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Ryan & Brennish Thomson

Updated Feb 2, 2024

Calling a dance for Ted Kennedy Jr. and 

Katherine Anne Gershman’s Wedding

by Ryan Thomson, 

band leader and dance caller for the Captain Fiddle Band

The Kennedy family had decided that an old fashioned square dance would be fun. I was contacted, and after numerous long distance phone calls to Washington DC, the details were set. There was only one complication. My agency had meant to send the senator the tape of my country dance band but had mistakenly sent a tape of my sea shanty and traditional music of New England group. The music was totally different on the two tapes. After finally sending the proper tape, the agency informed me that the Kennedys liked both recordings! 


I brought a six piece contra/square dance band to the Kennedy's beach front house on Block Island, on October 10, 1993. We ended up dressing in western attire for the job, but started out the evening singing acapella sea shantys in our cowboy hats. It seemed a bit incongruous at the time, but everyone was happy, so I was happy. 


I've called a lot of dances for private parties, but I found that the Kennedy's were unusually enthusiastic dancers. There were several couples practicing steps on the dance floor even before the band was ready to play. I called dance after dance for 4 hours with only one short break in the middle while everyone stopped to admire a fireworks display. At the end of our scheduled performance time there were numerous requests for more dancing, and we obliged with another 35 minutes of circle dances and longways sets. Needless to say, the rest of the band and I ended up exhausted, but we congratulated ourselves for a job well done as we rode the ferry back to mainland Rhode Island the next day.

click on image below to enlarge it

Newspaper article describing the square dance put on for the Kennedy family by the Captain Fiddle Band

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