Our March Concert
Our March Concert got off to a great start with Bill Agnew playing Cuckoo Waltz, Something In The Way You Smile, Can Can, Mr Sandman, Only You, What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For, Anchors Aweigh and Mocking bird Hill. John Lennox then had the difficult job of following Bill. John played Isle Of Innisfree, Mountains Of Mourne, Slievenamon and Boys From The County Armagh. It was time for our guest artist Helen Rich to start her first spot of the night. I first spotted Helen when she played for us last year and immediately asked her if she would be our guest artist, a request to which she agreed. Although Helen would be new to being a guest artist I knew we would have a good nightif I booked her. Almost a year later we were now sat listening to Helen play her first piece which was Trieste Overture. After a great start the music continued with Valse A Pierrot and Sonatina Op36 no1. The next piece was My Florence followed by the accordion standard Under The Double Eagle. Helen returned to the classical music with Valse Angelique, Fuggi, Reve Passe and Sonatina In Cm. To take us up to the break Helen continued with the well known Bel Fiore, Hungarian Dance 4, Nocturne and Habanera, finally finishing her first half with Sierra de Gredos. After the break we started the second half with Bernard Bamber playing Down By The Riverside, When The Saints, Please Release Me, Que Sera Sera, Wooden Heart, Putting On The Style and Beautiful Dreamer. Our next player was Colin Ensor playing Down Forget Me Not Lane, The Maigret Theme, At The Balalakia and We Just Couldn’t Say Goodnight. Bill Agnew was our next player with Irish Washerwomen, Isle Of Innesfree, Galway Bay, Irish Eyes, My Wild Irish Rose, Beer Barrel Polka, Don’t Dilly Dally and I’m Getting Married In The Morning. Ann Parker played Frog Chorus and Roundabout (Own Composition). We were running short of time so I played just one piece which was Oslo Waltz. It was now time for our guest artist to return, Helen started with a Musette accordion playing Accordion Jigs, Hornpipes and Bourrasque before returning back to her normal straight tuned accordion. She continued with Immer Zunftig, Toby, Josephine, Trieste Sourire (which did sound similar to my own version so I must be playing it right), Battle of Somme +Reels, Cubanola, Serenite, d’esprit and Zigzagging. It was now getting towards the end of the night and time to finish with some more great tunes starting with the accordion favourite La Vie en Rose. Helen finished the night with Black & White Rag, Hot Points, Russian Fantasie and finally Desoeuvre. I knew I had made a good decision booking Helen and the night proved me right and we will definitely have Helen back at the club again in future.
This Wednesday is a Local Players Concert featuring performances from our local players. Please bring along your accordion and give us a tune. Beginners are welcome to play and are actively encouraged. We had a beginner make her debut on the stage at the last local players night and I hope to see more taking the plunge in future. 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.
Clubs Not Being Supported
The future of White Horse Accordion Club is uncertain at the moment following an announcement in their newsletter that they are not asking people to renew their memberships because the future of the club is to decided at the AGM on the 14th April. The club cites declining numbers and lack of support for the position they are in that makes it look like this long running club will be closed. At the moment it looks like they will close unless a tenable suggestion for ways to improve numbers attending the club comes up. White Horse is not the only club to report low attendance, in recent accordion magazines Stockport Accordion Club have also reported poor attendance at a number of their concerts with their finances now suffering. Most people we speak to are saying that a lot of other clubs are also experiencing low attendance at their events. Low attendance also has a knock on effect for professional accordionists who make their living playing the accordion at clubs, festivals and other outlets. It is not only the monetary value to the jobbing accordionist that is lost, for some, playing to a quarter to half full audience is not exactly a confidence boost. As we at Leyland have done for many years we encourage a cross over of attendance to other Accordion Clubs in the area in the hope that all the clubs will benefit from the “We’re in this together” mentality rather than clubs being in competition with each other. Stockport Accordion Club changed their night to Wednesday a few years ago, this meant that it clashed with Leyland nights which are always on the first, third and fifth Wednesdays of the month. This change prevented many people from Stockport and Leyland attending each others nights or have to make a decision between one of the two clubs. The other clubs in this area are all on different nights to each other so do not affect each others attendance. When I set up Leyland club in 1997 I made sure it didn’t clash with anything for miles around which made good sense as it allowed cross club visits possible. Lets hope attendance at accordion clubs goes up again so we don’t lose more clubs due to falling numbers. I hope everything goes well for White Horse Accordion Club and the others affected. I will only find out after this newsletter goes out. Please make sure you try to support your accordion club (Especially Leyland Club) 🙂
