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Midlands Concertina Group report

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Midlands Concertina Group: an informal group of concertina enthusiasts who meet twice a year in Nottingham, UK.  We had a meeting yesterday.


There were 17 present, of whom 15 had brought instruments to play, 1 was a former player, and 1 was a long suffering spouse.  We had five "apologies for absence".  Also, sadly the ranks of our older members are reduced a little each year.  On the other hand, we do have some keen new members.


The balance of the group has moved from about 50/50 Anglos/English with occasional duets, to probably nearer to 80/20 Anglos/English, with an occasional duet.  I'd guess that with 15 players present, some of whom had brought 2 or more instruments, we had around 30 concertinas in the room.


The range of music was as wide as usual, with some people playing Morris tunes, others playing common session tunes, one who specialises in Northumbrian pipe tunes, another who played a country tune often used for line dancing, and two who sang.  The biggest surprise of the afternoon was first time visitor, Ed, who self-accompanied as he sang a Half Man Half Biscuit song that rhymed "acolyte" and "ammonite" in the first two lines.


Our resident trio, Behind the Times, played an arrangement for baritone Anglo, Anglo, and English.  There was a duo playing English and Anglo, and another duo (well, there was some overlap in personnel!) playing Anglo and fiddle!


In the interval, a few of the members got together to work on a simple tango which they then performed for the delight of the rest of us.


Styles of Anglo playing included single line of melody along the row, single line across the rows in the two main keys of the instrument, single line across the rows in a different key (e.g. A on GD, or D on CG), single line with occasional double-stopping like on a fiddle, simple oompah accompaniment, and more complex chordal accompaniment.


Those playing the English system showed a similar level of versatility, with some concentrating on the melody, some on the accompaniment, and some managing both (witchcraft, I tell you!).  The duets, as always, did pretty much anything, in a range of keys.


This is a friendly group, and all concertina enthusiasts — whether players or not, and regardless of your level of ability or experience — are welcome to come and play, listen, watch, learn, and share.  The next meeting is likely to be in late March or early April 2020, details to follow.

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