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Roger Digby

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Everything posted by Roger Digby

  1. The tune that John has provided is indeed the Bacup tune; it is very well known in English sessions and you would find that most players know it. There is an mp3 on the Britannia Dancers' website of a live performance which is well worth hearing. The problem, such as it is, lies in the name which can be variously 'Tip Top Polka', 'Tip Tap Polka', or change Polka to Hornpipe in both cases. This causes confusion because of other tunes with the same names and those players who play more than one make distinctions in the names, presumably to preserve their own sanity. Call it what you will, it's a fine tune.
  2. Thanks for that offer Dan. It's on its way to you. I think Alan will find that it is not the recording of which he is thinking. This one was not a concert performance. but was recorded by his friend at his home in Clothmakers Cottages. I hope it arrives smoothly on the site. Heaven knows what those will make of it who are hearing him for the first time! Roger
  3. When I lived in Islington, Ken was about a mile away. This is probably a rare proximity for two Anglo players, but we didn’t see a lot of each other. I would drive him to ICA meetings and we would meet at various events. When I was involved with the ‘Brighter Islington’ campaign I brought Francis Shergold and his Bampton Men down to dance on Islington Green and Ken joined us to Francis’ great pleasure. Like many who knew him I would do an impertinent impersonation of his mannered speech delivery, stressing his pronunciation, which in his case was ‘pro - nun- see - ace - eye - on’. My wife, Siân, who had not met him, accused me of being ridiculous: ‘No-one speaks like that!’. When she did finally meet him she conceded that I was not exaggerating! This meeting took place when Ken came for dinner. We lived in a three storey Victorian terrace with the kitchen and dining room in the basement and the front door and living room on the ground level. When Ken arrived I took him into the living room and introduced him to Paul Davies; this was the reason for the occasion as Paul had never met Ken and was anxious to do so. As Siân came up the stairs she says she was overwhelmed by the smell of Ken’s perfume and when she met him he was resplendent in black with his patent leather shoes, reeking of cologne and dripping with gold: rings, bracelets and crucifixes hanging all about him! I don’t remember much of the evening but we drank a lot and played and swapped concertinas late into the night, Ken having brought Kimber’s with him. When Ken died I was asked to play at his memorial, representing the ICA. I confess that I was well known in the Wenlock Arms across the way, but this was my first visit to Ken’s church of Holy Trinity, Hoxton. I found myself in the front pew next to Ursula Vaughan Williams! When I had agreed to play at the service I thought I’d be able to get away with a Headington Quarry tune , but a few days before the service the organiser asked me to play The Bells. I didn’t know it well enough to perform, but he had a recording of Ken playing it and it arrived the next day. The introduction is real Ken at his most bombastic; I’m told he had consumed no small amounts of pink gin before he played! This recording is not in any copyright and I would be very happy to post it on this site if I only knew how! I don’t even know if it’s possible to post audio files here. Last year, as a kind of remembrance of the Annual Christmas messages that Ken always placed in the ICA newsletter I emailed it to a number of concertina friends some of whom, I know, visit this site. If one of them has kept it and has the know-how to post the sound file then, please, go ahead and do so and it will be a Christmas present for all. (Ken always insisted on the spelling ‘Christmass’ to emphasise the word’s liturgical origin!) If no-one can do this or inform me of how to do it and it has not appeared after a few days, then please feel free to email me and I will send you out an mp3. Be warned: if you’ve not heard Ken before, make sure you’re sitting down! I hope it’s not too early to wish all of you on this wonderful site a very Happy Christmass. Roger
  4. I've never heard that Bob Roberts played a concertina of any sort; just a two row melodeon. Raconteur, singer, bargeman, journalist, broadcaster.....but not, to my knowledge, a concertina player. He was one of the very few traditional singers who accompanied himself as he sang, possibly the only English one, but he was very conscious of the media and not slow in coming forward, so I suspect this may have been a part of a recreated image. Whatever the truth of that his recordings are well worth having. I'll also add that he would never sing some of his songs in mixed company!
