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Eric Root

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  1. Hi, this post is just to enthuse about my new bellows. The original five-fold bellows on my 1937 Wheatstone treble English had gotten leaky again. I had already had them patched at the Button Box once, but they were leaking again, so I decided it was time to get new bellows. I had some concern about break-in time, as the bellows on my wife's early-1970s Crabb treble always seemed a little stiff to me, especially compared to the butter-smooth bellows on my Wheatstone, but after seeing some of Bob Tedrow's bellows on a visit to his shop (my wife has kin in Birmingham, AL, so I usually stop by Homewood when I'm in town), I decided to save up for some new bellows from him. Now I have had my new bellows for three months, and, boy, am I satisfied! My original bellows were 5-fold, and between that and the leakiness, I was frequently running low on air when playing sustained chords. Not so now; my new bellows have 7 folds, which is unusual for an English. Between that and the airtightness, I have an almost ridiculous amount of air for any purpose. On top of that, I needn't have worried about the stiffness of the bellows, as they are as soft and quick as the old, original bellows had been. They lack _nothing_ compared to the Rosalie Dipper bellows on our Lachenal baritone, and have one more fold. All in all, I can't recommend these bellows highly enough. BTW, standard disclaimers, etc. Eric Root
  2. Hi, John. Where are you in Germany? I spent most of the '80s stationed there w/ the US Army, the first half in Hessen between Frankfurt and Giessen and the second half in Augsburg. Several times I encountered street musicians playing Waldzithers, which, as you say, is more like an English guitar or maybe some kind of mandola/portuguese thingy. Eric Root
  3. Well, I just tried the shim, and it worked! We're back in action! Thanks, everybody for the advice. I had read about shims in the Elliott book, but it didn't seem that that would have anything to do with the problem. Eric
  4. Hi. I've already posted this to rec.music.makers.squeezebox. My wife's early-70s Crabb treble has a problem with the push reed on the G above middle C: it requires greater-than-normal force to get it to speak, and when it does, the timbre is a little harsh, the note is somewhat muted, and note is a little flat. If I can fix the speaking problems, I'll attempt to tune it. I've already had the reed out several times, run a shim under the tongue, made sure there aren't any dust particles binding the reed, checked the set of the reed under a magnifying glass and messed with it a little both directions, to no avail. When examined under the mag glass, the tongue appears straight in the carrier with the exact same space all around, so the tongue is not at any sort of lateral slant, nor does it appear cracked or chipped. If we can't fix it, she'll have to stick to guitar in an important upcoming gig. I'd let her use my '30s Wheatstone but it's off getting new bellows from Bob Tedrow (yay!). Anything we haven't tried? We are in SW Virginia, USA. BTW, I do have the Dave Elliott maintenance manual. Eric Root
  5. Thanks for the info, John. That is good to hear, that Mr. Whitely has managed to make his machine feel as good as an Aeola. It sounds like it would be a blast. Vibes would be very cool. If you feel like it, it would be interesting to hear how and on what tunes you used the MIDI. Cheers, Eric Root
  6. Very well written, yet I disagree in some particulars. I don't play the Anglo at all, although I have had a few in my hands and can hack out a scale; I've also sat next to a few good players and payed attention, and also discussed with them. So WRT Anglos, YMMV. I have played the English for years, polishing an intermediate level of ability ever shinier, although I believe I have started to move ahead again as a side effect of taking up Appalachian old-time fiddle, by ear, 3 years ago. Here's what I think the deal is with the English: For a guitarist, the English would be more like a flatpicker than a fingerpicker. This is because of the English concertina peculiarity of passing melodic lines back and forth from one hand to the other, like playing table tennis with yourself. It makes difficult the playing of pieces with completely separate parts, like the more complex fingerpicking-guitar or piano pieces. I *think this is called homophony and, at least in folk music, it can sometimes be characterized by a separate lead line and a boom-chuck/oom-pah chordal accompaniment. Anyway, any of the above is difficult on the English. What the English shines at is the flipside of the melody lines passing between the hands: because the notes are all made by not only other fingers but entirely different hands, you can make those lines everything from staccato, to so legato that they overlap. When you consider that what I just said can also apply to whole chords, chord melody akin to flatpicked jazz guitar becomes possible, or pedal steel music, or anything that might be able to make use of swooping flourishes of chords. In other words, the English is good at doing chordal things in which it is best characterized by multiple voices traveling in parallel. So far I have not developed this very far. I do work on chordal things and have done a few easy things of the sort. For instance, simple ornaments such as one- or two-note cuts and trills are very easy to do as quickly-flickering double stops or chords, and it is very fun to do. When it gets to some styles, who knows? I think the English sounds just great on American old-time fiddle tunes. I'm sure there are some good players trying old-time on the Anglo, and I can't imagine it would be bad at it. (I *am socially aware enough not to take a concertina of any sort to an old-time jam, where it would be as welcome as a trombone at an Irish session). I would bet that Aran Olwell is good at it. Richard Morse mentioned that duet concertinas are worth a look. My understanding is that they are very good for starting out playing the chords to songs. Anyway, that's my take on it. Eric Root Floyd, VA, USA
  7. I just noticed that Cashiers, NC appears to have taken a bad blow from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan. Isn't that where the SE Squeeze-in was? Is everyone on the list OK? I know there are a lot of places that still have no power. I know it went right over Birmingham, AL. DOe Bob Tedrow have his power pack?
