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rmerris

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About rmerris

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  1. Hi Randy

    Hope things are going well!

    I've recently purchased a whole batch of concertinas pieces - anything from a single reed pan to virtually complete instruments. In total there are 14 instruments represented (mainly Lachenal). If you would like the serial numbers for your research please email me at david.helmore@yahoo.com and I will forward on the spreadsheet...

  2. This forum occasionally received queries about concertina players in the musical halls. Volume 4 (2007) of the Papers of the International Concertina Association (PICA) contains my article, "Dutch Daly: Comedy and Concertinas." Dutch Daly (1848-1924) was a German-dialect comedian and concertinist who went from US minstrelsy, burlesque, and vaudeville to the music halls in his native UK (born in Jersey, Channel Islands). Appendix II of the Dutch Daly article contains biographical and career profiles of musical-hall concertinists of the Dutch Daly era. The appendix could have been a short stand-alone article, but I chose to incorporate it in the Dutch Daly article for the sake of expediency of publication. Until recently, the article was available only in hard copies, as received by the members of ICA. Now, the article is posted at the ICA website--see www.concertina.org/pica/index.htm. (Many thanks to the manager of the ICA Website.) The profiles in the appendix are categorized as British-based and American-based performers, respectively. (But most of the America-based performers were born in the UK.) The performers are: British-based: Henri Albano (born Henri Alban), Stephen Bartle, Jack Clevoner (born John Henry Hartford), Walter John Dale, Tommy Elliott (born Thomas Varley), Perci Honri (born Percy Thompson), Will King, Jen Latona (born Emma Jane Letty Carter), John Hill Maccann, Minnie Paget, Alexander Prince (born Alexander Sutherland), Harry Thompson, and Joseph and Arthur Webb (along with the Fayre Four--Joseph Webb's daughters; CORRECTION: THE FAYRE FOUR STARTED BEFORE 1918, AS DOCUMENTED BY RICHARD CARLIN). American-based: Joseph Cawthorn, John F. Fields, Alfred Blair Sedgwick, James W. Sharpley, and Robert T. Spice (a New York City teacher who tutored Thomas Alvin Edison on electricity, etc.!) I can also highly recommend the other articles in PICA, Volume 4--Stephen Chambers, "Joseph Astley, Oldham Concertina Band and the MHJ Shield"; and Dan Worrall, "David Edward Hughes: Concertinist and Inventor"--as posted at the ICA website. Any feedback from readers would be much enjoyed.
  3. I would like to return to the comment of Irene S.--that even a Jews Harp player can be a virtuoso. Charles (aka Carl) Eulenstein was an early-19th-century Jews Harp virtuoso (trained by an even earlier Jews Harp virtuoso). He thrilled audiences, playing one or more Jews Harps at one time, until it wore out his teeth. He went on to classical composition (including music for concertina). The earliest known German (later, German-Anglo) concertina has a handwritten inscription of Eulenstein. He made other types of musical instruments, and may have made the concertina, or it was made for him by someone else (probably Uhlig). (The concertina is owned by Stephen Chambers.) Later, someone made him a set of dentures, and he was able to return to captivating audiences with his Jews Harp playing.
  4. I found the serial number for your Dickinson Wheatstone to be intriguing. I had thought that, after assuming ownership of Wheatstone, Stephen had a new serial number sequence, starting with "1". In fact, at one time, I owned a Dickinson Wheatstone numbered "51", which was prominently displayed on the instrument. The last Anglo serial number in the Wheatstone ledgers is No. 59498 (entered on 10/12/74). [The last English system was No. 37083 (6/1/74).] It doesn't seem likely that Stephen made 647 instruments (647 = 60145 - 59498) before making No 60146.
  5. In the discussion of the 1936 newsreel from British Pathe, the question was asked: "Which one of the ladies spining the 'sea shells' (i.e., disks) was Viona? The answer is neither. Viona was only age 7 at the time. (She joined the act at age 11.) The ladies were Tommy's wife, Florence Hazel (stage name Hazel), and Hazel's sister--Olive May. It can get a bit confusing, since Tommy's sister was Olive Lillian, and both Olive M. and Olive L. performed in The Elliotts. In the original posting of this topic, it is stated that Viona is age 67. When I told Viona, she had a good laugh. She was born on 5 October 1928.
  6. That is the price for a brand new Steve Dickenson Wheatstone 40 button anglo (I am on the list)! I'd go for the new Wheatstone. It looks like we are headed for new prices of 6000 GBP and upwards for Jeffries concertinas. And when will this Wheatstone 40 button Anglo be delivered? Before or after pigs have learned to soar like eagles?
  7. Stephen, Regarding the British Pathe clip of the Elliots [sic], you pretty much nailed the data. It was from 1936.
  8. "Tommy Elliott and the Musical Elliotts," Viona's article co-authored with Chris Algar and me (Randy Merris) will appear in the Papers of the International Concertina Association this Fall. It is a fascinating history of a performing family, which starts with Viona's great grandfather--J.B. Elliott--inventor of the unicycle and originator of the trick cycling act and musical act of his children (Viona's great aunts, great uncles, and her grandfather). The centerpiece of the article is Viona's recollections, which provide rare glimpses into life on the road/rails for musical hall and circus perfomers who were constantly on the move.
  9. Dan, I think that you have already posted that Sedgwick tutor at concertina.com. But if not, I will send it to you for posting, if you like.
  10. Dan, You are the webmaster for the posting of the Roylance tutors. They will be in the mail in a few days. One anecdote: Alfred B. Sedgwick (English-born emigrant to the US; member of the all-star 1844 classical concertina quartet of Regondi, Blagrove, Case, and Sedgwick) authored tutors for both English and Anglo. In his English tutor, he totally disparaged the Anglo (in effect saying that, by comparison, the Anglo was a mere toy). Even in his Anglo tutor, he touted the virtues of the English concertina over the Anglo. But ironically, his Anglo tutor was, in my judgment, the best Anglo tutor of the period.
