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.)
Many boxes, one piece. The Free Reed Liberation Orchestra is a notional (and virtual) orchestra to which any accordionist who wants can belong (and friends, like banjo uke and bass clarinet players). This is our debut upon the world. The tune is a bog norme bourrée, a tune that will get you a free drink at any Bal Trad Pub you might come across. This agglomeration of individuals are mostly habitués of melodeon.net — my home parish for diatonic squeeze matters. This tune is also known as La bourrée tourante, and is tune #32 in the Bal Folk Tune Book. This project is on the very short list of coolest things I have ever done. The Free Reed Liberation Orchestra (Oct 2020 edition) is Anahata, Matthew Bampton, Gary Chapin, Steve Gruverman, Benjamin Hemmendinger, Gren Penn, Pete (playandteach), Julian Scholefield, Janneke Slagter, Greg Smith, Barbara Truex. Video by Gary Chapin
Here we are playing Gwendal, a tune we heard from an album by the House Band.
The tune is from the Rockall album from 1996, and featured the great Chris Parkinson, who I wrote about here.
When I got my first flat keyed accordion (the Dino Baffetti in F/Bb/Eb), I asked the band if we could do some flat tunes just because. This was the first. A set of bog norm bourrées in three performed at Port City Blue — in Portland, ME — about a year ago. The tunes are 1. Bourrée Droite 2. Bourrée de St. Pierre 3. Bourrée d’Egletons.
Hello, all, I’ve been silent on the blog for some months, and I don’t necessarily apologize for it. We all go through periods like this. I’ve been keeping this blog since 2011 and the depth of my passion has not dwindled a bit, even if my volubility has. Here are some things.
Yesterday, I swung by the Button Box because my Concertino organetto had sticking keys. It wasn’t always the same keys, but there were always some keys sticking on that thing. I do some work out in Western Mass, and took the opportunity to visit. While there I tried an amazing beauty of a Castagnari Benny (G/C/Acc), a thing of beauty, a wonder to behold. And so damn light! I played a bunch on it and left it behind, grateful for the chance to touch it. While there I also picked up to Irish music CDs.
It was an unusual move for me! The jigs and reels have plenty of representation in my life, and you may have noticed that this blog is devoted to French-ish music of an accordion sort. And yet … I have developed an obsession with Irish melodeonists, which, in this context, means players of Irish music on the one-row box. I’ve loved this sort of thing since I heard Tom Doherty’s Catch the Bull by the Horns, CD, back in the 90s. Lately, I’ve been stalking Dave Munnelly’s YouTube page, and then saw reference to Bobby Gardiner — the doyen of the D row — and saw each of them with a CD for sale at the Button Box.
St. John’s, Newfoundland
Because Maine isn’t cold and wind blasted enough in February, last week I took a trip to Newfoundland, which has an amazing button accordion tradition (you don’t need me to tell you that). I went to the legendary O’Brien’s Music Store. Tried the boxes and talked to the folks. It was a good time! Looking forward to going back. That night — sans box — we went to Erin’s Pub, where a storytelling circle was being held (Newfoundland!! Amirite??). I got up and sang a thing. No accordions involved, but a good story song.
On March 30, I’ll be playing with my quintet Nouveau Chapeau at the Down East Country Dance Festival, which is mostly contra-dancing but has lots of other stuff going on, like the Bal Folk session that we’re playing for. That’s in Topsham, Maine.
On March 31, my trio, Le Bon Truc will be playing the inaugural concert of the Crockerbox House Concert series in Hallowell, Maine.
I lead a good life. On May 2nd, my trio, Le Bon Truc, played at Blue, in Portland (Maine). We managed to pack the place and then play perhaps our best ever. It was super and felt great. Friend of the band, Sunshine Perlis, took video of eleven of the sets. The lighting is suboptimal, but the sound is great. I’ve put these together into a playlist so you who wish may enjoy our good fortune!
We’re hitting five years of playing together, and our lax variety of ambition has served us well. I love these two, and I love the music we make.
A suite of tunes written by myself: The Egret’s Suite. Written in what was intended to be a breton-ish style (but drifted). The first tune is definitely one idea of what Breton folks might write as mazurka, if they wrote mazurkas. The second tune is influenced by my hero, Yann-Fañch PERROCHES. You can hear it in the 7th chords, though it’s a bit of a heavy handed approach compared to le maestro. The third tune is a happy retreat — a release from regrets and aggression.
This was created as a sort of demo for my band. Here are the dots!
The first waltz is an original by Le Bon Truc member Barbara Truex. She has a talent for writing extraordinary melodies, and this is only the latest. I imagine my harmonies aren’t exactly right to the composition, since Barb wrote it on a mountain dulcimer, which, because of its drones has all sorts of incidental (if not accidental) harmonies.
This is a fast waltz (that’s what they said it was when I played it in Alsace) that I wrote a good many years ago. I don’t actually write many tunes, but this one had legs. Although one of my goals is to show off the sound of the Mory, I seemed to slightly overdrive the mic for this recording. Maybe time to buy new equipement.
Disaster Narrowly Averted
A thing of beauty. A wonder to behold.
|Sure. He looks unassuming. Mostly harmless.|
|Le Bon Truc. We love each other.|
From our gig at Jay’s Last Church on the Left, in Portland, Maine. The second tune is from the Bal Folk Tune Book (#186).