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Dan Worrall

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  1. The “Old Pal” old time music festival at Palestine Texas will return on March 24-26, 2022, after a two year Covid lapse, and the concertina workshop, a staple since 2005, will again be part of it! Old Pal is a three day-long celebration of all sorts of old time music and song, with twice-a-day concerts by a large number of performers, constant jam sessions, and workshops involving fiddlers, banjo, dulcimer and mandolin players, guitarists, singers, and, of course, concertina players. It is a small, very friendly gathering in a classic small Texas town, replete at that time of year with blooming azaleas and dogwoods. This year, Ann Kirrane of Tuam, County Galway will return to both perform and to lead a number of concertina workshops. She is a lovely traditional singer, and plays Anglo concertina in the style of her late father, Chris Droney, who was a much-loved figure among those who follow Irish traditional music. Ann’s workshops will focus on learning tunes from Clare and beyond in the sparsely ornamented, highly rhythmic and melodic Droney/north Clare style. She is a fourth generation player in her family, and her great-grandfather was among the earliest in Ireland to play the instrument. Although she plays the Anglo, her workshops are open to players of all systems who have advanced-beginner to advanced skills (meaning that you have reasonable proficiency at learning tunes by ear or with sheet music). Also this year, we will be joined by Gary Coover of Honolulu, Hawaii. Gary is well known to us, as he was a stalwart of the initial Palestine concertina workshops before being lured away from Texas by swaying palm trees and iced mai tais. He is internationally known as an author and publisher of numerous instruction and tune books for concertinas, under the Rollston Press label (https://rollstonpress.com/ ). He plays the Anglo but also the Jeffries duet, the English concertina, and the melodeon, concentrating on what might be termed the English harmonic style. He has promised us some workshops that include the harmonic style on the Anglo, and another – for all systems – on playing and singing sea shanties! He will no doubt also bring some books for the festival shop. Yours truly will be there, and if any are interested I’ll give a side workshop on old-style octave (double) style playing on the Anglo. With Gary’s help I am publishing a new version of ‘House Dance,’ a 2011 celebration of old-style Anglo playing, with 200 rare recordings of early twentieth century players from England, Ireland, South Africa and Australia. It was released initially as a CDRom by Musical Traditions in England, but the general use of CDRom technology to marry text and recordings never took off. The new version will be in book form and will have text, illustrations, and lots of imbedded QR code squares, so that readers can point their phones at the codes and instantly hear an audio recording of the example being discussed. Gary plans to bring some copies to the festival shop. We will also hold tutorials for beginning players of various systems 0n an as-needed basis; contact Dan or Gary either before or early in the weekend to arrange. The overall festival has a website here with more information: https://oldpalmusic.com/ The festival charges a reasonable fee for the weekend’s activities. On top of this, there is a $40 surcharge for the concertina workshops, which we concertinists have always charged ourselves in order to defray travel expenses of our concertina headliners. If you are interested in attending, please send Dan Worrall a pm on this site, with your email address, and you will be included on the email list for workshop notices and for pre-festival releases of workshop sheet music and/or recordings. Hope to see you there! Dan Worrall
  2. Yes, one can play the Anglo 30 chromatically, but....what Richard says is true. It is difficult at best to play in more than a few keys on the 30 button. As Dana says, it CAN be done with diligent work, but then it is also possible to row across the Atlantic in a bathtub. Should you is the question. For playing in a lot of keys with an Anglo, in lots of keys with loads of jazzy accidentals, consider learning from the Boers of South Africa, who were and are masters of this style on the Anglo. They nearly all play 40 button Wheatstone Anglo instruments. How they do it is straightforward. Once you have such an instrument, you can play in almost any key either all on the pull or all on the push. Memorize any scale on both the pull and the push, and then you have the tools you need. You can change directions at will: you just need to remember where a particular note is in the other direction. You can also learn to play the chromatic scale mostly on the pull or mostly on the push, and similarly use that information to play in any key. It eschews the charming in-out rhythm of the two row instrument, of course, which is no small matter. Some of these Boer players sound a bit like lounge music piano accordionists as a result. But the really good ones still get some snap and sound great. Or then the easiest way forward is to play the English concertina, where you have the full chromatic scale in a well-ordered setup in front of you, and it has the same fingering push and pull. If you want to play a lot of pickup jazz in lots of odd keys, it would seem to me to be the best choice. However you choose, enjoy the journey.
