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Jody Kruskal

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  1. Last night I played concertina with my Punjabi neighbor Abdul and his friends including the famous Salamat Ali & Azra Riaz. Look ‘em up on google. They are the real deal. Actual celebrities with numerous recordings available. They sing songs from Lahore, Pakistan and the Indian Bollywood classics and accompany themselves on harmonium and tabla. There were a dozen of us in Abdul’s music garage, just across from my back door, singing and clapping along to the music after our delicious Pakistani feast of nan, chicken spinach and spicy dal and gulab jamun. BTW, we ate with our fingers, soaking up the juices with nan and we left our shoes at the door. My neighbor Abdul and his music loving friends meet most Friday evenings for dinner and Ghazals, a Pakistani potluck and sing song. Mostly I just listen, but tonight I brought along my Ab/Eb in order to play with them in Rag Khamaj in the key of black 2 (Mixolydian in Eb). Salamat Ali Kahan himself insisted that I play along and we had a great time. He gave me a short lesson in vocal technique and it could have gone on longer for all of me, but after all... it was a party and we had to cut the lesson short. I have much to learn about this rich musical tradition. Such fun, trying to follow the tempo and time changes of the tabla player! My Pakistani friends were super encouraging and welcoming. Concertina is not a traditional instrument for this genre, but everyone agreed that it sounds so good. Brooklyn is a fine multi-cultural place to live and I am a a new convert to the popular songs of Lahore.
  2. I just got back from the Fiddlin’ Bear - Lake Genero Old-Time festival. http://www.sacrasoft.com/Genero/ What fun we all had... just like the before times. This music gathering in Pennsylvania has been going on for quite awhile, but I started going in 2010. That was back when I first started playing Old-Time music on the Anglo concertina as a serious avocation. Since the covid pandemic shut everything down, this was the first big players festival I’ve attended (proof of vaccination required). It was great to play again with my old friends and make some new ones. The setting is beautiful. 150 musicians camping by a small lake in the woods. No stage, no headliners, no workshops or concerts. We just informally play tunes together in small groups all day and late into the night. It’s a big party. What I like is to hop from session to session and play with a variety of amazing musicians. I never saw a piece of sheet music the whole three days. It’s all done by ear. Half of the tunes that I played this weekend I learned on the spot, having never heard them before. Picking up tunes on the fly is a knack that can be learned. For those that don’t know, Old-Time music (in this context) is mostly an American Southern fiddle tunes tradition with guitar and banjo backup. It’s not Bluegrass, though we do share some tunes in common. It’s not Country, though some of us do sing old Country songs. The core of the repertoire are great tunes that have been passed down from a few dozen great fiddlers, living and dead. Many of the tunes have been learned from old 78’s that were recorded in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. Back then, folks called it Hillbilly music. So when I take out the Anglo concertina at Lake Genero, I run the risk of upsetting some purists. At this point though, most of them have gotten used to me and I have learned how to play concertina without making folks unhappy. I’ve learned the genre. This year, I was not the only concertina player there. English player Rachel Hall made a surprise appearance. What fun to play again with her and her Philly friends!
  3. The dog days of summer are here and I'm panting hard with my tongue lolling out and mop in hand.
  4. Extreme weather here in Brooklyn tonight. High winds and heavy rain all at once. The aftermath of hurricane Ida has left my basement flooded a few inches in the low spots. Lots of mopping to do. Still planning to attend Lake Genero Old-Time Festival this weekend and next weekend... The New England Squeeze-In. Yay!
  5. I've had the same problem, but I used a block of thick leather, thinking that it would be more gentle on the bellows. Works fine.
  6. Tumbling tubes in Brooklyn, a musical walking meditation. Best to listen using large speakers or headphones to hear the low tones. The Gravity Pipes is a parade of chance events that results in unpredictable melodic phrases, all in a low register. Large diameter PVC tubes as long as 11 feet, rise up to the sky and dramatically fall, bouncing to create deep and satisfying resonances. Play along on your box in G.
  7. I got quite a few responses in messages and thank you all for your help. After considering a new Wolverton or Morse, and several Jefferies 38 button instruments that I lust after... I have decided on a used Edgley 30 button hybrid from a friend. The Jefferies instruments would have been nice, but they just cost too much considering the limited use for this odd key. Now that I have had a chance to play my Ab/Eb Edgley I'm glad I got it. So much fun to play with my Pakistani friends who favor the flat keys for their raags.