My first attempt at any music began when I was 15 with three terms of lessons on the piano – I must say that it was done mostly without any enthusiasm. The war against Hitler’s Germany began and we moved to what had been a holiday bungalow just outside Stranraer. It had no piped water, gas or electricity – and of course no piano. At school I became friendly with some lads who had started to play instruments just for fun! One lad had a mandolin and another a guitar, and I was taught the three-chord strum. Hawaiian style slide guitars were very popular at the time and I was sorely tempted to have a go. Mother however had become very fond on Tango Bands led with great zip by an accordion, and I was persuaded to spend my hard won savings on a 120 bass Paolo Soprani that was advertised in the local paper for £10. At the time, a London firm called Keith Prowse sold tutors for most instruments at the price of 2/6d (old money), so with a copy I set to work. One day, while having a go at the latest tune on the veranda of the bungalow, a man sat and listened. Eventually he came to the door and introduced himself as Jack Duffy, a blacksmith living two miles away and having a small accordion band. I agreed to pedal my accordion propped on the crossbar and handlebars two or three times a week to the smithy, and join Jack and his daughter Isobel, where we tried to play tunes like “Pennsylvania Polka” and “You are my sunshine”. Occasionally, a fourth accordion joined us and, eventually, gigs were organised. We played in the village halls in Glenluce, Kirkcolm, and Stoneykirk, also in the old lifeboat house at Portlogan (used as a school in the T.V. series “2,000 acres of sky”). Jack had a chromatic button accordion and Isobel played a 120 bass piano accordion. Jack played all the fast Scottish tunes while Isobel and I tried to back him – my efforts were mostly rhythmic cords. Jack kept strict time with his tackety boots! Come 1943, I joined the R.A.F. as potential aircrew with a parting comment from Jack “You have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana skin”! I had too much kit to bother with an accordion. When I was released in 1947, after a period of loafing around, I started to study and finished my exams in 1950. I played little accordion, but I do remember “Ghost Riders in the Sky” as one of my efforts. In the late 1970’s, I bought a new Galanti-Dominator II with octave tuning. At that point my interest in chords really began. I only purchased the usual sheet music, which is scored for the piano, but I found that the right hand chords were too expansive for the accordion so I limited the chord structure while playing the bass chord printed. In 1991, I bought a 96 bass Sonola with double cassoto and, being then retired, my enthusiasm was really fired – so much so that I wrote a whole treatise on the chords and their note content. These had become more complicated, and the symbols for them more complex, with the advent of the 101 series of “Hits for Buskers” books, designed for all instruments. Today I work out my own right hand chords on the basis of the chord symbols, with quite a fair proportion of the chord in the bass, adding single notes to the basic chord button but played together – producing chords such as 6ths, 9ths, m7ths, maj7ths, maj9ths and min9ths. Working it all out and committing it to memory keeps me thoroughly amused. Basil Berry
Basil Berry Funeral
Unfortunately Basil died on the 5th April 2013 which was just a few weeks before his 90th Birthday. His funeral will be held on the 15th April 2013 at Lytham Crematorium at 11:30 AM. Basil was always a great club member, attending the club from its start until his health prevented him from attending. I visited Basil a few months ago at his home in Lytham and found him in good spirits. I am getting this newsletter out early to let people know about his funeral in time.
New Roland FR-8x Accordions
Last year I mentioned that I had made suggestions to Roland about how to improve the bellows response of their accordions so they more closely matched the feel of a real accordion and suggested how to do it accurately. I mentioned that I hoped the feature would be implemented and now that feature has just been released in the FR-8x Piano and Button Accordions: With these new Accordions Roland has been trying to perfect the balance between having a realistic Accordion feel and the Electronic side of the Accordion. Since Roland started making the electronic Accordions they have never had a responsive bellows until now. They have also Redesigned the Interface with Colour Display and Intuitive Panel Layout, All-in-One Operation and On-board Battery Charging, the accordion is a totally self-contained, complete with a rechargeable on-board battery, you can play without interruption during the charging process, built-in stereo amplification system with MIDI, USB, and audio jacks for connecting to an external amplification or recording system. Expanded Collection of World-Class Sounds the FR-8x is equipped with over 180 orchestra and percussion sounds, more layering and zone setup options are possible in the right-hand keyboard modes than ever before, giving you the ability to play up to four different tones at once. Powerful Multi-Effects and On-board Looper with four independent multi-effects engines (MFX), provide dedicated processing for the Accordion, Orchestra 1, Orchestra 2, and Orchestra Chord sections. Each engine has 84 different effects types, With the on-board looper, you can instantly record and overdub accordion performances. USB Song Playback, Recording, and More, A handy MP3/WAV song player lets you play along with pre-recorded musical tracks for practice and live backing via optional USB memory. Just plug your USB stick, with the touch of a button, your accordion performances can be recorded directly to USB memory as well. The Button accordion has the same features with a redesigned button-keyboard, which has a piston-style mechanism for a playing touch like an acoustic button accordion. More info can be found at https://www.roland.com/uk/products/fr-8x/