  3. Hi Robin, No need to buy Japanese tee shirts for concertina information. The way to find the most recent version of the At Sea article, plus all the information in my anglo concertina history books, is well described (and the books are digitally free) in Leonard's link. I think the original At Sea article, by the way, is also still posted at the Concertina Library site, www.concertina.com. Those books are now 13 years old and still see activity on Amazon. Although the history research has held up well, it would be fun to update them using more modern search engines and recent developments, but search technology has gotten so much more intense and the global concertina scene so expanded that it would be quite a task. There are some more recent history etc. postings on the Concertina Journal site, www.concertinajournal.org. If you or anyone else has some concertina history material (local or otherwise) to publish there, drop any of us editors a line. Still playing morris music up there in Canada? Dan
  4. Harry seems to be the fellow with the concertina in the Jazz era photo that David Wes commented about, if we take Jody's source (an Edna Barney photo blog) over Gary's source (a William Barney genealogy site). Not unusual to have family histories disagreeing! If Elsie was Harry's daughter (or James's niece), and James is one of the other figures in the photo) then all is right in the world, because a potential age of about 14 or so fits the picture. But who knows?
  5. Harry was born in 1869, according to this snippet accompanying that photo from Jody Kruskal's site; I remembered seeing that photo before. Harry (Edward William Henry) Richardson 19 March 1869 ~ 9 September 1933 on concertina with the Richardson Family Jazz band, 1920 from Edna Barney's family pages, http://www.flickr.com/photos/neddy/92276930/
  6. Kathryn, Noodling is great and fun and necessary. So many places on the anglo, including the 20 button, though, have been explored by others, so it is good when starting out to get a grounding on the classic era players....many of them working people from simple backgrounds who had a great feel for the music, without our modern tendency to over-technology the playing. If I could make a suggestion, go to the Concertina Journal site (www.concertinajournal.org) and find the Current Chronicle section, post number 4 (ok, here is the direct link). That is a collection called "House Dance" that I made some years back of about 200 recordings of old time players of the anglo's late 19th century-early 20th century heyday, from all over the world. Download it (At $10, it is basically given away; we use the money to pay for the not-for-profit Journal's web costs), and have a listen, especially to William Kimber, Scan Tester, and Dooley Chapman. All are 20 button players. Also listen to some South African boermusiek, especially Kerrie Bornman, who played a simple two row German concertina with double reeds. Finally, listen to Faan Harris, one of the greatest players who ever lived. He used a 30 button, but still has that two row feel. Not an oom-pah in the pack of them. Please let me know what you think of them! You can read my text for free, but to link to the 200 recordings, you have to cough up $10 or equivalent; then you can download them. Good luck!
  7. Kathryn, I enjoyed your piece, your style, and the way you are working harmonically with the 20 button. Layers of complexity encouraged by use of the additional buttons on the 30 or 38 key instruments fall away, leaving the essence of anglo playing, IMHO. For one thing, the oom-pah bass and chord thing is gone, and then there are the octave passages that you use instead to dress things up. Not that oom-pah is a bad thing, mind you - I very much enjoy hearing the modern English masters of the harmonic anglo just like everyone else - but it reveals a simpler way of looking at the anglo that has less in common with other chorded instruments like piano accordions and guitars and such. Your new playing is very different than old timers William Kimber or Scan Tester or Dooley Chapman of course, but shares those ingredients of harmonic and/or octave simplicity with them. Do keep at it!
  8. Very fitting remembrance. I never knew him, but I was amazed at his recordings. So the other two concertina headstones include one for William Kimber (see attached), but for whom was the other one created?
