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Jim Besser

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Everything posted by Jim Besser

  1. > Thank you Jim for playing my tune to everyone at the Squeeze in >,I am sure you did your usual professional job. It wasn't me who started it; I just walked into the session and pulled out my instrument, and someone else started playing a tune that sounded really cool to me. I fumbled for a minute or 2 -- I play it in C on the C/G, to emulate your cool bass work -- and then realized it was Chocolate Rabbit. So thanks are due to someone else who should be identified. But I did start Limey Pete in another session, and people really liked that, too. Next year we should do an ALan Day Tunes session.
  2. Back from the SI after an 8 hour drive that seemed like 15, especially because it was a bummer to be leaving. Sadly, the recording I made of Alan Day's Chocolate Rabbit did not come out. Official explanation: technical difficulties. Real explanation: I forget to see if there was any room left on the mini-disc. Apologies to all-- but Alan, it was played with zest, and everybody in the room ( and it was pretty crowded) seemed to really like it. Many thanks to the BUtton Box folks for making it all happen. Thanks to Ken for putting together the makers workshop; it was great getting to try out the Edgley, MOrris and Tedrow boxes.
  3. The last time I flew out of Minneapolis, I discovered that the airport has a lovely observation lounge...high above the airport, windows on all sides, comfortable seats -- and not a soul but me the entire hour I was in there. That's not surprising, since it's not well marked, and is somewhat out of the way. Alas, I did not have a concertina, but did have a harmonica, which I played inexpertly but with excellent acoustics.
  4. I'd like to throw something else into the discussion of stage fright: the question of concentration. I've performed a lot over the years, and while often nervous, it's generally held in check. But often I have a problem concentrating-- especially when I'm playing something I know very well. Watching the dog walking by instead of the dancers is sometimes a problem, but I also sometimes have trouble when I start worrying: wow, this A part is going great, but will I really remember the B when I get there? What I'm wondering: how do people focus attention when they're playing? Do you think in words about what you're doing? "Hey, watch out, tricky passage ahead?" "Don't forget to start the next passage on the G row." What are you thinking about as you play? How do you keep focused in a way that is useful, and doesn't lead to getting too tangled up in thought to actually PLAY? Is it something more primal -- listening, feeling the music in your bones, etc? It seems to me that concentration -- the right KIND of concentration -- is a key to taming stage fright. What I'm wondering about is what constitutes good concentration.
  5. I flew to Minneapolis for my brother's wedding, where I was playing the concertina, just a few days after the airlines resumed service following Sept. 11. I expected all kinds of hassles about the strange X-ray image. They just waved me through -- but took my daughter's school backpack apart and inspected it minutely because a little toy bird apparently looked like something dangerous. My only travel hassles have been getting into Canada with instruments. We had been instructed before driving up for an ale: when they spot your instrument, they'll ask "are you PEFORMING?" Always answer no. I did -- but a dancer in the back seat simultaneously chirped in with "yes." Fortunately the border officer did not hear her.
  6. I'd be happy to bring my Herrington C/G, one of the older square models -- now mostly serving as a spare.
  7. It seems to me Concertina.Net is having a profound impact on the squeeze-in. I attended once, in 1999 or 2000 (it was the big anniversary year with the maroon T-shirts, if that helps pin it down), and there were precious few concertinas. My square Herrington may have been the only Anglo; there were several English and Duets. This year, it sounds like concertinas will predominate. I would guess that all the talk about the event on Concertina. Net has changed its musical demography. What do you say, Rich?
  8. As a guitar player, I've used one for years. It's a little springy device with individual paddles for each finger. I've found it's helpful in warding off repetitive stress problems with the concertina, as well. THey're available in most bigger music shops. Mine's called the Gripmaster. Check out this link: http://www.cleverjoe.com/articles/gripmast..._exerciser.html As an aside, I've also found the Wrist Wand a very useful gadget for promoting good stretching. Using it before and after a long concertina session, and sometimes in the middle, has helped me deal with chronic tennis elbow. Check out this link: http://www.wristwand.com/ Noel Hill found my Wrist Wand just about the most hilarious thing he'd ever seen.
  9. Well, after much shilly-shallying, Michael Reid and I have decided to attend. I'm looking forward to some serious Morris stuff, and hopefully a session or two on contra dance music. I'll be the one wearing the world's most ragged Concertina.Net T-shirt -- one of the first sold, and according to my wife now a certifiable rag.
  10. >I never thought it possible but I am playing my own tunes. Alan modestly refrains from adding that his tunes are really good -- catchy, danceable and concertina friendly. I brought his "Chocolate Rabbit" to a recent session and people loved it.
  11. Recently re-discovered this one, and it sounds wonderful on Anglo: The Wren. Don't know its origin, but used to be commonly used for American contra dances. http://www.thursdaycontra.com/~spuds/tunes/reels/Wren.jpg Hope some of you guys enjoy it as much as I do!
  12. >Maybe whoever runs the merchandise page could add a CNET button- Definitely, we need a Cnet button I could add to my musicians derby.
  13. Yes, I know, this isn't OUR kind of concertina (too darned many buttons, and who has arms that long?), but this site is worth checking out anyway: http://www.artsconcertinabar.com/
  14. I'm hoping to get there, but can't commit until the details of the upcoming Morris season have been revealed to a mere musician. Looking for hotel/motel/B and B recommendations, since I'm sure it's far too late to get a nice room, and I'm too old to camp.