  5. It's also Louis who contributes the few seconds of a hornpipe on Simon and Garfunkle's 'Bookends' album. I don't have the record, but I think it was a couple of bars of the 'Redesdale'. Best Wishes, Roger
  6. May I ask why you describe this as 'Wheatstone Layout'? I have always believed that the single button in the fourth row is 'Jeff. Layout' and that the bigger Wheatstone instruments had two buttons in that row. I'd be interested to know more about this. 1924 is six years before Harry joined the firm at the age of 19 so this is an instrument of H. Crabb senior. Geoff says that his grandfather's reed work was outstanding so this could be a very special instrument. Good luck with the sale.
  7. Any ‘new’ recordings of Scan are going to be of great interest to any enthusiast of English Country Music. Scan’s place in this music is perhaps more important in retrospect as we become increasingly aware of all the material that was not recorded when it was flourishing. Recordings of that time fall far short of the technical standards that we now expect, but that is a minor point which we have always lived with. Like many traditional musicians Scan played tunes from the popular repertory just as much as he played the traditional hornpipes and polkas. I have him playing American tunes like ‘Margie’ and ‘Marching Through Georgia’ as well as UK popular songs like ‘Keep right on to the end of the road’ and ‘Down in the fields where the buttercups grow’. These tunes were his stock in trade for busking to the summer tourists or entertaining on the local charabanc outings and they brought him in a bit of income. It is not difficult to see why Scan did not play them to the likes of Kennedy. I have heard it said that Scan was pretty shrewd and if he was with a ‘folk collector’ he’d give them what they wanted if they were the ones with a few bob in their pocket. The fact that he named his little 3-piece with piano and drums ‘Tester’s Imperial Jazz Band’ is another indication that Scan was keen to exploit any aspect of his music that would increase its commercial appeal. Even Reg Hall, who is totally aware of the wide nature of traditional players’ repertories, admits he never thought to record Scan playing his 'popular selections'. He simply didn’t think it was important - a mistake he now readily and publicly acknowledges. What excites me, therefore, about a tape from Scan’s family is that Scan may have thought that they were much more likely to want the popular selections rather than the traditional tunes. If that is the case this tape could be very valuable indeed not just to show Scan’s range, but to reinforce the fact, which is still not always accepted, that traditional musicians aren’t - and never have been - the purists that many want them to be. Best wishes, Roger P.S. A friend of mine in the village here works with a man called Tester. After hearing me talk about Scan he asked his colleague if he’d ever heard of a Scan Tester. Sure enough they’re related! Now I wonder whether he’s got............
  8. News Update!! I received the working programme yesterday and this shows that Will Duke will be there. In fact, 30 minutes after the Concertina Corner finishes Will, Harry and I are in charge of the main session for a couple of hours and Mary McNamara joins us after half an hour. The EATMT website now has a full programme posted and you can see details of the concert spots of Mary and John K. Mike Acott called to see me yesterday and he said that he will have his stall there. Yesterday he had just picked up two beautiful big Aeolas; he also has two fine 38 key Jeffries at present so the stall may have some very fine items. It seems that there will be a few c.netters at the event. May I suggest that we meet up at the bar at 12.45 and introduce ourselves; we can drink a health to this excellent website (and absent friends, Chris!) Best wishes, Roger
  9. I'm really glad I announced this event on the forum and I hope those who have been attracted to it will come and introduce themselves. Chris, sorry you can't make it this year. The only sell-out is the evening event with Old Hat Concert Party and friends. This always sells out months in advance because it is hugely popular in the local community - which is really very encouraging, given the persistent pontificating about the demise of traditional music. What it shows, in my view, is that good traditional music, well presented, is still a source of real and contemporary entertainment. ( I could go on at length!!) The other events are all available on the day ticket and Mary and John will be in concert performances before the evening. One of the joys of this day is the relaxed atmosphere and you're likely to find Jim Eldon, John K. et al. playing informally round any corner. Incidentally, the web-link also takes you to an email and a phone number if you want to check details. Did I mention that CAMRA run the bar! Best wishes Roger
