Celia Ramsay

Vocalist, Dance Caller, Songwriter, Teacher

How to Name a Band

Last month, I announced my new band with Kathy and Joe Bly, told you a bit about how we know each other from Lark Camp, and how we happened to run into each other in Ireland. And I mentioned our name, Fortunate Strangers - but not how we chose the name.

Naming anything is a challenge. You want to choose something that will endure and that suggests something true about the thing you are naming. So we tried listing words that we liked and then pairing them. We got online and Googled to find out if there were other bands that already had the names we were considering.

And then, fueled by a bit of whisky, we discovered name generators! There are generators for your Star Wars name and hipster business name, baby name generators, and gangster name generators. (My gangster name is "Salami Washington".) Then Joe discovered an Irish Band name generator, which gave us one we seriously considered - Last Night's Misfortune. We worried it sounded sorta sad, so we devised a plan to generate a new joke for what "last night's misfortune" was for each gig - you can imagine the possibilities! But after living with Last Night's Misfortune for a week, we threw it out. It just wasn't us. Kathy and I also wisely declined Joe's suggestion of Bile Geyser.

Ultimately, it was the original word-pairings that produced Fortunate Strangers. Once we settled on it, we came to the realization that the name was significant because of our chance meeting in Ireland. IT ACTUALLY FEELS LIKE THE NAME CHOSE US!


Libby McLaren and I have been working on our program and have all our "Level One" songs chosen and arranged. Our Big Idea is that if you use this lesson CD, you'll be listening and learning by ear! By some magnificence of the brain's inner workings, you tend to retain songs you learn by ear - and as evidence for this I suggest you think of songs you learned in childhood. In most cases, I think you'll be able to recall lyrics and tunes fairly easily. So our hope is that students will study the lessons on the CD without benefit of written lyrics or music. Of course, we KNOW that someone will want them, so we are writing lyrics and arranging music to send as PDFs to anyone who DEMANDS them. By the time you read this, we will have met with our favorite sound engineer, Derek Bianchi, to map out the recording schedule. Things are moving along!


Saturday, March 5, from 1:00 - 3:00pm, I will be teaching a beginners' Contra Dance workshop at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley for $10/person. If you have always wanted to try Contra Dance, but were timid about being a beginner at a regular dance where many people already know what they're doing, here's your chance. We'll have live music, with Patti Cobb on piano and James MacQueen on fiddle (of Stringfire fame), and the dance floor in front of the stage at the Freight will be cleared just for us.

Is this for you? If you can walk and sorta know right from left, YOU CAN DO THIS! Appropriate for adults, teens and children who can dance independently with people they don't know. Oh,