I used these a few years ago at a West Country Concertina Players’ weekend in Somerset. By the end of the weekend I’d decided that ‘New Drops of Brandy’ (from James Winder’s MS) was OK, but not significantly more interesting than the old ‘Drops of Brandy’. However I think ‘The New Grinders’ (from the H.S. Jackson MS) is a rather fine tune.
Incidentally, having seen Andy Hornby do a presentation on the Winders earlier this year, I can confirm that – as I thought – the first syllable of their surname rhymes with the wind in windmill, not winding.
Named in honour of the eponymous hero of Peter Carey’s magnificent novel Illywhacker, one of my absolute favourite reads. In Australian slang, an illywhacker is a small-time conman, and in Carey’s novel Badgery is a wonderful liar and spinner of tall tales. So it seems entirely appropriate that this composition isn’t really a reel…
Screenshot from Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902), by Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès. From Wikimedia Commons.
Recorded on the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. As an 8 year old boy, I followed the Apollo missions avidly – and collected the stickers and transfers and other stuff that went along with it. I have clear memories of watching the landing itself, and Armstrong’s first walk on the moon, on the big TV on a trolley wheeled into our primary school hall. Clear but wrong, as I would have been fast asleep when all of that took place, so we must have watched it after the event, on repeat.
Looking back at how primitive computing and communications technologies were in those days, it’s quite astonishing that the Apollo crew got to the moon and back in one piece. I don’t think I realised at the time just how close things came to going spectacularly wrong, and what a phenomenally risky operation the whole thing was.
So, to celebrate, here’s a celebrated waltz from Sussex anglo player Scan Tester. You can hear him playing it on the definitive Topic album I never played to many posh dances. It was also on one of those awful Folktrax cassettes – played on bandoneon? – where, as I recall, Peter Kennedy asks, in his oh-so-posh voice, “D’ you think you’ll ever go to the moon, Scan?”
Like many of Scan’s tunes, it works really well both on C/G anglo, and on a one-row melodeon, so here you have both.
The Man in the Moon
Played on C/G anglo-concertina, one-row melodeon in C
This is one of those tunes that have languished in a manuscript book, largely unplayed, and for which I’ve never got round to thinking up a proper name. Jim Adams was a work colleague at Thames Valley University. Among other things, he used to produce video tutorials, and suggested that I might like to provide some intro/outro music. This was the result. I’m not sure it was entirely suitable, and in any case it never made it into any format which Jim could use. But occasionally I’ve gone back to it. And I have to say, it’s not a bad tune. Besides, who doesn’t like a nice bit of 5/4?
It occurs to me that there’s a recently invented tradition of Cornish dances in 5-time – Kabm Pymps. I’m not sure if this meets the criteria for this type of dance tune. But if so, Cornish chums, help yourself. You might even like to give the tune a proper title.
In 1986 Chris Wood got a call from Martin Carthy, inviting him to join Sue Harris, Chris Taylor and Martin himself as one of the musicians for the RSC’s production of Nigel Williams’ play Country Dancing. I saw the play towards the end of its run at the Barbican but, even before that, the two Chris’s had introduced me to some of the tunes being used. The one that stuck in my head was ‘Candle Dance’, written by Sue Harris.
Now, I say it stuck in my head. I’ve just compared the way I play it, with how the tune is written out in the John Kirkpatrick and Sue Harris tune book ‘Opus Pocus’, and it’s really quite different. I don’t know if I’ve misremembered it or – and I think this is more likely – I didn’t learn it quite right in the first place. Oh well. Isn’t the oral tradition wonderful?