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Jody At Concertinas At Palestine, East Texas, 2015

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It's that time again, time to start thinking about bringing yourself and your concertina to the East Texas pineywoods for the 11th Annual Old Palestine Concertina Weekend (and Old Time Music and Dulcimer Festival). The festival will occur March 26-28 this year, in the small town of Palestine, Texas.


This year we are very fortunate to have a return visit from Jody Kruskal, in what is, I think, his fifth appearance at our concertina weekend. Jody is a superb teacher and a superb performer...and a very nice fellow to boot, as all on this Forum will know. We are still working on his Texas accent, but other than that, he'll do just fine! :rolleyes:


Jim Bayliss is stepping up to take the reins on organizing the workshops this year. Jim plays duet and Anglo, and has been to nearly every one of these gatherings, from the very beginning. To get on the mailing list for workshop details, etc. send him a PM via this forum, or via email at jmbayliss"at"juno.com


For new folks, the Palestine music festival is an absolute gem, with a charming location in the East Texas Pineywoods, in high springtime. Lots for non-musical spouses to do in town (an old steam train; dogwood festival that week, azaleas, etc.), and there are superb festival concerts every lunchtime and every evening, in an old auditorium seemingly right out of a Faulkner novel. There are workshops for every conceivable stringed instrument, from various forms of dulcimers to fiddles to banjos, and shape note singing workshops for singers....for me those shape note sing-ins are among the high points. The performers -- old time genre for the most part, but always some variety too -- are accomplished, and very approachable. It is all very laid back.


The festival website can give you the general details, prices etc. http://www.oldpalmusic.com/ But for the concertina activities, please contact Jim at the above address.


Come join us for some BBQ, springtime, and tunes!



Edited by Dan Worrall
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I'll be there, what a great event, can't wait for the Old Pal experience. Every time I attend, I vow to keep coming back.


My portion of the festival will be to coordinate the concertina programing, teaching workshops in Old-Time concertina for all systems and 'tina technique & practice in all styles. There will be a place for you to perform informally and semi-formally, if you are so inclined, also, I'll be performing in the public concerts with the other headliners, and bringing all the concertina players (who want to) up on stage for a tune or two to share at the end. We always enjoy a big Texas welcome at the Old Pal festival. They love us concertina players at their string band festival and we love them. Shy people as well as beginners, on up to extroverts and advanced players in all concertina systems and string instruments too, are welcome.


We play, we eat, we talk, we learn, we eat, we talk, we play, we eat, we listen, we talk, we eat etc... and then we eat. Bar-B-Q is good in East Texas.


If you would like to play concertina but don't know where to start... this would be a good introduction. In addition to the regular programed activities, there will be many players at this event who would be glad to share their concertina experience and expertise with you and even let you have a go on their instrument (if you ask nicely). We are a friendly and welcoming gathering. All are welcome at the Palestine Old-Time and Dulcimer Festival and the concert music is top drawer always, http://www.oldpalmusic.com/


After registering and paying (jmbayliss"at"juno.com), Jim will send you pdfs and mp3s from me to get you prepared for an Old-Time Texas concertina festival like no other.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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As mentioned above, I'll be organizing the concertina aspect of Old Pal this year. Jody is a great and inspiring player and has a lot of musical knowledge of benefit for players of all levels and systems. And when the concertinas aren't playing, there will be a lot of music and learning opportunities going on at the festival, and Palestine will be in spring with the dogwoods blooming. The festival fee runs about $80, and the concertina fee is $30 to help defray expenses. If you plan on attending or have any questions, contact me at jmbayliss@juno.com. I hope to see you there.

Edited by Jim Bayliss
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Is this anything to do with the meet?




The lyrics include:




Lena is the Queen O' Palesteena, just because they like her concertina,

She plays it day and night, she plays with all her might,

She never gets it right, but how they love it, want more of it;

I heard her play, once or twice, Oh! murder! still it was nice;

She was fat but she got leaner pushing on her concertina,

Down old Palesteena way.


From: http://www.palestineposterproject.org/poster/lena-from-palestina


Anyone got the dots? I found some here:



and a fun video:



Edited by Don Taylor
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This is the eleventh year we've held this, and probably the eighth year that someone brought up Lena on the thread. We have eagerly awaited her arrival, but alas! The Queen of Palesteena hasn't showed herself. Yet.


We'll have to settle for BBQ, dogwood blossums, old timey music, and...did anyone say.....concertinas in old Palestina?

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I'm looking forward to Old Pal at the end of March... friendly East Texas Southern hospitality and culture, the concerts and jam sessions, the BBQ and the concertina camaraderie, and of course the workshops where I'll be teaching.


