Bob McQuillen

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Bob "Mr. Mac" McQuillen
Born June 27 1923
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Died (2014-02-04)February 4, 2014
Manchester, New Hampshire
Genres Folk, Contra Dance, Traditional Dance Music of New England
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, teacher
Instruments Piano, accordion, guitar
Years active 1940s–2014

Bob "Mr. Mac" McQuillen (June 27, 1923 – February 4, 2014) was a teacher, musician, and prolific composer of contra dance tunes. His work in the traditional arts was honored when he was recognized as a National Heritage Fellow.

Early life[edit]

Bob McQuillen took piano lessons as a child, but didn't grow attached to music until after his time as a Marine during World War II. He started going to contra dances in and around Peterborough, New Hampshire, several times a week, and eventually joined the Ralph Page Orchestra. At a contra dance in 1946, he met Priscilla Scribner, whom he married a year later. They had three children, Dan, Rebecca, and William.

After returning from the Korean War, McQuillen settled down and became an industrial arts teacher at Peterborough High School. At some point, he was a police officer and a school bus driver.

Contra dance years[edit]

Over the decades that Bob McQuillen was involved in the contra dance community, he wrote more than 1,500 dance tunes, most of which he named after people or events in his life. This began with his first tune, "Scotty O'Neil," named after one of his students who had died. He was the subject of the documentary movie Paid To Eat Ice Cream: Bob McQuillen and New England Contra Dancing in 2001.


Bob McQuillen suffered a massive stroke while at a restaurant on Sunday, January 26, 2014. He was taken to Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he died on Tuesday, February 4, exactly 29 years after his wife.


Year Group Title Label Format
? Ralph Page Orchestra ? ? ?
1972 Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra F&W Records LP record
1972[1] or 1973[2] Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra The Canterbury Country Orchestra Meets the F & W String Band F&W Records LP record
1974 Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra Mistwold F&W Records LP record
1974 Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra Contra Dances: The Canterbury Orchestra CDSS Records 45 rpm record
1980 Applejack with Bob McQuillen Contra Dance Music New England Style Green Linnet Records LP record
1988, 2003 New England Tradition Farewell to the Hollow Great Meadow Music ?, CD
1996 Old New England Old New England Old New England CD
1997 Bob McQuillen, Laurie Andres, Cathie Whitesides Hand It Down: Contra Dance Tunes by Bob McQuillen Avocet CD
1999 Compilation including Old New England Choose Your Partners! Contra Dance & Square Dance Music of New Hampshire Smithsonian Folkways CD
2000 Rodney Miller and Bob McQuillen Pure Quill Great Meadow Music CD
2002 Old New England ONE: TWO Old New England CD
2005 Old New England ONE: III Old New England CD
2008 The Rhythm Rollers Grand Right and Left Avocet CD
2010 Old New England ONE: IV Old New England CD
Guest appearance with Sarah Bauhan Chasing the New Moon
Guest appearance with Sarah Bauhan The Untamed Grasses
Guest appearance with Sarah Bauhan Lathrop's Waltz

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Millstone, David (2009). "CDSS Lifetime Contributor–Bob McQuillen" (PDF). CDSS News. Retrieved April 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ Laufman, Jacqueline & Dudley. "Canterbury Orchestra". Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2014. 

External links[edit]