert--a wonderful dance weekend in early November. I have enjoyed meeting, dancing, and playing music with a number of the local dancers and musicians there.

Petronella claps--hate 'em or just don't care?

As new generations of dancers join in the fun, the dancing evolves. In the early days of contra dancing at the Presbyterian Student Center, we lined up with all the men on one side and women on the other until we were told "Active couples cross over". "Proper" dances were almost as numerous as the now-ubiquitious improper dances.

Another such change is the clapping for Petronella twirls. In New Hampshire there is an annual dance so traditional that for several years, if not still, twirling after ladies’ chains was frowned upon! For an old-timer, the clapping for Petronella twirls may seem a little silly, but change happens and who wants to sound like a curmudgeon complaining about it? I usually try to improvise some sort of creative, albeit silent, alternative for the amusement of the others in my foursome. And I try to remain amused about the clapping, which is probably here to stay for a pretty good while!

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