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Poll: Tune Of The Month, May 2014

Jim Besser

Poll: Tune of the Month, May 2014  

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Bravo: there were a lot of really nice versions of Zelda in April. But time waits for noone, and it's time to select a tune for May.

Here are a handful of possibilities from different musical genres. Pick the one you want to learn and record and let’s get to work!

Old Time: Peacock Rag

I forgot about this tune for decades until the leader of our open contra dance suggested playing it early this month. Let me tell you, we rocked the hall, and I thought I saw smoke coming out of my bellows. It’s a classic tune in the American oldtime and bluegrass repertoires, a favorite of hot fiddlers who play it with a lot of swing, but I really think it works well on concertina.

Here’s a video that nicely demonstrates the exuberance of playing a tune like this in a session. And another, with a lot of cool elaboration on the melody.

On Anglo, at least, I'm expecting most of us will streamline the tune a bit, but that doesn't mean it can't still have a lot of punch.

Estonian: Kristjani Reilander

This was the tune of the month on Melodeon.net a while back, and I took an immediate liking to it.

According to comments at melnet, it’s Estonian in origin.

Since it was the TOTM over there, there are lots of video samples of the tune on free reed instruments, including really nice versions by Anahata and John Spiers

Classical / English trad: Michael Turner’s Waltz

How about an English waltz in the traditional repertoire that isn't really traditional, or English?

This lovely tune was actually penned by a guy named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who, legend has it, played a Morse 30 button Anglo when he wanted a break from the harpsichord. KV 536, No. 2, ‘Six German Dances,' in case you're interested.

According to an explanation on The Session, it was somehow attributed to Michael Turner, “a fiddler, shoemaker, parish clerk and sexton. As well as playing for dances, he led the Warnham church band until 1847, when the it was replaced by an organ." I assume that's because Turner liked it and played it for English country dances, and that his version was eventually collected and added to a lot of tunebooks.

Here’s a version on English concertina and another on a 20 button Anglo.

At a big waltz session a few years back, I played this in a typically chunky English trad style along with a fiddler...excuse me, violinist...who played a very classical sounding countermelody. It was interesting, to say the least.

Swedish: Hambo Pa Logen

(Forgive my lack of diacritical marks in the title; I have an American keyboard!) A repeat from a previous poll. Why? Well, I wanted a hambo because I'm not very good at playing them and could use some practice and feedback.

This very nice tune is deceptive; it's easy to learn, not so easy to get the rhythm just right for dancers. And believe me, hambo dancers can be pretty fussy. You'll understand when you see the dance.

Here it is played by the everpresent Anahata on melodeon and Mary Humphreys on English concertina. I just love their harmonies and the cleanness of their playing. And this one with a bunch of accordions and a singer: very cool.

There you have it: four cool tunes for some spring concertina fun. Vote!

Edited by Jim Besser
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