What’s Been Going On?

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.

The Button Box

BennyYesterday, 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.

Bobby Gardiner and Dave Munnelly

gardinerIt 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

CaptureBecause 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.

Upcoming Performances!

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.

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Quebecois Tunes

I don’t usually do second-degree blog posts, but Andy in Vermont has uncovered a web site devoted to Quebecois tunes that looks amazingly good. The link is over at his Melodeon Minutes.

I should mention that when my French pals were here, they quietly chastised me for doting on their European French tradition while ignoring the lively Franco and Quebecois traditions right on my doorstep. I do enjoy Quebecois music — though my time playing Irish trad has made me wary of reels. Does this mean I’ll need a one-row accordion in D?

One-Row Goodness

Castagnari Max, One-Row

Diatonic Accordion players speak affectionately of the warmth or lift generated by the push/pull action of their boxes. It’s better for dancing, they might say, or, it has a character to it that’s different from (read better than) chromatic or piano accordions. I don’t believe that this is always true — Patrick Lefebvre’s chromatic playing has plenty of lift, rhythm, and character — but when played well … wow … one-row, pushing/pulling accordions can really get a little somethin’ somethin’ going.

Andy from Vermont recently posted three recordings of himself playing Quebecois tunes on his Melodie one-row in D and I find myself completely besotted. Go see for yourself. Wonderful.

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