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Dan Worrall

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  1. I agree with Frank on the difference in systems, Wheatstone vs Jeffries....they both work fine for my simple purposes. Back in the (Victorian era) day, Jeffries instruments were the best, and regarded as such by nearly everyone that I know of in the historical record. When new, they were very fast and had/have this incredible 'bark' in their tone that is difficult to duplicate. I've searched for years for a good one, wanting 'that' tone yet with speed. And there's the rub. Not all of them, today, are of equal quality, by a long shot. I've gone through half a dozen over the last 40 years trying to find one that has the speed - or at least most of the speed - of my treasured Dipper CG, whilst still having that classic bark (listen to classic recordings of William Kimber, or of some of the old Irish players, while of course realizing that the tone doesn't always come through on the recordings). Many of them have been remuddled over the last century, and it is easy to destroy the tone and/or the speed. So my recommendation for those wanting a Jeffries is to first get a newly made instrument that appeals to you - especially one that has speed - and then have a long, leisurely search for a good Jeffries as a second instrument. It's a fun search! By the way, some Jeffries can be brought back to a quality state from the brink of doom. I've worked for six years getting a BbF up to snuff, before Steve Dickinson (valves pads and reed set) and Colin Dipper (button height and stroke) worked absolute magic with it. It is an absolute jewel now, and my long search is over. Too bad it isn't CG, but something about being a step lower in pitch brings out the best in the Jeffries tone, in my opinion.
  2. Thank you, Morgana, that was very kind. I’m always very happy when someone enjoys my work. Keep an eye out later this year for my new book on William Kimber, another iconic player and a fascinating person. It’s a complete revision and extension of my 2005 book on him. Back to House Dance, is old time bush dancing still going strong in the rural Aussie outback? I really enjoyed experiencing it when I visited there 15 years ago with the late Peter Ellis, who was an amazing Anglo player and dance historian.
  3. Only a little over six weeks to go for the 2024 concertina gathering at the Palestine Texas Old Time Music Festival. Join us for an early spring with azaleas, dogwoods...and concertinas! There are a variety of hexagonal activities this year, and some news: Ann Droney Kirrane, the Clare concertina player and singer, returns to Old Pal for a fifth time. She will hold workshops for intermediate to advanced concertina players on the north Clare style of playing. She is the daughter of the late Chris Droney, an iconic Irish concertina player; she and her family keep his wonderful style of playing alive. Music for her workshops is available now for confirmed attendees. Frank Edgley, the well-known musician and concertina builder from Windsor, Ontario, is planning to come to Old Pal. He has graciously agreed to lead workshops in beginning the Irish concertina, including ornamentation, as a complement to Ann's workshops. He just republished his 2001 tutor for the Irish concertina with Rollston Press, and that book will be available at Old Pal. He also will show us some of his newest Anglos from his workbench. Gary Coover, well-known Anglo player, teacher and concertina book publisher extraordinaire, plans to hold workshops on playing Anglo in the harmonic style as well as a reprise of his Shanty session for concertinas and voices. He will no doubt bring copies of various latest published books on the concertina from his Rollston Press. Ann Kirrane and her group, the Belles of Bell Harbour, will lead some workshops in Clare dance music, for all instruments. Some of the Belles are also concertina players! The idea of these workshops is to play a number of tune medleys at a reduced learning pace, so that they can be played later in the weekend to tempo in open sessions. Music for these workshops is available now for confirmed attendees. Ann and her group will appear in concert several times over the festival, most especially on Thursday evening, March 21. The Old Pal website gives a schedule of information on these appearances, as well as general information on the overall festival, of which the concertinas are only a small part: www.oldpalmusic.com . It is a small and friendly festival in a charming old town. If you wish to join us, just send a PM to Dan Worrall via this website. We can then hold you a place, and send out advance pdfs to you of music for the workshops. Please let us know your type of concertina, your skill level, and what your learning interests are. There are a wide variety of players coming, so with advance notice we can try to address special needs or interests. We're looking forward to seeing you there! All the best, Dan Worrall, Gary Coover, and Jarrett Branch Concertina workshop organizers
  4. Just received my copy. Beautifully re-published; a great improvement in look and feel to the original, which was printed in the dot matrix printer days. Still the best single manual for learning Irish style Anglo in the manner of the old Clare players, in my opinion!
  5. Yes, Sean is Ella Mae O'Dwyer's son, and was raised in Ardgroom where his family operated a dance hall. He is now retired and living in Dublin. I have a copy of his CD, and it is wonderfully old style. I wrote a brief description of him in my book House Dance (Rollston Press), where you can find QR codes for a number of recordings of playing by him and by his mother....all on old style German concertinas. He made me a present of his mother's German concertina, which we used in a project getting a group of modern Clare women to play tunes on it. The resulting CD is called Tripping from the Well, available from Oidhreacht an Chlair in Miltown Malbay, Clare. The old concertina was then donated to that organization in Miltown, and I believe it is still there.
