Gordon was already considered a decent contradance piano player, able to conjure up excitement and emotion with his unique application of rhythms, harmonies, and embellishments.  But meeting and playing with Kerry propelled him higher, and to this day Gordon credits Kerry for a transformation in how he approached music. Kerry was a stern taskmaster, demanding extensive rehearsal before gigs and tours, and uninhibited about expressing his opinion when the details didn’t match his vision for a particular set of tunes.

The original Fresh Fish: Kerry Elkin (second fiddler from left) Tom Hodgson, Gordon Peery (who eventually gave up the accordion, much to everyone’s relief!), playing for the Green Mountain Volunteers in Belgium

The original Fresh Fish: Kerry Elkin (second fiddler from left) Tom Hodgson, Gordon Peery (who eventually gave up the accordion, much to everyone’s relief!), playing for the Green Mountain Volunteers in Belgium

After returning from the Green Mountain Volunteers European tour in the summer of 1985, and having decided to form a band, Gordon, Kerry, Tom Hodgson (the original guitar player) and caller Steve Zakon spent a rainy weekend sequestered in a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard for the purpose of coming up with a band name. The discussion was at times ridiculous, at times emotional, and Gordon, frankly, was not initially enamored of the name Fresh Fish. But it quickly took on a life of it’s own, with fish-themed dance weekends, endless pun potential, and a name that no one forgot.

Having started on the scene as a dance caller, Kerry was particularly tuned in to what was happening on the dance floor. He would not choose tunes until he had seen the dance being taught, and had a remarkable ability to match tune sets with the subtleties of each dance.

Over a ten year period the band’s reputation grew, and they were invited to play for dances, dance weekends, festivals, and dance and music camps all over the country. After Tom left the band there were a number of third, fourth and even fifth musicians who would rotate in, depending on availability. Each of these musicians expanded Gordon’s musical network, and also informed his own musical development, as he heard new voices and new techniques.

David Surette, Danny Noveck, Kerry Elkin, Gordon Peery, Dirk Powell

David Surette, Danny Noveck, Kerry Elkin, Gordon Peery, Dirk Powell

In 1990 Fresh Fish made a recording, Turning of the Tide, which featured additional musicians David Surette, Dirk Powell, Danny Noveck, and one guest track with Ruthie Dornfeld. The recording is no longer available, but it is remarkable how many people hold and treasure this, regarding it as one of the top recordings of music that is truly imbued with the spirit of contradancing.

After a ten-year run, most of the gigs the band was getting were outside of New England, and the travel schedule was not compatible with other demands on Gordon’s life. The group did not officially break up, but no more gigs were pursued. By then Kerry was established enough that he was able to travel and play anywhere, and he became well known all over the country. It was truly a band like no other, and Gordon treasures the memories, and values the many musicians he met as they sat in or toured with Fresh Fish.

Tom Hodgson
Jeremiah McLane
Danny Noveck
Ann Percival
Dirk Powell
David Surette

And of course Steve Zakon, the master caller!