The Return of the Free Reed Liberation Orchestra!

For October 2021, we have a piece learned from and dedicated to Frédéric Paris and La Chavannée. “les Vigneron” is a bourrée in 3 and super charming. Props to Janneke for bringing the harmonium into this “free reed” conspiracy. I invited folks to think freely about submitting counter melodies and accompaniment, and we ended up with TWENTY-SEVEN tracks, most of them video, but some just audio. Well done us! Thanks to Clive and Theo for their support on melodeon.net, the soil from which this plant sprang.

The FRLO is Anahata, Matthew Bampton, John Barber, David Barnert, Gary Chapin, Margaret Cox, Andrew Edgington, Eric Johnson, Howard Mitchell, Gren Penn, Julian Scholefield, Janneke Slagter.

Feel free to tip the orchestra at venmo @Gary-Chapin-7, or buy some of the sweet FRLO swag at The Accordeonaire Shoppe.

Directed by Gary Chapin

If you want to be in the orch, send me your email!

The SEED Hour: Talking Free Reed Liberation Orchestra

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!

Anthem of the Free Reed Liberation Orchestra

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.

For reference: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022454/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

The FRLO (April 2021 edition) is

Anahata, accordion; Matthew Bampton, accordion, voice; Heloise Bampton, fiddle, voice; Gary Chapin, accordion, voice; Margaret Cox, fiddle, voice; Andrew Edgington, accordion; Steve Gruverman, whistle, bass clarinet, voice; Eric Johnson, guitar; Gren Penn, accordion, voice; Julian Scholefield, accordion; Janneke Slagter, accordion, voice; Abigail Stratton, trumpet; Barb Truex, banjo, tenor guitar; Siska vd Valk, voice.

If you would like to support this work I am at venmo @Gary-Chapin-7 or you can buy some sweet FRLO swag by clicking on the coffee cup over on the right.

A Writing Prompt

What is the story for this music?

Something different for this blog. This is a piece of music I wrote and recorded. Imagine it’s the soundtrack for a movie or story. What would that story be? Think of the silent movie days, where a musician would play music to accompany the silent film. In this case, you’re given the music and you have to write the story. Enjoy. Share results in the comments or just keep them to yourself. Just trying to add some art and joy into the world. Here’s the full score.

Un Pied dans L’eau

Tune 17 in the Bal Folk Tune Book, this scottish has a nice harmonic ambiguity. A lot of different choices could have been made. In the end, for the A section, I went with Amin-F-Dmin-Bb. All the thirds in the chords are off, so the major/minorness is just implied. The B section is Amin and then G (with a smattering of D thrown in).

If you like this sort of thing and would like to support the blog, please click on “Support This Blog” above! Thanks.

Free Reed Liberation Orchestra Merch!

Huzzah! I have not only created a logo for the Free Reed Liberation Orchestra, but also set up a small shop and created some merch. Go over to the Accordeonaire shop for all the mugs, tee shirts, hoodies, stickers, etc. that you need, AND support the FRLO and accordion love in the process. Thank you!

Three Bal Folk Mazurkas

Mazurka Auvergne (#134), Mazurka de Samatan (#142), and Mazurka (untitled, #136) played on my Hohner Erica, in A. The unnamed Mazurka is a variation on one that I play a lot, but it’s very similar to a version played by Gentiane, found below. Also includes their version of the amazing Brezon Valse.

If you feel like tipping the accordionist, go here!