  6. I agree completely with Peter; very much the best to learn from the playing of the master himself. The transcriptions should, in most cases, pretty much match him note for note in his first playing of each tune. The tunes themselves can be found on YouTube if you cannot find them for purchase. Search on Chris Droney, and either Down from Bell Harbour, The Fertile Rock, or The Flowing Tide (his best 3 CDs). I believe that all the tunes from each of those recordings are on the You Tube site; not sure who posted them. Then use some sort of slow down software to slow him down to learning speed. I use The Amazing Slow Downer, from Roni Music, but there are others. Your PC probably has the ability to record audio from a YouTube, but I'm not too good at the particulars of that. Record the audio and then put that audio on your PC along with your slowdowner software of choice. It would be great to get those recordings re-issued for sale again. And if you live in the US, consider coming to the Palestine Old Time Music Festival March 21-23 2024. Chris Droney's daughter Ann Droney Kirrane will teach at our concertina workshop there, and her playing is very much in his style. We also will be doing both slow and to-tempo sessions of tunes from that book. There is a posting that I made on this site giving more information (search my name on this site and you'll find it). Send me a PM if you wish to join in! Either way, good luck. It is a great style to learn on the concertina.
  7. Well done Gary and Frank for getting this very useful book published! I’ve had my copy of the original for years. A simple and graceful approach worthy of the old masters of the Clare (and Canadian!) countryside.
  8. Thanks Roger and Takayuki for posting the links. Both volume 1 and 2 of the Anglo concertina history (2008) are available for free reading on Google Books; just search on my name and the word concertina and they’ll pop up. And they are still being sold on Amazon!
  9. How sad! It was a wonderful place and a link to one of the great old players.
  10. Very nice, Alan! Just how old is it? And where were they based?
  11. Glad you liked the book. And your observations of the parallel between box playing and Irish concertina are spot on. We humans tend to love things to death, layering on complexity after complexity to things that could be simple! But we do enjoy it. I'm working now on a revised and much-expanded version of my 2005 book about William Kimber's playing, and am impressed yet again with his two row simplicity of accompaniment; modern players go for 38 buttons and their fingers roam freely over all three rows, in the eternal search for the right chord. And they sound great! But the minimalist in me continues to be drawn back to the simpler styles of farther back in time.
  12. For those interested, Vic Gammon in this quarter's Folk Music Journal (UK) reviewed the Chris Droney book. Here it is. By the way, Chris's daughter Ann Droney Kirrane will teach concertina in that style at our annual concertina workshop at the Palestine Texas Old Time Music Festival, March 21-23 next year (see my posting elsewhere on this site). I've been in touch with several fans of Chris Droney's music and distinctive style of playing in various parts of the US and Canada who plan to come. Send me a message via this site if you plan to come, and I can send you the dots to a number of jigs reels and hornpipes that we will play in sessions, from the north Clare/Droney repertoire. Gary Coover also will be teaching at the workshop, in the harmonic style. It'll be great fun. Cheers, Dan Folk Music Journal review Worrall and Branch 11 20 23.pdf
  13. Check out my post of today on the concertina workshop at the Palestine Texas Old Time Music Festival, March 21-23 2024. It's our twentieth concertina gathering there! Dan
  14. This is a first notice about this year’s Concertina Workshop at the Palestine Texas Old Time Music and Dulcimer Festival, March 21-23, 2024. It will be a good one! This festival features old-time American music from central Texas to the Appalachians (with some straying across the pond into Ireland and England), and for the last twenty years has included a concertina gathering as part of the fun. Back by popular demand is Ann Droney Kirrane, the well-known Clare concertina player and traditional singer, but this time she is bringing her band, the Belles of Bell Harbour (Anglo concertina, fiddle, flute and piano). Ann will teach workshops for concertina as well as for ceili dance music. And also back is the perennially popular concertina publishing guru Gary Coover, who promises more workshops in Anglo harmonic playing and in shanty singing! The Belles of Bell Harbour first met at the Consairtín concertina gathering in Ennis, County Clare last year. In addition to Ann (who is the daughter of the late Chris Droney), they include Maria Terres, a long-time fiddle player who teaches at the Milwaukee School of Irish Music and has been a finalist at the All-Ireland for senior fiddle three times. Mary Grace O’Neill is Ann’s cousin and a member of the extended Droney clan; she plays the Irish flute and is well steeped in the north Clare music tradition. Amy McFarland, who plays the piano, is from the Milwaukee area where she plays for ceili and contra dances and has recorded with Maria. They will play for a special concert on Thursday night, with briefer appearances at other times during the lunchtime and evening concerts. On the concertina side, we will have two workshops in the north Clare style of playing from Ann Kirrane, for intermediate and advanced players. Gary Coover will offer workshops for harmonic-style Anglo and shanty singing, and who knows what else? Ann and the Belles will also hold two Irish ceili music workshops, for concertinas as well as any other instruments (fiddles, etc). The idea is to preselect some music that will be played through at a moderate to slow pace during the workshops, to have folks ready to play them (and other music) at full tempo in afternoon and evening open sessions. We’ve put together a booklet of Clare dance sets that we’ve gathered from the Droney family tradition that are widely used for dancing in Clare. We’re making it available now, so folks will have plenty of time to get familiar with the tunes beforehand (there are 32 tunes arranged in sets). If you’d like to sign up for the Palestine event, drop me a message via this website and I’ll send you a pdf of the tunes. There are no scheduled beginner’s concertina workshops this year, but if anyone wants one, several of us have volunteered to hold a side session or two as needed – it is always important to welcome new folks! Beginners are also very welcome to sit in on Ann’s concertina workshops, but without playing. As we do every year, concertina players pay an extra $40 for the concertina workshops, beyond the normal (low price) festival fee, so that we can help defray the costs of our headliner (Ann) and her band. Headliners for this year’s main festival will also include some of the same wonderful Old Time musicians from Texas to the Appalachians that we have been graced to hear over the many years. Look for news in coming weeks at www.oldpalmusic.com. We look forward to seeing you! Do drop me a line if you plan to attend, and I’ll send you the workshop tunes. Dan Worrall
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