We'll start off with an Intro to Zen Bellows, then I'll teach a few old time tunes for all systems, but which tunes to pick?


I was thinking of Been to the East, Been to the West in G. A great tune and a classic. I included this one in my presentation down in the South of England last November and it was a big success. Like the best old time tunes, it's a pleasure to play on any instrument. In fact, all the tunes we'll be working on sound great on C/G as well as G/D Anglo and are good for duets and English too.


Here are a few links to hear this fine old Mississippi tune:


Slow, soulful and artistic - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI3idJK9uOw


Fast with vocals - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxsSps127FQ


Like all of these tunes, multiple versions abound. The Seattle based Canote brothers play it here at a nice steady pace -



For those who want the dots, I've transcribed it for us to play and of course, there will be handouts, pdfs and mp3s in advance, forwarded to all the attendees. Have you signed up yet?


I think three tunes would be a good plan. So... I'm trying to pick two more. Suggestions anyone?


If you are planning to attend, just email Jim for the details, jmbayliss@juno.com


See you there in the Texas Piney Woods of Old Palestine.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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In addition to Jody's teaching and playing, the opportunites for learning and comradery with other concertinists will be there. There will be a convocation of Duets Anonymous, as well as a slow jam of old time, English, and Irish tunes. Right now, I'm primarily looking at reviewing tunes we have previously gone over in years at Palestine. Please add any suggestions, and, if you'd like to do a workshop, please let me know. We are also planning a concertinists' dinner at a local restaurant. So please email me if you think you'll be attending.

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I wonder if it would be appropriate or inappropriate to suggest the use of some easily accessible tune book for general use. The first that comes to my mind is Paul Hardy's Session book. It is available online or you can order it all printed and bound. I find this tune book a great comfort. It was my teething ring when I was self-teaching. And I find I usually go back to it nearly every evening for at least a couple of favorites it not a total run through when I'm depressed! This suggestion is totally self serving. I seem to have little ability to play from memory. I know it sort of takes the spontaneity out of the jams--but without some written music I do find myself always sitting on the sidelines. I love sessions--but rarely get participate; altho there is a new "family friendly" session that I have just discovered nearby that gathers once/month. Would this be a way for more of us to be able to participate in "not quite jams"? :)

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Hey Shelly, thanks for posting that. I downloaded Paul Hardy's Session book. What a great resource, all those fine tunes in one pdf. I can't say that I agree with all of his chords, but still... an excellent collection. Now, I'm confused about what this has to do with the festivities at Old Pal, but no matter.


Of interest perhaps... in contrast to your playing in needing the dots... I've been performing at dances recently with a harmonica player who knows very few of our tunes... but it makes no difference, he sounds great just blowing away. He makes it up by ear, no dots at all and though he learns the tunes on the fly as it were, he plays them with rhythmic authority as if he had been playing them all his life. I think this is through quick study and an immediate grasp of harmonic structure on his part. A really amazing feat that constantly amazes me, just how right he sounds while being rather ignorant of the rep.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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Jody, I would not be at all surprised if there were plenty of competent musicians out there who have a good ear and memory for melody and harmony, who have arrived where they are by fully acquainting themselves with the instruments possibilities ( probably by no more than an extended and constant process of trial and error ) and with no recourse whatsoever to dots on paper. That is how I get by !

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, getting by on instinct is a fine thing, I do it myself often. Though I do have other tools at my disposal (like a knowledge of harmony theory and the ability to read dots). Still, playing from the hip (as it were), is my favorite. When I have to read and think then I may be playing correctly, but the soul of the music suffers and the muse winces in pain.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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... I downloaded Paul Hardy's Session book. What a great resource, all those fine tunes in one pdf. I can't say that I agree with all of his chords, but still... an excellent collection.


I'm pleased you find it useful. Regarding the chords, the 2015 edition just released has had some reworking of chords for some of the worst offending (usually older to me) tunes. This is largely thanks to a couple of guitar players with strong musical theory background joining our local slow session and critiquing them, but also I've got a bit better at chord harmonisation over time. I'm basically a melody player, and not a guitarist, but people asked that I include chords for all tunes which I do, to be treated as a starting point.


One of my few regrets in life is that when I did music 'O' level aged 16, I opted not to do the classes and exam paper on Harmony, opting for Grade V on Cello instead - with hindsight, the concepts of harmony would have been a useful life skill, and a cello is not the most portable or versatile of instruments!


I'm always happy to get constructive criticism, particularly of chords - if you find tunes that are bad do drop me an email with suggested improvements (paul@paulhardy.net).



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