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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
  15. 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.
  16. 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
  17. 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?
  18. 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/
  19. 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!
  20. 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!
  21. 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?
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