Our December Concert
Our December Concert was also our Christmas event where instruments other than accordions are welcome even if unaccompanied by an accordion. The night started with John Robinson on Keyboard playing In The Summertime, I’m Into Something Good and Follower Of Fashion. I then got my accordion out and played Bless Em All, Triste Sourire and Barcarole. Arthur Frankland then took to the floor and fired up his bagpipes with Highland Cathedral, he continued with Amazing Grace, Scotland The Brave, Rowan Tree, Bonny Galloway and Auld Lang Syne. Our next player was Ann Parker with a monologue called Irish Letter From Home, then she played Frosty The Snowman, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Chopsticks, La Paloma, Frog Chorus, Beer Barrel Polka, Snow Waltz, then finished with another Monologue called For the Pre 1945. It was now back to Keyboard and John Robinson playing Yesterday, Ticket To Ride, In My Life and Eight Days a Week. Our next player was Bernard Bamber on accordion playing Winter Wonderland, Sleigh Bells, Silent Night, Happy Holiday, First Noel, I have a Dream and White Christmas. The next act was Andrew Baker playing the Banjo, he started with South Of The Border and continued with Silent Night, Red Sails In The Sunset, Edelweiss, Irish Eyes Are Smiling and She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain. Albert Draper then read two monologues, The 12 Days Of Christmas and An Old Fashioned Remedy. It was back to accordion playing with Rebecca playing Home On The Range, My Wild Irish Rose and Silent Night. We then had a newly formed duet of John Robinson on keyboard and Andrew Baker on banjo playing The Wild Rover, Living Doll and When The Saints Come Marching In. Colin Ensor then brought his accordion to the stage and played We Just Couldn’t Say Goodnight, If I Had My Way, Shanty Town, Who’s Sorry Now, Once In A While, Leaving Lerwick Harbour, Charmaine and Who’s Taking You Home Tonight. It had been a great Christmas party and a great way to finish 2012, after thanking everyone for a great night I finished the night with Now Is The Hour.
This Wednesday is our first guest artist night of 2013 featuring David Vernon who is travelling down from Edinburgh to play for us. David has been a very popular guest artist when we have had him in the past and I am often being asked to book him again, well now I have done and I hope you can attend to make his trip worthwhile, david is making a 400 mile round trip to play at the club, lets make sure he gets a warm welcome. Remember to bring any friends or family who might like a night out. Doors open at 7.30 for an 8pm start. Make sure you get there early for a good seat and a good chat before the concert starts. See you there.
Twelve of Thirty Stolen Accordions Found
Twelve of the 30 rare accordions which were stolen from a Ken Hopkins in Northern Ireland have been recovered and returned to him. Another 18 accordions are still missing. Ken Hopkins had 12 vintage accordions returned to him at Laytown Garda (Police) station in Co Meath. Thirty of the rare and ornately decorated accordions were stolen from his home in Comber, Co Down in August. Some of the accordions returned to him appear to have minor damage to the keys or buttons but Ken said all are repairable. Some of the accordions that were stolen were one of a kind. He was duped into leaving his house in August in the belief he was going to meet two men who wanted to an accordion. They never appeared and he returned home to find 30 instruments had been stolen, some of which were worth between €24,570 and €36,855. The recovery of the accordions was as a result of enquiries by gardai (Police) from Dundalk and Laytown. They were found on Saturday 15th December, covered in plastic, in a derelict area of Mornington near the Meath coast. They are estimated to be worth about €15,970. “It is a Christmas present for me,” said Ken who suffered sleepless nights after the theft. Accordion music is popular in eastern Europe and Ken suspects that some of them had been stolen to be sold there.
Manchester Irish Festival
The Manchester Irish Festival 2013 will run from Friday 8th March to Monday 18th March 2013. This week long celebration of Irish music, culture and entertainment will be held at various venues in Manchester. Music, Dance, Sports and art are all represented at what is the largest Irish festival in Europe. The Community Night will be held at Manchester Town Hall on Saturday 9th March 2013. The Festival Market will be held in Albert Square with O’Briens Entertainment Marquee on Friday 8th – Sunday 10th March & Friday 15th – Sunday 17th March. The Parade will be held on Sunday 17th March Further information about the festival can be obtained from www.manchesteririshfestival.co.uk. Its nice that they have fitted this festival in between our practice and concert nights so we don’t clash (and their attendance is not down 🙂 )
We are collecting Membership fees for 2013 and have kept it at the same price £5 as it was when I started the club in 1997. You can pay your membership on the door in January. The proceeds go towards the great artists we have lined up in the coming months, to purchasing stamps and also the cost of an Internet service to send out the newsletters to those who choose to receive it by email (with colour pictures and working links).
