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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. 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..
  2. 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.
  3. 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 .
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. Jim Besser

    forScore question

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

    forScore question

    Ha. I did RTFM and it didn 't answer my questions. FMs can be like that.
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Jim Besser

    Dog Days in Ithaca?

  12. Jim Besser

    Dog Days in Ithaca?

    Uh...my friend who worked with him on C and S says nobody has heard from him in years. Sorry.
  13. Jim Besser

    Dog Days in Ithaca?

    I don't know the answer, but know someone who probably does, and I'll ask him and report back. jb
  14. Jim Besser

    In praise of a good hard case

    Same here; while the instruments reside in waterproof Hardigg Pelican cases at home, they almost always travel in the Lowepro Flipside 300. It's padded enough to withstand the expected jostling in pubs; being a backpack, it's much easier to carry during all-day Morris walking tours. And living/playing in the big city, I worry much less about theft when the instruments are on my back. Different cases for different situations.
  15. 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.