The MICE (Moose Island Contra Etc.) band’s first Contra Dance at Eastport Arts Center on January 28 drew a large and eager crowd. Dancers and listeners flocked from as nearby as Eastport, Robbinston, Lubec, Machias, Jonesboro, Cherryfield and Steuben, and from as far as Biddeford and Boston.

Dancers flocked to the first MICE Contra Dance at EAC. Images above and below by Jeff Beckley.

“This was the kind of contra dance where you keep saying ‘just one more dance’ even though you promised yourself you were going to take a break after the last one,” enthused Henry Schuth, who came all the way from Boston to shake a leg at the event.
“The contra in Eastport on Saturday was the most fun I’ve had calling so far in my short career,” said caller Eustacia Landrum. “It was attended by joy-filled, sassy dancers who were able to laugh with me in my fumbles and cheer with me in our successes. I’m looking forward to the next one!”

“It was grand to be back in the Arts Center filling the place with all the good stuff—music, dance, folks, and fun,” chimed in Alice Schuth, fiddler.
“Great dancers, wonderful music and a gifted caller,” summed up Jim O’Neil, guitar, banjo, fiddle and accordion-player. “We are so lucky!”

Caller Eustacia Landrum created these needle-felted mice for each member of the MICE band.

The roots of the MICE band go back to 2019, with original members Alice Schuth (fiddle), Ross Argir (fiddle, mandolin), Brandy Argir (guitar) and Susan Luthin (octave mandolin, whistle). Joan Lowden (bass) joined the group in January 2020, just in time to play a couple of dances at the Eastport Arts Center before COVID hit. The Moose Island House Players continued to perform at outdoor events such as Eastport Artwalks, and the Salmon and Pirate Festivals. The Argirs welcomed baby Louis to their family in 2022 and returned to Michigan to be closer to family, leaving the remaining players to consider their next steps. 

The band approached Kara McCrimmon and Jim O’Neil from O’McCrelli about joining forces, and the Moose Island Contra Etc. band was formed—”contra” for the quarterly contra dances at Eastport Arts Center and “etc” for monthly string jams. Next of these events, a ‘come all’ for musicians to join with MICE members, will be held February 11, 3-5 pm. The jams recur every second Saturday of the month at the Old Sow in downtown Eastport. Another contra dance is planned for Saturday, April 29, at Eastport Arts Center.

Following is a recent video which features MICE members hosting their monthly jam session with guests.