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Bare Necessities - recent photo

Bare Necessities, a quartet known for its creative interpretations of English country dance tunes, has been playing together since 1980. Earl Gaddis and Mary Lea both play violin and viola, Peter Barnes is on winds and guitar, and Jacqueline Schwab plays piano. Together they have redefined the sound of English country dance music with an improvisatory and playful style that reflects their classical background and extensive experience playing for all kinds of dancing. Besides these three CDs, they have been putting out recordings for Boston CDS (Country Dance Society) since 1999. The group has played for dancers and audiences from Hawaii to York, England, from Alaska to St. Croix, VI, doing concerts, week-long dance events and workshops.


cd cover: Nightcap

1996. (CD and Cassette)


  1. Ashford Anniversary
  2. Joy After Sorrow
  3. Grimstock
  4. The Night Cap
  5. Portsmouth
  6. St. Martin's Lane
  7. The First Lady
  8. King of Poland
  9. Heidenroslein
  10. Barney Brallaghan
  11. Chestnut
  12. The Dusty Miller
  13. Barbarini's Tambourine
  14. Pernod

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"Bare Necessities is a working band that plays regularly for English Country dances. On this recording they get a chance to let loose some of that pent up creativity that they've held back in the interest of providing good dance music. They have selected some of their favorite tunes from the repertoire and presented them here decked out with a subtle sense of humor and artful improvisational touches. The arrangements are breathtakingly beautiful as they manipulate the speed, melody, rhythm and harmony in a way that highlights the essence of the music itself. This recording exudes a sense of delight and enchantment, which is a product of both the music and the talent of the musicians."

Sing Out! Magazine

"A different aspect of British-based traditional music is represented by Bare Necessities, a quartet of New Englanders who since the early 1980's have been fusing English country dance music, a classical sense of elegance, and a wondrous ear for melodic ornamentation into an etherial mixture that transcends genres. The violins and violas of Mary Lea and Earl Gaddis, the flutes and whistles of Peter Barnes, and the piano of Jacqueline Schwab all interweave with a complexity and emotion seldom matched by any other traditional band. It's a folk-baroque sound of unique beauty and grace."

The Folk Almanac