The Rolling Wave
The Rolling Wave is a radio programme on RTÉ Radio 1 FM but its also available to anyone who has sky tv (channel 0160). This weekly show features traditional and folk music of Ireland. The programme is on each Sunday at 22:02 to 22:50.
Publicising The Club
I advertise the club regularly in local newspapers and maintain an active online presence which does a good job of bringing in new members but I keep hearing people saying that they thought the club was for accordion players only. I need to change this perception and let people know that the third Wednesday of each month is a guest artist or local players night and a good chance for others to socialise in a pleasant atmosphere based around accordion music. Please let anyone you know in on this secret, that the club holds concert nights for anyone, not just accordionists and is a great place to meet other people in a social atmosphere. Also please try to support as many of our concert nights as possible yourself to help us fund more guest artists at the club.
Accordions and Electronics – Explained
Some of you may have wondered what is going on with people plugging their accordions in to the wall and then appearing to play a trumpet or strings! There are two ways this may happen, the first which I will gloss over is that the instrument is an electronic accordion, this means that the accordion has circuitry inside it that plays electronic notes while you play the accordion as normal, this is fed to an amplifier along with the sound of the reeds from internal microphones, you hear the reeds and electronic sounds combined. This is the way the Roland range of electronic accordions work, they don’t have any reeds inside but instead have electronics and amplifiers to simulate an accordion and other instruments. The second and more exciting reason is that the accordion has been Midi’d, this simply means that it has had a MIDI interface fitted inside it, MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and is a way of turning your key-presses into electrical signals, when you press a note, the midi interface sends out a ‘key down’ signal and when you let go of the note a ‘key up’ signal is sent down a cable connected to your accordion which can be plugged into any midi input, say on an electronic keyboard or an expander, (a box of electronic tricks that turns midi signals into sounds, basically an expander is an electronic keyboard– without the keyboard bit). When this signal reaches the expander it is turned in to an organ, guitar, trumpet or any other sound you select. You then simply play your accordion as normal and you hear your own reeds playing but the expander is also playing alongside you, it is playing the exact same notes but sounding like another instrument or instruments. You can press one bass chord button on your left hand and have it turned into the sound of a trumpet, clarinet and strings each instrument playing one note of the chord. Expanders also have Rhythms built in to them, intro.’s and fill in sequences to give your performance extra sparkle, some have record and playback facilities. The more expensive expanders have auto accompaniment. When playing a MIDI accordion you can, if you wish, keep the bellows closed. The reeds will not make a noise, but you will still hear the electronic sounds, this means that you can plug headphones in to the expander and play without moving the bellows and you will not disturb people in the same room as you. Now the good news is that you do not need to buy another accordion to have all these features, midi is simply fitted to your existing accordion, it is just a box that is hidden inside your instrument and wired up to all the keys on the right and the buttons on the left, you then simply plug a lead into your accordion and connect it to an expander or keyboard and you are off. If you unplug the MIDI connection then your accordion feels and sounds exactly like it did before you had the MIDI fitted, MIDI will not alter your accordion’s sound and feel in any way until it is plugged in and used. Now with MIDI fitted you can plug into a computer, play a tune, listen to the computer play the tune back, correct any wrong notes on the computer’s screen and then get the computer to print out the sheet music for you. MIDI tunes can be saved on computer disks and stored or sent to other people, you can also swap them over the Internet by E-mail. The cost of adding MIDI to your accordion is about £400+ for the kit which you install yourself if you are handy with a soldering iron or £1000+ for MIDI fitted professionally. If you already have a MIDI keyboard you can plug in to that at first but you will be better with an expander, these range from about £200 second hand to £2000 for a top of the range model. MIDI is a subject that needs an expert to give you good advice. I often hear people saying “That person is playing with backing tracks” when this is completely untrue. The person is simply playing a midi accordion that also makes mistakes when they do. The only automatic part is the Rhythm (like a drum machine) and a few extra notes thrown in automatically when you change chord on the left hand. Even starting playing a tune on a MIDI accordion is an art, you have to hit a start pedal at exactly the right time otherwise your playing starts out of sync with the rhythm, and if you make a mistake then the box carries on the rhythm as normal (it does not slow down for you)! To play a MIDI accordion you have to select a rhythm, select instruments to connect to your right hand, instruments for left hand notes and left hand chords, set the rhythm speed, press the start pedal at the right time, adjust the volume with a foot pedal, press other pedals if you want a ‘fill in’(few extra notes thrown in), play accurately and press the stop pedal at the right time. Next time you see a person playing a MIDI accordion you can now take some time to appreciate how much work they are doing while also playing the normal accordion.