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Fred Nussbaum, Cellist & More



1998 Portland, OR English Country Ball

Fred's Custom-built Electric 5-string Cello/Bass

                Fred playing at a friend's wedding 2010



Listen to Samples of Fred's Playing


Fred Nussbaum – Cello, Mandolin and Percussion

Fred is a member of a number of Pacific Northwest Contra and English Country dance bands, including Full Circle (with George Penk and Heather Pinney) and Calico.  

He is a sought-after dance musician on both West and East coasts and has been repeatedly invited to share the stage with such notable groups and artists as Larry Unger, KGB, Bare Necessities, David Kaynor, Andrea Hoag, Mary Lea, Daron Douglas and BLT for both English and Contra. Fred has been on staff at Pinewoods, Mendocino English Week, Ashokan Northern Week, Seattle’s Cascadia English weekend, Monte Toyon, Cascade Contras and PCDC’s Northwest Passage (formerly Suttle Lake) weekend camps. He is one of the regular musicians for the annual Portland English Ball (started in 1993). He appeared with Jacqueline Schwab, Earl Gaddis and Peter Barnes at the 2000 Brattleboro Dawn Dance weekend.  He also spent two and a half years touring with the Lauren Pelon Musique Company, bringing a fusion of renaissance and jazz music to venues all over the United States, especially small rural communities. In 2010, Fred joined the Blue Crows (George Rezendes and John Morton) in Port Townsend, WA, playing rags and swing tunes.

With a strong classical background, Fred plays a variety of musical styles that go beyond the traditional contra and English Country repertoire, including swing, world music, Scottish, fiddle tunes, baroque period performance and jazz.  He has been known to sing in public and has been adding various kinds of percussion to his performances.  He is not averse, on occasion, to tastefully mix the various influences to spice things up. Fred also started picking up the mandolin in 2008.

Fred brings to whatever group he's playing with, a mixture of rich harmonies, punctuating bass lines and rhythms and juicy counter-melodies, exploiting the full range of his instrument. All of this is done with a deep respect for the music and tradition, but with just the right touch of irreverence to make it exciting. For contra music, Fred often pulls out his custom-made, five-string ‘Oregon’ cello/bass, with which he can do all his cello antics, as well as thump out a big bass sound.

Fred often collaborates with his wife, Nan Evans, who is an English Country Dance and Contra Dance caller. She is much loved all over the Pacific Northwest for her "user-friendly" teaching. On the suggestion and with the continuing strong support from a group of Port Townsend dancers and musicians, the two of them have helped establish a monthly English Country Dance. Nan does the teaching and Fred leads the band. More information at or
In the early 1980s Fred regularly played with the Santa Cruz (CA) Chamber Players and the Santa Cruz New Music Works. The former specialized in presentations of classical and baroque chamber music, while the latter presented brand new music works. When he returned to Portland in the mid-1980s, he helped found the Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Parnasse Baroque Ensemble, both specializing in period performance practices.
Fred teaches private cello lessons in both traditional classical and non-classical styles, for beginners to advanced players. From 2006 to 2012, he taught at Portland's Community Music Center, including adult cello classes, as well as private lessons and chamber music coaching for youth. Fred frequently teaches workshops on improvisation, suitable for players in various genres. In July 2013 Fred joined with Gary Frederick to take over the conducting duties of the Port Townsend Family Orchestra.
FRED NUSSBAUM is an excellent cellist and a mainstay of Portland's English country-dance scene. Bay Area English dancers may be familiar with his music from visits to the Portland English Ball (where he's played with Jim Oakden to great acclaim); Fall Weekend attendees should know his work as an invited sit-in musician with (three-quarters of) Bare Necessities in 1999. We're very pleased to have him.  
                          --- BACDS web site, October 2002 Fall Dance Weekend.

Updated 08/16/2013 00:16


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