David Kaynor was a force of nature. As part of Montague’s May Day celebrations for many years, David would do it all; he would lead the parade, the beloved May Day songs, he even dug the hole for the Maypole! Sadly, ALS robbed his body not his spirit. David was essential in the New England contra dance communities, singlehandedly reviving both Greenfield’s Guiding Star Grange and Montague’s Grange which now bears his name. While our Montague center neighbors knew him as a local musician, the rest of the world knew his generous spirit internationally. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Country Dance and Song Society. For decades he lead Dance Music Week at the John Campbell Folk School in NC, he also led upstate NY’s Ashokan Northern Week teaching fiddle and contra dance bands. Twice a year he journeyed to the Pacific Northwest in the same capacity. More regionally he was the musical director of the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra as well as the Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts.
His philosophy of welcoming all to contra dancing was revolutionary at the time. Any musician was invited to “sit in” with the front line players. Any beginning dancers were also welcomed amidst the more accomplished dancers. This approach added many new generations of musicians and dancers to the community.
Our tribute keeps a local musical focus. We begin with “The Montague Processional” written and performed by David along with Susie Secco and 1susan Conger. We include a segment of a podcast with Betsy Branch which chronicles the making of “Midnight in Montague” album recorded in the Montague Grange. A version of “Sunday River Waltz” ends with a recording of the church bells chiming Midnight on the Town Common. We finish with a set of tunes called “David’s French Fiddle” from the Three Good Reasons CD, “Montague Processional” release.
While we’ve lost a cherished neighbor here locally, the music world has lost a musical icon. I expect that David is now happy to be able to do what he loved best; leading a group of dancers with his gentle guidance with a soulful fiddle accompaniment.