|Le Maestro, Doug|
I found myself spending a day working in Connecticut, and decided on a whim to cut out early and take a swing to The Button Box, a mere two point five hours away, and a genuine melodeon mecca. While the trip to Sunderland, Mass., did have a whiff of the sacred to it, there was no penitence, penance, or redemption involved, just the sort of prosaic joys that give one hope in the world.
There was a Dino Baffetti three row, big button, five coupler Tex-Mex machine in Tex-Mex colors that sounded wonderful but … defeated me. I think I’ve found the limit in size for me for an accordion. If I find myself using gravity to assist on the pulls, then it’s too much!
|Who really runs things? I think we know|
There was a flock of one row boxes in D. Maybe they’ve suddenly gone out of style and thus are ending up on Doug’s shelves? Unlikely, as these were things of beauty. I was interested in trying out the two Castagnari Max boxes, one used for a mere $1995, the other new for $2525 (I see the used one is gone, now.) Try as I might I could not talk myself out of coveting those. I also tried a Pointe Noir box which was an absolute joy, but is in Cajun temperament. My band mates are already pissed off at me for having to tune to the three rows of reeds on the Saltarelle.
Best of all, of course, was catching up with Doug, who I am shocked to realize I have known for eighteen years! Aside from being a Dad, there is nothing I’ve done for eighteen years together. But I still remember, vividly, buying my first box from Doug, the mighty Corso.
Also, there was a way cool dog, and I bought some shirts.
|I bought a shirt.|
|Stéphane Milleret on the right, with partner Norbert Pignol|
Over on Facebook, a few days ago, wizard accordionist Stéphane Milleret announced that, beginning next September he will be launching a series of instructional videos. These will be posted in the shop on the Mustradem site. Each video will be around 15 or 20 minutes. Over a series of months, the videos will focus on a single tune, beginning with the melody and then moving on to accompaniment and rhythm. The videos will have English subtitles. I will shout from the rooftops when they go live.
Just for fun, here’s an instructional video, part of a series that Milleret and Pignol posted a few years ago. Six weeks ago, I featured M&P as Monday Melodeons.
This is Florence Glorion a player of the chromatic button accordion, who duets often with diato player Florence Pindivic. They host a site together, Diou Flo, which focuses primarily on Breton music. I love both of the Florences’ music, and will feature Pindivic next week.
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.
Just a few months after getting the tattoo of my beloved Hohner Erica, I’ve gone and finished the set. Below you can see may latest ink, a rendering by Moonman Sam of the Black Baffetti — my Dino Baffetti three-row Tex-Mex. I love the R. Crumb style. This will probably be my last ink for a while … at least until I get another box!
I have not been attending to my duties. I’ve been traveling and actually had to move house. I’m in a very nice new place, and life is good. I did play at NEFFA with the quintet, Nouveau Chapeau. We played an hour of mazurkas for a mazurka dancing workshop. Who knew such a thing existed?!? That was a blast. Maybe next year scottishes?
For today I am posting two older vids worthy of study, they are of the duo Stephan Milleret and Norbert Pignol, two monsters in the field. Aside from their playing, they have been enormously influential on modern box playing through their four volume Diatonic Accordion Method. Here are the men themselves. Nearly 20 minutes of goodness.
Going far afield for this one, Ida Furusæter playing at a 2010 Estonian Lõõtspillifestivalil festival. I’ve watched this one dozens of times and keep coming back to it. Check out her left hand. Pretty sure her basses are unisonoric. It is to die for. This one is dedicated to friend, Edda Thiele!
Not to say Didier Laloy, Wim Claeys, Bruno LeTron, and Frédéric Malempré are Belgian — maybe they are, maybe they aren’t — but this musical movement, with the Handry 18 Castagnaries surrounding you, coming right at you … (the grillwork! the grillwork!) … feels Belgian. En Flanders, as Frédéric Paris might say. So, this is Tref! Enjoy!
Didier Laloy is one of the great “Belgian-Handry-18” players — along with Francois Heim and Bruno LeTron — playing with a sensitivity that can be striking. He’s also a wildly and theatrically physical player, though you won’t see that in this piece. Enjoy.
|The other Le Bon Truc Trio!|
Quite the week for music and the squeezy stuff. Three rehearsals in the space of seven days, preparing for three different gigs. The quintet Nouveau Chapeau is preparing for NEFFA, as mentioned in a previous post. The Le Bon Truc Trio (with Steve on clarinet), is preparing for the Downeast Country Dance Festival (called DEFFA, but the acronym doesn’t quite seem to work). The other Le Bon Truc Trio (with Joelle Morris singing) is preparing for a performance at a French immersion school here in Maine.
L’Autre Bon Truc Trio: Rehearsal Compilation
Because I take a phenomenological approach to the box — as should we all — I enjoy sharing my process warts and all. Barbara Truax (Le Bon Truc plectrist and percussionismo) recorded our rehearsal this Saturday. It’s embedded above, and you can hear us — having not played for a year — finding our way back into collaboration. It’s clunky at moments, but it was really a good time. Enjoy.