  10. Those within reach of Stowmarket, Suffolk will find this year’s Traditional Music Day (Sept 1) of particular interest. It is always a splendid day, but this year has a strong presence of concertina players. Main guests include Mary MacNamara and John Kirkpatrick with Ralph Jordan, Harry Scurfield, and Gavin Atkin also in attendance. Will Duke is a ‘definite maybe’. (Other guests include Devil’s Interval, Jim and Lynette Eldon plus all the local musicians and step-dancers. The beer’s excellent too!)) The EATMT is also extending its ‘hire-a-meloden’ scheme to include ‘hire-an-Anglo’ and this will be launched in the afternoon. Full details are on the EATMT web-site: www.eatmt.org.uk/traditional_music_day.htm Best wishes, Roger
  11. I contributed a brief review for PICA. It's at http://www.concertina.org/pica/index.htm Personally, I believe your ears are the best teacher. Whatever route you take I hope it goes well for you. Best wishes. Roger
  12. I believe that Free Reed is planning CD re-releases of all their old vinyl so Mike's excellent album should be easily available by the end of the year. I think there has already been a reference on this site to the doubling up of the Tommy Williams and Gordon Cutty LPs on one CD. Also, the long awaited return of the Topic-Free Reed recordings made by Neil and John Tams, another thread on this forum and set for release at the 'Mrs Crotty' in a few weeks, is another part of this plan. Negotiations are even underway to foist 'Bees on Horseback' on an unsuspecting public! Caveat Emptor on that one!! Roger
  13. ....and it can be seen at the bottom of Page 17 of the booklet that accompanies Anglo International, where I erroneously identify it as the one Fred is playing. It isn't and I have already apologised for this error, but I am pleased to do so again lest the mistake becomes too embedded. I'm afraid I lack the technical knowedge to add further images to this note! (I've been trying for hours!!) Best wishes, Roger
  14. Before I go off on the Peter Bellamy tangent, my main reason for this note, may I agree with those who are enjoying Sarah's playing. When we find ourselves at the same sessions here in Essex you will see the rare sight of an Anglo and an English player sitting next to each other and enjoying it!! I was deeply flattered that she has entitled a recent tune 'Roger's Retirement' and played it at the celebration! 'Oak, Ash and Thorn' was the title track of Peter Bellamy's first L.P. of Kipling arrangements on the Argo Lable in 1970 followed, two years later, by 'Merlin's Isle of Gramarye' also on Argo. Lest anyone doesn't know the background of Peter's highly intelligent project, let me stress that this was not simply putting poems to music. Kipling knew his traditions, rural and urban, and Peter used to fancy that when living at 'Bateman's' Kipling would have heard the singing of the Coppers. This will never be proven, but the proposal is strong. Peter's first project was, therefore, to take poems where Kipling was clearly writing within the idiom of English Traditional Song and develop tunes for these poems which were developed in the same way from the same sources. In the 2nd L.P. he became more adventurous and speculative. When he followed this with 'Barrack Room Ballads' Peter was recognising the different style of the songs sung in the forces and the influence on Kipling of the Music Hall (Kipling had lived opposite 'Chatti's' Music Hall in the Charing Cross Rd.) and Peter based his song arrangements on this influence. For me, Peter's song adaptations of Kipling's verse are outstanding in their concept and their realisation. They are much more sensitive and interesting than those which simply seek to set a poem to music because Peter was going far beyond that concept and reuniting words with tunes which shared the same cultural base, whether those tunes were 'trad', 'trad arr. Bellamy' or pure 'Bellamy'. When Xtra, the record label, deleted Peter's first two solo LPs,' Mainly Norfolk' and 'Fair England's Shore' Peter unashamedly bootlegged himself and sold his own cassette versions at gigs. I know he would want his early Kipling to be available to anyone who wanted it, so....... All best wishes. Roger
