Septembre (Stephane Delicq)

A mazurka by the great Stephane Delicq called Septembre, but played as part of the December 2020 melodeon.net tune-of-the-month. Also happens to be the first day of snow in Maine. I learned this tune from Catherine Piron-Paira around 2006 when she and Sylvain Piron visited us in Maine, and I heard her playing it on a bowed psaltry. For years I thought it was a medieval tune. It’s true that it is very characteristic of Delicq, but one of those characteristics is timelessness.

“War Hent Kerrigouarch” (FRLO #3)

We do this every once in a while, contact Gary Chapin if you want in!

This is the THIRD recording by the Free Reed Liberation Orchestra and our first Breton offering. This project has been a blast and something that would never have happened without the pandemic or me being laid off, so that says … something. I’m not sure what!

“War Hent Kerrigouarch” (The Road to Kerrigouarch) is a Breton tune that I first heard on the Kornog album, Premiere. Later, Alisdair Fraser did it with cellist Natalie Haas as part of their Derriére Les Carreaux set. Jamie McMenemy (of Kornog) recorded it on his own first album in 1981. I have no idea if its trad or if McMenemy wrote it. The F.R.L.O (nov 2020) is Anahata, Matthew Bampton, Gary Chapin, Margaret cox, Steve Gruverman, Benjamin Hemmendinger, Eric W. Johnson, Little Eggy, Janneke Slagter, Greg Smith, Barbara Truex.

My son, Max (living in Japan) brought this tune to my attention when he transcribed Alistair Fraser’s set for my band (Le Bon Truc) to play. We may still do that, COVID willing, but in the meantime, I hope this pleases him.

La Françounette (Free Reed Liberation Orchestra)

Introducing the second Free Reed Liberation Orchestra tune, La Françounette, a waltz which also happens to be #108 in the Bal Folk Tune Book. This is eleven box players (all from melodeon.net), one clarinetist, one fiddler, and two strummy-strummy players. I said this for the last FRLO recording (which was also the first). this is among the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life, and I am very grateful to everyone playing and listening.

The Free Reed Liberation Orchestra (October 2020, pt. 2) is Anahata, Matthew Bampton, John Barber, Gary Chapin, Benjamin Hemmendinger, JohnAndy, Howard Mitchell, Helena Painting, Gren Penn, Julian Schoenfield, Janneke Slagter, Greg Smith, Steve Gruverman, Margaret Cox, Eric w. Johnson, and Barbara Truex. Performance ©FRLO 2020

Note: Turns out this tune is virtually the same tune as another in the Bal Folk Tune Book, Valse à Bouscatel #111.

Les Grandes Poteries (Orchestre d’accordéon)

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

Josefin’s Dopvals (by Roger Tallroth)

One of my very favorite waltzes, by Roger Tallroth of Väsen. I learned it from the version by Dervish, which is very winsome and almost sentimental — but goddammit it always gets me the third time through when drum kicks up! Very inspiring. This is specifically NOT a sentimental version. Trying something different. A straight-ish French waltz at French-waltz pace.

Unknown Tune in Four

The Theme of the Month at mel,net is “Something in Four.” It’s for the odds and sods tunes. The march, polka, or whatever that seems somehow different and out of place. This tune is one that I learned from a fiddler about fifteen years ago. I don’t know if I ever knew what it was called, but I certainly don’t now. I can’t honestly even say what type of tune it is or its provenance. It sounds Breton? Maybe and an dro? If YOU know, please say so in the comments.

P.S., I used my phone for this recording and I’m still figuring out the best way to do that. I’ll do better next time.

Welcome to a New Box

A beautiful box

Ah, joy!

Today I took delivery of my new box, a Hohner Erica A/D, sent from England by its previous owner, a denizen of the inestimable melodeon.net.

I’ve had my eye out for an A/D box for a while. I found myself playing in situations where my disdain for “the peoples’ key” was becoming more than a charming eccentricity. I had boxes that played in C, G, F, Bb, and Eb. I needed an A and a D. (Anything beyond three sharps or three flats seems a vulgar affectation.)

So, did I want posh box (oh, a Tommy!)? A less expensive posh box (a Lilly)? Or a tiny box (Giordy)? Or a Baffetti organato? I didn’t know. Then this box showed up for sale on mel.net.

I was intrigued. I always had a thing for that old fashion Hohner sound, and had actually started on a mighty Corso. The Erica is a classic bog norm box. Jean Blanchard played one back in the day. Then, accordion fettler, bold Lester Bailey, pointed out that he had worked on the Erica and that it was an excellent model of the species. Also, that the seller was very trustworthy. That was enough for me.

After adjusting all the straps to suit my massive frame, I made some videos. Be kind, still getting used the action and all that.

Two Blogs of Note

Sur le blog de ma fille.

I wanted to bring your attention to two blogs of interest to the accordéon-centric. The first (nepotism alert) is that of my daughter, Brigid. Quite the photographer, she is responsible for many of the photos on this site, and undertook to document the most recent performance of my trio, Le Bon Truc. These photos are posted on her blog, Brigid and the World. The photos of her trip to Costa Rica are also amazing.

The second blog is Loafing Aboard. Doc is a denizen of mel.net, and recently spent the summer in Ghent conducting a sort of dream-turned-real accordéon bacchanal. His most recent post is a beautiful essay about that trip.