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hjcjones

Who are the concertina pros?

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On another thread, m3838 made the comment that "90% of pros play Irish style". Leaving aside (for now at least) the accuracy of that percentage, it got me wondering how many concertina players are full-time professionals, meaning that they rely on their music to make a living?

 

In folk music the rewards for being a musician are not great, and many good musicians are capable of earning far more by having a "real job". To be a folk musician, you've really got to want to do it, and many (including some highly-regarded players) choose to earn their living by other means and play music as a sideline. This is particularly the case with bands, since the fees don't rise pro rata with the number of band members. On the English ceilidh scene (which I know best) virtually all the top bands, even those with national reputations, are semi-pro. Some of the best and most highly-respected players, therefore, are not always full-time professional musicians.

 

So far, the ones I've come up with who are full-time pros are (in no particular order):

 

John Kirkpatrick

Brian Peters

Alistair Anderson

Simon Thoumire

Dick Miles

Jody Kruskal

Noel Hill

Michael O Raghallaigh

Liam Robinson

Roger Watson

John Spiers

 

Who have I missed?

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I'm not sure that all of these folks are full-time performers, and I believe at least three of them perform on other instruments as well as concertina. There was actually another thread on a similar topic a while back, which became rather contentious and then sort of faded away.

 

On another thread, m3838 made the comment that "90% of pros play Irish style". Leaving aside (for now at least) the accuracy of that percentage, it got me wondering how many concertina players are full-time professionals, meaning that they rely on their music to make a living?

 

In folk music the rewards for being a musician are not great, and many good musicians are capable of earning far more by having a "real job". To be a folk musician, you've really got to want to do it, and many (including some highly-regarded players) choose to earn their living by other means and play music as a sideline. This is particularly the case with bands, since the fees don't rise pro rata with the number of band members. On the English ceilidh scene (which I know best) virtually all the top bands, even those with national reputations, are semi-pro. Some of the best and most highly-respected players, therefore, are not always full-time professional musicians.

 

So far, the ones I've come up with who are full-time pros are (in no particular order):

 

John Kirkpatrick

Brian Peters

Alistair Anderson

Simon Thoumire

Dick Miles

Jody Kruskal

Noel Hill

Michael O Raghallaigh

Liam Robinson

Roger Watson

John Spiers

 

Who have I missed?

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Here are some more concertina players whom I believe are full time musicians:

 

Damian Barber

Robert Harbron

Keith Kendrick

Tim Laycock

Dave Townsend

Iris Bishop

 

There must be others I have missed.

 

Chris

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If Niall Vallely isn't full time, he's busy enough for a full-timer.

 

Ken

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On another thread, m3838 made the comment that "90% of pros play Irish style". Leaving aside (for now at least) the accuracy of that percentage, it got me wondering how many concertina players are full-time professionals, meaning that they rely on their music to make a living?

 

In folk music the rewards for being a musician are not great, and many good musicians are capable of earning far more by having a "real job". To be a folk musician, you've really got to want to do it, and many (including some highly-regarded players) choose to earn their living by other means and play music as a sideline. This is particularly the case with bands, since the fees don't rise pro rata with the number of band members. On the English ceilidh scene (which I know best) virtually all the top bands, even those with national reputations, are semi-pro. Some of the best and most highly-respected players, therefore, are not always full-time professional musicians.

 

So far, the ones I've come up with who are full-time pros are (in no particular order):

 

John Kirkpatrick

Brian Peters

Alistair Anderson

Simon Thoumire

Dick Miles

Jody Kruskal

Noel Hill

Michael O Raghallaigh

Liam Robinson

Roger Watson

John Spiers

 

Who have I missed?

Pauline de Snoo, Wim Wakker, Hamish Bayne, etc. Bear in mind that professional musicians are not only performers but may also be teachers, publishers, recording artists, and, in some cases, repairers and builders. They wear a lot of hats.

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Here is the earlier thread on this topic. Lots more names there, and lots of argument too.

 

I'm not sure that all of these folks are full-time performers, and I believe at least three of them perform on other instruments as well as concertina. There was actually another thread on a similar topic a while back, which became rather contentious and then sort of faded away.

 

On another thread, m3838 made the comment that "90% of pros play Irish style". Leaving aside (for now at least) the accuracy of that percentage, it got me wondering how many concertina players are full-time professionals, meaning that they rely on their music to make a living?

 

In folk music the rewards for being a musician are not great, and many good musicians are capable of earning far more by having a "real job". To be a folk musician, you've really got to want to do it, and many (including some highly-regarded players) choose to earn their living by other means and play music as a sideline. This is particularly the case with bands, since the fees don't rise pro rata with the number of band members. On the English ceilidh scene (which I know best) virtually all the top bands, even those with national reputations, are semi-pro. Some of the best and most highly-respected players, therefore, are not always full-time professional musicians.

 

So far, the ones I've come up with who are full-time pros are (in no particular order):

 

John Kirkpatrick

Brian Peters

Alistair Anderson

Simon Thoumire

Dick Miles

Jody Kruskal

Noel Hill

Michael O Raghallaigh

Liam Robinson

Roger Watson

John Spiers

 

Who have I missed?

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On another thread, m3838 made the comment that "90% of pros play Irish style". Leaving aside (for now at least) the accuracy of that percentage, it got me wondering how many concertina players are full-time professionals, meaning that they rely on their music to make a living?
I'm not sure that all of these folks are full-time performers, and I believe at least three of them perform on other instruments as well as concertina.