  15. A friend of mine who is an 'Antiques Dealer' recently picked up a C.Jones Anglo. Under my guidance it has been fully restored and tuned by Mike Acott, who has also strengthened the bellows ribs. Details of the sale are at http://www.reeman-dansie-auctions.co.uk/au...hp?auction=6703 Anyone interested is very welcome to email me for more information. Best wishes. Roger
  16. I've been trying to find out some information on Harry Bluff, following Alan Day's posting. As yet I've no evidence that he played the concertina, but Peter Charlton has informed me that he worked under varias aliases one of which was an 'Irishman' , Will O'Patten!! Best wishes Roger
  17. As one of the lucky ones who have heard this mystery recording (and failed totally to make any constructive contribution to solving the mystery) I have realised how totally ignorant I am of the mechanics of playing the English System. I certainly assumed more than one instrument on a few of the tracks, but I'd be pleased to learn some extra information. Specifically: what is the practical range of notes available at any time? I realise that big boxes have a wider range, (I remember the enormous ones that used to be on display in Judd Street) but how far can the hand stretch? Is it physically possible to play the extremes of the wider ranges at the same time? I don't just mean one high note and one low one, but the full melody and counter melody that can be heard on Alan's recordings. Also as Alan has said there are examples of extensive chord vamping below the tune, which certainly suggests two instruments to me. Let's not forget Geoff Crabb's statement that the English was never intended to be a solo instrument! And NO. It certainly isn't Ken Loveless! I think the older ICA members may hold the key to this if they can be located. All best wishes Roger
  18. I posted recently on another thread how easy it is to make simple mistakes. I came down to the computer this morning about to rectify something I said yesterday, having woken up with the total certainty that Paul's 'street box' is not what I'm playing on 'Over the Rainbow'. Mea maxima culpa...yet again! Now Stephen points out that it's not an ex-Kilroy and I realise that I was confusing it with my other Bflat, which I'm certain is ex-Fred and definitely ex-Paul (until Stephen puts me right on that one as well! It's the one with the green straps, Steve, if that jogs your memory - part of the famous 'Vicarage Rd deal' in the late 70s or was it early 80s?). I must put my hands up as well for what is, therefore, an error in the copy I provided for the AngloInt. booklet. Again entirely my fault. Sorry Alan! Sorry Graham!! Another one for all collectors of errors in print. A poor response so far to my Quiz question about another Geoff/George confusion, so here's a clue: it's on the Topic label. Best wishes Roger
  19. Chris Allert has asked 'does anyone have more information on this old Bb/F box that Stephen Chambers mentions?' I am its current owner and I am pretty sure it is the one Fred plays on the archive recordings that I made available for Anglo International. On that collection it is also the concertina I use on 'Over the Rainbow'. It is the box that I play most, though only at home because its tuning makes it impossible to play with other instruments. It is a sensational instrument, though I have a slight suspicion that Paul perhaps retuned a few reeds to make it more viable as his main busking instrument, so it is perhaps not as 'pure' as Stephen remembers. The whole issue of temperament is still very unclear in my mind and I agree that Paul Groff has probably more knowledge on this than anybody else with whom I have communicated. I suspect any system of tuning has imperfections. Steve Dickinson, for whom I have total respect and unlimited admiration, describes this instrument of Fred's and Paul's as '..**... out of tune!' As a player my mind boggles at the expectation of those who tuned in uneven temperament that we players would know and remember which of the differently tuned buttons was right for which keys! I don't believe that the beautiful resonance that uneven temperament creates was intended to exist only in the home keys. The 38/9 button boxes were expected to be played outside the home keys as the hand-produced Jeffries manuals indicate. Best wishes Roger
