Uncle Wiggily

by Jonah Barrett for OLY ARTS

The Oly Old Time festivities on Saturday will include a square dance with Portland-based band Uncle Wiggily. Originally formed by the late Bill Martin and friends, Uncle Wiggily’s sounds encapsulate the music of old-fashioned square dances of the 1920s and ’30s. Today Uncle Wiggily consists of Amy Hofer and Dave Mount on fiddles, Maggie Lind on banjo, Patrick Lind on cello and Martha Thompson on guitar. The band has been brought back together for the first time in five years at the request of Oly Old Time’s booking coordinator, Emily Teachout. Martin has been credited with forming the lush Portland community of swing dance we see today. Uncle Wiggily continues to honor his legacy, as Mount described the band as “a chance to honor (Martin) and keep his influence, his memory alive.”

Since its last show, Uncle Wiggily has incorporated a new element to its music: the cello. While the instrument was commonly seen in bluegrass bands a little under a century ago, it’s a rare sight these days, usually replaced with an upright base instead. Uncle Wiggily hopes to bring a unique sound of yesteryear to young and old fans of swing.

“When we first started the square dances in Portland a lot of college students would come, and that kind of tickled us,” said Mount. “It was a little surprising, but it kind of made sense because of the whole DIY aesthetic that I think a lot of young people have nowadays when they want to get away from mass culture.”

What: Uncle Wiggily

Where: South Bay Grange,
3918 Sleater Kinney Rd. NE, Olympia

When: 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18

How much: free – $20

Learn more: audio | Oly Old Time Festival

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(image courtesy of Oly Old Time Festival)