Last weekend was finally the 2015 edition of the Scandinavian Squeeze-In (SSI), an annual event for concertina enthusiasts from near and far. Most times people have come from Scandinavia, Germany (or other Northern European countries) and/or the UK, but I suppose someone from Greece or Australia would be welcome too as long as they are interested in concertinas. Actually we have two regulars from the US (of which one is the organiser) but both of them live in Denmark.
I’ve been there five times I think, and it’s always a very good and inspiring weekend, especially in recent years when I’ve actually been able to play the concertina a bit. In the very beginning (the first time I was there was in 2007) I wasn’t able to play much, I was a lover of the instrument but with no skills to play it (yet). I bought my first concertina in 2005, an old Wheatstone English, but some year later, the thumb strap screws broke, and I left it with Jim, who is the organiser of this event, to have it fixed. It took a long time, and during that time I forgot the little skills I had.. While we lived in Ireland I bought a cheap anglo instead, and started to learn to play it. I didn’t really get going with the playing until 2012, when I had a wrist injury and wasn’t able to play any other instruments.
My goal is to use the concertina for Irish music, but I also really like Irish and Scottish music, and I’ve learned some Morris tunes on it. Morris music is very catchy, and I like playing it either on the melodeon or on the concertina.
Since the event last year I haven’t played much concertina, mainly because we haven’t had our regular Irish sessions after the restaurant we played at closed down. Also, I’ve had some health problems and haven’t been able to focus much. Just recently I’ve taken up the concertina again, and as I wrote about earlier here, our Irish sessions are up and running again. I didn’t start again early enough to have any new tunes for the SSI, but at least I revived the tunes I used to play last year. I brought the guitar as well to be able to sing at the Sunday concert.
My husband couldn’t come with me this year so I travelled by train. I can only say that after that trip, I will practice hard until next time so that I won’t have to bring any other instruments than the concertina and maybe a small melodeon.
I arrived to Dalby some time after 17.00/5 pm, and met the other people. We had a nice soup before heading out to the scout house where the event takes place. There were mostly the same people as last year, but with a new couple from Germany. All of them very nice and friendly people. I was asked “what do you play?” and it’s obvious that I don’t spend enough time with concertina geeks, because I replied “concertina and guitar” but someone else filled in “she plays anglo”. Of course concertina people want to know what system of concertina you play!!! 😀
I often feel awkward at music events because I’m not very skilled on any instrument really, I have too little free time to practice, or, more correctly, I need to reorganise my priorities in life. I usually don’t feel that I fit in, because I either don’t know the tunes or I can only play them at slower speeds. Or, I don’t know what instrument I should play in a particular style, which is usually a problem at Swedish trad music events. This is one reason why I’m trying to take up the fiddle again.
However, at the SSI I’m definitely one of the less skilled players, but I still feel that I fit in. People are very nice, friendly, humble and down-to-earth. I like that. It all depends on who’s there, of course, but this has been my experience at least during the last three years that I’ve been there.
The tradition is to have general mingle and jam sessions on Friday, workshops on Saturday, a concert for ourselves on Saturday night, and after leaving the scout house we have a Sunday afternoon concert in some nearby location for the public. Anyone who wants to can play on the concert. I don’t think I’m good enough on the concertina to play alone, but we did some group arrangements where I took part.
As usual I went home with some new tunes and lots of new inspiration. I’m in the process of learning to play Chief O’Neill’s favourite, and I’ve learned to play Nutting girl, and I have a few other tunes I’m going to learn, other than the Irish tunes for our local session.
I took some photos, most of them with my phone.
Here’s Robbie and his electronic concertina, connected to an amplifier app on an iPad. We played some bluegrass together. I played chords on the guitar and he played the electronic concertina with the sound of a banjo… so cool.
He also had a mini concertina.
On the Saturday we celebrated the organiser’s 70th birthday. What would the perfect cake be other than…
Jim with his duet:
Two happy owners of the same model of Wheatstone English concertina:
And the start of the traditional group photo:
Because of my job, I can never know if I’ll be able to go next year, but I certainly hope so!!