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Does the duet have a great future... discuss?


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#19 Boney

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 08:49 PM

I'll make a few observations...

I played Anglo for a couple years, and found myself gravitating towards ragtime, old marches, and other more "fully arranged" tunes. The challenge and puzzle of figuring arrangements out on Anglo was fun, but I decided I wanted to express the music, not enjoy the challenge. So I decided to try duet, and relatively quickly switched over.

I agree that to make a complex arrangement on Anglo or English, one must be more creative, instead of just bashing away the same old chords, a habit you can get into on duet. And at least on the Hayden/Wicki system, it's very easy to work out simple tunes, and the the difficulty comes in when making arrangements that even approach the potential of the system.

I've been playing a 46-key Hayden, a concertina-reeded Wakker. It would be fun to have a larger range, but there's a LOT you can do with only 46 keys, if you don't mind transposing and adapting things. I like the size and charm of the smaller instrument, so I'm not dying to upgrade (although a big Wicki bandoneon would be a lot of fun to try). I don't agree you need a huge range to "fully utilize" a duet. It depends more on the kind of music you want to play, and how comfortable you are with adapting it.

I've been working on quite a few recordings for the Duet International album, so you all haven't heard what I've been up to lately. I have a few new tunes I really like playing. I still feel like I'm only doing fairly basic stuff, but I'm having fun with it. I learn pieces in generally one of two ways: by rearranging old public-domain sheet music (piano rags and the like), or by working them out from old recordings, mostly old '78s from the 20s or 30s (old-time tunes, waltzes, whatever). I don't change them around too much, but I'll add a few flourishes of my own.

Like the common stereotypes of what an Anglo or English sounds like, I think the perception of the duet's "sound" is based more on the type of music that's mostly played on them as opposed to the system itself. It is true that those seeking the versatility of the duet are much more likely to have eclectic musical tastes, and probably don't immerse themselves in any one style. Hence the perception I sometimes sense of the duet as a bit of a dilettante's instrument, or one that plays corny "standards" or stilted hymns. But I don't think that's the instrument's fault. When you see an accordion album from the '50s, it's a pretty good bet it'll be square standards in the same vein. But at the same time, people were playing sizzling gypsy music and sinuous tangos on the accordion. The stereotype is not the instrument's fault.

As far as learning goes, I'm a self-teacher by nature anyway. I know music well enough (although I'm learning more about it all the time), and I know what I want to play, and I experiment a lot, so I don't miss not having a teacher too much. Obviously I learn from and I'm inspired by listening to other players. Although it would be great to trade ideas with other compatible musicians sometime, if they play other systems or not. Maybe I'm learning slower than I would with a teacher, but I like exploring.

Playing the piano has never really appealed to me...I like the "wind instrument" feel of the bellows-driven free reeds. You can swoop and swell and all that. The pre-formed chords on the accordion are fun, but I guess I like to micro-manage things. A free-bass accordion would be an alternative to duet concertina, but the size and complexity don't appeal to me that much. The concertina just makes people smile.

I think the duet concertina has to be approached as its own instrument: It's not a souped-up anglo, it's not a mini accordion. It'll be a journey to figure what I can pull off on it, what corresponds to the instrument's strengths and my own inclinations. But I do think there's a huge potential there. Heck, I didn't even know what a concertina was seven years ago. Who knows what I'll be doing seven years from now?

#20 michael sam wild

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 10:49 AM

. In fact I saw Jon last night at a snowy Royal Concertinas session and he has had a push/pull D installed on the LHS of his Maccann by Dave Elliott ,who also lives locally, replacing an E button I think)



Edited by michael sam wild, 13 January 2010 - 10:52 AM.


#21 maccannic

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:41 PM

Well I hope it has a future, as it's what I play. I took up the maccann as my first and only concertina, after having played piano, guitar and piano accordion. I was a bit at sea for a couple of years, then it sort of fell into place. Now it's like second nature, I can busk stuff, join in on sessions etc.

There are some problems, of course, certain tunes turn tricky corners and no amount of fingering will get round them. Also the odd position of the D-sharp/E-flat button makes it tricky to play in any key flatter than F or sharper than A. But I'm sure a bit more perseverance will improve things.

