I’ve been thinking of the tune “Plant a Cao,” lately (sheet music down below). It was nominated for tune of the month over on Melodeon.net. It was voted down, but a fascination was still sparked. This is a scottish I first heard on the Musaique CD, by Ad Vielle Que Pourra. They play it at light speed, which suits me some of the time. My current favorite version is this one by Jean Luc Gueneau and Gilles Poutoux:
I heard the Gentiane version, featuring the great Jean Blanchard some years later. It has a gentler, more playful tone:
And here’s a solo accordion version by Jac Lavergne, from his Cadence d’Auvergne cassette tape.
The “lightspeed” version I mentioned above is the second tune in the set below:
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.
It’s been a dream for me to play music with my kids and I was able last weekend to do that! And I recorded. Here are Brigid and I playing a scottish by by Frédéric Paris and a hanter dro by Sylvain Piron. Also, I sing in French for the first time on video!
Georges Haibach, Catherine Piron-Paira, Sylvain Piron
A joyful package arrived on my doorstep a few days ago. Two new CDs from Sylvain Piron!
The first is a trio recording, Par un beau soir: Chansons Traditionelle, featuring Sylvain along with Catherine Piron-Paira and Georges Haibach. The three of them wield a truly impressive array of instruments, including accordion, basse aux pieds, nyckelharpa, dulcimer, epinette, psaltry, various whistle-type instruments, and objets sonores (sound objects). On top of it all are their three voices weaving genuinely delicate melodies and harmonies. All but one of the songs are traditional or ancient, and the one remaining song is Sylvain’s own minor-key mazurka, Le chemin.
The second CD is On est que des cailloux, a set of Sylvain’s original songs, played solo by the man himself, recorded over a few years. Sylvain’s singing, solo with only the accordion accompaniment, is a sort of pure, earthy thing — strong and reminiscent of the harp singer tradition. His songs are light but filled with feeling, both pathos and humor.
Both CDs are available directly from Sylvain himself. You can contact him at his email.
What a great weekend! Great dance on Saturday. Great performance at the Royal Bean this afternoon. Photographer and friend of the blog, Troy Bennett, was there. We first met in 2003 when Sylvain Piron and Catherine Piron-Paira visited Maine. Troy shared the below pictures with me. Fantastic! Thank you, Troy!
The event was the monthly International Folk Dance at Pownell, Maine (which continues to this very day), led by dance instructor Marie Wendt and my friend Steve Gruverman.
Le Bon Truc is a quartet featuring me, Steve Gruverman (clarinet), Barbara Truex (strings, etc.), and Joëlle Morris (voice, etc.). Before Christmas we performed at the Saco River Winter Market. We played both Christmas stuff and French bourrées, waltzes, and polkas. Here are six videos. The room is noisy, but it was a great time.
The twice yearly accordion gathering, Pique Diatonique, took place on September 14. I think of it as an Alsatian event, but really it takes place all around that region. Friend Mary Line took and posted an album of pics, including the following photos. I’ve written about Pique Diatonique before (and here). One day I’ll go back!
I am obsessed with this tune, a scottish/valse called “Le Cotillon Vert.” Here I am in my kitchen taking a crack at it.
The scottish/valse is exactly what’s on the tin. You dance the A section as a scottish (medium tempo, 4/4 dance), then you switch to a waltz for the B section. Then back to a scottish. Then waltz. Et deliriums cetera. The trick — and it is tricky — is that the ones of the scottish have to be the same distance apart as the ones of the waltz. So, the 1-2-3-4 of the scottish has to fill the same amount of time as the 1-2-3 of the waltz. Got it?
“Le Cotillon Vert” is a bedeviling ear-worm of a tune. A bog norm standard that I found in Sylvain Piron’s tradfrance. Here’s the sheet music:
Here’s a tune I learned from storyteller Catherine Piron-Paira and her husband Sylvain Piron, both of Saverne, Alsace. Catherine played it on psaltery, thus I tend to call it “Catherine’s Psaltery.” I feature this tune on my new CD, but with added clarinets and recorders, and with vastly improved sound quality. I recorded this to include in the melodeon.net Theme of the Month for July 2013, French Tunes.
I’m not sure why my pants figure so heavily in this video. I apologize.
The Dino Baffetti Tex-Mex II/34 arrived on Thursday! Very exciting! I had intended to do an internal examination of the box, a laOwen Woods or Daddy Long Les, but I found I couldn’t bear to take a screw driver to it, not even to remove the grill. I’m made of less stern stuff than that, it seems.
Instead, I’ve been playing the heck out of it. Here are some first thoughts:
Big one! Playing a three row is different from playing two or two-and-a-half row or even two-row-plus-accidentals. Possibly this is obvious. The three row quint box can do different things that I don’t yet know how to do. New frontiers!
The two row repertoire works just fine on this one. Even if it is obvious that playing up-and-down the rows is not what it was built to do, everything I’ve been learning for the last 15 years is essentially transferable!
At melodeon.net there is a recurring discussion about stepped keyboards vs. flat keyboards. Playing a flat keyboard for the first time in years has made no difference to me.
Even though this is an F/Bb/Eb box (which is exactly what I was after) I’m choosing to name it as G/C/F and recognize that it’s a transposing instrument. All of the sheet music and tab is for G/C/F, so this seems simplest.
It sounds AMAZING. Essentially, as one colleague mentioned, it’s a clone of a Hohner Corona, done to a absurdly high level of quality. The sound is so very sweet. And the touch is effortless. I do have fond feelings for Hohner accordions, but this is a cut above.
I love it.
It is a little silly that with five rows of box to my name, I still don’t have a D row. What sort of psychological block am I dealing with? Is it PTSD from the Minneapolis Irish sessions?
Here are three videos with the Baffetti. The first is a hanter dro written by Sylvain Piron.
The second is another hanter dro, traditional, that I learned from Steve Gruverman.
The third is a Breton March, traditional, that I learned from the playing of Daniel Thonon.