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Dan Worrall

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  1. Hi all, As promised, here is some information on the release of a new book about the life and music of Chris Droney. Some on this site managed to get a draft pre-release copy when the publisher – Gary Coover – left it on Amazon's sales site for a few minutes too long when we were making some check prints! Amazing the global speed of the internet. The book is Chris Droney of Bell Harbour and the Tradition of the Concertina in North Clare, by Dan Worrall and Jarrett Branch, with a Foreword by Ann Droney Kirrane. It includes a biography of Chris as well as of his father and grandfather, a tutorial with imbedded recordings of the Droney playing style, and careful transcriptions of over 130 of Chris’s recorded tunes as he played them. The project was a real labor of love, and was put together with the kind assistance of Ann Kirrane and her brother Francis Droney. The book will have two launches before it is released for online and brick-and-mortar sales: a limited launch in East Texas in March, and the main launch in County Clare in April. This year’s Palestine Old Time Music and Dulcimer Festival (www.oldpalmusic.com ) occurs March 23-25 in Palestine, a small town in East Texas. The concertina workshop – a part of the larger old time music festival - has occurred every year (excepting Covid!) since 2004. This year the plan is 1) for workshops by Gary Coover (visiting from Honolulu) on playing the Anglo concertina in the harmonic style, on playing for sea shanties, and one workshop for English concertina. Gary has published several fabulous new books this year, among them The Anglo Concertina Music of Phil Ham (by Gary), and Anglo Concertina from Beginner to Master by Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, both in the harmonic style. Gary will use excerpts from them, along with his own tutor, Easy Anglo 1-2-3, in his concertina workshops. 2) Dan Worrall and Jarrett Branch will hold two workshops on the Droney/north Clare Anglo concertina style, as well as a complete beginner’s workshop on that style, all utilizing transcriptions from the new Chris Droney book. Old Pal will constitute a limited book launch of it, with copies available at half price for those who attend and place an order in advance for delivery at the festival. Gary’s new books will likewise be available to attendees at half price. No worries, one needn’t purchase any of these, as sheet music will be available for those confirming attendance in advance via email. Please send Dan and/or Gary a message via this website for more information if interested in attending! The formal launch of this new book on Chris Droney will occur at the 2023 Consairtín (www.consairtin.ie) in Ennis, County Clare the following month (April 13-16). The opening night of Consairtín will kick off with music by Ernestine Healy, followed by the new book’s launch and a celebration of the life and musicianship of Chris Droney. Music and set dancing will be provided for that opening event by the Droney family, including Ann Kirrane and her brother Francis Droney along with musical family and friends, as well as Dan and Jarrett, who will briefly discuss parts of the book in between music segments. The full schedule is available at the Consairtín website. Book copies will be available or purchase at Consairtín, and afterwards will be available for online purchase and at some brick and mortar outlets. So please do join us at either at Palestine or at Consairtín! It will be great to see you all, and to reminisce about one of the great concertina players of Ireland.
  2. I can only add a concurrence to what others have said, Chris. He was a wonderful person who did much for the survival of concertina playing in Australia, including the Australian concertina magazine that he helped publish for years. I very much enjoyed meeting him during my one trip to Australia a decade or so ago. May he rest in peace. Dan
  3. Gary, Congratulations on a masterpiece! The recordings of Phil Ham are wonderful, and the transcriptions straightforward. To me, more approachable that most harmonic-style players; I'd never heard his playing before. Very well done, indeed; cannot wait to see the whole book. How many keys on his keyboard? Does a 30 key miss much? I'm guessing not from the three examples you posted. Dan Worrall
  4. Tony, Thanks, but no need! I've sent the buyer all your notes on the refurbishment and your Morris photo! Cheers, Dan
  5. Sorry, it sold. Very quickly. Should have asked for more, but it did go to a good home and that is worth something, for sure. Sold at another site.
  6. For sale: "C. Jeffries Maker" 30 bone button CG Anglo, metal ends, 7 fold bellows. The instrument was extensively refurbished by Colin Dipper in 1979, and in use as a performance instrument for a North Devon Morris team in UK until the 2000s. As I am slowly aging, I'm looking to thin the herd a bit. It is an excellent player, looking for a good new home. "C. Jeffries Maker" stamp on the endplate places its manufacture between 1876 and 1891. It had been poorly cared for over the early years, and Colin Dipper refurbished all parts of it in 1978. Reeds, soundboard and endplates are original. Colin installed new bellows and external frame, and a new action and hand straps at that time. Gold embossing on bellows and bellows paper in the Jeffries design. An 'instant speaker', loud with the classic Jeffries tone. It was well played in the past few decades, but Colin looked it over last year and was pleased with how well his work has aged. Comes with a Dipper case. Price 5700 GBP or 7000 USD plus shipping and insurance. Cheers, Dan Worrall
  7. Looking forward to seeing you there, Gary! We've got a nice group coming, and there should be plenty of music. Also looking forward to Ann (Droney) Kirrane's concertina workshops and singing. And of course Shep's BBQ!
