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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

    Anglo players: great left hand exercise

    There are enough differences between bandoneon and Anglo that I'm not sure it's a factor. The in-out pattern isn't particularly difficult; it's the pattern of the melody, and how it centers on the last fingers of the left hand. And, of course, getting the pattern into your head.
  2. Anglo players: if you're like me, your left hand is a lot less adept at melody than your right, especially when melody centers on your pinky and ring finger. Here's a great exercise: learn Piazolla's Libertango. I'm doing it this week for a gig on Sunday. My head is about to explode, but it's lots of fun, and it strikes me as a great exercise for improving left hand dexterity and control. The fingering does get a bit tricky.
  3. This coming Sunday and Monday. Let me know what works for you
  4. Hi David - sunday and monday. It’ll be great toplay tunes with you, especially since I’ll miss NESI this year. Let me know what works;i have transportation jb
  5. Jim Besser

    Nick Robertshaw

    Nick was the longtime musician for and foreman of the Foggy Bottom Morris Men in Washington, DC. I got to hear his playing for years when I was musician for another local group; when that group folded, I joined Foggy Bottom and played with Nick for a couple of years before his untimely death. Although I play Anglo and he played Jeffries duet, his style had a huge impact on my own playing. Foggy Bottom still does some of the dances he introduced, and when I play them, it's his concertina's voice that I hear in my head. He was a larger than life character - an incredible presence in any pub and a dominant force at any Morris gathering. Among the many songs he wrote and sang was Beer that Tastes Like Beer," which has become a standard among American Morris groups and has worked its way to the UK and beyond. Nick's playing style was energetic and creative; he didn't believe in many of the conventions that can make Morris music uninteresting to listeners. I remember an English musician sternly lecturing me that 7th chords are never appropriate in Morris music. I told Nick, who used 7ths with abandon, and his reply was pretty much unprintable. Nick had 3 Jeffries duets; his primary instrument was one he bought in the early 70s, I believe, at a London pawnshop for something like 70 pounds. He took it to Colin Dipper and told him he wanted the loudest concertina in the world. Dipper, I believe, must have taken that to heart; you could hear Nick blocks away. Here's the Wiki created after his death, with a link to his one semi-formal recording, "A Night with Big Nick." http://rememberbignick.pbworks.com/w/page/10496936/FrontPage Here's a great example of his playing: Here's Nick doing his creative version of Princess Royal;; his son Thomas is one of the dancers.
  6. Hi Erik - that sounds great. I play Anglo, lots of English ceilidh, Morris and Playford tunes , but love playing with just about anybody. Mixed sessions are always great. BTW, I was a music colleague of the late Big Nick Robertshaw, one of the true masters of the Jeffries duet. If you haven't encountered his music, you should! jb
  7. I'll be on the road for a while this summer, following some cyclers biking the Erie Canal, and always looking for folks who want to play some tunes along the way. Anybody? PM me, or email direct: concertinist@gmail.com . Also would love to find some English tunes sessions, but I suppose that's too much to ask.
  8. Jim Besser

    "Top Ten" session tunes?

    I should add that the sessions I've attended during several UK visits have been incredibly welcoming. The important thing is to understand what kind of session it is, and to know that before you jump in.
  9. Jim Besser

    "Top Ten" session tunes?

    It varies a lot from session to session. I was at three in England last summer and the variety of tunes was considerable. I know a lot of English tunes, but most of the tunes we played were unfamiliar to me. Which was great - I came home with a long list of new favorites. One piece of advice: listen first, get a sense of the tenor of the session. The sessions I attended were all very much focused on English music - which is what I wanted - and two different players told me they aren't real happy with visiting Americans who seem to want to play Irish. There are Irish sessions for those inclined in that direction. That said, at ever session, someone would ask me to play something quintessentially American ("Play one of those Appalachian tunes," I heard a few times). Given your locale, I have a suggestion: Yellow Rose of Texas! (The oldtime dance version, not the sung one)
  10. Jim Besser

    Sessions In London

    It was a fine session indeed, as was Chris Shaw's the following evening at The George. Wish I was going again this year.
  11. Recently I sent my Jeffries G/D Anglo to Greg Jowaisas for some tuning. I also asked him to do what he could to lighten the action, and give it a general once over. This was a good Jeffries before the repairs, but the difference when I got it back was instantly apparent. It's brighter, the chords sound better and it's much easier to play. A bandmate immediately noticed the improvement. Greg has done most of the maintenance on my good boxes, including new bellows on both, and he continues to demonstrate why so many of us trust him with our valued instruments.
  12. Jim Besser

    Sweet Jenny Jones, Anglo

    I've played it for years for several dancers doing a waltz clog routine. It's a wonderful tune.
  13. Jim Besser

    Tangling With The Tango On The Anglo

    Sorry, I don't have a clue - and at one point I searched for information on the composer, to no avail.
  14. Jim Besser

    Tangling With The Tango On The Anglo

    Tango Caliente works very nicely on a C/G Anglo: http://abcnotation.com/tunePage?a=trillian.mit.edu/~jc/music/abc/Argentina/TangoCaliente/0003
  15. Jim Besser

    Pentangle.....concertina !

    Me. I was one of countless young people who slavishly learned his version of Angie on guitar.