This one is suitable for dancing! The June 2021 edition of the Free Reed Liberation Orchestra plays two bog norm scottishes. The group this time is mostly stalwarts with one new member – hello, David Barnet!
The group is:
Anahata, Matthew Bampton, David Barnert, Gary Chapin, Margaret Cox, Andrew Edgington, Steve Gruverman, Eric Johnson, Howard Mitchell, Gren Penn, Julian Scholefield, Janneke Slagter
Oh my God! Steve and Barb and I were able to rehearse for the first time post-pandemic last week and it was amazing. Very emotional. Very fun. I went home feeling more light than I had since last summer. We played for many hours, and I tried to capture a bunch of footage. Here’s us playing the Roger Tallroth waltz. Aside from a few accordion stumbles at the beginning, it goes along quite well, until the 1:30 mark, when we turn the tune around, and suddenly we are levitating. So so good. (If I do say so, myself. And I do.)
How do you start a kickass international accordion orchestra – and why would you do such a thing?
A month ago I was asked by SEED+SPARK if I’d talk about the creation of the Free Reed Liberation Orchestra as part of their arts/ecology/creativity series The Seed Hour 2021. I did it and here’s the recording of that conversation. Steve Gruverman and Matthew Bampton, orchestra members, joined for the conversation. There’s a bit of front matter, including the wonderful Jasmine Gillison singing two songs, and then the accordion talk begins. Enjoy!
Three tunes from the Bal Folk Tune Book Project. I play these on the F row of the Dino Baffetti Tex-Mex accordion because of a provocation from Martin Ellison at melodeon.net, who was curious about the sound of the low F row. This is tuned MM, so it doesn’t sound LOW, but it’s very sweet and comforting. The only really weird thing to get used to was that the F row is second button start on my box, keeps everything else in line across the three rows.
This was a piece I wrote (lyrics) for my second CD (which you can listen to over on the right, or download from Bandcamp). The idea was that there was this fictional between-the-wars crypto-anarchist, quasi-mystical accordion orchestra uniting squeezers everywhere. And this is their anthem.
I had no idea, at the time, that the FRLO would become and actual real thing nearly two decades later. I am grateful beyond measure for everyone in the group — squeezers and friends — who, I think, experienced a bit of trepidation when I asked them to sing.
There was also some emotion with the line about mothers, which should not have surprised me (mothers are complicated things). Steve said to me, “I don’t get this line about mothers.” To which I replied.
I wrote this around the time after my Mom died. It’s not really ABOUT MY MOM, just that I was feeling warmly about the idea of mothers. The FRLO in my mind, in 2006, was a … dance band that played in dives in a 1930s Svengali landscape. John Barrymore might bring Marion Marsh there while they’re on vacation in Vienna, trying to avoid the press and the police, and maybe get their hands on some absinth. The FRLO would be playing there, and they might dance, or they might not.
Two Waltzes from the Bal Folk Tune Book (but they are played in Aflat) “Lo Rossinhol” (#118) “Aure Françoise” (#116) If you’d like to support this work or just buy me some coffee Venmo is @Gary-Chapin-7 Thanks!