  9. Gavin, I'll leave the technical notes to others. I enjoyed your recording....very nice indeed. You make the odd, rare Jeffries duet sound useful, artful and approachable! Thanks for posting.
  10. Thanks for posting this, Peter. I just heard the sad news from his daughter Ann. There is not much you can say about this good man that hasn't been already said over the many years. I was blessed to have played a few tunes with him; he was a big influence on me in many ways from my earliest days attempting to play the concertina. May he rest in peace. I've taken the liberty of attaching a tune that I learned from his playing: Cruacha Glasa Na hEireann. Somehow it seems appropriate. Dan Cruacha.pdf
  11. This instrument makes perfect sense if you consider the purposes of its first owner, and the needs of the Sally Army in the 1870s and 1880s, when Anglos were their main instrument. I wrote a bit about those early SA days in my Anglo-German Concertina: A Social History, volume 1. If you don't have a copy, it is online on Google Books. Herbert is pretty much explained on p. 91, when he was arrested for playing a "noisy instrument" in a street procession, "to the annoyance of the inhabitants." As other passages show, these early Salvation Army street processions could be very rowdy and the participants themselves were not - shall we say - the most refined; arrests were common. What Herbert Booth needed was a simple instrument that persons completely untutored in music could play. Mainly, they needed to rhythmically hammer out the three chord trick -- the I, IV, and V chords - and little else. The Anglo seemed to fill the bill, but the problem was that they sometimes accompanied street brass bands, or singers who needed to sing in other keys. In theory, you can play chords on a three row Anglo chromatic concertina in any key. But it isn't easy, and there is lots of memory work. Herbert gave this a try in his 1888 tutor for the Anglo, which we posted some years ago on concertina.com. Here is the link: http://www.concertina.com/chambers/booth-salvation-army-concertina/booth-salvation-army-concertina-1888.pdf On the second page of his explanatory notes, you can see that he is laying out the three chord trick in all the keys that were of interest to them. Then he spends the rest of the book showing one how to make those many chords on the Anglo. Looks straightforward, but there is a LOT of memory work to mastering that. This is likely not something that most of his street musicians were going to master. Eventually, English Concertinas and Duet concertinas took over in the SA, probably mainly because they were more easily playable in various keys....both in terms of chords and also of melody. It helps to be able to read music for that, which was a problem for the early street procession type groups, but not so much for the organized bands that were to follow, by the 1890s or so. There is another potential solution, however, that would have occurred to any Anglo player - and Herbert was an Anglo player. Just make the instrument in several different keys. Here are the I, IV, and V chords for each of the keys on your instrument: Bb Eb F F Bb C Ab Db Eb C F G One could play the I and V chords very simply on the push and pull of each row....very easy (ok, the V chord isn't quite a full chord, but no matter). For the IV chords, you can see that, for the most part, they are in either a simple pull or push form on one of the other rows. So, bingo, hammering out chords in various keys is a piece of cake that any untutored musician could easily master. Much easier using a standard 30 button Anglo and his Anglo tutor of 1888. Obviously, it never took off. Cost may have been one factor. And of course, by the end of the 1880s the foot traffic was headed to the English and Duets. As I mentioned in my book, by that time the SA was trying to appeal to a larger and more refined crowd (including deep-pocketed donors), so they had to clean up their act a bit! By the way, just as an aside, Herbert Booth tells us in the introductory text of his tutor that their "main key" was Ab, of all things. As he says, that was because Ab concert pitch was the same as Bb pitch played by brass bands, which these players needed to be able to do. With that in mind, the four concert pitch rows on your instrument are actually C, G, Bb, and D in brass band terminology. Quite commonly used keys for bands and orchestras. Hope this is helpful. I vote with the others - don't change it! Just find a street corner and start singing! Dan
  12. Way to go, Gary! I've been waiting for this one. For those who may have been living under a rock (or accordion) and thus are not up to speed on what Gary has been doing at Rollston Press, here is a brief interview Again, congrats on the latest! Dan
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