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Ryan & Brennish Thomson

Updated Feb 2, 2024

Smoke and Mirrors Contra Dance Band, since 1999

Photograph of the Smoke and Mirrors Contra Dance band with Damaris, Ryan, Brennish, and Deborah

      Damaris        Ryan        Brennish      Deborah

A fine contra dance, barn dance, country dance, and square dance band available for hire throughout New England. We'll be happy to perform our music or play for dancing.  We can teach you dance steps ourselves, or bring along a dance caller. We're a friendly and lively ensemble.  Purchase our CD!

Damaris Rohsenow has been performing folk music since 1963. She currently plays hammered dulcimer or piano for contra and English country dances, with a focus on early American, 17th century English, Irish, French-Canadian, and Scottish music. She is a member of Smoke & Mirrors and of New Boston Fancy, and previously was a member of various other New England contra dance bands including Whistler's Daughter, The Whistling Thieves, and Jump at the Sun. She previously played concertina and recorder for Morris dances and guitar for an Irish string band.


Deborah Gerstein is a classically trained piano player extraordinaire who has played with many different contra dance bands, including Smoke and Mirrors, Roaring Jelly, and others.

Ryan Thomson, fiddle and pennywhistle, known as "Captain Fiddle," has played contra dance music for over 45 years. He teaches fiddling and folk music at Phillips Exeter Academy, in his home studio, and at music and dance camps nationally. He enjoys calling and teaching dances when the need arises. He has been designated a Master Traditional Artist by the New Hampshire Council on the Arts, and is a former Northeastern winner of the National Fiddle Contest.


Brennish Thomson, Ryan's son, started fiddling with the band when he was 8 years old and is now age 24. He has become a regular in the band.


See a band practice at Deborah’s home!

Band History - Original fiddler Steve Cushing retired from the band in 2001, Ryan moved from band pianist to fiddler, and Deborah joined the band as keyboardist.  Damaris remained on Hammered Dulcimer. The band played as this trio for years, until Brennish started sitting in and now they usually perform as a 4 piece band plus a caller.

Contra Dance, Worcester, Massachussetts

Worcester Contra Dance

Contra Dance, Medway, Massachusetts

Smoke and Mirrors contra dance band performing at a contra dance in Medway, Massachusetts.

Band practice at Deborah’s home

Smoke and Mirrors band rehearsal

Smoke and Mirrors bandmates

Ryan Thomson - fiddle

Damaris Rohsenow - dulcimer 

Deborah Gerstein - keyboard

Ryan Thomson, fiddling with the Smoke and Mirrors contra dance band.
Damaris Rohsenow, hammered dulcimer player.
Deborah Gerstein, pianist and keyboard player.

Early days - Smoke and Mirrors with Steve Cushing - fiddle, Damaris - Hammered Dulcimer, Ryan - keyboard

Photo of fiddler Steve Cushing, Damaris Rohsenow, and Ryan Thomson.

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