True.

Howard, you didn't make it clear whether you intended to include only "professionals" who make their living mostly or even entirely from the concertina, or those who make their living from music, at least part of which involves the concertina. If the latter, you've missed out quite a few, particularly Americans, and particularly singers who use the concertina for accompaniment. Here are a few:

  • Louis Killen (Northumbrian, living in America) - songs, unaccompanied or with English concertina, and the odd tune
  • John Roberts - songs & tunes; anglo concertina, but also banjo & guitar
  • Jeff Warner - songs & tunes; English concertina, but also banjo & guitar
  • Bob Webb - songs & tunes; Maccann duet and various other instruments
  • Grey Larsen - anglo concertina and more; plays Irish, but not just Irish
  • George Marshall - contra dance caller, plays English concertina with his bands
  • Ian Robb (Canada) - songs & English concertina
  • Michael Cooney - "retired" folksinger; Englishconcertina, guitar, banjo, misc. instruments

That list is certainly incomplete.

And there are a number of others who don't live entirely by their music, but get enough income from it to report it on their tax forms.

 

If Niall Vallely isn't full time, he's busy enough for a full-timer.

Tim Collins?

Where are the rest of the Irish names?

 

Edited to correct an error and an oversight.

Jeff Warner plays English, which I know full well, but it seems that my fingers had typed "anglo". And Michael Cooney plays English, though at first I didn't specify.

Edited by JimLucas

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Where are the rest of the Irish names?
Here is the earlier thread on this topic. Lots more names there,....

I see.

A good start, anyway.
:)

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Where are the rest of the Irish names?
Here is the earlier thread on this topic. Lots more names there,....

I see.

A good start, anyway.
:)

 

Is a professional musician necessarily always superior to a fresh and enthusiastic semi-professional musician ?

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If, as michaelpier suggests, players can also be builders, Frank Edgley (Canada)

should be considered.

 

Mark

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Hi

I believe Chris Coe plays duet along with voice and hammered dulcimer (not all at the same time :rolleyes: )

chris

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Is a professional musician necessarily always superior to a fresh and enthusiastic semi-professional musician ?

 

Not necessarily. As I said in my original post, the rewards for playing folk music are usually pretty slim, and being able to play at a professional level is not always sufficient reason to turn professional, when a much better living can often be made doing something else which still allows them to play on a semi-professional basis. This probably also applies to most other genres played on the concertina.

 

The opposite is also true. I have known musicians (I'm not going to name them!) who are by no means in the top flight technically who have nevertheless turned pro, and who by dint of hard work have succeeded in making a living at it, even though they are no better technically than many amateur or semi-pro club floor-singers.

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Howard, you didn't make it clear whether you intended to include only "professionals" who make their living mostly or even entirely from the concertina, or those who make their living from music, at least part of which involves the concertina.

 

I thought about this. If it is to be limited to those who play only, or even mainly, concertina, then this would exclude John K (melodeon and button accordion), Alistair Anderson (pipes), Brian Peters (melodeon and guitar) and and host of other prominent musicians, which would be a nonsense. But I think it should be limited to those for whom concertina is a significant part of what they do, rather than something they occasionally produce for a bit of variety. So I wouldn't include Ian Telfer of Oysterband, for example, who is primarily a fiddler even though he does play a bit of concertina.

 

If the latter, you've missed out quite a few, particularly Americans

 

Where are the rest of the Irish names?

My knowledge of American players, and Irish for that matter, is fairly limited and a lot of those names are new to me (how could I have overlooked Louis Killen, though?). But that's why I asked the question.

 

And there are a number of others who don't live entirely by their music, but get enough income from it to report it on their tax forms.

 

Well, that would include me! I think it should be limited to those for whom it is their main source of income.

 

I would include teachers, because teaching is an extension of their playing skills. Builders and repairers are a bit different - this is an entirely different skill set and I think for the purpose of this discussion it should be regarded as a "day job" (besides, there is already a thread listing builders). So if Frank Edgley, who has been given as an example, earns most of his living from playing then he should be on the list, but if it is mostly from building instruments then he should not.

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Here are some more concertina players whom I believe are full time musicians:

 

Iris Bishop

Hi Chris,

 

Many of us know just how talented Iris is on the Maccann Duet, and she has been very busy on the music scene in recent years. However, this link gives a hint as to her "day job":

 

http://store.dknits.com/cat-iris-bishop-machine-knitting.cfm

 

The good news, though, is that Iris takes a concertina with her when she goes to related events.

 

Regards,

Peter.

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Is a professional musician necessarily always superior to a fresh and enthusiastic semi-professional musician ?

Not necessarily. As I said in my original post,....

I thought it was pretty clear from Howard's original post that he wasn't asking who is "good" (a matter of opinion, which has been discussed to death in various other threads), but who is making (a substantial part of) their living at it? Aside from the punch line, "You call that living?", that's something that can be measured fairly objectively.

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I'd thought about including Steve Turner, but I wasn't sure if he was full-time. Having just looked at his website, I guess he is. I see he'll be appearing at a couple of venues near me, I must try to get along.

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A few more

Tom Bliss (Although he is retiring from professional work), Bernard Wrigley, Niall Vallely and Chris Sherburn.

 

Iris draws huge audiences for her knitting demonstrations Worldwide,she was recently in Australia.I hope to see her with Jim Ward on Thursday next.

Al

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