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Jim Besser

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About Jim Besser

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    Heavyweight Boxer

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  • Gender
  • 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

    Tips & Tricks for Contra

    Well, if it's just you on rhythm, my suggestion is keep it simple. Basic boom-chucks. Rhythmic pounding on the chords. Jody is a master of playing rhythm on concertina, but he's almost always playing with a very strong pianist, which leaves him free to do a lot of rhythmic punctuation, adding enormously to the drive of the music. Without a piano ( and without Jody's extraordinary skills) , it seems to me, you'd be better off keeping it simple and forceful. I once had to do a contra with just a fiddle and concertina. Mostly, I pretended I was playing guitar, doing a lot of bass-chord stuff, occasional bass runs, etc. When playing with bigger groups I sometimes like to pretend I'm a string bass and do strong bass lines, with occasional chords thrown in. That should work nicely on your D/A bari.
  2. Our second gig there. https://www.kennedy-center.org/video/index/M67489
  3. Speaking to the original topic: my late friend and bandmate (and early c.net contributor) Michael Reid was an outstanding English concertina player when I met him, and he played that in our band . Along the way, he began to refocus on Irish trad and decided to learn Anglo. When he moved to Colorado (and out of our band) he made the switch and become a highly competent Anglo player in the Irish style. It was the absence of the classic concertina sound in our band that spurred me to get serious about playing concertina.
  4. Jim Besser

    Tedrow Anglo baritone

    I don't know about the Tedrow, but I have a Morse ESB C/G baritone and is just about as fast as the standard Morse instruments. Which is to say, quite fast.
  5. Jim Besser

    The Wexford Carol

    Very nice.
  6. I'll try to record Old Heidelburg this week or next. I'm finding it more challenging than other Kerry Mills tunes. I thought I had it nailed, then played it with the metronome and was fairly appalled - the rhythmic shift from A to B and back to A really threw me.
  7. Great stuff, Brian.A few years back I actually copied your version of Robinson's Tune for our yearly and thankfully brief Abbot's Bromley performance. "Thankfully" because we only do it on the night of the winter solstice, outside, processing up and down a very cold street. Not surprisingly, I associate the tune with pain. I'm surprised more Anglo players don't get into ragtime/Tin Pan Alley tunes. My current obsession is the music of Kerry Mills - tunes like Old Heidelburg, The Kerry Mills Barn Dance, Whistling Rufus and At a Georgia Camp Meeting work surprisingly well on concertina, not to mention his classic Redwing. And I learned something approximating your version of Weeping Willow.
  8. Jim Besser

    Why Give Up

    I'm late to the party, but here are my two cents. - people quit because they don't understand that learning to play an instrument well is not a linear process. Inevitably there are frustrating plateaus; in my experience, that's when many people quit. - concertinas, especially Anglos, seem incredibly easy to play; a novice can pick up an Anglo and learn to play a simple tune more easily than almost any other instrument. When they realize it takes hard work and focus to play well, the charm is gone for many - concertinas seem to attract gadgeteers - people who are intrigued by the Rube Goldbergish aspects of concertina design. Eventually that wears off and they move on to the next gizmo. - to the extent concertinas are folk instruments, they share something with others of that ilk: many players find it hard to focus on a single instrument. Today it's concertina, tomorrow pipes, and so on. I have a hammered dulcimer on my wall to reinforce the point; luckily, I decided to focus, but wish I had done so much earlier. - as others have mentioned, availability of affordable instruments. If all you have access to is a hard to play cheapie, it takes incredible determination to keep playing.
  9. Jim Besser

    My baby just cares for me

    Best video I've seen in a LONG time!
  10. Jim Besser

    Dapper's Delight - Lumps Of Pudding

    Amazing version. Plum Pudding has always been one of my favorite Morris tunes. I never heard this version, but it has become my favorite.
  11. Jim Besser

    Christmas songs... in Yiddish

    Cool story. My own experience with stagecraft and concertinas was more theater of the absurd. A few years ago I was asked to teach an actor one tune for a stage production. Sure, I naively said, so I drove 90 miles to do the deed, only to find out that they intended for him to learn and play - in a week - a long and complex classical piece in Eflat. On the cheap 20 button C/G anglo they found in a prop room. I told them there was no way an experienced concertinist could master this in a week, and no way it was going to be accomplished on a 20 button C/G . They thought I was kidding, and were adamant that he play it note for note. But their model was a full orchestral version. What were they thinking? What I ultimately did was 'compose' something that faintly suggested the classical piece, in C, using an absolute minimum of buttons. The actor was happy, but I don't think the producer shared his joy. They offered me tickets to the play, but I thought it wise not to witness my handiwork.
  12. Jim Besser

    Microvox mics and foot pedals

    Wow, that actually looks like a good option, but I just placed an order for something else. After a long talk with a sound consultant, I'm going to try this - a muting DI box with preamp, very basic EQ. My reasoning: it should solve the muting problem; it provides a small measure of the sound customization that Jody talked about; and it has a second output that can go to my Hotspot personal monitor. Aside from the muting issue, my biggest problem on stage is hearing myself amid the clamor of a very loud band (drums, electric guitar, a horn section and an accordion generally playing in the same register as me). If this works, I can have a direct feed from my Microvoxes, thru the Tonebone DI box, to the personal monitor, mounted on a stand right next to me, and maybe actually hear myself for a change! In the meantime, I am still hoping to buy the Orchid power supply for the Microvox, which appears to be a little more solid, but they're not responding to my emails, and there are no dealers in the US. I have 3 sets of perfectly good Microvox mics, and three dead or dying power supplies.
  13. Jim Besser

    Microvox mics and foot pedals

    Thanks, Jody, that's helpful. I hadn't planned on going to processing, but I can see the advantages, and if it also allows for muting, all the better. Do you find that sound techs are able to deal with your setup without too much angst?
  14. Jim Besser

    Microvox mics and foot pedals

    Wow, the replacement Orchid box looks like what I need, but it doesn't look like they sell these in the US. I'm wondering if there are any alternatives.
  15. Jim Besser

    Microvox mics and foot pedals

    Ha, that's all I need. Actually, we already have a wah wah on the accordion, and a tangle of pedals on the 'zouk and electric guitar. Think I'd better limit myself to just volume!