I certainly don't limit myself to a 'classical' style, or any other. I can knock out morris tunes as danceable as any anglo. accompany song like an English, even play Irish tunes (but that's a different thread). All I need is to stop playing so many wrong notes.

All in all, I just love the thing. When I see people bogged down on other types of 'tina and casting envious eyes at my duet, I just know it's the right box for me.

#22 david ayres

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 05:08 PM

Well I hope it has a future too - not sure about a "great" future though. To me its still seen by many as a specialist type of an instrument, and because its not so abundant as the other types, (and in my opinion not so easy to learn as the other systems), not chosen very often by people new to the concertina world.

I came into the maccann duet world about 3 years ago. My main instrument is melodeon and ive been playing for morris for 25 years. I initially played anglo and managed to get to a fairly proficient level. However, when I heard the maccann I felt that was the concertina sound I was looking for.

I dont read music, but can usually pick up a tune quite quickly. It is true to say I have found the maccann a very illogical system. I agree with Ralph, you have to be quite musically exceptional to pick one up and get a tune out of it in 5 minutes. Ive persevered over the years and have developed a love hate relationship with it. At times ive felt ive gone as far as I could, then put it aside for a month or so, concentrated on the melodeon, and then returned to it again later. Strange, when you do this, the passage that was giving you so much trouble in the first place seems to have sorted itself out then ?

Despite the difficulties I can see myself never giving up. Im like Irene, I came to the Maccann when I was in my 50s, im never going to be an exceptional player, but I like sitting down on my own and playing a tune, im playing it for me not for anybody else.

When I first started I played the melody line on the right hand and purposefully didnt do anything with the left. I wanted to be able to play up and down the scales fast, and play tunes instinctively. I can do this now quite quickly, and playing chords on the left hand have also instinctively happened. I never cease to be amazed by the different sounds that I find. I think the maccann is an instrument that you can play for the rest of your life and still not find out all of its secrets.

I have 3 maccanns - a 46 + 61 Wheatstone, and a 61 Edeophone. I disagree with Dirge about a 46 not being big enough, it depends on what you want to do with it, and what music you want to play ? Its fine for Morris, and for some song accompanyment, but I can see its limitation for classical music.

I also do not think that it matters what music you play on your maccann. Ok it was originally designed for classical music, and ive heard it described as the concert grand of the concertina world. The music manuals posted on line do not help me a lot except to provide me with the charts explaining what the name of the note are for each button.

I think the maccann virtuosos of the future will be those really talented young people who do not restrict themselves to what we historically think a duet should sound and be played like.

Maybe theres some styles of playing that still hasnt been developed yet ?


Regards to everybody.

David.


ps How are you Dirge ? I missed you when you came over last year.

Ralph ive met with you a few times at the Radway during Sidmouth Folk Week.

Irene, im not sure it was you that I met one lunch time in the Radway last year ? You had Ralphs Aeola, and let me have a go on it ?


David.

#23 Irene S.

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 06:40 PM

When I first started I played the melody line on the right hand and purposefully didnt do anything with the left. I wanted to be able to play up and down the scales fast, and play tunes instinctively. I can do this now quite quickly, and playing chords on the left hand have also instinctively happened.


You don't know how good that makes me feel! I met somebody at a small session here in Guildford who also had a Maccann - and as I've found is the way (a bit like the MG owner's club have to send each other special signals with their headlights ?) it was a matter of "Can I lay hands on that?", and comparing (literally) notes. However, he also said to me that "You should never start learning only with one hand". Two years ago I did start out using both hands, and playing around to see what I could come up with. Then for various reasons, I ended up concentrating on right hand only....I'm now coming back to working stuff out with the left hand . I just hope the chords become as instinctive for me as they seem to have done for you.

I also do not think that it matters what music you play on your maccann.

Of course it doesn't - good music is good music, and the type doesn't matter. And anyway, surely the whole point is playing something which gives you pleasure in the first instance?

