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Alan Caffrey

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Everything posted by Alan Caffrey

  1. Hello to all, what a joy it is to talk to young people her are interested in their ethnic culture rather than modern pop culture; I was talking to a young lady yesterday and oh she was so excited by her soon coming traditional Polish wedding. This is happening down here in Arkansas, deep in the 'Bible Belt', and she a Roman Catholic will be wed to a Baptist - should be interesting! But back at the wedding: they will have The Polka Dots the local Polish band playing at the reception; she says they play mostly polkas and waltzs and was kind enough to show me how to dance a polka: she says Irish dancers dance it differently. Now is an Irish polka the same as a Polish polka? Do any of the tunes exist in both country's music? Are Polish polka bands playing in the same keys as an Irish band? I would welcome comments on the culture, music and dancing...I'm hoping to wrangle an invite, I'd love to see it! Thanks, Alan.
  2. Hello to all, a discussion arose about the reel 'Crib of Perches' at our session the other night; to what does the title refer? Thanks, Alan.
  3. Hello all, so the other night I was playing some tunes with a friend who is, without doubt, an excellent whistle/flute player, when a couple of comments he happened to make really started me thinking. Firstly let me say that I have been playing concertina for about three years and have always been aware, and made aware by the comments of other musicians, that I have a timing problem. So I have diligently played along with recordings and have recorded my own practice sessions and things have really improved - I can hear that myself and comments have been kinder. So my friend starts in a tune and I not being familier with it on the concertina put down the box and pick up the bodhran; after we play said tune friend says: 'wow! Your timing is perfect on the drum'. I didn't think anything much about this 'til just 30 minutes later I am putting the CD from the Mick Bramich Irish Concertina tutor on to play him a tune I want him to listen to: it's Mick Bramich playing Lannigan's Ball. After hearing the track the flute player says 'that was really nice but his timing is way off!' Now, if you have not heard this disc it's an absolute pleasure to hear, the playing is just great! So when I tie these two comments together it makes me wonder: can players of other instruments perceive the, let me say 'quirky' sound of the concertina, as being off time? Has anyone else come across this? I'm off on vacation and away from the computor for a week so I'll look forward to reading your comments on my return. Thanks, Alan.
  4. Hi all, I have a CD 'Chieftains' Collection' volume 2. Now on track 4 they refrain: 'If I had a wife, the plague of my wife..etc." but what is the underlying tune..I think it's a slipjig but the tune is not notated on this collection. It does say it is from 'Cheiftains 6' but I don't have that CD...thanks for any help...Alan.
  5. Alan again here, well thanks all for the advise, especially the VAT bit -seems I'm better off paying Uncle Sam than the Queen. Also lucky me, the dollar is at last strengthening against the Brit pound.
  6. Alan again here, now if I were living in England (this part of the question obviously targeted to British residents) would the Queen and her government want a slice? Alan.
  7. Steve, any idea how much they will charge me on what will probably be a $5,000 instrument? thanks, Alan.
  8. Hi to all concertina netters, oh lucky me! I have recently heard that I will be getting a high line concertina from dear old England. Here's my question: will Uncle Sam want me to pay some kind of import duty on this instrument? I remember having to write a check to the delivery man for about $80 when I got my Edgley from Canada about four years ago but I'm not too clear on what that was exactly for. I'm sure some of you have received instruments from Britain, did you have to shell out? Thanks, Alan.
  9. Thanks for the responses (the useful ones anyway). Dan: I had some lessons from Tommy's daughter Jacqueline but I was an absolute novice then and was just trying to hang the basics of a tune together and didn't even attempt the ornamentation she showed us. I would guess she plays a similar style to her father and 'along the row', especially the G row is how I play - I taught myself from the Frank Edgley tutor. And Alan you're right - two years ago I remember thinking 'if I could just play two or three tunes at the session..' And now I can play two polkas. (ha, ha!) later, Alan.
