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I've recounted it before, so here's the short version....


Asked for a fiddle

And home came a concertina

For my brother

Who rolled it across the floor

Into my hands.


Infected and seduced

I have played its progeny

In secret and in public

Filling wounds nothing

Else could heal until

I stumbled on this

Good harbor.

Edited by Mark Evans
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I blame one person.....John Kirkpatrick!


Yes, I think I too could lay the blame largely at JK's feet. I loved the sound he made on his Crabb Anglo and saw him a few times with Sue Harris at various folk clubs in London in the 70s. In those days an Anglo of any sorts was way out of my reach.


I took up melodeon (the inevitable Hohner G/D Pokerwork) after moving to Northampton and joining Moulton Morris in 1980, but still yearned for an Anglo.


Finally bought a Rochelle in February this year, and only kept it for 3 months before paying Chris Algar a visit in May and coming away with a vintage Crabb in G/D (leaving behind the Rochelle plus my old melodeon as a token bit of part-ex!).


I'll probably be bumping into JK at Hammersmith Morris's 50th birthday bash next July, but I'm not sure that I'll risk my Crabb on such an outing - I think I'll just be taking my cheapo fiddle...

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The first record I heard that featured concertina was Morris on, but since I'd never seen one at the time and wouldn't have been able to tell the anglo from the button accordion on the recording, the early influence of JK would have been subliminal.


The person who really inspired me was the late Mel Dean, who stood up in a concert at the first folk festival I ever attended (Whitby, aged 22) and played some very neat anglo. I couldn't believe you could get so much music out of such a little box. I'd bought a 26-button Lachenal within weeks.


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I'm being nosey again


SO what made you want to learn the concertina? Who inspired you? Did you have any goals when you started?


I was playing other instruments (guitar, hammered dulcimer) in contra dance bands when my father, who haunted yard sales, found a beat up Italian 20 button anglo and gave it to me. The bellows were shot, but someone else gave me a nearly new but almost totally nonfunctional E. German box. Amazingly, the two matched up; I patched the two together and had a concertina that almost worked.


Over the years, I found that I really liked picking it up and noodling.


But I didn't really get into it until my wife started Morris dancing about 15 years ago and I started attending dance events. I was intrigued by the dance worthiness of the Anglo and, as someone else said, by the incredible amount of music that little box could put out. I ordered a Herrington, and just then my wife's Morris side lost its musician and I was recruited.


I still have that patched-together box. I think about it every time I hear the recurring argument about crappy Chinese concertinas.

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I'm being nosey again ;P


SO what made you want to learn the concertina? Who inspired you? Did you have any goals when you started?


Been into folk music since the second revival of the late '50's. Came in via the Trad Jazz door, Lonny Donegan, Leadbelly.

Then found out we had our own English stuff WOW! Great!


Bought my Lachenal Anglo in '72 at Cambridge from Neil Wayne. It was out of tune. I didn't know. Thought they were supposed to sound like that.

Left it on the shelf until '93 when I got it tuned and areal shine up by Chris Agar. Had to play it after that. Just to get it out of the box was a treat.

Had just bought a Melodeon so they helped each other.

Opened up a different world of tunes for me.


My first instruments were guitar and voice. So this was new stuff for me.


Found that I could sing with the Anglo and not the Melodeon. Sort of left hand right side of the brain thing I think.

As opposed to the right hand melody line on the Melodeon and the dysfunctional left side of the brain.

Perhaps others can enlighten on this?


Inspiration? Well I like what Pete Bellamy does with it. Lea Nicholson too. Bernard Wrigley. John KP of course. Steeleye Span were at Cambridge in '72.

Keith Kendricks. The list goes on.


Still trying to learn to play in other keys. Managing slowly. And I mean SLOWLY!

Can mostly manage to follow someone when they are playing in D.


Have loads of English tunes I'd like to run through. Learning some Swedish tunes too.


Came back from my trip to England this summer with loads of new songs to learn.

But, well, with all the other things I have/want to do time is the problem. There isn't enough of it.



Edited by fidjit
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Someone eager to get rid of a horrible 20 button Anglo leant it to me to try. I decided that I didn't want it but did manage to get a tune out of it after about 20 minutes.

About 2-3 years later I decided to become less of an introvert to avert depression (widowed at the time :( ) and start singing in the folk club. (I was a shy audience member who just joined in the chorus. :unsure: ) I thought that it would be a good idea to see if I could play an instrument and remembered the concertina <_< . Bought one in August and started performing with it in December :rolleyes: . Was dragooned into a Folk-rock group by the following August :ph34r: .


Robin Madge

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I'm being nosey again ;P


SO what made you want to learn the concertina? Who inspired you? Did you have any goals when you started?



The band "Horslips": they have an English box on the cover of one of thier albums, but at the time I didn't know English from CBA, just knew "concertina". The concertina shows up on a few tracks.


I wanted something different, that would give my mandolin string indented fingers a rest. Unfortuntely it dented my bank account.

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It's small enough to carry around, It doesn't need retuning everytime I get it out of the case, I don't have to keep changing strings and it doesn't need rosin :D



Well, not entirely. I've been interested (my friends all yell out 'obsessed!!!') with sea chanties since I was nine or ten, about the same time I fell deeply in love with tall ships, coincidentally (hah). With those recordings that I eagerly listened to I decided that the concertina was something that I liked, it sounded cool. Never mind that at this point I refused to practice my violin (yes, at this point I was still playing the "violin" instead of fiddle) and was near the point where I'd abandon music presumably forever.

