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Hobos with Concertinas?


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I'm curious if there is any historical record of association between hoboes (particularly American tramps & bums) and concertinas. I think of the heyday for hoboes as spanning from the 1890s to the 1930s, which would have overlapped with the later part of concertina popularity in North America. And as relatively portable instruments, and ones similar to the very hobo-associated harmonica, it seems plausible that they could have seen some use. The time period is a little late - the concertina's popularity was in decline by 1910 - but if anything I would have thought that cheaply available pawnshop instruments might *increase* usage amongst the notoriously cheap hobo population.

 

I checked Dan Worrall's book and couldn't find any reference to hobo usage of concertinas, but maybe someone else has heard of it? Conversely, if it didn't happen, any theories why not?

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In NY there were still plenty of hobos around In the late 60's and 70's, particularly in and/or around the cities and towns with yarding facilities.  I worked the tracks for many years from the Canadian border south along Champlain, down the Hudson and Susquehanna river valleys and into PA as far as Sunbury.  There was a sizable "jungle" above Erie Boulevard in downtown Schenectady before the new Amtrack station was built.   Some of the "gandydancers" drifted in and out of employment spending most of their free time there and in the bars on Albany street when they had raised a little cash.  They were a secretive (and relatively quiet) bunch as singing or playing instruments would have brought the "bulls" around.  Old Hubba Bubba was the self appointed King of the Hobos in that neck of the woods with his Queen Midnight Mary.  I wrote a few verses of a song about 'em years ago.  If I ever get my fingers to land reasonably well I might finish it one day.....😊

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I don't know so much about 'hobis' as far as UK is concerned; but sometimes in city centres over here you get 'down and outs' as termed Similar) .. or more recently termed unkindly "rough sleepers".  And many play also sometimes tin whistles , and sometimes very well too!  They can often  get a far better tune than the overly loud , in your ears, ( in my opinion) amplified, entertainers,  that are quickly over- populating  crowded streets now. 

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