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  1. The 12th annual Palestine Old Time Music Festival, including our 10th annual Palestine concertina workshop within it, just concluded….another absolutely wonderful weekend. On the general festival side, it was great weekend for all sorts of old time music…..Texas fiddling, Virginia banjo playing, some Georgia sisters playing jazzy old southern string band tunes, shape note singing, mountain dulcimer, you name it. Margaret and Jerry Wright and their family do an absolutely standout job running this unique, small and down-home festival every year....kudos to them. On the concertina front, Ann Kirrane (nee Droney) held a really great series of concertina workshops. Her straightforward dance music style, honed by four generations of Droney concertina playing in north County Clare, was like a breath of fresh air, and she patiently got everyone in the group through a waltz, polka, jig and a reel…which we played together at the end of her acoustic concert on Saturday. We had 18 concertina players this year….a very good turnout for this neck of the woods. Ann wasn’t only holding concertina workshops. She brought along Gerry Hanley, a superb box player from Galway, and teamed up with good friends Bill Galbraith (guitar, from Houston), Cormac Gannon (San Francisco, bodhran) and Emily Standish (Bill's better half) for a series of concert turns there. The evening concerts at Palestine are a bit like a variety show, with all sorts of old time music. The Irish visitors put on a great show of Irish music for the Palestine folks, and everyone was just blown away by Ann’s singing. As soon as she dipped into her mix of traditional Irish and American songs, Texas hearts just melted. General festival goers and concertina players alike are hoping to coax her back down to these parts next year. She played a couple of house concerts in and around Houston too…people now know her and Gerry, and want to see them both again. Another highlight was the visit of Zak van der Vyver, a Boer style concertina player who lives in England. He teamed up with Sean Minnie, another Boer style player (from Detroit) who made a second trip to Palestine this year, and the two of them gave a workshop on Boeremusiek. Always great to hear the concertina-guitar combination, and of course jaws were dropping with Zak’s intricate chords and yet very smooth playing (you can hear some of his tunes on the Anglo International CDs of a few years ago). There was also a nice concertina player's session of party pieces hosted by Ann, and the standout had to be Kurt Braun’s rendition of ‘Love Potion Number Nine’ where he used his Crane Duet to accompany his singing. The weather was cool, and the memorably harsh winter this year had delayed the Spring in Palestine, but there were still some nice dogwoods out by weekend. See you all again next year! Photos: 1. Most of the 2014 concertina crew. L to R: Michael Lee Garrett, Earl Richards, Mark Commins, Jim Wells, Dan Worrall, Ann Kirrane, Jim Bayliss, Martha Schinzel, Kurt Braun, Nancy Bessent, Stephen Mills, Susan Mardele, Kenny Tweedy, Sean Minnie, Bob Harvey. Not pictured: Larry Wilson, Stephen Knoll, Zak van der Vyver, Mindy Howell. 2. Bill, Ann, Gerry, and Cormac in concert Friday night. 3. Sean and Zak play boeremusiek in their workshop. 4. Emily, Bill, Ann and Gerry in a house concert before Palestine. 5. Stephen Mills, Dan Worrall and Kenny Tweedy share a tune. 6. Jim Bayliss 7. Tunes on a front porch 8. Dogwood tree and azaleas
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