  8. Stephen, You’re right of course. Herbert Booth wrote in his tutor that “The main key of the Salvation Army Concertina is Ab Concert Pitch, that being the key in which most of our tunes are sung. But as this key is the same as Bb on the Cornet, and seeing that our Concertinas are mostly played with brass bands, we call it the Bb key, although it is really Ab Concert Pitch.” Which makes my head hurt. How is Ab concert pitch playable with Bb cornets? Is this some sort of transposition? When you push the third button left hand side middle row of an Ab Anglo you get an Ab, right? Can anyone edify me on what Booth was saying? The SA was clearly a major market for Anglos, and somehow I doubt that Jones and Lachenal had a lock on it, although Jones famously wore an SA uniform whenever Herbert Booth came to buy. After the SA peak, by 1922 there still were 761 SA bands in England, another 102 in Scotland, and another 70 in Wales (Arnold Myers, Instrument Making of the Salvation Army). These were of course mainly brass bands, but there were a lot of purely concertina-staffed bands out there (e.g., Malcolm Clapp, concertina.net post of 12 26 2003; he mentions that some of these were BbF Ball Beavons (Crabbs?)). Chris Algar posted a photo of the Norwich Citadel band of 1907 where there are a number of Anglos of apparent “Jeffries/Crabb type” (PICA v2, 2005). So Crabb is in the running for selling those BF#’s to SA bands….or not….but if they weren’t high pitch BbFs, what were they for? That is a lot of BF#’s just to sell to folks who wish to play along with low pitch German concertinas. I like Paul’s idea that they were stock ready for retuning to desired pitches….in which case high pitch BbF was only a few strokes of the file away.
  9. Good thoughts. I cannot get my mind around English makers of the late 19th Century building instruments in the weird B/F# key just so they could play with cheap German concertinas in C with low pitch. The English makers just about despised the cheaply made German imports. I haven't run across any old photos of concertina groups where there were mixed players of German and Anglo-German instruments. So....we must figure out why so many B/F# concertinas were being built. Clearly, no one was writing ANY music or tutors in the keys of B and F#, nor would any typical concert pitch instrument particularly want to play in the keys of B (5 sharps) or F# (6 sharps) just to accommodate an Anglo player in those keys. These would be lonely concertina players, indeed. I still come back to the idea that these instruments were tuned such that an Anglo concertina in something like A440 pitch, keyed in B/F#, reading sheet music in the key of Bb, would be able to play along with a Salvation Army band that was playing in a high pitch. The notes that came out of that concertina would sound to the band players like he was playing in Bb in their old-fashioned, military high pitch -- and as I mentioned earlier, we know these bands were high pitched at a time when many others in British music were changing to a more modern, lower A440 pitch. The problem is that the old Philharmonic (military band) pitch wasn't a full semitone off of A440 concert pitch. That part I cannot explain. Maybe if there were enough Anglo concertinas in the band, the brass band instruments just tuned themselves very slightly to accommodate them, which was easy enough to do. Can anyone think of any other reasons one might want lots of B/F# concertinas?
  10. Paul, Good reasoning. Let me try it a bit simpler. The market in English-made Anglo-German concertinas in England in the late 19th century was driven to some degree, and maybe in large part, by the needs of Salvation Army bands. The pitch of German-made concertinas was not particularly relevant; if you look at photos of SA concertina bands, there are few apparent German concertinas. I doubt anyone in the SA cared too much how low a pitch German concertinas had. These SA folks needed quality Anglos that were playable with their SA brass bands, which were using high pitch (as I mentioned, old Philharmonic pitch of about A 452), and who were typically playing Bb instruments. If concertina makers of the day put out a new pitch (A440) instrument in Bb/F, it wouldn't work for these SA concertina players. So the makers sold some pitched considerably higher. If the Crabb records say B/F#, then that is how they (Crabb et al) may have thought of it. Are they new pitch (A440) B/F#, or just old Philharmonic pitch Bb/F? I don't know. One thing seems certain. No one was playing sheet music specializing in the keys of B and F#. Those SA folks wanted a BbF concertina that would play with their high-pitched military brass band buddies. Or so I would guess!🤔 Cheers, Dan
  11. I think Stephen is onto it. "Philharmonic pitch" at the time was about A 452 Hz, but things were moving by the late 19th century to modern pitch of 440. There was a large market in making concertinas for the Salvation Army, where they played with brass bands keyed in Bb -- in Philharmonic high pitch. So, the "B/F#" concertinas in effect were Bb/F concertinas in the old high pitch. Here is a part of an article on Musical Pitch from The Times in 1884 complaining about how the military brass bands were still in too high a pitch when the symphonic crowd were moving to a lower, modern A 440.
  12. Plans continue for the concertina workshop at the Palestine Old Time Music Festival in East Texas, March 24-26! As mentioned in the earlier post, we'll have a number of workshops by Ann Kirrane (daughter of the late Clare concertina great Chris Droney, and a wonderful player, singer and teacher in her own right) and by Gary Coover, who needs no introduction on this website. Gary will hold a workshop on playing the Anglo in the harmonic style, and another one on shanty music and song for all systems. He'll bring some of his many publications for sale. Ann will concentrate on County Clare music in the melodic and rhythmic style of her family....she is a fourth generation of Droney concertina players. All systems are welcome to her classes (she plays Anglo). She will also give a workshop on Clare songs. We've had requests for a beginner's workshop on English concertina, with several new players coming for that. If there are other beginner requests, let us know and we'll see what we can put together. The weather should be lovely in late March....the dogwoods and azaleas will be out in force, and by then all the current omicron surge should (fingers crossed) be well in the rear view mirror. Non-concertina spouses can find much to do, with noon and evening concerts by a wide variety of old-time performers, workshops on a variety of instruments and styles, a shape-note singing session, and local barbecue. I'll be sending out some concertina workshop music soon for those who have confirmed attendance by sending me a PM via this site. Main festival website is here. We hope to see you there...our 16th concertina workshop!
  13. photos would be great. another "Concertina at Sea" from the end of the golden era, nautically speaking.
  14. 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
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