Irene, im not sure it was you that I met one lunch time in the Radway last year ? You had Ralphs Aeola, and let me have a go on it ?

Are you sure that it wasn't 2008? I can remember going into the Radway (for the first time, I have to admit - after all , up until that year I was a singer ... the Volunteer was my home territory... only MUSICIANS went into the Radway) in order to pick up Ralphie's concertina, as opposed to the Aeola, which he'd taken away for running repairs on a walloping big split in the bellows, only to find him beaming from ear to ear because there were THREE Maccanns on the premises ... being introduced to someone and looking at their Maccann on the bar counter , and then being forced to join in with something after he'd announced to everybody there that I'd never played the Maccann in public before (great start and confidence boost that was .. grins ) :rolleyes: The circumstances sound similar/likely, so it may very well be that we have met.... I'll look forward to that happening again.

#24 saguaro_squeezer

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 06:52 PM

I'm fairly new to concertina playing and have always played mostly single line instruments so I can stop and usually play one hand or the other. Putting them together has and will continue to be a challenge ... but I'm resolute. Fortunately, it's only getting the brain to mechanical part down. I don't feel at all uncomfortable with reading, interpreting, picking up by ear. It's that "don't think about the mechanics" level that I need to get to.

One other good thing about a larger duet, though, is it can also be played in at least two or three seats in a concertina band! If only I had my elusive C-2. Really like having a pair of english concertinas in one. And the Crabb spacing does feel different than the Wheatstone spacing on my two Cranes.

#25 Ralph Jordan

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 02:24 AM

Well I hope it has a future too - not sure about a "great" future though. To me its still seen by many as a specialist type of an instrument, and because its not so abundant as the other types, (and in my opinion not so easy to learn as the other systems), not chosen very often by people new to the concertina world.

I came into the maccann duet world about 3 years ago. My main instrument is melodeon and ive been playing for morris for 25 years. I initially played anglo and managed to get to a fairly proficient level. However, when I heard the maccann I felt that was the concertina sound I was looking for.

I dont read music, but can usually pick up a tune quite quickly. It is true to say I have found the maccann a very illogical system. I agree with Ralph, you have to be quite musically exceptional to pick one up and get a tune out of it in 5 minutes. Ive persevered over the years and have developed a love hate relationship with it. At times ive felt ive gone as far as I could, then put it aside for a month or so, concentrated on the melodeon, and then returned to it again later. Strange, when you do this, the passage that was giving you so much trouble in the first place seems to have sorted itself out then ?

Despite the difficulties I can see myself never giving up. Im like Irene, I came to the Maccann when I was in my 50s, im never going to be an exceptional player, but I like sitting down on my own and playing a tune, im playing it for me not for anybody else.

When I first started I played the melody line on the right hand and purposefully didnt do anything with the left. I wanted to be able to play up and down the scales fast, and play tunes instinctively. I can do this now quite quickly, and playing chords on the left hand have also instinctively happened. I never cease to be amazed by the different sounds that I find. I think the maccann is an instrument that you can play for the rest of your life and still not find out all of its secrets.

I have 3 maccanns - a 46 + 61 Wheatstone, and a 61 Edeophone. I disagree with Dirge about a 46 not being big enough, it depends on what you want to do with it, and what music you want to play ? Its fine for Morris, and for some song accompanyment, but I can see its limitation for classical music.

I also do not think that it matters what music you play on your maccann. Ok it was originally designed for classical music, and ive heard it described as the concert grand of the concertina world. The music manuals posted on line do not help me a lot except to provide me with the charts explaining what the name of the note are for each button.

I think the maccann virtuosos of the future will be those really talented young people who do not restrict themselves to what we historically think a duet should sound and be played like.

Maybe theres some styles of playing that still hasnt been developed yet ?


Regards to everybody.

David.


ps How are you Dirge ? I missed you when you came over last year.

Ralph ive met with you a few times at the Radway during Sidmouth Folk Week.

Irene, im not sure it was you that I met one lunch time in the Radway last year ? You had Ralphs Aeola, and let me have a go on it ?


David.