  10. Hi fellow squeezers, You bang away on this thing (concertina) and you think you're getting somewhere, you play a 100+ tunes and you feel like you've got it nailed....you can really play this box....but not. I was listening to the Tommy McCarthy CD 'Sporting Nell', specifically to the jigs 'Scatter the Mud/Mulqueeny's and of course I'm a light year from there (in the wrong direction), and ask myself why are there no advanced lessons on concertina .net beyond tuneatron? You tell me that ornamentation is a person to person thing but for some of us in the wilderness who NEVER get to meet another player, who have no pointers in the right direct....you get the idea... is anyone willing to put up some tunes with ornamentation? Alan.
  11. To clarify:when I play I keep the left side of the concertina on my left leg but have had some wearing of the leather on the first bellow fold on that side and also of the leather that secures the bellow to the playing mechanism, that is the leather that sits directly on my knee...Alan
  12. Hello to all, in a nutshell: how long do bellows last? How much maintenance and patching is normal? Does anyone have bellows that have lasted forever? I have a new 'famous name' concertina coming: I consider putting protective leather patches on before I play it or perhaps play with maybe a piece of velvet on my knee so as to avoid abrasion of the bellows. What do you think? Alan.
  13. Morning all! (well it is here) just wanted to say thanks for the help/suggestions, Alan.
  14. Hello all, quick question: the low F#, how do you ornament it? We play a tune called 'The Otter's Holt' at out session, it's not hard to play but when I play it by myself it has a low F# in the second bar and elsewhere that just begs to be ornamented, and when I look through the materials I have learnt from it doesn't seem to come up. Any tips? Thanks, Alan.
  15. Here's my two cents: having been to the Catskills the past two years I cannot imagine getting better value for your money or time; we are talking Irish music 18 hours a day, and let's face it the concertina does not exist in a vacuum: it's the whole bag we're looking at. There's people playing before breakfast, morning class after breakfast, quick lunch break (casual sessions going on all over the place again), afternoon class, then organized sessions in at least one of the town pubs, onto supper, then a concert every night with covered seating - that's the teachers doing 15 -30 minutes each in various combos on stage - I think that's about 90 mins if I remember rightly, then everything quiets down for a few hours 'til the night owls come out with a 'listening room' session about 9p. 11-12p: session through to the morning in one or two of the pubs - some of these sessions didn't quit 'til 5am. Plus ceili dances - see some of the best players of Irish music play for dancers - it's a wonderful week because it's not just focused on the concertina, you will have a blast! There is not enough time to do /see everything. Alan.
  16. hello all, this question is partly in thought to a comment that was made in a response in the 'instrument speed' thread, the responder mentioned the playing of Billy McComiskey and Brendan Mulvihill. I have had the pleasure of seeing Billy play and I think Brendan too at the East Durham Irish week; now how do these musicians play so easily together in a session when they come together from different parts of the globe? I appreciate that Brendan and Billy have played together probably many times, but at East Durham there were musicians from Boston, Chicago, New York and from all over Ireland apparently just sitting in and making it sound so easy - yet there are so many versions of these tunes and so many tunes; do they know all the tunes and all the versions? Are they following a leader and playing what he is playing? Do they make a tune list beforehand? It's a puzzle to me, Alan.
  17. To Richard and anyone else starting in at sessions, you're right! sessions can be intimidating as a beginner - but try this - set up a session at home with you and recordings, I practice with the Frank Edgley CDs of his tutorial and tune books, plus there are lots of other materials out there (whistle books plus their CDs have been a good resource), and then tape yourself alone, you'll soon hear where you're messing up and when you're getting it right. It really helped me to be objective in what I was playing in 'real time', that is I can be critical of my playing as I am playing it, good luck..Alan.
  18. Thanks for the responses. Two things to say: first to Jim Lucas, yes several people have asked said fiddler to slow down but the speed issue seems to be causing some fractioning of our session, both camps sticking to their guns as it were. Another tempo thing the "fast" camp like to do is to start at a moderate tempo and speed to a frenzied finish! They tell us tortoises that this is a 'real listener pleaser'. On tape recorders: I think everyone, singers or instumentalists should tape themselves often - this has been a great learning devise for me - it really helps to improve your playing and singing - I do both. It may be a shock the first time you hear yourself but don't avoid it, it shows you which way you need to go and it really helps the old ego to know when (if) you are improving.