Skip to five years later, I've picked up the fiddle again, am enjoying it, and occasionally playing around with my lap dulcimer and making dreadful noises on the practice chanter a friend gave me. At the Smithsonian Folklife Festival there's a guy with a concertina........you get the idea, I listened, remembered my dream to play concertina (that I never exactly forgot, just put in storage) and decided that I NEEDED to get one of those for myself.

A bit of research on concertinas, saving my allowance and dog-sitting money and I was calling the Button box to order my very own 48-button English Stagi. Got it on April second, and began teaching myself that day, took it to a session 20 some days later and got told that they'd break all my fingers if I was actually telling the truth about how short of a time I'd had it. I was, but they didn't, what are friends for?


So, that's pretty much it.

I was pretty thrilled that it was smaller than a fiddle and didn't need tuning, that was a definite plus. The only thing is, it's heavy! Easily as heavy in its case as my fiddle is, and nowhere near as portable as a flute (which half of my friends play), but lots and lots of fun.

If I'm in Wisconsin another week I'd bring it to the session I went to last night. I probably won't be though, oh well.


I'll read through this thread completely later, I didn't get to read all the posts....dying laptop battery and all. :(


(Edited to correct my inexcusable grammar and clarify some bits.)

Edited by Fiddlehead Fern
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Whitby folk festival, 1971 (it was just a weekend festival back then)


Lea Nicholson was the guilty party, I went to a concertina workshop and was hooked by the sound, the portability and the fact that it didn't need tuning. Went home determined to get one.


Lea had said there were two types of concertina, English and Anglo. Two weeks later, I was in a junk shop looking at something which, while certainly a concertina, was neither an English or an Anglo. I bought it anyway, and it cost me the equivalent of 5 weeks rent. Turned out to be a 35 button Crane Duet, though it was about a year before I learnt that. I worked out where the notes were, which was easy for 3 reasons:


1. It was colour coded, white and black notes, plus the notes of 'C' were red

2. I could still make out letters engraved in the ends of some buttons

3. It's a Crane, right? ;)


Anyway, I learnt a couple of tunes. That meant I was promoted from 15th best guitarist at my local club (where there were only 15 guitarists) to best concertina player (I was the only one). That sort of thing is good for a young man's ego. B)


Part-exchanged that box for a 48 button Crane from Neil Wayne two years later (I still have that one). Still hadn't met anyone else who played one until I went to a Concertina weekend in the Lake District about '75 or '76, so I've been teaching myself - aka making it up as I go along. It works for me.


Buying that first concertina was probably the biggest single life-changing decision I've made.


Andrew McKay

Crane Drivin' Music

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I am third generation on piano accordion so did fiddle and keyboard at school to try and keep me off things with buttons.

It didn't work - we all played gob-iron at school so suck-blow instruments are second nature - I blame JK and AA for getting me re-wired into anglo in my teens and english nearer 50.

Although I had already hooked into Northumbriana with the Ranters, like Brian, I am sure Morris On was the turning point where squeezy-things became ....... I can't say "cool", 'cos that phrase didn't exist then.


A lifelong fascination of instuments with buttons on - that is all it is - and when buttons become too fiddly, I may have a go at zip-accordion.

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Started playing music at age 47 -- about 25 years ago. Started with banjo, switiched to harmonica, then to Guitar, then for a long time to the mandolin. Never became very proficient and was frustrated by thinking I could never reach the "bottom" of these instruments and gain full control. Regularly attending the Old Songs Festival in Albany NY, I was intrigued by the Button Box booth and wondered about the concertinas on display. Eventually rented a Stagi English from the Button Box, then bought a Lachenal from Paul Groff, then a couple of more expensive instruments Paul and Button Box and have never reverted to my former efforts at music. I have not reached "bottom" by any means, but I can at least articulate what it would be like if I did. Also it seems that the instrument has such a romantic history. One of main reasons for adopting it was the fact that it had the same range as a violin and mandolin and could be used for the same music.

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I've told this story here before. I had thought concertina might be fun ever since seeing Richard Carlin play (EC) in 1978, but never did anything about it. Then I was at Ashokan Halloween weekend in 1986 (maybe 85?) with my girlfriend (now wife), playing banjo and hammered dulcimer. Rich Morse was there with his new Wheatstone Hayden and I was curious. He put it in my hands and told me how it works, and out came "Ashokan Farewell," as if it was playing itself. Unbeknownst to me, Julie asked Rich how to get me one for my next birthday, and a few months later it arrived at my door.

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Fingers went bad.


What happened is that I was a guitar player, but by some fluke of nature or heredity I started having a severe problem with the skin of my fingers splitting and so on (...yes, I did visit a dermatologist and was also tested for various things it could be... but turned out to not be).


I could no longer press any strings, even the softest, even after years of having done so without a problem. Not that I really care, anymore. I'd rather play my concertina.


I went to The Button Box in... 2002 I think? looking for an accordion, but when I saw concertinas I thought they'd be so much nicer to hold. So much easier on the back. They are!


I have also finally gone back to the accordion, too, but it's so much nicer to pick up a concertina.


As for the fingers, they stay stable as long as I keep up with them. Right now they have a bad case of poison ivy but I'll make them play, anyway.

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I can't say "cool", 'cos that phrase didn't exist then.


"Cool" was a beatnik expression from the '50s (I remember a TV programme called "Cool for Cats"), so it must have just been having a rest in the '70s before it came around again (as things tend to do). :)

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