|ALL ABOUT THIS YEAR’S TALENT
The Band - Toss the Possum
Toss the Possum is an exuberant band offering a wide variety of sounds and styles.
The core band is Rob Zisette, fiddle/percussion/vocals and Laura Zisette, keyboard.
They often add other musician friends depending on the venue. Rob and Laura have been dancing since 1996.
Rob teaches dance workshops (waltz, contra, blues, swing). Being long-time dancers themselves,
the Possums’ whole intent is to play music that will lift, energize and enhance the dancers' experience!
In fact, they live for that moment when the dancers and the band feel connected and magic happens.
How Toss the Possum got its name. Toss the Possum began with a bass in the corner and a possum in the garage.
Laura (mama possum) found herself ‘band-less’ due to a cross country move. She decided to recruit her children -
Rob, age 12 and Jane, age 16 - to be a band with her. After a week of playing, brother, Chas, age 14,
was feeling left out. Mama Possum pointed to the bass in the corner of the room, an instrument that no one
in the family knew how to play - yet! Chas took up the challenge and one week later began playing with the band.
Now what to name the band? While pondering on that question, there came an excited yell from the garage.
“Mom!” The whole tribe raced there to find an old desk drawer tipped over mysteriously moving around the
garage floor. A very long broom handle and further inspection revealed an extremely unhappy possum.
Disclaimer: We did not 'Toss’ the possum out of the garage, but let it have a dignified exit.
Still, ‘Toss the Possum’ was fun to say and stuck. Thus began some great family road trips to play gigs.
Laura (sometimes dubbed “Mama ‘Possum”) is a classically trained pianist. She never wanted to play
contra piano. She preferred dancing. Then, one year she broke her toe in the first fifteen minutes of a week-long
dance camp. What to do with a whole week? As luck would have it, Bob McQuillen was on staff and became her mentor.
While working together, he encouraged her with “Don’t worry. There are no wrong notes in contra dancing...well, except
maybe that one.” When she started the family band, she obsessively arranged clever or beautiful band arrangements.
Her kids grudgingly read through them at home, and then, at the gig they would ignore the plan and play whatever they
wanted. Over time she learned to let go of her expectations for planned and polished performances. It turns out they
were right–spontaneity is more fun and can often create magical moments!
Rob began playing fiddle at age 8. He somehow continued to get better each year despite sporadic lessons
from age 8-12, and very little practice (because too much practice “would take all the fun out of it!”). Rob is an
incredibly versatile player. His great sense of humor comes through his fiddling and singing. He can emote lyricism,
take on the high energy of Klezmer styling, create hauntingly beautiful Celtic sounds, and tear it up on a driving
southern fiddle tune. Rob adds other colors to the band with his beat-boxing and his varied toys (including a trumpet
kazoo). Rob also loves to dance and frequently teaches dance workshops in contra, blues and waltz. Being a dancer himself,
his first goal as a musician is to create some magic for the dancers. When Rob starts to play, you know you are in for a
Mike will be the band’s special guest on percussion. At the age of ten, his beloved parents Angelo & Grace surprised
him with a blue sparkle Slingerland drum set. Prior to this he had been playing the kitchen sink, pots and pans,
and outside metal garbage cans. Soon he discovered the sounds on the street corner post office mailbox and stop sign,
as well as explored harmonics and created melodies with the tones in Queens & Manhattan wrought iron fences and metal sculptures.
Today as an inventive drummer, creative percussionist, and music therapist, he utilizes percussive sounds musically to unite
diverse people as they dance with loving kindness and compassion as one.
THE CALLER - LINDSEY DONO
Lindsey is a northwest mainstay who delights in traveling to share her
love of dance with an ever-expanding network of contra family. Known for serene and sunny instruction, Lindsey transforms
newcomers into avid regulars while keeping veterans piqued with sophisticated programming. A dancer for more than
twenty years, Lindsey incorporates knowledge of waltz, lindy hop, blues, jazz, and ballet to lead a variety of workshops.
By day, Lindsey conducts user experience research at a large tech company. In what little time remains, Lindsey can be
found on a variety of social dance floors, hiking, camping, or initiating ill-advised baking experiments.
THE HALL – “THE FED”
The Fire Ant Frolic subcommittee is very pleased to announce that we will once again be at “The Fed",
the beautiful ballroom at the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs (also known as “the Mansion”)
2312 San Gabriel Street, Austin Texas. Thanks to our organizers, sponsors, volunteers, donors, musicians and
especially our dedicated dancers for the past three years of successful and fantastic Fire Ant Frolics for
helping make this happen.
Saturday Morning Band: Chris E. Peterson, Nathan Quiring, and Joel R. Hobbs.
A former Arkansas state fiddle champion, Chris is the son of a dance caller and has been setting just the right
grooves for dancing feet since he was a young kid. Nathan is an accomplished pianist and organist who lays down
tantalizing bass lines, and Joel is a mandolin guru whose clever counterpoints complete the sonic tapestry.
The three have collaborated in other projects such as Lost & Nameless and DuckRuckUs, while each
has his own pursuits: Chris at Chris E Peterson Music and
Chalkboard Poets and Joel at Joel Hobbs.
Nana and Pamela
Co-chairs FAF 2019
If your questions are not answered here or you would like to help out please contact Nana or Pamela