Hi David. Yes will be at Sidmouth this year. Hope to meet up again
I know what you mean. Whilst doing the recordings I'd often come to a part of tune, and really struggle. After hurling the beast into a corner (metaphorically!) I'd go away, and next day, could play it easily...Then, next day (maybe to do a repair or whatever), I can't play the damn passage again!
It's all in the mind I suppose.
As a general rule, whenever I meet a fellow concertinist that I haven't met before (putting systems on one side for a moment) I'm always fascinated by what that player might bring to the table, so to speak. Which is the endearing appeal of the concertina. One can play in so many styles. I'm constantly surprised. Even new players occasionally come up with some chord sequence that I hadn't thought of.
This is particularly true of Duet players. As Irene said many posts ago, there are so few of us, that we all seem to play in a vacuum, developing our own distinctive style, without any input from other players. (Sweeping generalisation I know, but, hopefully you get the point!)
With the release of Duet International later in the year, maybe all of us Duettists will get to hear what other players are getting up to!
But, whether playing by ear or from dots. The main point is to enjoy the sounds you are making.
Future for the Duet?
Pretty Rosy I would say.
Regards to all players
Ralphie

#26 Dirge

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 05:00 AM

How are you Dirge ? I missed you when you came over last year.

David.

Wotcher David! You've been quiet lately.

I'm well thanks; I didn't get north at all last year, spent the visit zigzagging across the southern end of the country, perhaps this year?

(This man delivered one of my concertinas. I was already in NZ and had agreed to buy one off a WCCP member and David volunteered the fact that he was visiting Australia, at the same time that I was being best man at a wedding there. So we hatched an incredibly complex plot for him to deliver the machine and to meet up. I didn't know him from Adam at this stage, but we'd exchanged pm's often enough to feel I knew him well. The concertina (a 67 key aeola) went to Solihull and lived under his bed for a few months; (I thought a slight recompense for his generosity would have been temporary use of the thing, but I don't think you touched it, did you, David?) then sojourned in Arabia en route to Sydney. We met in a park and moved into a cafe for a beer (or what passes for it in Australia). I hadn't seen the 'box before so was quite keen to see what I had bought, but didn't like to inflict it on the cafe occupants. After a tentative fiddle no one had looked funny at us and after a bit we were both mucking about playing party pieces. The place was busy but no one turned a hair so I suppose we can't have been that painful, and at one point an old boy came over and complemented us on the playing, commenting that he knew we must be good because he could see we were playing from music! (I had brought my usual crutch in the form of some written out arrangements with me 'just in case')

I don't know about you, David but I remember the hand over very well, it was a very nice way to pass time, and a memorable part of that visit. And the instrument was, and is a particularly nice one, so thank you again.)

I think asking a bunch of committed (is that the word...?) duet players if their instrument has a future is a bit redundant. The interesting bit, I think, is how almost all have commented that the possibilities are so vast. I certainly think that too. I have no idea what I'll be playing in a few years time. Well it'll be a big Maccan, for sure, but exactly what I'll be performing on it I am eagerly waiting to discover.

#27 Dirge

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 05:03 AM

All in all, I just love the thing.


Me too.

Editted to add: Sorry, forgetting my manners: Welcome to Cnet!

Edited by Dirge, 14 January 2010 - 05:06 AM.


#28 Alan Day

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 05:56 AM

As a general rule, whenever I meet a fellow concertinist that I haven't met before (putting systems on one side for a moment) I'm always fascinated by what that player might bring to the table, so to speak. Which is the endearing appeal of the concertina. One can play in so many styles. I'm constantly surprised. Even new players occasionally come up with some chord sequence that I hadn't thought of.
This is particularly true of Duet players. As Irene said many posts ago, there are so few of us, that we all seem to play in a vacuum, developing our own distinctive style, without any input from other players. (Sweeping generalisation I know, but, hopefully you get the point!)
With the release of Duet International later in the year, maybe all of us Duettists will get to hear what other players are getting up to!
But, whether playing by ear or from dots. The main point is to enjoy the sounds you are making.
Future for the Duet?
Pretty Rosy I would say.
Regards to all players
Ralphie
[/quote]
This is the joy of putting these compilations together and particularly listening to recordings of players you have never heard before. As you know I am not a Duet player, but after a few recordings are in you start to hear the subtle differences between one player and the next. Sometimes it is the simple arrangements that impress as much as the multi fingering complex arrangements.Tom Jukes on English International was such a player and as Ralphie rightly points out that even a player not playing the instrument for too long can come up with an arrangement that sounds incredibly good and is something that you must try.
I can honestly say that listening to Duet playing has opened up new avenues for how the Anglo can develop and some of the arrangements these days are far more complex , possibly as a result of ideas from our Duet friends.
Al

