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Jim Besser

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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. Ah, I missed that. Hope there's a good open band near her!
  2. She should come to the Glen Echo Open band, which plays every other month for the Friday contra dance series. Tell her that newbies can sit in the back row, and no matter how loud they play, nobody will hear them. Only the front row is amplified, and there are up to 40 musicians on stage, so it's pretty much a wall of sound. It's also a good way to get more proficient at learning by ear, since there are no prepared setlists and no distributed notation.
  3. Like many others, I've been much taken with melodeonist Frank Lee's gorgeous new CD, "Bric a Brac Box," and I've been playing around with arranging some of the tunes for Anglo concertina. As I understand it, this one - Dear Tobacco" - is a Cumbrian tune dating from the early 19th Century. But that information comes from the Internet, so it could well be inaccurate. What's not inaccurate: I'm playing on a Jeffries GD Anglo.
  4. Hi Al - my hand positions are fairly static, but do shift sometimes, primarily when I do low bass runs. Example: the tune Whistling Rufus, with the cool bass run in the A part. If I don't shift my left hand down a position for that measure, the run involves hitting successive notes with my pinky, not a happy situation. But for most tunes involving low basses and low chords, the pinky is heavily involved. My right hand never shifts positions.
  5. Greg Jowaisas is also an outstanding concertina technician, but I don't know if he works on hybrids. He's just outside Cincinnati.
  6. Last I heard, Bob is relocating to North Carolina, and going independent. He will continue doing repairs, but there will be a pause while he moves and gets set up. And he will no longer be in the Northeast, or working under the Button Box banner. That said, I don't know if he works on hybrid concertinas other than those produced by the Button Box. You might want to touch base with Bob Tedrow in Alabama - not Northeast, but there aren't a lot of options. Or send it back to Frank. Some accordion repair shops will do simple stuff on accordion-reeded concertinas - I checked for my own Morse instruments - but this would not be my first choice.
  7. Well, if you do all that, you'll have no problems switching! I watched an old friend play both EC and Anglo, and it made my head hurt. I play the Jeffries GD for a majority of the English ceilidh and American contra dance tunes I do. I love a lot of John Kirkpatrick tunes, and - emulating his Anglo playing - play most in C, on the CG. So many tunes I play in the keys of G and D work fine on either instrument, but the sound is different, and which I play depends on how a particular tune sounds to me. It's very subjective, and I rarely can predict which I'll prefer, so trial and error is the rule. Increasingly, I'm interested in modern Euro acoustic music - French, Flemish, etc. - and while the GD predominates, I use both, depending to a great degree on what I'm doing with the left hand. Am I doing a lot of bass runs? Specific chording? That plays a big role in determining which I use. As I said, I prefer the CG for Morris, and play many of the tunes in the key of C; I almost always play solo, so I don't have to worry about melodeon players locked into the key of G. I have a very loud Jeffries GD, but the guys have a much easier time hearing my Lachenal or my hybrid CG.
  8. I prefer the Jeffries layout, but honestly, it doesn't make all that much difference; you get used to what you play. I switch back and forth - my CG is Wheatstone, my GD is a Jeffries. You adapt to what you have. FWIW, for Morris, I play the CG almost all the time; the higher register cuts through the clatter of sticks, the jingle of bells and the hecklers. It's also true that if you like the sound of the top Irish players, you'll probably want to stick with the CG. You can play Irish tunes on the GD just fine, but the sound isn't the same. For English tunes - no hard and fast rule. John Kirkpatrick plays the vast majority of his Anglo tunes on the CG.
  9. I played this on my Morse hybrid - my Jeffries was in the shop - and i really missed having a drone on this tune. It came back yesterday (a major overhaul; it sounds and plays so much better) and maybe I'll rework the tune with a drone part.
  10. I recorded this tune - Bagpipers, an English tune from the late 1700s - a couple of years ago. But seeing a recent video of a workshop by the band Topette in which they arranged this tune, I was motivated to try for a more interesting arrangement. Still a work in progress. Played on a 30 button Anglo CG concertina.
  11. The short answer is, it depends. I own a CG Lachenal that was refitted with a Dipper mechanism a number of years ago, one of a group sold by Paul Groff. It is a superb instrument - very fast, great tone, a superb player. My GD is a Jeffries, and I've become much fonder of the Jeffries layout, but I am loathe to give up the refitted Lachenal, so I go back and forth between the two systems. But Lachenals, to the best of my knowledge, were quite variable in the quality of the reeds. The repair people who have worked on mine have rated its reeds as top quality. But I have played other Lachenals with Dipper internals that play well, but didn't sound nearly as good. You might want to check with a repair tech like Greg Jowaisas to get a sense of whether a refit would be worthwhile. I wouldn't go into it blind.
  12. A quirky, fascinating tune by Emma Reid, played on a 30 button Morse GD Anglo.
  13. The Shropshire Lass, played on a 30 button Morse GD hybrid Anglo. Taken more or less from the playing of Andy Turner.
  14. Fantastic instrument. Our trombone player has pretty much switched to Harpejji, playing it mostly as an electric bass. And he's using it to compose new tunes; we've played a couple of his new tunes at contras this year. Also an outstanding instrument for those with hand / finger issues; very little stress on the joints.
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