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Jim Besser

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Everything posted by Jim Besser

  1. What did I have in mind? Dunno. Probably a separate forum. This forum is great, but like many on the Internet, threads quickly move far afield from the original topic. So what I had in mind is something more structured: perhaps just list the tunes you're working on now, the tunes you consider favorites, the tunes you've heard perfomred on concertina and aspire to learn. Or it could be an ongoing thread in this forum. Just curious whether there's any interest. I like to hear what other people are working on, and getting pointers on good tunes.
  2. As a poor reader of music, I don't like sessions that rely on printed music. That said, the Portland Collection is worth every penny. The tunes are varied -- lots of Irish standards, but also wonderful modern contra dance tunes that are very nice on concertina (Bus STop, Don Tremaine's, etc.) And some nice French Canadian. For a bit of fun, try Reel des Accordeonistes on Anglo. A workout, but fun! This book is a lot of bang for the buck. I understand there's a volume 2 in the works.
  3. I'm wondering if our gracious host would permit -- and if there is any interest out there in concertina-land in -- a new forum. What I would like to see is a Playlists forum. I would like to see other musicians' playlists -- their favorites, what tunes they're learning, what tunes they regard as particularly concertina friendly, etc. Not a lot of chit-chat, but just lists and descriptions. Anybody interested?
  4. I've tried most of them, and found that most are overkill for my needs -- simple tunes, single staff, etc. I second the suggestion of Noteworthy, which has an added advantage; there's a utility that lets it read and convert to ABC format, which means you can import all the great tunes on the Web. I registered Melody Assistant, which is nice in many respects, but they keep upgrading, and you have to go along with the upgrades if you trade music with other users. And the interface is very confusing. I tried the simple version of Cakewalk and didn't like it at all. But this is all very personal; depends on your specific needs.
  5. >1) Would you be interested in something like this if I put it together? >2) Any suggestions on what you would like to see - or not see - in a book Interest: absolutely. I go to a lot of sessions and play a lot of chord back up --or try to. But I get in trouble when I have to move beyond the 'peoples choice' chords. Never quite sure how to play a B7, or a Cm. And how to incorporate runs with chords. I'm an old rhythm guitar player, and when I'm playing backup on Anglo I hear the runs in my head I'd do on the guitar to connect the chords, but it doesn't always come out right on the c'tina. So bring it on, I'll buy!
  6. >Favorite slow air: Da Slockit Light (Tom Anderson) >Favorite Jig: Handsome Young Maids Great taste! Wonderful tunes. "Handsome" is tough at contra dance speed, but doable (at least for me). >Many more: Barrow Burn, Round the Horn (Jay Ungar), Morpeth Lasses, Evit >Gabriel (Daniel Thonon/Ad Vielle Que Pourra) There's a lot of overlap on our playlists!
  7. Whoops, guess I neglected to answer the actual question about the FIRST tune that hooked me. Banish Misfortune, from the classic album. Picked it out on my garage sale 20 button, and was smitten. Oddly, once I got more deeply into the instrument, I never really played it again. In the all-time fave category, I commend to all of you Larry Unger's The Dancer, a beautiful, eerie waltz that sounds like it was written for the concertina, although it wasn't. When I got my new concertina it didn't have an Eb because of the extra C#s, which made it impossible to play this tune, but Paul Groff, always helpful, fixed that. It's a tune that never fails to make me feel good, even when I don't play it with the skill it deserves.
  8. Oh goodness, my all-time favorite tunes change from week to week. But Orange in Bloom, use for my Morris side's signature dance, is an enduring favorite, transposed to C, since I play solo on a C/G. Other all-time faves: Mickey Ainsworth, the Redesdale Hornpipe, Forresters Hornpipe and the utterly obscure but charming Woodchoppers Breakdown (not the familiar Woodchoppers Reel). But I'm a musician of easy virtue; new tunes are constantly winning my undying affection until I hear the next great one.