  20. This is an extraordinary coincidence! I've just logged onto the site following an hour-long phone conversation with Geoff Crabb (who is currently off-line with computer problems). One thing we talked about was concertina-playing 'clowns' and the role of the instrument in this context. Geoff mentioned 'The Happy Dutchman' from 1885 and many other names. Alan Day's request for information on Harry Bluff had set me thinking about a number of issues concerning the general area of the concertina - and responses to it - (I even played my Harry Bluff cylinders tonight and I'll reply on that thread when I've done a bit more research) but this post makes me more convinced that it is time to try to bring together what is known on the vast use of the concertina in the broad world of musical variety in a large part of the 20th century. There are many anecdotes and reminiscences; it's time for something more concrete. Best wishes, Roger
  21. I’ve pondered for a few days whether to add to Alan‘s announcement. What I have to say is not about the concertina, but this site regularly recognises that the concertina, like any instrument, has a place in the wider community; currently we have discussions on the Beatles and Charlie Chaplin and that is how it should be. Dave Brady was much, much more than a (one armed!) duet concertina player. He was a person for whom the phrase ‘larger than life’ could have been invented. Any time spent in his company would quickly generate intelligent and provocative ideas. His voice cut through like a chain-saw! However astonished you might be on first hearing him the quality was instantly shattering. He could sing big ballads with real compulsion - a very rare quality! Then he’d sing songs from Sting, Elvis Costello, Ray Davis without any change in approach. Just great 100% singing, based on a true understanding that traditional music knows no boundaries except integrity. After leaving the ‘Folk World’ he worked as a roadie for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. A one-armed roadie!! He got the job on the strength of his personality and I have heard that he introduced quite a number of the Orchestra to Traditional Music. He was also a tireless campaigner for Nuclear Disarmament and used to record the traffic in and out of Sellafield. I’ve heard that he was on first name terms with the police who occasionally had to arrest him and that he entertained them with his songs while he spent a few hours in the cells! If this is true it fits in entirely with the great personality that I was fortunate enough to know. About 25 years ago we were in the same hotel at the Sidmouth Festival. He offered me a lift in his car. Of course he talked non-stop all the time with his usual passion, but his car was not adapted to a one-armed driver so he had to take his hand off the wheel to change gear!!!! ‘Larger than life’ indeed; a fantastic singer and a magnificent person. I don’t know how easy it is to get hold of Swan Arcade recordings these days, but they are well worth hearing. Best wishes Roger
  22. Oh dear oh dear! All today's moves are invalid. The station is closed on Sundays!! Happy Easter everybody!
  23. Some very suspect moves here unless we're allowed double cross-overs. A ruling please! If not cross-overs can we allow cross-rowing?
  24. I had to leave and start again, but I am now back home in my native Essex! Not that I've anything against being in Greece, though these days you're more likely to find a bottle of Retsina in my fridge than a text of Aeschylus at my bedside! I'm not sure that the provision adds much that a careful set of directions couldn't supply, but if it encourages more players to come out to Essex and find me that's fine by me. Best wishes Roger
  25. A local antique dealer recently consulted me about a concertina he had bought at auction. He has agreed to let me try to place it through this website as I believe it will suit someone who wishes to upgrade. Here are the details: It is a Jones Anglo in C/G concert pitch; Wes Williams suggests a date in the 1890s, based on the serial number. It has 33 bone buttons, metal ends, five-fold bellows and a rivetted action which has just been completely restored by Mike Acott - all new pads, valves, springs, washers, bushings. Mike has also tuned it and strengthened the bellows by adding an extra layer of leather all round all the ribs and fixing a few leaks (the bellows papers are therefore new). The instrument is thus in fully restored working order. The price is £1700 plus any transport costs. The instrument has a very sweet, mellow tone (but perhaps I’m too used to Jeffries!) I don’t have the technical knowledge to post up pictures on this site, but I will happily email some and record some performances in mp3 for anyone interested in buying. My email address is RDigby@hoppits.demon.co.uk
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