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Jim Besser

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About Jim Besser

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    Heavyweight Boxer

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  • Interests
    Contra and English ceilidh dance music, Morris music, traditional French dance music, playing for any and all dancers.
  • Location
    Washington DC metro area

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  1. Jim Besser

    Garys new (?) Wolverton: a comment

    Every instrument has its purists, that's for sure. As for concertinas, good hybrids sound great, good vintage instruments sound great; they're just different. We're really lucky this modern world offers us so many choices. As a side note: when playing, or when I listen to someone else playing my instruments, I perceive a strong difference in sound between my Jeffries GD and my Morse GD. But when recorded, I can't tell which is which, and I know from friends that when I'm playing for dances, thru a big PA system, the differences in sound pretty much disappear.
  2. Jim Besser

    Garys new (?) Wolverton: a comment

    I had a chance to play Gary's Wolverton, and it is indeed a fine sounding and playing instrument, a welcome addition to the universe of available concertinas. This hybrid-vs-traditional-reeded debate is endless, in part because it is so very subjective. I play both, and like both, for different reasons. And the people I play with have a wide range of opinions about how they sound. Some really can't tell the difference; some prefer the sound of the hybrids, some the sound of the traditional instruments. I gravitate to the traditional side, but when I pick up an instrument to play just for fun, it's generally one of the Morse hybrids. Responding to the OP's question: there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It's a mix of what makes you happiest, what you can afford, what's available. Start with the assumption that the good hybrids (Morse, Wolverton, Edgley, Tedrow, etc.) are every bit as playable as the best vintage instruments, and in many cases may be more mechanically reliable. If you like the sound of the hybrids, and that's what you can afford, the choice is obvious. Personally, I find the sound of a good CG hybrid is very close to the sound produced by a traditional CG instrument; there's much more of a difference between GD hybrids and traditional instruments. One's not better than the other, just different. But again, it's all subjective.
  3. In most of the English sessions I've attended, GDs predominate. I've always brought both CG and GD to English sessions, but rarely take out the CG.
  4. I'm anything but a science geek, but what I believe is this: a concertina with traditional reeds produces a very pure tone without a lot of overtones, and this cuts through ambient sound more effectively than a more overtony sound - like that produced by accordion reeds. Many years ago, I sat on the outdoor patio of a pub in London, Ont., and a friend and I did a little test. I was playing a Morse hybrid GD, with accordion reeds; my friend was playing a vintage Jeffries GD. Sitting at the table, my Morse sounded every bit as loud as the Jeffries, maybe louder. But friends who were listening said that away from the immediate area, the Jeffries was much more audible. I don't know anything about the physics of sound, but I'm speculating that the purity of the sound of traditional concertina reeds projects with special effectiveness.
  5. Jim Besser

    2Many Buttons

    Randy Stein and I are demonstrating that English and Anglo concertinas can coexist, and jazz/classical players and trad musicians can have a great time playing together. Our new duo - 2Many Buttons - playing at the Department of Agriculture farmers market in downtown Washington, DC.
  6. This was posted on Facebook by the International Concertina Association today: Sad news to hear that David Cornell also has passed away last week after a long illness. He was an excellent musician, orginally opera singer en look here for lots of his work for Duet concertina: http://www.concertina.com/cornell/ http://www.concertina.org/sound-archive/ I remember his performances at the Northeast Squeeze In; he was an amazing performer..
  7. Jim Besser