  8. Silly arrangement, but splendid playing.
  9. I'm looking to buy an Ab/Eb Anglo. Got one? Know someone who does?
  10. I use the Flipside 300 by Lowepro for touring with two concertinas. It's a durable thick walled backpack with lots of foam pad internal blocking options that are adjustable using velcro, so you can configure the inside anyway you want without committing yourself. Very light and easy to carry, yet sturdy enough for delicate photographic equipment (for which it's made) or squeeze-boxes. Fits two concertinas with secure padding between and a bit of room for extras, small storage pocket and water bottle holder. It has a bunch of external hooks and loops, so that I can attach a folding chair which is very handy as a hands free ride for my boxes + seat at festivals and travel. I've tried a number of clumsy cases, but I always come back to this one because it works so well. 15 years of touring abuse later, it's getting a bit frayed around the edges but still works as good as new. https://www.amazon.com/Lowepro-Flipside-DSLR-Camera-Backpack/dp/B000YA33DC/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=Flipside+300+lowepro&qid=1620187324&sr=8-6
  11. Thanks Jim. Yes, I've come to enjoy exploring just how slow a tune can go.
  12. https://soundcloud.com/parallel_play2020/sweet-marie Sweet Marie is featured as the latest tune from Parallel Play, my ongoing duet project with autoharpist Cindy Harris. Even though we live 380 miles away from each other, we have been playing nightly using the miraculous JamKazam platform. JamKazam makes it possible for us to play live and also record high quality audio of our performance. We then mix those files the same way we would normally do, after a face to face studio recording session. I think that this delightfully crooked tune got its start as a popular song from 1893. Old-time fiddlers (as they do) adopted it as their own and there are several variations going around. Here is the sheet music transcribed from a session at Mt. Airy in 2012 played by Bruce Green and friends: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpsNW2OjFHU Sweet Marie dots.pdf Aside from “Sweet Marie” you can also hear our other recordings on SoundCloud: A Beauty Tom Kruskal’s Niely Cleere’s Polka Springfield Salmon Tails Up the River Grand Picnic
  13. I wrote this beautiful waltz back in 2009. Somehow, it got lost in the shuffle and was never performed... until now. “A Beauty” is featured as the latest tune from Parallel Play, my ongoing duet project with autoharpist Cindy Harris. Even though we live 380 miles away from each other, we have been playing nightly using the miraculous JamKazam platform. JamKazam makes it possible for us to play live and also record high quality audio of our performance. We then mix those files the same way we would normally do, after a face to face studio recording session. Here is the sheet music: A Beauty Waltz copy.pdf Aside from “A Beauty” you can also hear our other recordings on SoundCloud: Tom Kruskal’s Niely Cleere’s Polka Springfield Salmon Tails Up the River Grand Picnic
  14. Well, the concert was a grand success. You can still catch our set here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRkG4QQPDQM Just go to 3:32... or enjoy the whole thing!
  15. A few weeks ago, JamKazam announced that they were planning a live classical music festival and asked jammers to volunteer to perform. Cindy and I strategized on how we might present ourselves as a classical duo and volunteered. We're going to play English Country Dance tunes from the 17th and 18th centuries and a few modern tunes in the genre, all in the JamKazam Classical Music Festival on Saturday, Jan 2. The festival starts at 12pm CST (that's 1 pm EST, 9 am PST I think). Theoretically, if everyone keeps to their time slot, Parallel Play should be on around 3:45 pm EST. I think that might be something like 7:45 am on Sunday for our Aussie friends, but, hey, it's Sunday, right? No better way to start a nice summer day! More at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRkG4QQPDQM . You can queue up for a reminder there, and there's a listing of all the performers in order along with their expected run time. There's also an event on Facebook at https://fb.me/e/5Z9gMZaiB if you want to RSVP there.
  16. Thanks Isel. David, right you are. I learned this tune in a wild and noisy session in the Camp House at Pinewoods long ago from a very young Emily Troll, back when she was on crew. So, I'm playing it from ear and memory, not dots. Interestingly, I played it for Emily many years later and she claims to have never known the tune. Go figure!