  9. Missed this thread while traveling, but wanted to get my two shekels in. I play a lot of oldtime on Anglo c/g in various bands. Some great, concertina-friendly OT tunes that fiddlers seem to love: Magpie Fly Away my Pretty Little Miss (possibly the single easiest tune to play fast on an anglo) Puncheon Floor Over the Waterfall Richmond Cotillion Nail that catfish to the tree Cold Frosty Morning Colored Aristocracy pigtown fling Many more, can't remember names.
  10. Howard: Thanks, that does help. I've been playing music for 35 years, but only recently have I realized what a disadvantage it is not to know music theory. Maybe it's time for a course at the local college. Alan: Yes, Monks March is one of my favorites to play. I have a C/G, and play it in C, since I play solo and don't have to worry about finicky melodeon players. No, our group (Bluemont Morris) doesn't dance it with a pint pot; I guess they're getting too old for such frolics. They like to dance it with a lot of dramatic flare, playing for laughs, and it usually works.
  11. I'm looking to those of you who actually know music theory to educate me. What is it that gives Morris music played on the ANglo that special chordal quality? Is there a music term for those kinds of chords? In a common tune like Monk's March, would you use "standard" chords -- G/D/C -- or something different? I'm trying to identify what it is that makes such tunes sound so different, chordally, from the way they'd sound on a piano. Thanks.
  12. I'd love to participate. I can record our Wednesday sessions, which offer a truly strange blend of music -- Irish, contra dance, jazz, Scandanavian, Scottish, etc. The concertina will be easily identified; I'm the only one there with a squeezebox. So how do we get onboard? What about recording formats?
  13. I get it. Thanks. Not exactly intuitive, but maybe that 's because I'm a bad intuiter. A personal digression: michael, we played the waltz/hambo/etc break at Glen Echo Friday night. Great success. THe concertina was amplified enough to hear it in Baltimore. We had to play a Zweifacher, and lived in dread K2 would pronounce it wrong. All was well.
  14. Around here ( Washington DC area), sessions are widely varied. I go to one every Weds night in a friend's house that can veer off into just about any musical genre. It usually starts with contra dance music (the infamous Portland Collection is a reference), but can detour to bluegrass, old time, Scottish, Irish, pop standards, Django jazz, English country dance, klezmer, you name it. Some of that is pretty bizarre on Anglo concertina, you can be sure. I've been to music stand jams, but they don't seem to be common. There's a local Irish session that I understand is pretty rigid, which is why I haven't gone; I really like the variety and the unpredictability of the jams I attend regularly. Pub sessions are difficult. Very few venues tolerate freelancing musicians of any sort. This is a constant problem for Morris groups; pub stops are hard to arrange, and we've been thrown out of many when someone pulls out a squeezebox and starts honking. As far as I know, there's one pub in downtown Washington that has regular sessions, and one in the Maryland suburbs that does a monthly Scottish and a monthly Irish session. Here in surburban Va, we don't really have many pubs.
  15. Since someone else brought the issue up, maybe I can reveal my abysmal ignorance and plead for instructions on how to make the quote feature work.
  16. [so.. please do report any kinds of problems you have experienced and by all means of course the various methods or ways of treatment that have helped or failed but I propose that for the moment we do not suggest others to practise the same 'cure' unless a profound analysis has been carried out. Jim, what are your experiences?] Bad tennis elbow/carpel tunnel. Caused, apparently, by keyboarding all day, but seriously aggravated by playing concertina and guitar. Kept under control through medical intervention, stretching, exercise, and trying to brace the concertina whenever possible (but hard, since I play a lot of Morris). Holding up the weight of the concertina while working those tendons is a major complicating factor. In my own experience, the weight of the instrument is a huge factor. My first good box was/is a Herrington: wonderful, but heavily. My current primary concertina is much lighter, and there's a big difference in how I feel at the end of a practice session or a Morris event Interestingly, it turned out that the guitar playing -- specifically, gripping a flatpick -- was the thing that hurt the most Seems to me that a lot of people are probably in my situation -- an injury caused by work, which affects music playing. Paying attention to hand position has been a big help, as has trying to stretch between tunes. I wouldn't recommend specific treatments, but I will recommend that if you have similar problems, you seek competent medical help and SHOP AROUND. Some medical people don't want to spend the time to look at what you're doing with your keyboard, your concertina and whatever else is hurting and figure out how to help. ALso, as I learned the hard way, pain is a warning that should be heeded. I didn't do that, and regret it.
