Toss the Possum

Meet the Band


Rob has played fiddle since age 8, somehow continuing to get better despite few lessons and little practice.  That would take all the fun out of it!  Rob is the intellectual in the band, getting lost in his world of improv, unaware of what’s going on around him– like the “hup” (the signal to change tunes), or noticing that the dancers have stopped dancing, or that it is time to pack up the gig and go home.  Rob is also famous for remembering that he left his fiddle home just as we are getting to the airport.  He is easy going with a pleasant dry wit.  When Rob starts to play, the rest of us just go along for the ride.




Laura (sometimes dubbed the “Mama ‘Possum” ) is a classically trained pianist, but preferred dancing.  Then she broke her toe in the first fifteen minutes of a weeklong dance camp.  What to do with a whole week?  As luck would have it, Bob McQuillen was on staff and became her mentor.  While practicing, he encouraged her with “there are no wrong notes in contra dancing…well, except maybe that one.”  In the family band she obsessively arranges clever or beautiful band arrangements.  Her kids grudgingly read through them at home, and then play what they want at the gig.  Gradually she has learned to let go of her expectations for planned and polished performances.  It turns out they were right–spontaneity is more fun!




Flute & Irish Whistle

The band just doesn’t sound the same without Jane’s flute and whistle. Jane is also the inspiration for adding vocals to the band. The first was a singing waltz, “The Sweetheart Tree”, a sentimental tune from a past era. Since then many beautiful, fun and sentimental vocals have been added to the band repertoire. Jane’s favorite style of music is jazz, especially the old standards. If the guys on the floor are lucky, Jane will sneak out for a few dances. Her partners agree that she is a smooth, graceful, playful, in-demand partner.


bass & saxophone

Chas Bass

When Chas saw that Rob, Jane and Laura were beginning to play gigs, he eyed the bass sitting in the corner of the Zisette living room and taught himself to play. One month later he played his first gig. The sax soon followed. Chas plays with a lot of creativity and just enough structure to make it work. If you look up to find that one member of the band is missing–namely Chas–you might find him inside his bass case sound asleep somewhere behind the band. He is the master packer of the instruments and music equipment. He can find space when no one else can. Also, he manages to stay awake to drive us home from late night gigs. (It may be that nap in the bass case.)