A Celebration of David KaynorDavid Kaynor of Montague, MA is the 2021 CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award recipient, in recognition of his enormous contributions as a dance community organizer, musician, caller, and mentor to generations. We held a Celebration online on David's birthday, Saturday, April 17, 2021. 

David Allen Kaynor passed away on June 1, 2021. We're so grateful for everything he brought to our world, and for the opportunity we had to honor him with this award.

View the video of the Celebration: 

Click here to read the chat log from the Celebration. 

David Kaynor at Northwest FolklifeDavid Kaynor at Northwest Folklife. Photo by Doug Plummer.

David's Acceptance Remarks

I'm delighted and humbled to receive the Lifetime Contribution Award.

I think about the colossal contributions of past recipients, and I ask myself, Why me? Although I enjoyed and believed in what I was doing as a dance caller, fiddle teacher, session host, musician, and graphic artist, I considered myself irrelevant to the lofty circles and activities of the Country Dance and Song Society.

A low point in my musical life came in the spring of 1981, when the president of NEFFA told me that, in their opinion, what we ... my cousins, uncle, other Fourgone Conclusions band mates, and I ... were doing had nothing to do with New England contra dancing.

My response to numerous real or perceived organizational snubs was to submerge myself in the pleasures of the moment in my core interests and pursuits: Long distance running, cross country skiing, dancing, calling dances, teaching basic Swedish dances, teaching basic fiddling, and playing music. I also became something of a calligrapher and graphic artist.

Eventually, I found a niche as a teacher and caller. This led to countless gigs in which I enjoyed a happy integration of my artistic, spiritual, and political ideals and having to earn enough money to get by.

All these facets of my life came together when I became Music Director of the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra and the Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts. These groups welcomed all musicians of all skill and experience levels. My tasks included including all. Our practices blended learning and arranging tunes with in-the-moment adventure and fun. I wrote out many harmonies while on AMTRAK'S Vermonter, where the conductors knew me by name and the scenery was sweetly familiar.

I'm grateful to Jay Ungar and Molly Mason at Ashokan, Bob Dalsemer and Annie Fain Liden Barallon at the John C. Campbell Folk School, the Reiner family of Fiddle Hell, Paul Rosenberg and Peter Davis at the Dance Flurry, my colleagues at Northeast Heritage Music Camp, Mike Reddig in Flagstaff, Arizona, Fred Karsch in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Sue Songer and Betsy Branch in Portland and Mark Lewis and Carla Arnold in La Grand, Oregon, Sherry Nevins and Tom and Amy Wimmer in Seattle, Lindon Toney in Olympia, Washington, and numerous other organizers and bandmates in the Pacific Northwest. These folks gave me opportunities to share my developing skills and deep love of music and dancing, not just once, but over and over.

Thanks to all these people, I was able to cultivate relationships with and within their communities. This, in turn, enabled me to not just share tons of fun, but also share experiences of growth and development in many ways. Our skills and repertoire evolved and so did our senses of self, possibility, and purpose.

We didn't just perform music and dance. We SHARED it. This became a fundamental personal philosophy: There are times and places for performing, but sharing can happen so much more often, and it's good for us all. Maybe it's even good for the world.

I've struggled to matter for as long as I can remember. This showed itself in a number of ways, including sports and music and dance. I was always dogged by the weight of self doubt. This finally dissipated in the final years of my career, thanks to all of the above who provided opportunities for us to explore mattering together.

Program Schedule

Part I—Introductions (~15 minutes)

  1. Montague Processional (3 mins) Video
  2. Introductory words from co-hosts Lissa Schneckenburger and Andy Davis Live
  3. Welcome from CDSS Board President Gaye Fifer Live
  4. Words from David, Read by Becky Hollingsworth Live

Part II—Lifetime Contributions (45-60 minutes)

  1. Sustainers Video
  2. Jay Ungar and Molly Mason Live
  3. Fiddle Hell Video
  4. Stuart Kenney Video
  5. Peter Siegel Live
  6. Footage from Guiding Star Grange
  7. George Wilson Live
  8. Northwest Interviews (by Doug Plummer) Video
  9. Sue Songer Live
  10. Bob Dalsemer with Katie and Corie Pressley (a.k.a. The Pressley Girls) Video
  11. Fred Karsch and Katie Pressley Live
  12. Vermont Fiddle Orchestra Video
  13. Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts—Becky Shannon (FOWM) Live
  14. Van Kaynor and Cammy Kaynor
  15. Chris Wise (Montague Common Hall) Live

Part III—Finale (10-15 minutes)

  1. Award Presentation—Gaye Fifer Live
  2. Closing and thanks—Lissa Schneckenburger and Andy Davis Live
  3. High Clouds Video

Extra Conversation / Breakout Rooms

  • Participants who wish to stay and chat will have the chance to go into breakout rooms.

Community Submissions

You can view the digital scrapbook here, or submit your own mementos to be included!

Please email KaynorLCA@cdss.org if you have any questions.

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