The Last Gaspè, a New England-style contradance band based in
Madison, WI, plays Canadian, Irish and American fiddle music that swings.
The band blends traditional forms with contemporary innovations
to create an infectious, exciting sound. We've played for dances
all over the Midwest, in New England, and the DC area. In 1998,
we've released our first CD, Good to the Last Gasp.
Last Gaspè musicians come from very different backgrounds,
ranging from self-taught to conservatory trained. We're from all
parts of the country, but have had the great fortune to find each
other living in Wisconsin. We all share a love of dancing. So
while we aim to be innovative, we respect tradition, and strive
for danceability throughout our music. Good dance music can also
make for good listening music--we've had comments from people who
were torn between dancing or sitting out so they could listen
Our musical influences are wide ranging. If someone were to
peruse our collective recording collections he would find
everything from Count Basie to Michael Coleman to the Grateful
Dead. Some of these influences show in our approach to melody,
some in our treatment of rhythm. While we don't play jazz, we
take a jazz approach to playing our music. We stress
improvisation, musical interplay, and a solid ensemble sound.
The Last Gaspè has hosted a monthly contra dance in Madison WI
since 1988. We have performed at contra dances throughout the
Midwest, as well as the East Coast, the DC area, and locations
along the way.
Band members have given presentations on folk music and dance,
and have led workshops and music sessions. Members of the band
participate in folk music education as cultural partners with the
Milwaukee Symphony's Arts in Community Education (ACE) program.
It all began with a jam session. During a slow summer in 1987
some of us decided to try a new approach to contradance music.
Our guitar player and former piano player each knew a fiddler.
We invited them over and it sounded good enough to convince us to
take gigs. We got our first job a local festival in late 1987,
but we had no name. Jane Sekulski, our piano player until 1994,
suggested "Last Gaspè," thinking we would come up with a "real"
name later. Last Gaspè has worn so well we never bothered with a
In early 1988, we started our dance series, organized by founding
band member John Kraniak. Local and out-of-town dancers have
loyally attended and have given us many memorable experiences. We
started touring in the Midwest right from the start. In the
mid-90s we started taking trips to the East Coast.
During our eleven years many excellent musicians have played or
sat in with Last Gaspè. We are deeply grateful to their
contributions to the band. Two of us, John and Kevin, have been
with us since the beginning. John is the "band father" of the
group and continues much of the organizational work. Paul joined
in 1990 and brought his multi-instrumental talents. Amy moved to
Wisconsin in 1994 at a very opportune moment for us--we really
needed a piano player. Maria is the newest member of the group,
although she started subbing with us in 1988. She became our
full-time fiddler in 1996.
We are grateful to former long-term band members Laurie Edelman
(fiddle), Jane Sekulski (piano) and Dave Titus (fiddle) for their
years of dedication to the band. We look forward to many more
years of music and dance. It is a joy to carry on and enhance
this wonderful tradition.