  11. I would like to return to the original issue in this posting. I see no "smoke and mirrors" in Charles George Roylance's statement about "a somewhat difficult instrument." His two tutors--How to Learn the Chromatic Anglo-German Concertina and Anglo-German Concertina Player's Companion--were two of the most popular Anglo tutors, needing no deceptive hype. Clearly, there was a strong market for Anglo tutors (see my article, "Instruction Manuals for English, Anglo, and Duet Concertina ..." The Free Reed Journal, available at www.concertina.com and including entries for over 100 Anglo tutors, published primarily in the UK and US). The statement "easy to learn" and "difficult to learn" are both correct, depending entirely on what is to be learned. Sure, picking out Mary Had a Little Lamb or equally unchallenging tunes in the learner's head are easy by ear. But learning more challenging tunes from sheet music (without the aid of any audio device in the 19th century) certainly could be difficult, at least for many players. (Most the of the 19th century tutors were glorified tunebooks--long on tunes and relatively short on instruction.) A subtitle of Roylance's Anglo-German Concertina Player's Companion states that it includes "Vamps and Hamonized Scales." That fact alone pushed up the degree of difficulty of "diving into" learning the Anglo concertina. Regarding posting on the web: I have both of the above mentioned tutors by Roylance. I'll send a copy of either or copies of both to somebody who volunteers to post.
  12. If you are an Anglo player who plays strictly by ear, you can stop here. However, if you use sheet music too, the following may be of interest. I have found that I can scan my sheet music (printed or hand written), print on glossy photo paper of 4" x 6" dimensions, and produce "photos" that are highly readable and that nicely fit in a concertina case (fitted or unfitted case). The prints come out surprisingly nice. They can be used outdoors without being blown around by the wind, as much as larger regular-paper sheet music copies. The print is plenty large to read. Most of mine are for Irish tunes that each have two parts with 8 bars per part. But they are also fine for 3 part tunes with 8 bars per part. I keep 6-8 in my concertina case. More than 8, however, could be accomodated. Of course, they fit easily in an unfitted case. But they also fit fine in a fitted case, by standing them on end in the space between the concertina end (next to the hand strap) and the side of the case. They should fit in most cases. For example, they fit fine in the slightly smaller fitted case for a Dipper, County Clare. I scan and print on an Epson copier/scanner/printer. If possible, leave about 1/2 inch margin on each side of the tune in scanning, and do not use the "Fit To Frame" option in printing. The reason for these suggestions is that, in some printers (including mine), a small amount around the edge of the scan may be cut off in printing. I would appreciate feedback, if you try it and like the results (or even if you do not like the results).
  13. Earlier in this thread, I mentioned Percy Honri's recording from the late 1890s. Elsewhere in this thread, Alexander Prince (1874-1928)--born Alexander Sutherland--is mentioned. Though Prince was extremely prolific as a recording artist, there were others who recorded--some probably before him. Dutch Daly recorded in 1904; John Hill Maccann recorded early; Jen Latona was mainly a singer but played at least one snippit of concertina on a recording; and Henri Albano, Jack Clevoner, Stephen Bartle, Walter Dale, and Will King may have recorded early. For information on these and other musical-hall concertinists in the US and UK, see Appendix II of my article: "Dutch Daly: Comedy and Concertinas on the Variety Stage," Papers of the Inernational Concertina Association (PICA), 4 (2007), 1-26, which will be posted at www.concertina.com in the near future. Also see Alan Day's new CD, English International, due for release in the near future. I do not know of any concertina recordings in the US that pre-date the well-known Irish concertina recordings of William Mullaly. However, the Chemnitzer crowd might come up with something, if the search were extended to include Chemnitzer recordings. Joseph Cawthorn was a US-based concertinist who recorded as a popular vocalist but, to my knowledge, did not include his concertina playing on any of his recordings. Other: Tommy Elliott was probably the first concertinist on regular televison broadcasts (German TV in 1935 and British TV in 1936). Tommy Elliott was probably the only concertinist to play a miniature concertina in a movie (The Password in Courage, 1962). Peter Honri played a regular concertina in the movie Oliver (1968), and used a miniature (inherited from grandfather Percy Honri), but only as a prop. Much more on Tommy Elliott will be found in Viona Elliott Lane, Randall Merris, and Chris Algar, "Tommy Elliott and the Musical Elliotts," PICA, 5 (forthcoming 2008).
  14. The first concertinist to record was Percy Honri, concertina improvisation with piano accompniment: "Happy Darkies' (E. Berliner 9107, 1 October 1898). See Peter Honri, Working the Halls, pp. 140-43. I do not have a copy of the recording.
  15. George Henry Green (b. 1850) was the husband of the Caroline Sarah Jones (b. 18520, the eldest daughter of George Jones (b. 1832). George and caroline were married in 1872 in Stepney. George is listed in censuses as a musical instrument maker. At least three of their sons--George H. Jr, Ernest, and Bertram--also were makers. I've associated them with employment at Jones, rather that at Lachenal & Co. However, one or more of them could have worked at Lachenal, particularly after the Jones firm closed in 1909. Alternativelly, there could have been a Mr. Green at Lachenal, who came from an entirely different family--but that doesn't seem particularly likely to me.
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