  8. One thing that has helped me perform in public is going to fiddler's conventions of the sort they have everywhere you look in and around the Blue Ridge area of Appalachia (U.S.) A common feature of these conventions, where you camp out and jam with your friends all weekend, is that you get your entry fee, and sometimes some of your camping fee back if you get up on stage and compete in one of the contests. Thus everyone is encouraged to at least be able to play _something_ in front of an audience. Even if you know you aren't great, if you can find a tune and an instrument that you can make it "all the way through a recognizable tune once" then, hey, you get your money back and maybe a participant's ribbon. Too bad they don't have categories for squeezeboxes. I find it helps also to be an ear player. To an ear player, playing is more like singing a song you know well, not reading one you sort-of know. For years I was mostly a reader, and without sheet music could only play things that I had memorized by repeated drilling. I had to depend on my fingers knowing what they were doing because the auditory image I had in my head of the tune was vague. Last fall I took up the fiddle and decided that I would _not_ look at the printed page. There were a few times that I had to look at a page to disambiguate something I was trying to learn off of a recording. I switched to the concertina to get it in my ear, then put the book away and picked the fiddle back up. There are some skills that ear-players have that were very underdeveloped in me as an upper-intermediate reader. One is the ability to pare a tune down to its basic theme notes in order to keep the timing and energy up, if playing it in its notiest version would cause you to sound weak and unclear. Readers often play a tune notier than they can do a good job of. It's harder to tell when you're reading, which notes are important, and which ones are just passing notes, but when you are listening, the important ones stand out much clearer. I've still a long way to go on this one, but under a year of strict adherence to "ear only" has made a huge improvement. In the mean time, the audio image in my head of tunes is much clearer, I pick up tunes a lot faster, and I am much better able to jump in on a tune I don't really know, and play a creditable secondary role, and this applies to all my instruments, not just the fiddle.
  9. Wow, what a rough swap, makes me glad to have a Lachenal baritone English _and_ a Fairbanks "Electric," both classics in their own way!
  10. If Bob Tedrow is not too busy nowadays, Stagis which he has "hot-rodded" are _much_ better than the original.
  11. I saw Isla in Savannah back in the late '90s and John Mock played some simple anglo on a couple of tunes. Where he really shined was on whistles.
  12. Rhomylly, where was the concert? Kieran O'Hare is from Atchison, Kansas (site of the Amelia Earhart girlhood home!), but I think he may be living in Chicago. He used to be part of that KC-based Irish scene centered around former members of the band Scartaglen (Mike Dugger, Roger Landes, Connie Dover, Kirk Lynch, Becky Pringle). My brother Joe (BC box, anglo, whistles, keyboards) used to be part of that circle till he moved to Portland, OR a few years ago.
  13. Irving Burgee, pop calypso songwriter famous for such tunes as "Banana Boat Song" (Day-o), "Island in the Sun," and "Yellow Bird," also wrote one called "Angelina." The refrain goes: Angelina, Angelina, Bring down your concertina and play a welcome for me, For I am coming home from the sea. It's in C and lies really well on DADGAD tuned guitar, for what that's worth. -Eric Root
  14. From Jack Vance's _Ports of Call_ (Copyright 1998 Jack Vance), a science fiction book set in the far future, at this point in the story, aboard a space yacht: The voyage proceeded. Dame Hester discovered an abundance of spare time which rasped at her volatile temerament. She made a peevish complaint to Myron. "For a fact, I had no idea that space travel was like this! There is nothing to do but eat and sleep! The routines are invariable. It is the next thing to catatonia!" Myron, using tact and delicacy, tried to make light of the complaint. "Some people enjoy the tranquility. It gives them time to take stock of themselves. Sometimes they learn to play a musical instrument. Now that I think of it, there is a concertina in the cabinet yonder." Dame Hester curled her lip. "Sometimes your ideas are almost imbecilic. I am not sure whether the term 'bathos' applies." "I would think not. 'Bathos' is when someone tries to make an absurdity seem important or exalted. I suppose that the idea of you playing the concertina is a bit far-fetched."
  15. Has someone already taken you up on this? What are they supposed to do, exactly? Report which reed speaks first? -Eric Root
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