  15. In my 4 years as musician for Bluemont Morris, I've encountered relatively few other Anglo players. My guess is that the BA is a little easier to play with emphatic chords. Many Morris musicians around here are dancers who double as musicians, and who don't play much beyond their sides' dance repetroire. For them, I think, the melodeon is more suitable. Also, as Rich says, melodeons are cheaper. Those melodeon players just keep honking when the weather turns nasty, while I dive for cover. That said, there are some outstanding concertinists playing for Morris sides, including Tom Kruskal up in New England. And, of course, the Foggy Bottom Morris Men have the incredible Big Nick playing his Jeffries Duet. I was playing Monk's March at our Bluemont Ale last year, and started hearing a pleasant echo. I turned around and saw that the very good Anglo player for Buffalo Head Morris (sorry, forgot his name) had joined in. At our last ale, there were 3 Anglo players, 2 English players, 1 Duet and a dozen or more BAs. So we're hardly extinct.
  16. Peter Barnes English COuntry Dance tune book is full of Pat Shaw compositions. An incredibly prolific fellow. Round Pound Relics is also the title of an excellent 1970s vintage record of English dance music -- Morris and otherwise -- by concertinist Tom Kurskal and fiddler Jim Morrison, both outstanding dance musicians.
  17. [One note differs from the version in Peter Barnes' English Country Dance Tunes. In the 3rd full measure from the end (with G and E7 chords indicated), Peter has the F# as a G. (Peter also indicates straight E, A, and D chords, rather than the 7th chords.) I think I have a copy somewhere that was published while composer Pat Shaw was alive. If I can find it, I'll report what it says.] I've heard it played both ways. Around here, people take a lot of liberties with the tune. Why use a 3 chord progression when you can use 6? Most ECD tunes sound like early classical music; this one certaintly doesn't. In any event, getting it up to speed is a great exercise on the Anglo
  18. >You did not give much information on the tune. >I found via Google this link. Is this the tune you > are writing about? Yes! In fact, the Mp3 you linked was recorded by my friend and longtime bandmate! Small world, isn't it? Julie is a fantastic piano player for contra and English country dances, as well as a very good fiddler. She really improvises a lot in this recording. Here's a link to a more basic version of the tune: http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/cgi/abc/gettun...iJacksonRag.gif
  19. Here's a real challenge on the Anglo C/G: Levi Jackson's Rag. It's in G, but gives you a real top row workout. Oddly, it was written and is used for English country dance, at least on this side of the pond. It's available on a variety of sites in different formats. I'm up to about 80 percent of full speed. I suspect the final 20 is going to be tough. But a fun tune.
  20. >Suffice to say, as a street musician, I am in no danger of > quitting my day job any time soon As muso for Morris dance group, I've learned that "busking" really entails cadging enough money from passersby to buy beer. And when I've gone busking with band mates, we do pretty well, but instantly blow it on food and drink. One way or the other, I've actually made hundreds of dollars busking -- but not a penny has ever made it home. I wonder if INternal Revenue considers beer a business expense.
  21. >I loosened the straps some and that seemed to help. As a tendonitis sufferer, I can offer one piece of advice: stretch. LEarn the basic wrist/arm/elbow stretches, do them before and after playing and in the middle, if you're practicing a lot. Buy a "Wrist Wand," available here: http://www.wristwand.com/. I learned this stuff the hard way. > How much money can I make as a professiona >l concertinist? Don't quit your day job.
  22. >The Anglo Concertina Demystified" is on it's way from Elderly. > My impression is that this is one of the fistful of must-have > instruction guides. For English-style, chord-and-melody playing, that and Alan Day's tutorial are the places to start, for sure. Are you in the DC burbs? If so, you're welcome to come to our periodic jams, where we cover just about every musical style, from Irish to oldtime. Rocky Top on Anglo? Weird, but fun. The squeeze in is also great. I went only once, in 1999, but hope to get there this year.
  23. >I have a good mind to have a go at Georgia on my concertina Fly across the pond and come to one of our jams. We did that one recently in Ray's honor. Sounded a little strange on the concertina, but the hammered dulcimer guy did a great job on it. (Don't tell the folks on The Session; I'd be banished for life, and maybe beyond)
  24. >What should happen at the inaugural session > of a bunch of people who probably haven't > done this before? I've been to inaugural sessions where the hosts open the format up for democratic debate -- and it usually ends in angry chaos and more talk about policies and procedures than music. What seems to work: let people know in advance the general parameters (" a relaxed, friendly slow session focusing on Irish music....") and then run in the way that's fun for YOU. people who enjoy what you do will keep coming; people who want to do it differently won't, and you'll be spared the indignant debates that seem to preoccupy so many of the purists on The Session. If you really have fun, chances are others will, as well.
  25. Today I was trying to unravel the wonderful mysteries of Alan Day's bass runs. Normally, I'd just play along until I got it, but he plays a G/D and I play a C/G. Then I tried something. I put the tune on a CD, ran it through the Amazing Slower Downer and changed the pitch. Voila: at +4.97, it was close to in tune with the C/G, and learning the tune became a snap. Ain't modern technology wonderful?
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