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  1. 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
  2. Just wondering if there are any harmonic-style Anglo players in the Pacific Northwest? I'll be in the area the third week of July and could easily meet up for tunes, coffee, beer, etc. Gary
  3. How do you find playing in the left hand compared to the right? I'd be interested in your thoughts. Here's a new tune for the left hand only, for 20 button anglo - melody only then some harmonic accompaniment in the same hand. As I often play harmonic style, I'm much more used to playing accompaniment in the left hand and I find the harmony notes and "chord shapes" are more nicely arranged under the fingers on the left hand than on the right (although I rarely just play straight chords). I can pretty much bet I am faster on my right hand too as it is more used to just playing melodies in the style I play. I'm trying to redress the balance! All that said, my pinkie is much better than my right one because of all those Fsharps we get to play! The tune is inspired by folklore and history of a local hill to me, here in Worcestershire - Woodbury Hill - where there was a pivotal moment in the history of Welsh/English relations in the medieval period and Owain Glyn Dwr's forces came as far west as Worcester!
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