  17. Cindy and I have been having some more fun, so here's a zippy little Irish polka on autoharp and concertina we recorded over JamKazam. Aren't modal tunes just so compelling? We love them! https://soundcloud.com/parallel_play2020/niely-cleeres-polka
  18. Cindy and I have added a new tune to our collection: Springfield. It's a little improv we did on Errynn Marshall's lovely tune. We've heard it played much faster, but at this slower tempo it's rather dreamy and exposes interesting opportunities for harmony and rhythm. Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/parallel_play2020
  19. Cindy Harris (autoharp, Pittsburgh, PA) and Jody Kruskal (concertina, Brooklyn, NY) have been collaborating over JamKazam during the COVID-19 pandemic. The name of our new duo is Parallel Play. Here are three of our recorded tunes... more on the way. Grand Picnic Salmon Tails Up The River Springfield
  20. I also offer online lessons for the Anglo concertina. I play and teach in the harmonic style where melody and accompaniment are both going at the same time. Um-pa, parallel harmony, octaves, bass lines and fiddle like double stops are just a few of the treats available. I teach English session and dance tunes as well as Swedish, American, Old time, Irish and more. http://jodykruskal.com/concertina_lessons.html
  21. Hi Polavoy, thanks for the kind words. JamKazam (JK) does have a record feature, but we have found it difficult to set levels and get clean audio recording in the app. Instead, we play together in JK but we each record ourselves locally in Quicktime. Cindy emails me her takes and I do the editing just as I would for any project. I use ProTools for the mix and Audacity for the mastering.
  22. A few years ago, when I first played concertina with auto-harpist Cindy Harris, I knew I had met a kindred spirit. We began playing together more often and even performed at a few festivals. We started to develop a common bunch of tunes that work for this odd combination of auto-harp and anglo concertina. The more we played, the better it got... Then the pandemic hit and the festivals were cancelled. We both discovered JamKazam and we’ve been playing live together almost every night since March 2020. Cindy in Pittsburg and me in Brooklyn. Our duo now has a name: Parallel Play... and you can hear two of our recordings here on Soundcloud. “Grand Picnic” and “Salmon Tails Up the Water”. More coming. Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/parallel_play2020
  23. For a few decades now, here in NYC, we have stopped calling them “Mail Men”. We now are enlightened enough to be calling them “Mail Carriers” because females have been increasingly doing this mail delivery job in greater numbers. Not so much with the “Garbage Men.” I’ve never seen a female doing this particular job, though I’m sure there must be a few out there somewhere. A few months ago, on some random Jamkazam Old Time session, I brought this little factoid up in conversation. The next day, two folks there, independently, ran with the idea and were inspired to each write themselves a song about her and her smelly job. So now there are two songs about female garbage collectors (sanitation workers?) or whatever you call them. Perhaps there are more of these musical tributes out there... I don’t know. Anyway... to bring you up to date... Tonight, I again randomly connected with this same Jamkazam bunch. They were very excited to have me back with them because they wanted to share with me their new songs based on my off-hand comments months ago. We sang together about Yolanda and Yvonne and had a blast! Just wanted to share these lead-sheets. Here is the first song featuring Yvonne: Sanitation Engineer (Yvonne).pdf And here is my favorite featuring Yolanda: Yolanda.pdf
  24. I live in Brooklyn, NY, USA. All the cancelled festivals, sessions, contra dances and school, wedding and bar gigs etc. have left me bereft. My Autumn UK tour of folk clubs that I should be doing around now is long gone. Two bright sides have been that I have started bicycling around Prospect Park every day since the summer. Sometimes twice around, and those trousers that stopped fitting me 10 years ago... now I can button them at the waist again. Also on the bright side, since March, I’ve been playing nightly with Pittsburgh autoharpist, Cindy Harris on Jamkazam and we are making beautiful music together as a duet and sometimes with fiddlers joining us too. English, Irish, Shetland, Canadian and American tunes all work well for us. Jamkazam has drastically improved in the past few months and has been a lifeline for me. It’s gotten almost as good as playing face to face. Cindy and I have even been recording using Jamkazam and the results have been astounding. Listen to us play Grand Picnic here: I’ve done zoom events too, both as a concertizing performer and as a listener/participant. Zoom rarely fulfills me but it’s better than nothing.
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