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  1. I must confess that I don’t buy a lot of new concertina CDs these days, as there is a certain sameness to them. Every now and then, one stands out as unique, however. Certainly Roger Digby’s CD last year was one, and Dapper’s Delight another; I penned brief reviews of each on this site. Last month I came across another group, much closer to home, which sports an Anglo concertina in a refreshingly different context. The group is from California, the Santa Cruz Percolators. The concertina player is Janet Dows. I’ve never met any of them, although I have exchanged emails with Janet about our Palestine concertina weekend every March. They are a group of three (fiddle, concertina and guitar) who play a very California-esque mix of all sorts of dance music. Old time American music; Quebecois fiddle tunes; Tex-Mex polkas; Caribbean. Normally, I recoil from that sort of eclectic mix, preferring to get my music direct from the source. But in California, that sort of thing is perfectly normal, and they pull off that diverse mix without a hitch. Great foot tapping tunes. The thing that captured me, however, was the concertina playing. Usually, a CD employing a concertina will have it be a concertina-dominant recording, with everyone else taking a back seat. Nothing wrong with that at all, and some of my favorites players are like that – think Noel Hill or John Kirkpatrick or Alistair Anderson or Jody Kruskal or….go fill in the blank. What is different here is that the concertina player – Janet Dows – is on most tracks playing a second fiddle-type role to the also excellent fiddle playing of Laurie Rivan. Doing that well requires great sensitivity and the ability to effortlessly blend in with string instruments, never trying to steal the show with the pyrotechnics for which we concertinists are often noted, not always favorably. It is a great display of how that can be done. My wife and I took a trip out west a few weeks ago, and that CD – called Step Out – found its way back to the dashboard player more than once. Here is their website http://www.santacruzpercolators.com/ ; the CD is available at cdbaby. I thought that Forum folks might find it interesting.
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