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Jim Besser

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  1. Another amazing demonstration of the capabilities of the English concertina. Not that I'm jealous or anything.
  2. Yes - on corner movements, playing to the one the vast audience is watching - inevitably the most dramatic and athletic dancer. Grunts and gasps are my guys’ usual mode of communication. Watching number 1 doesn’t generally work for me, since it’s an ever-changing position, and often one of the venerable ancients will take that slot. Generally, our foreman is the best and most robust dancer, and he can be anywhere in the set. Rule # 1 : never piss off the foreman, who is always right, even when he’s wrong.
  3. My late bandmate and friend Michael Reid (an early c.net contributor) was an accomplished English player, but caught the ITM bug and switched to Anglo. It took a while, but after a while he became very proficient.
  4. I've done that, and it usually just pisses everybody off. Playing to the best dancer sometimes helps pull the rest of the side along. And I don't get many complaints when I do this. Years ago, I played for a side on which there were major disagreements about the proper speed. On one memorable occasion, we were in the middle of a dance we did all the time and - simultaneously -one dancer yelled "faster" and one yelled "slower." The perils of a morris musician!
  5. Great tunes, Robin. I seem to recall playing a rousing Constant Billy with you on the patio of a pub in London, Ont., years ago. I do miss getting to play tunes with you! Some Morris tunes that work great out of context: Orange in Bloom; Step Back; Old Molly Oxford. My English ceilidh band uses several Morris tunes for contras and ceilidhs, including Wm and Nancy, Valentine and the tune for the Upton Stick Dance - sped up and evened out. Funny story: at a contra, we ended a set with Valentine, and for fun, we ended the tune with slows. The dancers didn't get the joke, but the caller was a Morris dancer, and she totally cracked up.
  6. Yes, that's my thinking. It's interesting, playing for a Morris side with diverse ages and wide-ranging athleticism. I often find myself in a situation in which a robust, powerful young guy is across from a veteran who isn't nearly as spry. The young guy wants the music really slow, with more variation to account for his air time; the old guy (like my age) needs it a lot faster because he dances much closer to the ground. There are times in the dance when the music is right for one, which means it will be wrong for the other. Looking for some happy medium generally doesn't work. When I started playing for dancers a long time ago, one of the people who helped me along told me to play to the best dancer in the set, in the hope that he/she will pull others along. Not a perfect solution, but it seems mostly to work.
  7. Music sounds great to me . I love hearing great Morris tunes out of context. So many are really nice tunes, but you tend to lose the loveliness in the clatter of sticks and the weird pacing the dancing requires.
  8. All great. Dearest Dicky has always been one of my favorite Morris tunes - but sadly, none of the sides I've played for has danced it. Glorishers - That's at least the third totally different tune I've heard with that name in the Morris realm, and by far the most interesting. Thanks for it jb
  9. Wow. I play two different versions of Trunkles, for Bledington and Bampton - the modal version and the more common one - but never heard this one. Amazing playing - as usual, from Adrian. jb
  10. Yep. I've been nagging people about that for years. I remember playing with it with Bob in the NESI pickup band.
  11. I just saw this. Yes, the open band is open to all musicians, regardless of experience. The video you cite was special....we played Amelia the week Bob McQuillen died. Bob was one of the key figures in the revival of contra dancing in this country in the last half of the 20th Century - and he was a mainstay of the Northeast Squeeze In.
  12. Over on Facebook, I was really taken by Martin Ellison's beautiful rendition of Lord Zouche's Masque, a REALLY old English tune. But every time I'd go back to it, I'd start the modern avant garde jazz tune "Ghosts," which I also learned from Martin's playing. So why not combine the two in a set? Not sure they work together, but it solved the problem of keeping them separate in my mind!
  13. You know how you hear a tune on a CD and don't think anything of it, and they a year later you hear it and think "OMG, this is great?" That's the way it was with this tune, Unanimity. I heard it on one of the Leveret CDs a while back, and maybe because their CDs are so full of good tunes, I didn't pay any attention. Then, yesterday, I heard Andy Turner's version on his previously mentioned blog, and I was gobsmacked. So this morning I worked my way through it. It's rough, but it seems to me to be one of those tunes that's uniquely suited to the Anglo concertina. Now I have to go back and see what Leveret did with it. https://soundcloud.com/concertinist/unanimity-march-29
  14. It's a weird time. I have a LOT of time to play, but that'll end next week when the grandkid and his parents come to stay with us for the duration. With gigs canceled for the foreseeable future, I'm getting to work on tunes I never had time for.
  15. Here it is - another tune for the times: The World Turned Upside Down.
  16. Craig - I didn't think about that one. Foggy Bottom Morris does a dance ' Cavalier' to The World Turned Upside Down. Maybe I'll record it today.
  17. Yes, it was Skeeter Davis . I worked this up a couple of years ago at the Northeast Squeeze In - for a session called "Pity Party, " tunes / songs of doom and gloom - and then forgot about it until yesterday. Reading the morning news about hoarding toilet paper and crashing stock markets, it suddenly came to mind. I can't imagine why. It's fun trying some of these old pop songs on concertina. One I worked up a while back: Blame it on the Bossa Nova. Maybe that will be today's quarantine project.
  18. With so much free time thanks to our new social separation, I've been recording a few things. Here's a set of French tunes - Rondeau des Chiens Battus, by Stephane Delicq, and Bourree D'Aurora Sand, traditional.
  19. Hearing the news today - stock market crashes, quarantines, disease, politicians doing their politician thing - this tune came to mind. Those of you over a certain age may recognize it.
  20. So: It's a strange time for musicians, with so many events canceled, gigs disappeared into thin air, sessions on hold. So why not come together despite our physical isolation and share tunes through the medium of Facebook? (I'm doing this on FB and not c.net because this isn't restricted to concertinas, although I'm hoping lots of concertina friends will participate) Here's the idea: record (video or audio) a tune or a set you're working on during these quarantined times. Any genre, any instrument, and we're not looking for perfection. Just fun stuff that you're working on. What do you think? Let's give it a try and see what happens. https://www.facebook.com/groups/670435983731956/
  21. Thanks; that's interesting. I keep thinking of Jeffries as scarce, but it occurred to me that I really don't know what that means.
  22. As a matter of curiosity, I'm wondering if anybody knows how many Jeffries - all systems, or just Anglos, all the different iterations of the company - were built?
  23. My experience : the Morse C/G is a fast and very playable instrument; I can play it interchangeably with my good vintage instrument and don't see much of a difference when playing fast reels. Every hybrid G/D I've played, including the Morse, is a little harder to play fast than a really good vintage box. I feel a significant difference between my G/D Morse and my Jeffries. That said, I've played many contra dances and ceilidhs with the Morse G/D. So strictly in terms of playability, I don't think you'd gain very much. Sound, of course, is a different matter entirely.
  24. As always, a work in progress. It's maddening, how slow progress comes these days!
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