  17. [so sorry that you have the mess to clean up. Hope you were not severly hit in your area. What a bummer to miss the SI and have the alternate event cancelled.] Our area got clobbered -- 14 big oak trees down in the woods behind our house, numerous homes in the neighborhood badly damaged -- but our house was fine. Maybe it was the sound of concertina music in the howling height of the storm (it keeps the dogs from getting too panicky) kept trouble away.
  18. Say hi to my old buddy and bandmate Michael Reid. Tell him that the MOrris ale I was supposed to attend -- and which was responsible for me being unable to attend the SI -- was canceled because of the hurricane. Major bummer. Now I just have to sit here and practice tunes by myself (and clean up storm wreckage)
  19. I've raised this topic before, but still have a hard time dealing with it. To wit: what strategies do people use for effective practice, and particularly for maintaining tunes you've already learned while acquiring new ones. The problem for me: I have learned so many new tunes in recent years that the neurons must be getting overloaded. I forget the ones I've learned a while back, I squander time learning a tune and then forgetting I ever heard of it, etc. A function of old age, no doubt, but I suspect I'm not alone. So how do people organize practice, in a way that helps them maintain the things they've learned while learning lots of new things? How do you all organize playlists so they help organize practice?
  20. [Anything with either of the Kruskal borthers on it (Tom or Jody). Jody plays in Grand Picnic, and I think they've recorded. Tom is featured on "Round Pond Relics" (only in vinyl) and "Over The Water," both from Cottey Light records. Tom's in Boston (area) and Jody's in New York. The recordings of Tom are mostly Morris. If Jody's recorded, it's probably mostly contradance stuff.] Round Pond Relics is a classic; I've spent a lot of time over the years trying to learn those tunes the way Tom plays them. Highly recommended, if you can find it.
  21. [younger members. I think that's true of the folk music scene in general (at least in the US), and also in other milieus: how many teenage Deadheads do you know? But there are also a number of areas -- even outside New England -- where contra dancing is multi-generational. I have two favorite stories which relate to this, one about new dancers, and the other about generations.] At the Glen Echo weekly contra dance -- one of the biggest in the country -- there is an interesting age division. Lots of geezers like myself who have been dancing/playing contra for years. Then LOTS of very young folk -- 17 or so to early 20s, who bring an energetic, swing-influenced style And the music is changing. When I started playing, the model was the New England bands influenced by Bob McQuillan--tunes played straight up, conventional chords, very steady rhythm. The most popular bands today are swing influenced. Much jazzier sound. Led by piano players who use lots of jazz chords, never play a tune the same way twice. No more straight boom-chuka rhythms. Very challenging to play with, but the dancers seem to love it.
  22. [Neither September 11th or the 22nd is a Sunday this year. The Sundays are all multiples of 7.] Whoops. I was never good with numbers. It's this Sunday, Sept. 7. For anybody who's interested here's a link: http://www.tpff.org/
  23. Just wondering if any concertina.net denizens might attending this excellent festival on Sunday, SEpt. 11. I'll be there with my anglos, playing for a bunch of rowdy cloggers, and would enjoy hanging out with any other squeezers.
  24. I play mostly at contra dances and for cloggers and morris dancers -- all very different. But we've periodically been asked to fill in for Irish dancers, as well. One observation: people who do show dancing usually have trouble communicating with musicians. The Irish dancers I've played for seem to have very specific requirements -- speed, type of tune, a/b patterns, etc -- but don't generally do a very good job communicating it. The clogging group we've worked with for 7 or so years is the same; after all this time, they are poor at providing guidance about what they need. That said, playing for Irish dancers is fun because the music is fast and the crowds absolutely love both the music and the dance.
  25. This thread is giving me a bad case of concertina envy. Around here: a 30 button Lachenal with Dipper mechanism, a 30 button square Herrington and a 20 button no-name German/Italian/Oriental garage sale special that's actually 2 or three junky concertinas cobbled together by my unartful hands. A total piece of crap, but it's what got me started down this long and expensive road.
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