good food and plenty of concertinas. Visits to a brewery, a cheese shop, and a
distillery all in one day. And course lots and lots of music making. It could
only mean the 2005 Arran Concertina Event!
architect of this fabulous weekend was Arran resident, concertina player and
member of Concertina.net, Samantha Boorer. Samantha secured a great venue for
the weekend (complete with cook!), went out of her way to provide all relevant
details in advance, and was even there to meet us!
afternoon a large group of us arrived, after enjoying an informal session in the
ferry's bar. Once we had all assembled at the meeting place (okay we only got a
little lost), we drove on a short tour of the island. Hence the distillery etc.
Finally we arrived at the local village hall and adjoining newly completed
bunkhouse. After a delicious dinner we invaded the lounge of the local pub, and
held our own session, with delightful input from Ricky, a local resident and
wicked harmonica player.
morning we all sat down in the kitchen to nut out the weekend's "program".
Passing around pieces of paper we wrote down what we would like to teach, to
learn, and to share.
Session 1: Arran
tunes with Samantha, or, Irish tunes with Nils.
Session 2: Bring and
Session 3: Anglo Acquaintance with Samantha, or Harmony without Chords
Sunday: English Dance Music with
Chris and Derek.
were great. My first was Arran tunes. Samantha taught tunes: the Arran Boat
Song, the Arran Air, and An Arran Air. (Dots of the latter at the end of this
article). Samatha patiently taught the tune phrase by phrase.
session, "Bring and Try" was an opportunity to check out and try a wide variety
of instruments. In addition to our concertinas, there was also one of American
concertina maker Bob Tedrow's concertina, which is currently "on tour" across
the UK and America, which was well received. Chris Timson introduced us to the
wonders of the midi concetina, and kindly passed around his Dipper Anglo
Baritone, which was responsible for more than one case of "concertina envy". We
also enjoyed trying a button accordion.
We broke for
lunch, and many took advance of the opportunity to purchase copies of two CDs
that Chris Timson had kindly arranged to have available that weekend. The first
was "Anglophilia" by Brian Peters, which I confess I had not had a chance to
listen to yet. The other "Anglo International" is playing continuously on my CD
player. A three CD compilation set put together by Alan Day, it celebrates the
finest of the Anglo concertina in many of its forms. Artists include John
Kilpatrick, Noel Hill, Niall Vallely, Mary MacNamara, Scan Tester, Bertram Levy,
Frank Edgley and Felix Castro, just o name a few. The thick CD booklet is almost
worth the price on its own, with a page of biography dedicated to each artist. (Further details can be
found at: http://www.angloconcertina.co.uk/)
hardly lunch I joined the group for "Anglo Acquaintance". This was a great
chance to chat with a group of other Anglo players about their techniques, share
any tips or advice, and generally get a better feel for our instruments. It's
funny how something that might be obvious to one player can be a complete
revelation to another player (like me! Thanks again to Henk for his observation
that when playing a tune in the Key of G, he simply plays it on the G
We were left
to our own devices for an hour or so whilst dinner was prepared, and as to be
expected many of us sought out quiet corners to practice what we had learnt that
morning (including a very enterprising player, practicing at the bottom of the
After a delicious dinner we assembled for an informal evening of music.
Sitting in a circle we took it in turn to play a tune, often everyone joining
in. Highlights of the evening including songs from several people, including a
fabulous rendition by James (accompanying himself on piano accordion) of a
Dilbert McClinton song. Along with concertinas there was also tin whistle and
bodhran playing, and the infamous counting game! (As illustrated left!) Martin
and I were sad to have to call it a night whilst things were in full swing
(exhaustion had finally caught up with us).
mornings session on English Dance music was well attended, from the conversation
well received (I'd sat it out, trying to absorb everything from the day before).
After lunch belongings were packed and final photos taken, as we needed to leave
the bunkhouse in the early afternoon. Those of that had alternative lodgings
returned there, whilst everyone else decamped back to Samantha's
Samantha arrived at the Lagg Hotel in the local community bus to collect four of
us, picked up those at her house, and we were off to the Folk club for the
weekly Sunday night session. I think we almost doubled the number of regular
musicians when we arrived, and I don't think they had ever seen so many
concertinas in once place. (Their other concertina player was certainly
surprised when he later arrived).
It was a
fantastic night of songs and music, with concertinas, fiddles, flute, whistles,
spoons, a harmonica, a harp, and Uilleann pipes. James and Derek entertained us
with more songs, and Dave surprised us all with his mastery of the trumpet! The
members of the folk club were very friendly and welcoming, and their warm
hospitality greatly appreciated.
midnight we wound our way back along the narrow and winding roads of Arran, with
an impromptu sing-along in the bus. Samantha dropped us back at our lodging, and
very kindly was putting everyone else up at her place.
And thus the
end of the Arran Concertina event. The following morning we would leave the
island and head for home wherever that might be, including England, Denmark,
Holland and Australia.
So if you're
looking for a weekend of good music, good friends and good fun, then I highly
recommend making the journey to Arran.
We would also
like to thank Concertina.net and
the International Concertina Association for their support of this
All photographs and text copyright Morgana and Martin Creely
2005 unless otherwise stated.
Photographed may be reproduced for personal use
only, and not for publication.