Long before to-grind-or-not-to-grind became the question at high school dances, average young and not-so-young New Englanders still managed to move to the music whenever they could find the time, an open space and a musician or two to lead the way.

Fiddler Lissa Schneckenburger, a Maine native who now lives in Vermont, has put together a disc of tunes that provides an excellent aural window into the way a traditional social dance event might have sounded centuries ago — and, for those entranced by the form, still sounds today.

The tunes on this disc are in what generally is known as the Celtic tradition of folk music from the British Isles and northern Europe.

As Schneckenburger has pointed out, the music should also be considered as having a New England origin, since the various threads of influence and innovation can be traced to musicians and composers who adapted and expanded upon what initially came over with the various immigrants to the region.

The pieces on “Dance” that sound best to my ears are those that stay closest to the basic elements of fiddle, guitar, banjo or accordion. Several tunes add bass, trombone, cello, brushed drums and a few other instruments and, although still quite good, give the music a little too much of a polished feel.

The medley “Lady Walpole’s Reel/The Mountain Ranger/Nancy King” is just about perfect in its jaunty spirit and gently touching harmonies. “Rory O’More” haunts as the leader’s fiddle combines with the violin of Eric Merrill to conjure old times in faraway places.

“Huntsman’s Chorus” has the fiddler riding upon and intertwining with the accordion work of Jeremiah McLane, while “Jamie Allen” gives Schneckenburger a chance, in duet with fellow fiddler David Kaynor, to create one of those musical moments where one could imagine dancers stopping for a time just to listen to the lovely sounds.

The biggest quibble with this disc is that the leader doesn’t sing at all. For that, you have to hear “Song,” Schneckenburger’s earlier disc, where she sings like an angel.

Schneckenburger will be appearing with a large ensemble, Childsplay, at Portland High on Dec. 4 and with guitarist Bethany Waickman in Bowdoinham on Dec. 18. Details are available at lissafiddle.com

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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