#29 michael sam wild

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 06:42 AM

Thanks folks for the encouraging posts I have a 46 button Maccann and have found it a bit of a wilderness until recently. I kept getting told to get a bigger one ( or to buy a Hayden, Crane, Jeffrie etc) but am now hearing some good stuff on Maccann models with fewer button so am more optimistic

I agree with david the literature on conc.com is very helpful but layouts and chord shapes don't help you to actually play.. I wish someone would put a few lessons on YouTube etc and that Michael Eskins would make an iPhone app.!

#30 Ralph Jordan

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 10:41 AM

Well I hope it has a future, as it's what I play. I took up the maccann as my first and only concertina, after having played piano, guitar and piano accordion. I was a bit at sea for a couple of years, then it sort of fell into place. Now it's like second nature, I can busk stuff, join in on sessions etc.

There are some problems, of course, certain tunes turn tricky corners and no amount of fingering will get round them. Also the odd position of the D-sharp/E-flat button makes it tricky to play in any key flatter than F or sharper than A. But I'm sure a bit more perseverance will improve things.

I certainly don't limit myself to a 'classical' style, or any other. I can knock out morris tunes as danceable as any anglo. accompany song like an English, even play Irish tunes (but that's a different thread). All I need is to stop playing so many wrong notes.

All in all, I just love the thing. When I see people bogged down on other types of 'tina and casting envious eyes at my duet, I just know it's the right box for me.

Hi maccanic. welcome.
I know what you mean when you produce your instrument and the reaction is one of incredulity.! "How do you play that" is very normal!
Never mind. you have joined a small but refined coterie of afficianados. Hope to meet you soon.
Keep playing!
Ralphie

Edited by Ralph Jordan, 14 January 2010 - 10:42 AM.


#31 david ayres

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 10:10 AM

[quote name='david ayres' date='13 January 2010 - 10:08 PM' timestamp='1263420527' post='106835']
Irene, im not sure it was you that I met one lunch time in the Radway last year ? You had Ralphs Aeola, and let me have a go on it ?
[/quote]
Are you sure that it wasn't 2008? I can remember going into the Radway (for the first time, I have to admit - after all , up until that year I was a singer ... the Volunteer was my home territory... only MUSICIANS went into the Radway) in order to pick up Ralphie's concertina, as opposed to the Aeola, which he'd taken away for running repairs on a walloping big split in the bellows, only to find him beaming from ear to ear because there were THREE Maccanns on the premises ... being introduced to someone and looking at their Maccann on the bar counter , and then being forced to join in with something after he'd announced to everybody there that I'd never played the Maccann in public before (great start and confidence boost that was .. grins ) :rolleyes: The circumstances sound similar/likely, so it may very well be that we have met.... I'll look forward to that happening again.
[/quote]



Hi Irene,

Its probably me getting my wires crossed again. I was in the Radway, Sidmouth week, 2008. I can remember one lunch time that Ralph and possibly you ? were sitting in there. Ralph played a tune on my Edeophone Duet and I tried his concertina out.

I was also in the Radway last year when 2 ladies with Duets were there one lunch time. One of the ladies said she had Ralphs concertina on loan and again I had another quick go on it. Ralph will probably know who they were ?

Duets in the Radway arent always that rare. I tend to get to the Radway every folk week. I have bought my Maccann to the Radway quite a few times in the past. Another friend of mine Johnny Cope ( were both Jockey MM from Birmingham) plays a 56 Maccann and seems to spend most of his life in the Radway during folk week.
Johnny is famous for getting a bit enebriated, and leaving his concertina in pubs at the end of the evening. Ive met him on quite a few occasions next morning on his way to retrieve it.