  19. Absolutely true. Try playing Calliope House at 160 beats; that's really hard on a concertina, but not that big a deal for a good fiddler, who uses numerous tricks to smooth out the playing. That said, I believe there is a real obsession with playing unnecessarily fast, to the point where the music is no longer musical, as a previous poster said. It's not a race, it's music, but people forget that, and ignore the fact that some tunes sound amazing when played at a deliberate pace (Golden Eagle is one I'm working on now; heard it at a session played at b reakneck speed and didn't like it; heard it on a CD played very slowly and it was wonderful). <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
  20. Hi everyone out there, a question here from someone with very little experience of the Irish session, though I seem to be 'getting there' at last at our session in Little Rock, Arkansas, not getting quite as many ugly glares as I once was, and getting an occasional positive statement (very occasional). So we had a little session the otherday which was being sensitively directed (read dominated) by a very good fiddler; she was playing very fast (as she often does) and I could not keep up with her - no surprize there but as I looked round I noticed that our button accordianist and the banjo player (both great players, both having played for many years) were quitting too. A flute player, a guitarist and of course three bodhran players were hanging in there. So, can some instruments be played faster than others? that being of players with the same level of experience. No comment required re. said bodhran players. Thanks, Alan.
  21. Ken, I will almost certainly be going, have been the last two years and had a fab time both trips; but I'm flying in and have stay arrangements with another friend. Just should warn you that most of the accomodation is old (still fairly acceptable) and the 'double rooms' are tiny - you probably won't want to share in most places, trust me on that. Also try to plan on staying for the last Saturday night, as although you'll be totally musically saturated by then, you'll get to see/hear some of the very best sessions, the standard is very high, it's the teachers and performers so I myself have never deluded myself that I should play, but it's an education and a joy to hear. Hope to see you there, you'll have a great time! Alan.
  22. Hello to all and season's greetings!! I am that self taught player in the wilderness of Arkansas without teacher or fellow player to ask questions of; so I'll ask the forum. I have got to a stage where I can play a lot of tunes (Irish) and I am adding more ornamentation..I had a lot of trouble initially with timing so swore off ornaments so as not to make things worse. But my timing is better now, thank you. So back to the question: Jacqueline McCarthy's CD 'The Hidden Note', track #2, Mrs Ellen O'Dwyer's Fancy...what kind of ornaments is she using? I do realize that she is playing the tune in C but I'm having trouble imitating her ornamentation. Any hints or insights? Thanks, Alan.
  23. Hi there all! just a quick question from someone (me) who is self taught and been at it for less than 5 years; I play an 'along the rows' style based on the G row that I got from the Frank Edgley tutor: I have no other concertina players in the area to compare notes with or to give me advise. This style has worked really well for me and I am able to play in our Little Rock session without too many problems but I wonder if other concertina players strive to play all tunes they come across? Tunes like Cooley's reel and Drowsy Maggie are arkward for me....are there tunes that are just not suitable for the concertina? Thanks, Alan.
  24. Deae BB, I note 128 hits to your message and zero responses. I feel your pain... Alan.
  25. Hi to all squezzers! here's a question that has crossed my mind since I have become familier with the session tunes down here in Little Rock, Arkansas...we tend to play the same tunes when we get together..nothing wrong with that..the list is pretty long...but if I travelled to your part of the country what tunes are you playing? So the question is what tunes and where? Little Rock top ten: morrison's jig, high reel, road to lisdoonvana, breton dance tune,blackthorn stick, drowsy maggie reel, dunmore lassies, sally garden reel, banish misfortune, the butterfly slip jig. The purpose of course is for me to learn the tunes you play so as I might sit in if I'm ever in your town. Thanks, Alan.
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