    Duet Recordings

    A few years back, I worked with Alan to get some recordings of the late Big Nick Robertshaw on 'Duet International." Unfortunately, Nick - my predecessor as musician for the Foggy Bottom Morris Men and the consummate player of the Jeffries duet - never got into a recording studio. What we have is an informal recording he made in his barn. A few of these are his own compositions - 'Beer that Tastes Like Beer" has become something of an anthem among American Morris sides, for obvious reasons. http://rememberbignick.pbworks.com/w/page/10496931/A Night with Big Nick Nick had 3 Jeffries duets, I believe, but mostly gigged on the one he bought at a pawn shop in England decades ago for some ridiculously low price. The way he told it, he brought it to Colin Dipper to be fettled and told him that he wanted the loudest concertina in the world. I believe Dipper succeeded; at Morris events, you could hear his playing blocks away. Nick had a daring, robust playing style. He obviously didn't believe in the minimal use of chords of many Morris squeezers, as you can see here as he plays for Foggy Bottom - one of the dancers is his son. Here he is in an English pub, and you can see how he played the living daylights out of his concertina. I remember many times watching him perform major surgery on his concertina in the middle of a gig to fix something. He did not play gently. I believe he had his Jeffries set up in an unusual tuning; I don't know the details, but believe Gary Coover does.
  8. Randy Stein and I are doing an Introduction to Concertinas workshop for the School of Musical Traditions in Rockville, Md. on June 22. Aimed at beginners and those who have just gotten the itch to play, we'll cover the basics: what concertina system is right for you? What are the advantages/disadvantages of each? What resources are available for learning concertina? How much money do you need to spend to start down this road? And we'll teach a few simple tunes. There will be several loaner instruments available for those who need them. Randy plays English, and focuses on jazz, pop and classical; I play Anglo, with an emphasis on traditional dance music, with a side interest in ragtime. So we cover a pretty wide range of styles. If you know anybody in the Washington/ Baltimore area who might be interested, pass this on! Here's the link .
  9. Jim Besser

    What is folk music today? UK and USA

    An interesting question that's been on my mind a lot lately; last year I started a new band that is focusing entirely on the rich body of 'neo-trad' music emanating from England, France, Belgium and the Scandi countries. It seems to me that in the US, the folk scare of the 1960s - the Kingston Trio and its ilk - became fossilized and factionalized; across the pond, there was an early recognition that bringing in diverse influences enriched the music. So in England you had the influence of the folk rock surge, and the infiltration of French influences into the English trad scene, and more recently, Scandi and others. In the US, there is a robust oldtime scene, but it seems dominated by purists who are offended by the melding of other traditions into oldtime music; the same goes for the lively Irish scene. Maybe it's that in Europe and the UK, people tend to think of "trad" music as something that's always evolving; in the US, "folk" is seen by its practitioners more as a cultural relic, not to be tampered with, and by younger people as something that only old guys like me do. Maybe there's a fundamental cultural difference; in Europe, the melding of influences is part of life; in the US, we are all in our walled-off little niches. As Craig notes above, in my area - Washington DC - there is a lot of diverse music going on, but it seems to me that there is very, very little. cross fertilization. Which, to my way of thinking, is too bad.
  10. Jim Besser

    NEFFA 2019

    Haven't been to a NEFFA in at least 8 years - sadly, because it's the best. Here's a video that includes a little concertina.net meetup we did a long time ago. Concertinas at about 4.30. I'd recognize the sound of David's Hayden anywhere!
  11. Jim Besser

    forScore question

    Andrew - thanks, that's really helpful.
  12. Jim Besser

    forScore question

    Ha. I did RTFM and it didn 't answer my questions. FMs can be like that.
  13. Since we're discussing forScore....I've used it for years, but never bothered reading the documentation (big surprise). My question: I organize files by the different bands I'm in, different categories of tunes (current projects, things for later, etc.) I have used the 'tags' function to do this, and it works, but I'm wondering: what's the difference between 'tags' and 'labels?' For filtering, is one preferable over the other? The forScore support page doesn't really address this. Is there any way to do batch edits for tags/labels? I have 300 or 400 PDFs, and it's a chore to change metadata on groups of files. I'm getting ready to migrate to a new (and bigger) iPad, so this would be a fine time to actually figure out how things work!
  14. Jim Besser

    iPad music score apps

    I've been using ForScore for a long time. Uses PDFs, has annotation capability, organizing into sets, playlists or other categories is relatively easy. Not perfect, but pretty darned good, and works well with IOS devices. Works well with bluetooth foot pedals, if that's something you need. On thing you might want to consider: the scores on a mini are pretty small. I'm about to replace mine with a full size iPad. Your mileage may vary.
  15. Jim Besser

    Dog Days in Ithaca?

    Sadly, not me. I've been there with 3 different sides, but 2 of them are defunct, and my primary side has other priorities. Too bad - it's a fun event.