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It's that time again, time to start thinking about bringing yourself and your concertina to East Texas for the 12th Annual Old Palestine Concertina Weekend (a part of the 15th annual Palestine Old Time Music and Dulcimer Festival). The festival will occur March 31-April 2, 2016, in the small town of Palestine, Texas. For new folks, the Palestine music festival is an absolute gem, with a charming location in the East Texas Pineywoods, in high springtime. Organized each year by Jerry and Margaret White, there are workshops for every conceivable stringed instrument, from various forms of dulcimers to fiddles to banjos, and shape note singing workshops for singers....for me those shape note sing-ins are among the high points. There are superb lunchtime and evening concerts each day. The performers -- old time genre for the most part, but always some variety too -- are accomplished, and very approachable. And then there are sessions of every sort, 24/7! It is all very laid back. For the concertina workshop, Jody Kruskal will return for in what is, I think, his sixth appearance at our concertina weekend. Jody is a superb teacher and a superb performer, and focuses his teaching here on an old-time style. Here is what he is planning, similar to that offered last year but with new tunes and skills: Friday #1 Beginner Anglo + anyone else who wants to join. Friday #2 Learn the three tunes and work on bellows and old time style. Saturday #1 Keep working on the tunes, bellows and old time style. Saturday #2 Show and Tell masterclass where everyone brings their stuff to the session and we work on it. On other concertina items, we always have a number of duet players attending who get together. I’ll offer a session for complete beginners on Irish playing, where we’ll talk about old style playing and learn a tune or two. Sean Minnie, our South African new Texan, will be there along with a number of us who will form and demonstrate a Boer ‘orchestra’. Should be fun! There is lots for non-musical spouses to do in town (an old steam train; dogwood festival that week, azaleas in bloom if our timing is right, etc.), and there are the great festival concerts every lunchtime and every evening, in an old auditorium seemingly right out of a Faulkner novel. To confirm and get on the mailing list, send me a PM via this site, and we’ll email you Jody’s tunes plus other information goodies. The Old Pal festival cost for participating musicians (in workshops and concerts) is $80 for the three day weekend or $40 per day (last year’s numbers), with non-musician spouses charged much less. On top of this, we charge an extra $30 for the concertina workshops, to defray travel expenses of our workshop leader and performer, Jody. Send me a message, and we’ll get you in on the action. Here is a link to the review on this site of last year’s concertina weekend, and here is the link to the overall Old Pal Festival site. Hope to see you there!