Gallimaufry is a high-energy, 5-piece contra dance band. With a sound largely based in Irish, Quebecois, and Old Time tunes, arrangements often incorporate elements of rock and funk to create powerful sets that enthrall both the ears and feet of dancers. Brian and Alex created Gallimaufry at Oberlin College in 2010, and joined by Ness, Donal, and Arthur over the next three years, their unbridled energy and sophisticated sound have been electrifying dance floors across the country. Individually talented and collectively creative, the band’s members have had great success collaborating in their arranging process, creating a sound that is decidedly unique, unabashedly energetic, and will make you want to do nothing but dance.
Brian Lindsay: fiddle, vocals
Alex Sturbaum: guitar, accordion, vocals
Ness Smith-Savedoff: drums
Donal Sheets: cello
Arthur Davis: piano, trumpet, banjo, vocals
Brian Lindsay was surrounded by both contra dance and Irish music and dance throughout his childhood, spending much of his youth going to sessions in the NY area and studying with respected Irish fiddle player Brian Conway. He competed in both Irish music and step dancing at an international level, but also continued to find influences of many other musical styles and traditions make their way into his playing. The dynamic, living tradition of contra dance embraces the new and the old, and Brian’s playing draws on both a wealth of traditional influence and an enthusiasm for new things. That enthusiasm is also observed in Brian’s proclivity for other instruments, as he has picked up (and, for the most part, taught himself) the tenor banjo, whistle, and flute. When not playing music (which is not very frequent), Brian enjoys studying ecology and conservation, hiking, climbing things, and juggling with Arthur.
Alex Sturbaum grew up in a house that was always filled with traditional music. When Alex was 13, his father (himself a talented multi-instrumentalist) bought Alex a bodhran for Christmas and told him to beat it. Alex has been playing traditional music ever since, picking up the guitar, button accordion, mandolin, bouzouki, tenor banjo, and piano in addition to the bodhran. He was first exposed to contra in his first year at Oberlin, and immediately fell in love with the dancing, the scene, the people, and the style of music. He uses his guitar and button accordion to add Irish, Newfoundland, and modern rock and pop influence to the musical contra-dance stew that is Gallimaufry.In addition to his work in Gallimaufry, Alex is a prolific songwriter, writing songs in both traditional and modern idioms as well as interpreting traditional and other folk songs. He is also a lover of sharks and snakes, and enjoys making extravagant chocolate desserts.
Ness Smith-Savedoff began playing music on a violin. Since then he has performed on guitar, bass, trash cans, jars of peanut butter, instrument cases, with his feet, and now drums. Ness has always loved performing but got most of his stage experience singing with Village Harmony and drumming with Maine-based funk band DysFunktional Mayhem. With Gallimaufry, he provides joyous and musical percussion with a unique funky flair. He likes sailing, spaghetti, and long walks on the beach. He doesn’t like pain, cilantro, or stubbed toes.
Donal Sheets played jazz bass and classical cello from a very young age, and has spent many years playing American and Irish folk music on cello and a variety of other instruments. The resonant chords and percussive rhythms of his cello create an indescribably vibrant soundscape, and have earned him the nickname of “Liquid Thunder”. Donal also plays mandolin and whistles, and is an accomplished sound engineer, running sound and recordings in Oberlin and beyond. He enjoys backpacking and kayaking, but sadly does not usually bring his cello on those ventures.
Arthur Davis has been contra dancing and playing music for as long as he can remember. He began his life as a traditional dance musician as a young teenager playing piano for dances with his father. Since then, he has added the trumpet, button accordion, and banjo to his arsenal of instrumental talents. He is honored to be a the newest member of Gallimaufry, adding a New England and Quebec flavor to the band as well as the brass timbre of the trumpet. Arthur is also an experienced singer, both on the stage with the Washed Up Beulah Band, a 1930s/40s radio jubilee style quartet, and in the pub, where he can often be heard belting out a rousing chorus song. He has a newly discovered love of geology and enjoys juggling with Brian.
Photos on this page courtesy of Zoë Madonna