Amelia Waltzes In…

So there we were at RiRa last night, with Ramona Connelly joining Pete and I, and we decided to play Amelia’s Waltz.  That beautiful melody, written by NH treasure Bob McQuillen, has long been a favorite fiddle tune for Ramona and me.

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During the tune a woman walked over behind Pete to listen a little closer – and when we were done she said to him “That was beautiful … that’s my waltz.”  Pete smiled, and she added, ” I’m Amelia … Bob McQuillen wrote that for me.”  Now she had our attention and we enjoyed the first chance for all of us to meet ‘the’ Amelia.

After we’d chatted for a minute. I asked her to confirm or correct the interesting story I’d heard about how she’d been named ‘Amelia.’  The tale had started with Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight in1927.  As two large wooden crates had been built for his plane’s ocean journey back to the states,  they were given to the ship’s captain, Admiral Guy Burrage.  crate1He built them into a humble cottage in the woods near Contoocook NH.  In about 1980 Amelia’s mother, Deana Stiles was living in that cottage, and Amelia was born right there.  I had heard that, with the Lindbergh connection, she’d been named after Amelia Earhart – but last night I got ‘the rest of the story.’   She said her mother loved Joni Mitchell’s song ‘Amelia’ — which does reference Earhart, but has some broader threads.  As her mother played flute at contra dances with Bob, he wrote the waltz for Amelia when she was about 3.  crare-2

One more note – I see that the cottage was bought and moved to Canaan, Maine, where it’s been restored as the centerpiece of Lindbergh’s Crates Museum there.

All in all, quite a special moment for us all – seeing the real Amelia there as we finished playing her song.

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5 comments to Amelia Waltzes In…

  • Terry W

    Great story about Amelia. Thankis for that. The first tune I ever played on stage with a fiddle was Amelias Waltz at First Night in Rockport,Ma. I learned that tune via ther Boston Scottish Fiddle Club , must be 20 years ago. It’s basically a great solid tune!

  • OMG!! Ya’ll met the REAL Amelia!!! How wonderful!!! This tune AND the composer are truely NH treasures!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Marty Stock

    Amelia’s mother Deana and Bob McQuillen still play for contra dances together, as part of the band Old New England. In fact, they’ll be playing soon at UNH/Durham at the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend, Jan 15–17. See http://www.nhcountrydance.com/music/rpdlw.html

  • Bob D.

    Deana appears once in a while at the Barley House session in Concord. Met her there.

  • That is a good story! I never knew the details, but I met Amelia several years ago when she came with Bob and Deana over to one of the Ossian house concerts (in Loudon, NH). It sounds like you got a good conversation in, though. Amelia is still my favorite waltz, and one of the most popular here on the West Coast, too.