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Perry Werner

What's This About Monkeys Anyway?

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Check this ebay item.

 

monkey with concertina

 

You may have misinterpreted your pizza-master's request. Maybe he wants the monkey to play the concertina. Or ,more likely, he expects you to be the monkey :-)

Edited by Sandy Winters

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At my school I am required to do duty in front of the building in the mornings to make sure the kids aren't perpetrating malfeasence before classes start. I usually play my concertina to pass the time, and have fielded the monkey question any number of times. Fortunately, there is always an ample supply of 12-year-old boys willing to step in and play the role. There just ain't no money in it tho! B)

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Forgot to add... Last week a parent rushed into the school office to ask who the "strange man with the wierd instrument " was and was he safe?

Gypsys, Tramps, Thieves and Concertina players, and now Monkeys: a sinister lot!

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There just ain't no money in it tho! B)

No? Monkey!

 

Gypsys, Tramps, Thieves and Concertina players, and now Monkeys: a sinister lot!

I'm not sure about the rest, but I seem to recall reading that spider monkeys are mostly left-handed, in about the same proportion as humans are right-handed. :D

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It would be sinister not to be dexter.

But if playing the concertina requires dexterity, then it can't be the monkey who's playing. :unsure:

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I thought Dexter played the Viola.
I thought Dexter used to play cricket and moved on to comentating.

You're both right, of course, though in different frames of reference.

I'd suggest you reflect on the matter, but that would turn it sinister. :ph34r:

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This thread is fun.

 

Sorry, I am a little late in commenting as I am only sporadically on the net now.

 

I loved the references to street and organ grinders. My dad worked as a grinder in a factory when I was a child. My mom begged me not to put grinder down as his job on any papers at school. She said she was afraid people would think he played an instrument on the street with a monkey.

 

Of course, I thought that was way more interesting than the factory grinding job he really had. Yes, I did put grinder down as his job. Poor mom.

 

Kids.

 

Helen

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I loved the references to street and organ grinders.

I thought an organ grinder was someone who made sausage. B)

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"Organ Grinder"

 

Now that's a pretty fair description of the old girl who used to play in the local church on a Sunday. :rolleyes:

 

Pete

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Anyway, the question is, why do many folks think of monkeys as going hand in hand with concertinas?

Hurdy Gurdys, yes, but I don't think I've seen too many images of monkeys with concertina players.

Can anyone shed any light on the concertina/monkey connection??

It probably goes back to the Savoyard buskers who travelled Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were the ones who played the hurdy-gurdies, first the stringed and then the mechanical type, with a monkey to amuse the audience. Later in the 19th century some of them took to playing button accordions, and I have a 1900's postcard of a young Savoyard accordionist with his monkey.

 

There are fascinating references to Savoyard "Concertina strollers", and monkeys, in Ancoats, an Italian district of Manchester, here on the web :

 

In 1881 the Census records show that out of 191 Italian born residents in the New Cross ward of Ancoats 55 were described as Musicians or Street Musicians. These totals include a group that was locally referred to as "Concertina strollers".

 

They were pavement "buskers" who plied their trade outside and inside the licensed premises that abounded in the central districts of Manchester. There were at least seven public houses in Jersey St alone. The innkeepers allowed the musicians to entertain their customers with a rendering of the most popular music hall ditties of the day and they would invariably finish with one or two of their own folk songs before passing round a hat to collect the copper coin donations from their audience. These artists earned their living on the streets of Manchester and Salford and each had his own territory where he performed exclusively.

 

One veteran performer of this musical circuit, whom I remember very well, was "Joe Patriaci". He must have been the last of the "strollers". He died just after the end of the 2nd World War after a career in street busking that commenced outside the Kings Arms on Ancoats Lane in the late 1890s. Joe's musical circuit spanned most of the pubs in the New Cross district but he always managed to finish in the Green Dragon in Jersey St. After closing time, fortified with the a goodly amount of lubrication he would strike up with a resounding rendition of the 'Bersagliere March' followed by the 'Garibaldi Hymn' as he made a melodious way home to Butler St .

 

When Joe, God Bless him, enlisted in the Heavenly Orchestra, which was his life long ambition, the "all button" small concertina which Joe had played through out his career with such melodious fervour was, as the legendary " Harp of Tara" never heard again.

 

The 1841 census records that a small community of Italians, which included a number who were registered as "street musicians", had settled in and around Spear St and Tib St in the vicinity of the Smithfield Plaza in the New Cross area. The mechanical organs they employed were a hand operated portable type that the 'busker' carried strapped to his chest. Although they were manufactured and programmed in Italy the initial programme of three Italian tunes was altered to include at least two popular music hall songs of the day.

 

As an added attraction the "organ grinder "invariably employed a small "Macacca" monkey dressed in a military style uniform complete with a cap. The monkey had been trained to dance and to catch the pennies in the cap at the end of the dance routine. The "monkey man" made sure that his monkey was well looked after because the animal was not only the star of the performance it also attracted the sympathy of the audience and encouraged them to be more generous.

 

The number of this class of street musician fell dramatically and the use of monkeys with the street type organ was slowly but surely discontinued. To my personal knowledge there were only four living in Ancoats after the 2nd W.W. One was known as "Giacomo the Monkey Man" who with a little "Macacca" monkey partner had "busked" the streets of Manchester since 1921.

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Stephen,

 

You are a wealth of information. What a great story.

 

Helen

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