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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
  13. Wow, that's an old thread! No worries, recordings of Eric Holland have survived, and are part of my "House Dance" CD Rom project from 2015 or so. There are about 200 recordings there of classic players in the early years of the last century, from all over the world. Not sure why more people don't use it as a resource, or know about it. You can get it via Musical Traditions, or download it for - I think - just 10 bucks or so at the www.concertinajournal.org site (go to Current Chronicle". If you search on "House Dance" on this website I'm sure you can find many of the descriptive announcements from when it came out.
  14. Three new topics have just been added to the online Concertina Journal: An interview by yours truly of Gary Coover, concertina tutor author extraordinaire A new Australian chronicle by Warren Fahey, including a brief word sketch of Aussie concertina maker David Hornett Three new CD reviews by Roger Digby (Queally sisters; Antoin MacGabhann and Caitlin NicGabhann; Dapper's Delight) As always, the Concertina Journal is online and freely accessible at www.concertinajournal.org. The new articles mentioned above are filed under the sections marked "Current Chronicle" and "Reviews." New articles are always welcomed; please bring them to the attention of the Editor via the online site. Happy reading! Dan
  15. Gary, Your proposed book of John Watcham's arrangements will be a superb addition to Anglodom. Can you get him to make a few recordings of the tunes, for putting up on Youtube to accompany the book? Cheers, Dan
  16. Kimber is perhaps the best known example of someone playing a 20 button in a harmonic style, but in his day there were many more. By the way, he played a 30 button later in life (it was a gift) but remained basically a player who used only the bottom two rows. Some years ago I prepared a detailed analysis of both his music and his fingering of it that is sold by the EFDSS. I think they sold out of it at present but we are in discussion about preparing an updated and revised version this year. Until 40 years ago most Irish players essentially used a two row style on what originally were German concertinas, with the exception of using a button or two on the top row when playing in D on a three row. Chris Droney is likely the greatest living proponent of that earlier way of along-the-row playing that is essentially two row. Most of the old players in Australia were somewhat similar to Chris Droney. My House Dance CDRom, available from Musical Traditions and also downloadable from the Concertina Journal site, features recordings of many of these earlier players. Many of them (and some in England, too) used an octave style played in C and G on two rows....a lovely early way of playing the instrument. I placed a little tutorial on that CDRom on playing in octaves. England's Scan Tester is perhaps the most famous of the octave players, though his playing is not only that. Chris Droney sometimes plays entire tunes in that octave style, though more frequently he plays octaves as simple ornaments. He seems to have gotten that way of playing from his father and grandfather; see the discussion on a CD called Tripping to the Well, which features a number of noted Irish women players of today playing an old German two row concertina. Finally, the old South African style of playing the two row Boerkonsertina is a richly harmonic style that has been in somewhat of a revival, and new instruments are being made there. There is a lengthy discussion of that style, along with many historical recordings of it, on the House Dance CDRom. In the right hands it is complex and exciting. Most of today's players there use a 3 1/2 row Wheatstone 40 buttons and their fingering is all over the keyboard!
  17. The photo of the Lachenal on board the Endurance has come up before on the Forum. The photo itself is on page 305 of my Anglo-German Concertina, A Social History, Volume 1, which can be read free on GoogleBooks. The concertina apparently never made it to Antarctica. Here from 2005, in a thread called "Concertinas and Sea Music," is what mikebmcnamara posted about it. It would seem that the original source material, with notes on the back of the photo, has disappeared, so we'll have to take mike at his word: ********************************************************** Posted January 15, 2005 Re: Shackleton's Endurance Expedition and Concertina Some time ago I came across a picture of four sailors on Endurance. It was in the Hulton Archive, now part of Getty. I did a quick search today, and the picture was not returned. Don't know where it went. I have the picture on my computer, but an unsure of my ability to share it (copyright?). I will work further to find it again, and share info if I do find it. One of the sailors had what looks to me like a 12 sided English concertina. When I originally found the picture, there was information about the subjects, and the man who was listed as holding the concertina was discharged from the ship (with three others) in Argentina (for cause). Thus, he (and likely his concertina) did not accompany the expedition to South Georgia, the Weddell Sea, crushing, sinking, living on the ice, Elephant Island, etc. There was a meteorologist named Hussey who played the banjo, and Shackleton allowed him to keep it throughout the ordeal. The banjo playing is often mentioned as a morale booster in the accounts of the expedition. The banjo has survived, and I have seen it as part of Polar Exploration exhibits. I have also read that Shackleton played the concertina (per The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music) , but have found no mention of it in any of my other readings about him. Posted January 15, 2005 Re: Concertina, Shackleton, Endurance I was able to find the picture. You need to go to http://gettyimages.com select editorial, then archival. You'll have to register, no cost. Search for Image #3252971 (If you search for endurance, then people, then uniform you'll get there) Good Luck, and enjoy the picture **************************************************
  18. One of the places where Clevoner played was the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin -- a music hall. in 1921 “Jack Clevenor, described as the ‘wizard of the concertina’ extracted some rare music from concertinas of various sizes, and was greatly appreciated.” Thanks for posting the photo of him, Peter! Freeman’s Journal (Dublin), November 1, 1921, p. 3.
  19. Yes, indeed that is the case. Small traditional music festivals like that are heavily attended by seniors, so the dangers are self-evident. Stay safe, everyone!
  20. What a difference a week makes. The concertina workshop at the Palestine Old Time Music Festival in late March is cancelled. Our headliners, the Vox Hunters, cancelled due to virus issues stemming from air travel from the NE, so with that Erica and I decided that we should keep our powder dry for next year. The festival itself is not cancelled, at least yet, but if you are interested in it please check with their website for updates. I understand that a number of other performers have also dropped out. No self-quarantining here, but it is shaping up to be a very strange year indeed. Dan
  21. All I can say is Wow! You're really going for the mass market now! It's a real labor of love. Congratulations to you and to the instrument itself - for finally having a tutor.
  22. Just weeks away from Old Pal now......March 26-29. Workshops are now slated for a variety of concertina topics, with the first workshop at 9am on Friday. Benedict Gagliardi and Armand Aromin from the Rhode Island group Vox Hunters will give several workshops on Anglo and English (in separate groups). Gary Coover will give a workshop on Anglo two-handed harmonic playing, then another on chording/accompaniments. He also is planning to give a workshop on the Jeffries Duet - someone out there has one besides himself! We'll have a Clare tunes session for concertinas. And of course, lots of larger sessions and concerts for all sorts of instrumentalists who enjoy a variety of styles of old time music! Let us know if you are coming (you can send me a PM via this site), and we'll add you to the list.Details are on the first post of this thread. Springtime, dogwoods, barbecue, and concertinas.....what's not to like? See you there. Dan
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