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A Happy Encounter!


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After 40+ years of dancing and playing Cotswold Morris around my rural area of Devon, I've come across quite a few folk who, at the apres morris bit in the pub, ask about the 'squeeze-box' and relate how they remember "my old Gran having one" ......etc. - Happy Days! It isn't often, though, they still know its whereabouts, but last night was different! After a few moments chatting, the old fella said he still had his Dad's concertina, bought in Petticoat Lane (London) - for 17/- (that's shillings in old money!) before they moved down here. "Dad had played it in the village band" and "would I like a look" 'cos he'd go and fetch it. He returned with a carrier bag and produced a lovely polished wooden case containing....... Oh yes!....... a Jeffries/Crabb pattern 30 key, bone button, metal ended instrument with Jeffries pattern bellows papers and gold embossing and some assorted papers with song and tune lists. He asked if I'd give it a play as it hadn't been touched for 40 years, I expected the worst, but it played really well, bright, quick and air-tight, and a quick comparison with a PA decided it was in Ab/Eb. I played a few tunes, sang a couple of songs for the pub regulars, who were as pleased as their friend who owned it. I told the old chap he had lovely and valuable instrument, but he said he couldn't get a tune out of it and was going to pass it on to his son! Let's hope he won't just 'lose it' like seems to have happened to others often before - hey ho! Still, it made a nice night out that bit special, which being a rare encounter I fancied sharing with Cnet folks - does anyone else have experience of a similar happy chance encounter?

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25/30 years ago I used to give an hours entertainment for the local Womens Institutes giving a little talk on the concertina and a few tunes, I would do the rounds of all the meetings of diffent groups in the area. Nine times out of ten I would get one of the members telling me they had one at home in the attic, sometimes asking me if I would like it. Tempted as I was a few times I could not take advantage of the old dears but told them if they brought it along next time I was booked I would point them in the right direction as regards maker/price/prospective buyers etc. Most were lachenals, but I did see a few gems and heard a few stories of some old players. If I was not up to my neck with morgage and kids I would have purchased them myself and would have had quite a collection by now in my own attic.

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30 years ago I was performing with the Mettawee River Company, a puppet and mask theater group that is still going strong today. We performed all over NY state, Vermont and such at our mostly outdoors shows. That year we were doing an original work called "Barnacle Bill The Sailor" that featured Coney Island lore and a lovely Mermaid girl who said "LA LA LA" in song after every spoken line. What a great show! As Dream Land burned down I played guitar and kazoo along with our fiddler for a fiery finale. I think the tune was Old Grey Cat, a nice minor melody for the conflagration.

 

After the show, a fellow came up to me and told me about the fancy exotic hardwood double chambered kazoos that he was making. He offered to send me one. He took my address and a few days later his gift arrived in the mail. What a beauty! It buzzes loudly at every note I can sing, all the way from my low bass notes through high falsetto. No other kazoo comes close to its response and I treasure this beauty and play it still.

 

Kazoo... Concertina?!?! practically the same thing, if you take the long view.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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I had a similiar experience ( although it was while playing a band gig using my banjo). We played a tune that had been recorded by Earl Collins. After we played, a woman came up to us with tears in her eyes, thanking us for playing that tune as she was the caretaker for Earl at the end of his life. It was quite touching for us as well.

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