I also tend to meet another Maccann player from the Newcastle area who comes to Sidmouth folk week every year, and plays in the Radway. Then of course theres Ralph .......


Best Wishes

David.


ps: If Id known that you and Ralph were in Birmingham recently with Pam Bishop I would have bought my box too. Ive played in sessions with Pam, and Solihulls only 9 miles from Birmingham.


David.

#32 Irene S.

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:44 PM

Hi Irene,

Its probably me getting my wires crossed again. I was in the Radway, Sidmouth week, 2008. I can remember one lunch time that Ralph and possibly you ? were sitting in there. Ralph played a tune on my Edeophone Duet and I tried his concertina out.


So that could well be possible ... although I don't remember an Edeophone .(Mind you at the time I'm none too sure that I've had known what an Edeophone was, as I'd only been learning to play for six months or so at that point)

I was also in the Radway last year when 2 ladies with Duets were there one lunch time. One of the ladies said she had Ralphs concertina on loan and again I had another quick go on it. Ralph will probably know who they were ?

He'll have to answer that one. It weren't me guv! I've got a tina of his on loan, but I only set foot in the Radway a couple of times during the week in 2009, and I didn't take the tina out of its box. So it's a mystery to me.

ps: If Id known that you and Ralph were in Birmingham recently with Pam Bishop I would have bought my box too. Ive played in sessions with Pam, and Solihulls only 9 miles from Birmingham.


Sadly I didn't get to hear Pam play properly there. Ralphie and I were there at the Black Diamond club to do our show on Lucy Broadwood,and although Pam had her tina with her she didn't get to play a spot.

Re the Radway ... makes a mental note to self to be brave this year, and try and find the time to wrest myself away from the Volunteer and set food inside the door further than just standing near the bar and listening ;)

#33 m3838

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 03:06 PM

May be it's me, but reading personal exchange on public forum, visited by people from different parts of the World, is not that exiting. No pushing, but I'd recommend using personal messaging or emails for reminiscences about who met who and where in the neighborhood. The topic was of interest, let's keep it up.
P.S.
Or at least post nice concertina related pictures or sound files from Birmingham or Black Diamond club.
-----------------------
From foggy San Francisco with Love.

#34 John Wild

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 04:25 PM

May be it's me, but reading personal exchange on public forum, visited by people from different parts of the World, is not that exiting. No pushing, but I'd recommend using personal messaging or emails for reminiscences about who met who and where in the neighborhood. The topic was of interest, let's keep it up.
P.S.
Or at least post nice concertina related pictures or sound files from Birmingham or Black Diamond club.
-----------------------
From foggy San Francisco with Love.


Speaking only for myself, I found it interesting.

regards

John Wild

#35 PeterT

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 04:31 PM

May be it's me, but reading personal exchange on public forum, visited by people from different parts of the World, is not that exiting. No pushing, but I'd recommend using personal messaging or emails for reminiscences about who met who and where in the neighborhood. The topic was of interest, let's keep it up.
P.S.
Or at least post nice concertina related pictures or sound files from Birmingham or Black Diamond club.
-----------------------
From foggy San Francisco with Love.


Speaking only for myself, I found it interesting.

regards

John Wild


Me too!

I like to be able to keep up with (some of) what's going on in the concertina world, without having to leave the house.

#36 Dirge

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 04:49 PM

May be it's me, but reading personal exchange on public forum, visited by people from different parts of the World, is not that exiting. No pushing, but I'd recommend using personal messaging or emails for reminiscences about who met who and where in the neighborhood. The topic was of interest, let's keep it up.
P.S.
Or at least post nice concertina related pictures or sound files from Birmingham or Black Diamond club.
-----------------------
From foggy San Francisco with Love.


Speaking only for myself, I found it interesting.

regards

John Wild


Me too!

I like to be able to keep up with (some of) what's going on in the concertina world, without having to leave the house.



And me; anything about the doings of Maccan players is a pleasant novelty.




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