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Excellent Concertina Group Meeting

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An excellent meeting yesterday.


We had 16 players, a wife who was listening (how often does that happen?) and a dog in the room. At first, I counted 23 instruments, but then realised that a first time visitor, John, had brought two big suitcases full of Anglos to show us. There must have been 40 instruments in the room by the end, not counting my box of harmonicas.


The instruments present included lots of Anglos, 3 baritone Anglos, an extremely rare bass Anglo, and a piccolo Anglo, as well as a few English concertinas, a massive and beautiful 82 button McCann duet, a tiny 8 button McCann and one Hayden duet.


Carrying on a theme from the last meeting we had five 20 button Lachenal Anglos. Group organiser, Alan Davies, had restored his specially for the meeting, and had improved it with the addition of felt bushes to reduce the clicking of the buttons. Only Alan could make a humble 20 button sound like a room full of fairground organs.


Several of us had a go on the Lachenal bass Anglo. Amazing instrument. The lowest C reed could have been taken out and used as a diving board for the local swimming pool - you didn't so much hear it as feel the sound in your bones. When the box was played in the harmonic style it sounded like a foggy day in the Bristol Channel.


At the other extreme, the piccolo box, an octave higher than a normal Anglo, was exactly the sort of thing you would buy if you wanted to annoy your neighbours! The very top notes put the church hall windows at risk.


The music played was the usual eclectic range from English Morris tunes, Irish, Scottish and Welsh tunes, a beautiful rendition of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" on the big McCann, and various classical pieces including some Wagner. The big McCann had to be heard to be believed. I could imagine it coming up out of the floor like the mighty Wurlitzer at an old cinema. Two of the Anglo players accompanied themselves as they sang.


The resident trio, "Behind the Times" played some trios, the resident duo, Janet and Julie played some duets on English and Anglo. Several times when someone played a well known tune, others joined in, either supporting a nervous new player, or adding harmonies to a piece that was being played confidently.


In the interval a few of the group learned a 4 part piece which they played for us. There was plenty of chat over tea and coffee, biscuits and cake.


We had two first time visitors and, what is perhaps a more important indicator of success, one second time visitor!


The next meeting will be in Arnold, Nottingham, in November. Further details nearer the time.

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